WEST LIBERTY, Iowa — Ethan Anderson sold his first website at a Christmas party five years ago. Since then, his venture into digital design has become a full time and moved from his home to an office in downtown West Liberty.
The name of the company he co-owns with his wife Bethany is Big Imprint, which is written in blue on the large front-facing window in the building they bought to house it at 111 W. Third St.
"We were ready for more room," Ethan, 35, said about the move, explaining that between working out of home and having an office, the business had been run out of a rented room in another building. "We were ready for a space that was representative of who we are as a company and we were ready for it financially."
The space Big Imprint now occupies is open and light, with the walls painted a pale blue. In the front of the office, a small section is set aside by a shelved divider and acts as a kind of foyer, a place for all who enter to get comfortable.
"It was definitely time to have our own space and we are really loving it," Ethan said. "The climate of the downtown in West Liberty is just right for businesses like ours to have a really nice office at an affordable price. We looked to rent and ultimately decided to buy this building."
The Andersons did much of the renovations to the building themselves, Ethan explained. It took 10 months to do all the interior work after buying the building last January.
"People would walk by at 10:30, 11 at night and see me in here with the lights on hammering away at something or other," Ethan remembered with a laugh.
The company has grown in other ways since it's inception, as well. Originally, Big Imprint was just Ethan's side business, but now it boasts a team of four: Ethan is full time, along with a website developer, a part-time intern who works for the company out of Ames, and though Bethany isn't involved in the day-to-day activities she does some work in client relations (she recently baked cookies and mailed them to the business' client list).
The team also has a go-to roster of designers and other builders that it pulls in on a project-by-project basis.
In addition to getting a business' website built and designed, the company maintains the site, tailoring their involvement to whatever fits the client.
"We really try to work with whatever level the client is at. Some people prefer to have a lot of control over their website and changes themselves so we do that. Other people prefer to have us do everything," Ethan said, explaining that Big Imprint always takes care of the technical details such as security and backups, hosting domain names and software updates.
Big Imprint is also constantly adapting to keep up with website trends.
"Website design has changed drastically in the five-and-a-half years we’ve been in business," Ethan said. "Most importantly, websites have to be mobile friendly and such a large percentage of website traffic is on mobile devices … now that if your website is not mobile-friendly there’s no question that you are losing customers as a result of that."
There are also aesthetic trends to watch, which can change multiple times in a year.
"It can be frustrating, even for us," Ethan admitted. "Things changes so rapidly."
Web design isn't the only thing changing; Big Imprint continues to evolve in other ways. The business is branching out to marketing by searching for a marketing specialist to add to its team to meet the needs its clients have expressed.
"It’s a natural fit for us. It’s a very natural progression for our company to take, moving from handling a company’s online presence into a more holistic marketing arrangement," Ethan said. "So many things tie into a company’s website these days, it's often a starting place anyway."
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