Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We did see a pretty significant uptick from Google Analytics in terms of the users visiting the profile pages of our producers. We have carrier partners that review our SEO scores who want us to have high scores, so they always run us through these weird algorithms. Before the new website, our score was about a 35. After Design Russia got done with the site, it was a 75. I feel that the increase is due to the way Design Russia built the website—having the pages named correctly, etc. It was just good architecture, but it did assist us a lot. We actually fall out of a peer group if our SEO score is below 50 for certain carriers, which impacts the overall money that the carrier gives us. Once we got the new website up and running, we netted a $15,000–$20,000 increase over what we were getting the year before, so we actually made a profit on rebuilding the website.
How did Design Russia perform from a project management standpoint?
Design Russia’s project management is the thing that keeps me with them because they have a good process in place. They deliver what they promise, and they are cost-effective. For the most part, I send everything through Maria, who’s the one I deal with more than Alex, the project manager. He’s the one I've been working with for a long time. Once I got to Crichton, Design Russia had expanded their operations enough so they brought in another asset, which is Maria, and she’s been awesome. We were just talking to her today, emailing back and forth about a project they’re working on for us right now.
The nice thing about Design Russia is that they take a lot of time. They spend more time planning than anyone I've ever worked with before. They really try to get the expectation of what the client wants. They are absolutely cutthroat on their own stuff from a critique standpoint. It’s kind of refreshing. I think Westerners dance around things and use a lot of euphemisms. Design Russia gave us a review of our site when we first brought them in. It was tough for a lot of the board members to hear what Design Russia had written. They weren’t being overly cool, but they were not using euphemistic language either. It was, “This is not good, and this is why. This is why the score is bad here. This is what we see here,” and all of these different components. From that, they were able to draw up the project plan and lay that out for us with a timeline, a cost breakout, the payment schedule, etc. From a corporate experience, it’s nice to be able to take that into the boardroom and say, “Based on the conversation we had, here is what the plan looks like. Here is what the layout of the fees are, and here is why.” Design Russia itemizes well, and they charge $40 or $50 an hour, so it’s really inexpensive.
What did you find most impressive about Design Russia?
I’ve worked with a multitude of folks, and Design Russia has a better handle on the questions that I would ask. I would say, “I’m really trying to get X result, and this is what I think we should do.” The designer should say, “Yeah, no. We shouldn't do that. If you want to get X result, let’s do these three things. The words you're using are not …” Design Russia was better at illustrating the overall intent and their understanding of it compared with some of the other offshore folks that I have used.
Are there any areas Design Russia could improve?
In some cases, people will take Design Russia’s communication style as aggressive because they hold you to the fire on the timeline. They are proactive about getting you on the timeline. If you're off the timeline, they’re asking, “Where are we with this? When are you going to complete this? These are the eight things we’re waiting on. Where are we with each?” They’re very good about that. But that level of directness has put off some of my peers in the past. But from my perspective, it’s what’s needed in our organizations to actually move stuff forward.