FitSmallBusiness is a fast-growing site whose mission is to provide small business owners with the information they need to succeed. Like many of our clients, they’ve followed a growth trajectory that’s taken them from a do-it-yourself site to a bustling business with a large team.
As their site has grown, so have their Wordpress management and custom development needs. They upgraded from DIY themes to freelance coders, and then to a WordPress Assurance plan and custom development projects with Howard Development & Consulting.
“No one could handle all of the things that we needed,” said FitSmallBusiness Co-Founder David Waring. “We wanted to feel very confident about the security of the site, we wanted to be very confident that if we had a problem with the site, that the person who was working on it was skilled in the area – or if they didn’t have that skill themselves, they were plugged into a network of other developers.”
For that reason, David sought out an outside firm to get the job done. He prefers to work with companies who are experts in their individual areas, and having a firm with a large team (and the ability to expand its horizons quickly) was a big reason he chose to work with us over hiring a less-experienced in-house developer.
We kicked off our relationship by tackling a specific, urgent problem – a long-out-of-date plugin had wreaked havoc on the SEO rankings for a section of the site. We quickly dug in, got accustomed to the site and the work of previous developers, and solved the problem with the combination of a software upgrade and development of custom code to fit the site’s exact needs. Since then, we’ve worked with David and the team on Security & Performance Optimization and a number of custom plugin projects, as well as becoming their go-to guys for daily questions about site functionality, analytics, SEO and more.
With a site as large and complex as FitSmallBusiness, we’re constantly tackling many different (but interrelated) challenges. This can rattle the types of programmers who prefer to simply put their heads down and code, but it’s a perfect fit for us, because we merge high-quality execution with big-picture, interdisciplinary thinking.
“For our WordPress guy, we need someone who’s an expert, but that means a lot of things – including hosting, performance issues, security, design implementation. This is a hard role for us to fill – and that’s why we are super happy to have found you.”
One of the big takeaways here is that, while we are a great fit for FitSmallBusiness today, that wouldn’t necessarily have been true a year or two ago, before they’d grown to the point where having a responsive, high-end developer on their side made a true difference to their business. Using lighter-weight solutions made business sense for them in the past, but now they’ve got much bigger challenges on their plate and need a partner who’s professional, responsive, and ready to jump on any request or new business idea.
“It doesn’t matter how good a company is in doing whatever it is they do if they’re not responsive.
“Going with the firm like yours – a firm that just doesn’t work on the low-end at all and is focused on the middle- to high-end – is a smart move because you know they have the resources to be responsive.”
Our work has also helped David and his team take web site management out of their own daily responsibilities. Now that they have a single, trusted firm who’s responsible for all aspects of web site management, they’re no longer playing middle-man between many different vendors.
“It’s nice to have someone who has global responsibility for the site, because the problem is, there’s so much crossover between technologies. If you’re talking to the hosting company, a lot of times they’re going blame the theme developer. You know, it’s very easy to pass blame around.
“Having someone who has a global understanding of the site and can actually help us identify where the issue is – that’s a big thing. We’re not just getting passed around like a hot potato between our different service providers.”
Thinking long-term, we’ve developed detailed quality-assurance procedures to help us keep track of dozens of plugins, many of which interact with each other, and ensure that nothing gets broken or missed when we run software upgrades on this deep, complex site. That allows us to work proactively to keep the site stable and secure, rather than reacting to problems after they’ve been hiding under the surface for days or weeks.
By focusing on proactive improvements and detailed quality-assurance with our WordPress Assurance plan, Co-Founder David Waring says, “We’re trying to avoid a ticking time bomb.”
And as with all our clients, one of the best parts of our work is getting involved in the entrepreneurship, idea-generation and business-building. For us, that’s where the fun lies, and that’s one of the big benefits we bring to entrepreneurs looking for a high-end partner. We get the job done and help you define the job we should be doing.
“You’ve worked to understand our business. I’m not just providing you a spec – you seek to understand the issue and the end goal.”