Friday, February 10, 2012

Member Insider: Lookit Design

When you look at a website, what do you see? After talking with Graham Murray, I learned that the websites created through Look-It Design contain a heart and a pulse that beats full of excitement, activism, and resilience. Please enjoy this Spotlight with Graham Murray to learn more about the passion behind the web pages that are helping to change how we see the world. What can you do maximize web traffic for your business? Are you making the most common mistake in Internet marketing? Find out below.

Damon L. Jacobs: Tell me about
Look-It Design.
Graham Murray: I started this company about eight years ago with my partner, Joe York. He was the creative force; I was on the business side. Unfortunately, he then passed away from cancer. So I carried it on and built the company. Now we have eight employees and about one hundred clients. We offer a complete set of services for small businesses up to large corporate accounts. Anything that anyone needs on the Internet, whether it is a custom site or programming, we offer creative web and mobile applications. We do custom web design, the programming around that, the hosting, and the technology. We have a package for small businesses called “The Quick Site” which offers a very cost efficient way to create a professional website for smaller companies or start-ups. Then we also offer the search engine optimization. Once we build this beautiful website for you, and all is functional and working, the challenge is getting traffic. There’s no point in having this brilliant website without people looking at it. So we allow you to get more customers, members, or whatever it is you are trying to get, and build that into your businesses.

One of the things we are really excited about in the future is the advent of mobile devices. There are two aspects of that. We optimize our websites so they can work on mobile devices. It’s not just about having a website that looks good on your laptop anymore. If you are walking around on the street and need information, you want to be able to quickly see that on your mobile device as well. There are going to be more people using mobile handsets than computers in the next twelve to eighteen months.

Damon L. Jacobs: So someone like me, who has a website that is not yet mobile compatible, is it getting lost in the dust?
Graham Murray: I can tell you already that we track how people are accessing our customer’s websites through Analytics. Over 10% are accessing websites via iPhones, Androids, etc. So having a properly displayable and optimized site is important. This is especially useful for anyone who is selling products to the younger generation. Teenagers and twenty somethings want information instantly; they don’t want to wait until they get to their laptops.

Damon L. Jacobs: What kind of businesses do you service?
Graham Murray: Our key markets are financial services, health care, and legal. Beyond that it is entertainment, hospitality, consulting firms. It is a wide array. The other thing that has become important is the apps. When you have a website that is mobile enabled you capture a good part of the market. But now if you want to make it an exciting experience for a user, you create an app. You see this now in corporate sites or even Facebook as an example. You see the website, the website that works on a mobile device, then the app that works on a particular device. It gives the customer more control.

Damon L. Jacobs: And they get all of this with
Look-It Design?
Graham Murray: Yes, all this plus the advantage of marketing. There are huge amounts of dollars spent in search marketing. It’s something like a 500% increase in recent years. Advertising agencies increase the amount they are spending on these kinds of search marketing programs. It’s not just about a search on a Google. There are also ad placements on affiliate sites and other ad placements that will enhance revenue for our customers.

Damon L. Jacobs: What’s the most common mistake you see people making on their website?
Graham Murray: Too much content, and not enough relevant content. The hardest thing about a website is sharing the right content. Our focus is on execution - taking the content and making it look good visually and functionally. The hardest part for businesses is to write their own content. When it comes to viewing websites you have to understand people are only going to give a second to a page. If they don’t see what they are looking for within 1-2 seconds they will move on to somewhere else. The big challenge is keeping and retaining the interest. It’s about drawing them in, making it an interesting story, finding how to connect with your customer, and how you enhance that relationship. Don’t think of it like you’re just putting up information, that’s the old fashioned way. This is an interactive two-way conversation. You want to cultivate that interest, and then make a call-to-action.

Damon L. Jacobs: How did you decide to make
Look-It Design a Certified Diverse Supplier?
Graham Murray: I was introduced to NGLCCNY by a friend who invited me to a social media seminar. That’s when I first heard Richard Oceguera talking about the mission of NGLCCNY and that clicked with me. I thought this made a lot of sense. If I want to actualize the potential of my business from individual businesses to corporate partners, then I am going to have to find a way to get in the door. This seemed like the best chance for that. I also wanted to do something to help the community. I had just lost my partner, and I didn’t feel I could go out at that time and actively pursuit marriage equality. But as a business owner I felt proud of what I was doing. Because I had been subjected to discrimination over the years, this was a chance to level the playing field.

Damon L. Jacobs: Has it worked out?
Graham Murray: It certainly has. I was Certified two years ago. My advice to anyone joining NGLCCNY is this: the first year you’re not going to see results. You have to plan to be in it longer, this is not an instant process. I began working with the local members, people I met at the M3s. As I developed those relationships, we got business, good contracts, just the kind I was looking for. It enabled me to move up with my business planning and product offering. Being part of a group where other members are Certified does hold weight, I think it makes a difference. They know you are not a fly-by-night business, that it is serious. Then to my surprise I started getting calls from the corporate partners because of being on the Certified list. There is activity there, they are trying to reach out and connect. In financial services and health care there is a lot of activity. They are looking for LGBT suppliers.

Damon L. Jacobs: Is it safe to say that becoming a Certified Diverse Supplier allowed you access to corporate contacts that you would not have had otherwise?
Graham Murray: It is fair to say that. It’s getting in the door that can be the problem. With small businesses, the buyers don’t have any time for you. If you’re a large company they’ll talk, but if you’re a small business owner like me they will not. This Certification provides an entry. They will give you a chance. That has been a surprise to me. Without the Certification I wouldn’t expect to be able to knock on those doors.

Damon L. Jacobs: Tell me about your partner’s contributions to the starting of this company?
Graham Murray: He was the creative part. He was a big force in theater. We fell in love and started this business together. He took his creativity in performing arts and applied it to visual arts in order to come up with these beautiful websites. I had a background in graphic design so we were doing a modern version of graphic design and print on the web. We produced some great initial websites, and that gave us a portfolio to sell. We built it from there.

Damon L. Jacobs: After he passed away did you question whether or not to continue
Look-It Design?
Graham Murray: No. This is continuing his memory. He came up with the name. It would be a shame not to continue that. There is a piece of Joe in all this. It is a wonderful tribute to him.

Damon L. Jacobs: What keeps you going and inspired to keep Look-It Design growing?
Graham Murray: I’m constantly excited about taking new technologies and making them work for people. So when I get in front of a client, I can make a difference. It’s more obvious in a smaller business, but I can see the impact in a larger company. When I can do that it is fulfilling. I take technologies that may be underutilized or hard to manage and make it simple, elegant, easy to use, and deliver a result. That gives me satisfaction.

And for me it’s about relationships. It’s not just about sitting back there programming. It’s getting out, meeting with business owners, helping them realize their objectives. Do you remember what it felt like the night Marriage Equality passed in New York? It’s like that; it’s like getting on the cusp of something cool and exciting. Like this is our time. I know a lot of the political stuff going on is frustrating. But think about what we are doing in our community, what we could do, and the power we have. Money talks. If we can get out there as a force in business, as proud LGBT members of our businesses, it makes a big difference. It changes discrimination, it changes attitudes.

Damon L. Jacobs: Is there anything else you want NGLCCNY members to know about you and
Look-It Design?
Graham Murray: I’m also inspired by my loving French bulldog named Buddy. I bought Buddy for Joe as a present. He’s been an inspiration; he makes sure everything is running smoothly in the shop. He keeps me in line.

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City. He specializes in issues related to grief and loss, HIV related concerns, gay/lesbian issues, stress management, depression, addiction, ageism, bullying, caretaking fatigue, as well as couples in non-traditional arrangements. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve." To have him speak with your group, or to schedule a counseling visit, call 347-227-7707, or email at Shouldless@gmail.com. An initial complimentary consultation is offered to NGLCCNY members, or people who are referred by NGLCCNY members.

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