Website questions? Sean Christman, founder and CEO of Slamdot, has answers.
Sean first discovered his passion for technology when he began writing software and building computers at age 11. He went on to work at a large web hosting company after high school before founding Slamdot in 2005. Since then, his website design and hosting company, located in downtown Knoxville, continues to innovate by making affordable websites available for small businesses through the area’s first ever web design retail destination.
Everything Knoxville: Why does a business need a website?
Sean Christman: With over 60 million local searches occurring each day, without a website, people may not even know your business exists. Today, your website really is your business. It’s the 24/7 online version of your company, which answers basic questions and helps people contact you. Even if you have a website, if it wasn’t built properly, you may not be getting found in search engines.
EK: Are all websites created equal?
Sean: Every web design company is different, and each designer would create a different website for the same business, with varying results. You want to choose your web designer based on their reputation, customer service, creative talent, technical expertise, and cost, in that order.
EK: What are some other considerations when choosing a web designer?
Sean: Picking a web design company is basically picking a business partner. You’ll be developing a long-term relationship with your designer to help grow your business online. Website development is very collaborative, and involves both you and your designer spending time together throughout the project. If they’re not friendly, helpful, insightful, and responsive, you’ll be back to square one again in no time. You also need to exercise caution against web designers who outsource your website’s development to sub-contractors, many of whom may be located offshore.
EK: What is the difference between a graphic designer and a web designer?
Sean: Many purported web design companies are actually just graphic designers that dabble in web design. They can create beautiful, stunning websites that fundamentally don’t work, or aren’t easily found in search engines. A great design is important, but it’s not typically necessary to have a completely custom, unique design for most businesses. It’s more important for the website to function.
EK: What is code and what is its significance?
Sean: The code, or markup language, is the most important component of the website, and is very different from the design. The code determines how easily search engines will ultimately find and rank your website. Code is also responsible for maintaining a consistent experience across all browsers, including mobile devices. A well-coded website is also easier to update and maintain.
EK: How important is social media to small business?
Sean: Social media goes hand in hand with your website. The text on your website is typically promotional and focuses on your products or services. Social media shows the human side of your business. It lets people get to know the face behind your company, see who recommends you, and learn about exciting things going on within your organization.
EK: Why select Slamdot instead of a friend or relative to design and host my company’s website?
Sean: Since we have an entire team that continues to expand as our clients’ needs grow, we constantly have staff available to help our customers with whatever they need. We provide 24/7 support, so we’re always available, whenever you need us. Every aspect of your website is handled in-house, which is pretty uncommon. We design, code, optimize, maintain, host and support everything under one roof, so there’s only one company to deal with.
EK: How important is hosting to my company?
Sean: Most companies providing hosting are simply reselling web hosting services from a larger company. We maintain and administer our own servers, which means we’re in complete control of how they’re performing, and we’re not dependent on a third party if anything needs attention. This also allows us to ensure our customers’ data is safe and secure, because only Slamdot customers are using our servers. As part of our monthly web hosting service, we assist our customers with updating their websites, and provide ongoing technical support, which is also available in person at the Slamdot Store.
EK: How important is it to own your website?
Sean: It’s very important to own your website and domain name, and have control over all of the various components that make up your web presence. We make this easy by providing you with access to everything you need, including a content management system so you can make changes to your website. We don’t lock our customers into any long-term contracts or proprietary technology that they can’t leave. Our customers own their websites and are free to move if they’re ever unhappy with our service.
EK: Describe the “Slamdot Experience.”
Sean: We make the entire process of starting and managing a website simple. Our relationship with our customers doesn’t end when the website is completed; it’s really just the beginning. The long-term partnership we have with our customers is the most rewarding. We enjoy helping them grow their businesses through the Internet by showing them how to leverage available technologies through SlamCamps. We focus on getting results, and have a strong passion for customer service. We encourage anyone to ask around about us and check our references. What sets us apart is the Slamdot Experience, and it’s unique to us.
EK: Is it easy to get started?
Sean: We provide a free one-on-one consultation at the Slamdot Store, which typically takes about an hour. We don’t use confusing jargon or try to intimidate our customers by talking over their heads. We take that time to learn about their business and evaluate any competitors, research keywords, and come up with a website strategy to accomplish their objectives. We have several packages to choose from, and we’ll figure out the best option based on their needs, at a price they can afford. If we don’t think we can help, we’ll try to recommend someone else who can.
EK: What is your process like?
Sean: Our customers provide us with their text and photos, and we organize them into an effective website that’s built properly and looks great. Once the website is completed, we provide our customers with ongoing training through our bi-weekly SlamCamp classes on website management, search engine optimization, social media, and everything else they’ll need to continue to grow their business online.
EK: What kind of websites do Slamdot specialize in?
Sean: We specialize in small business informational websites. The marketing strategy behind a website is to convert traffic into qualified leads. It’s a business tool, and we understand that. So, our goal is to trigger people to contact you once they’ve done some initial research about your company through your website.
EK: Do you offer custom websites?
Sean: Sure, but most of our customers opt for the cost savings of working with one of our existing professional designs that we can customize individually. Since it’s the code and content that will ultimately determine your success in search engines, utilizing one of our existing designs will save considerable money that would have been spent on just creating a unique look.
108 South Gay Street
Knoxville, TN 37902