Think about a single end-user first

Specto Design utilizes a “design thinking” approach. This “design thinking” concept means that no product—a print piece, a website, a mobile app, a software application—begins without us thinking about the end user first and working backwards from there. In a design approach, we begin with the question “What will thrill this specific person that we created this product for so much that they will tell everyone about it?”

Specto Design designs and develops websites, web applications, and custom web-based software solutions. We specialize in projects that require high security, high availability and high scalability in industries such as financial services and insurance, hospitality, sports, biotech, medical research and health.

 
$10,000+
 
$100 - $149 / hr
 
2 - 9
 Founded
2001
Show all +
Los Angeles, CA
headquarters
  • 620 Moulton Ave
    Los Angeles, CA 90031
    United States

Portfolio

Key clients: 

Altadena Dairy
Berkeley Farms
BetTracker
Cinematic Arts Academy
Dean Foods
Escape Artists
Eye Management Group
Fences
Genection
Invivoscribe
La Jolla Institute
LabPMM
Lush
Robotics Labs
Rockenwagner Bakery
Rowan Blanchard
RTR Design BuildRVNA
Steve Tisch
Super Daylight Studio
T2 Technology Group
The Lucques Group
Todd Black
Wedsure

Reviews

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Web Dev, Design & Branding for Research Firm

“They were organized, could speak at a high level, and were careful about costs.”

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
5.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
Confidential
 
Mar. 2008 - Sept. 2013
Project summary: 

Specto developed the whole CMS, including design and branding work. They also created print materials and fliers for various events. 

The Reviewer
 
201-500 Employees
 
La Jolla, California
Erin Righetti
Director of Development, La Jolla Institute
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The new web pages were well received by the community. Specto delivered on everything that was asked of them as their involvement went beyond the initial scope of work. Their professional approach was appreciated. 

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

I was the Director of External and Community Relations for The La Jolla Institute for Allergy and Immunology.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Specto Design?

The institute wanted to become a bigger player in the research arena, among other names like TSRI and Salk. They wanted to launch fundraising and community relations programs, including internships with high schools. As part of this, they needed a total rebranding and a functioning website with profiles for researchers. Specto helped us with all of this.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Specto spoke in strategy meetings to the president and principal investigators and conducted phone interviews with people on the board who had known the institute a long time. We brainstormed about the image and messaging of the organization and what we wanted to accomplish with our web pages. Specto developed beautiful designs for the website and gave us the tagline, “Finding cures faster”. Specto created a whole CMS for us, created a complete color scheme, and also selected an image which became part of the brand going forward — a skeleton with visible organs. We paid for the rights to that image and used it across all web pages. We had similar backgrounds with specific cell shots with deep red and blue colors. Specto designed all the print material for our first gala event. We had an amazing invitation that included an auction list. They also worked on fliers.

What is the team dynamic?

The core team was made up of three people. I worked directly with Marla. They took the lead in the work.

How did you come to work with Specto Design?

We did a comparative analysis of firms in San Diego and Los Angeles. I had heard about Specto and knew their principal, Marla, through my network. It was almost comical how much better Specto was compared to the other agencies we looked at in terms of brand look and initial ideas.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with Specto in March 2008 and concluded in September 2013. I moved on from the institute, but Specto continued to manage pages and work on branding.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

What evidence can you share that demonstrates the impact of the engagement?

Everyone loved the work. We were able to recruit new, more influential board members, and launch all the programs we wanted to do. The website was attractive, and we put up individual web pages detailing what researchers were doing. Marla, in particular, worked with academic researchers, creating beautiful research and graduate student pages. Our community loved the site.

How did Specto Design perform from a project management standpoint?

They were organized, could speak at a high level, and were careful about costs. We spent a lot of money on the project over time because our scientists wanted pages redone and wanted to add more pages. The work went beyond scope but it was due to internal demand by our scientists for more pages. We had phone calls, and Specto sent proofs back-and-forth. They also came to us for a couple of on-site meetings with the leaders of the institute, which was professional.

What did you find most impressive about them?

They have capabilities far beyond web design, such as user experience and content marketing. Specto was able to do anything we asked them to.

Are there any areas they could improve?

No. I was happy that they took us on.

5.0
Overall Score They’re great and funny.
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
    They were on time. We received amended deadlines for any changes, and Specto stuck to them.
  • 5.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    They were a good value. The cost was reasonable. We went over budget because of our side.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    High quality.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Specto ended up getting another client because of the work they did for our institute and through our referral.

Web Design & Dev for eCommerce Site

"[E]veryone found Specto Design to be delightful and smart."

Quality: 
5.0
Schedule: 
5.0
Cost: 
4.0
Willing to refer: 
5.0
The Project
 
$10,000 to $49,999
 
June 2015 - June 2016
Project summary: 

Specto Design created an online store on WordPress, helping with all IT challenges. The team worked specifically on frontend services and UI/UX, with occasional backend development. 

The Reviewer
 
1-10 Employees
 
New York City Metro Area
Founder, eCommerce Site
 
Verified
The Review
Feedback summary: 

The team works well under direction and independently, using flexible work methods. Specto Design understands consumer behavior and business, making them invaluable. They were great problem solvers and simplified the checkout process exponentially.

BACKGROUND

Introduce your business and what you do there.

My name is Seymour Segnit, and I worked with Specto Design for my previous organization, which provided device charging solutions.

OPPORTUNITY / CHALLENGE

What challenge were you trying to address with Specto Design?

We had a broad spectrum of IT and web challenges in creating an online store.

SOLUTION

What was the scope of their involvement?

Specto Design was, to some degree, involved in all significant IT-related challenges during that period. On the frontend, we needed to figure out how to make a terrific, easy and delightful customer experience. Sometimes, we had complex data requirements on the backend.

Customers had an experience with our system on the frontend, giving us their personal information, there was a recorded transaction with the payment processor, and the information was filed away properly. At various times, Specto Design worked across the board, most prominently on the frontend. I cared about the minute details around the interface, and less about what the name of an individual field is in the data store.

There were places where I needed to make something happen and gave Specto Design a broad description, but also areas where I wanted something to be done in an exact way and had a more collaborative process. We had 1-2 hour working sessions with whiteboards, sleeves rolled up, and screen-sharing, discussing how would moving an element work in terms of people understanding it and it working on mobile.

On this occasion, we used WordPress with a shopping cart plugin.

How did you come to work with Specto Design?

I have a very old relationship with them, going back 12 years, extending past this most recent project.

Axel Muench, their chief architect, had worked with a startup in the Bay Area around 15 years ago. I was involved with it, but I wasn’t there at the same time as him. I then moved on, while Axel continued to work for them. After that, when I was looking for some specific skills, my co-founders at the original business suggested calling him.

How much have you invested with Specto Design?

The cost of their work was around $30,000. Specto Design is not cheap, but they have good value. The things which cost the least are also the things we’re least pleased to have in our lives.

What is the status of this engagement?

We started working with Specto Design on this project in June 2015. The project ended in June 2016.

RESULTS & FEEDBACK

Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?

The site Specto Design worked on did $9.3 million in sales in 2015. I am not attributing every one of those dollars to their genius, but it was a non-trivial project, and everyone found Specto Design to be delightful and smart.

How did Specto Design perform from a project management standpoint?

They were open to adopting any work process we wanted. Specto Design is the sweet spot of understanding new technologies and having been around long enough to understand business as well.

Skype is a particular way of video conferencing, but I find Zoom to be the superior tool. They also communicated well via email and were open to joining a client’s Slack.

On one end of the scale, there are people who won’t do anything, unless they’re given very specific direction and deadlines. On the other end, there are people running wild. Specto Design is pretty much in the middle of this: they will produce results as-expected or early, but also anticipate pieces we may need.

I didn’t work directly with Marla Carlton for this project. I believe that she handled tasks in the background. I also didn’t know the rest of the cast of characters. As my relationship with Axel evolved, I worked mainly with him, but I don’t know the degree to which he did things himself, or organized other people behind-the-scenes.

What did you find most impressive about Specto Design?

One of the great things about Specto Design and Axel Muench, is that they have been doing this for long enough and are smart enough to understand business cases and consumer behavior, unlike a freelancer who’s learned WordPress. The company can genuinely get under the skin of what it is we’re trying to achieve, and what the business case is, rather than just giving lip service. My general experience in business has been that everyone is full of lip and chat when getting to know them, and they’re experts in this, that and the other, but, when it comes down to it, many of them want to simply do what they’ve already done 20 times before, because it’s easy. Specto Design is good at using what they’ve done 20 times before, and making the process quick and easy, but also getting under the skin of what we’re trying to do.

As an example, we built an unusual component, a post-purchase add-on. As consumers, we are more likely to buy if the checkout process is as simple as possible. Every time we give people another field, we reduce the conversion rate. Big forms scare consumers off, so, included in the philosophy of simplifying the checkout process, is eliminating extra items in that process. We can be selling people extra items like matching cases, but it’s ideal to show them one great offer and have a minimum number of fields.

We built something called the “one-click upsell”, whereby people would complete the initial transaction, process the credit card, ensuring that the sale we’d worked so hard to get wasn’t compromised, and, on the thank you page, instead of confirming that we’d send an email, we’d also offer similar items and upgrades. Customers could say yes or no with a single click. Doing this is simple for the customer, since they’re given a straight choice, but there are multiple things happening behind-the-scenes around confirming the order, storing the information in a legal and ethical way, determining how that transaction will turn up on the buyer’s credit card statement (as one or two items), what would happen if the first transaction went fine and the second one failed, or vice versa, and so on.

This was an example of something Specto Design has understood much better than most. Making things simple is very hard. Every time a consumer has a simple, delightful interaction, making it was a hard task for the IT people.

The only way a client will come back is if they’re captured in some way. If we have their email address, we can send them notifications about the items in their cart. We can also have retargeting ads, even if we don’t have a person’s information, using Facebook and other platforms.

Are there any areas Specto Design could improve?

No. I think they’re fantastic. I have been focusing on a different business, but I know that it’s only a matter of time before I work with Specto Design again.

5.0
Overall Score
  • 5.0 Scheduling
    ON TIME / DEADLINES
  • 4.0 Cost
    Value / within estimates
    If you want cheap, go elsewhere. If you demand outstanding value, Specto Design are your people.
  • 5.0 Quality
    Service & deliverables
    They’re awesome.
  • 5.0 NPS
    Willing to refer
    Wholeheartedly recommend.