SafetyDetectives spoke with Ken Carroll, the Creative Director and co-founder at Integris Design, about crucial elements when it comes to web design, cybersecurity considerations during the development stage, his preferred CMS, and more.
Thank you for taking some time to speak with us today. Can you tell me a little bit about your background and your role at Integris Design?
Thank you for the invitation. I started my career as a freehand illustrator in 1991. The position quickly evolved, integrating Macs and managing large marketing projects. I have served as a Marketing VP for one of the largest automotive accessory brands in the US and managed up to 21K per week in digital & print marketing.
In 2006, I cofounded an agency Belize Graphics which later evolved into Integris Design, LLC. Over the years, I have worked directly or indirectly with some of the most popular brands in the US and have been fortunate enough to collaborate with some of the best minds in marketing and design.
I serve as the Creative Director of Integris Design. My central role is to help businesses understand the digital world in a non-technical but accurate way as we explore their goals. Once we identify their goals, we build a custom proposal to help reach the desired result.
Who are your typical clients, and what are the main services offered?
In terms of business size, we serve virtually any business, from single-owner startups to large corporations. Our clients are in diverse markets across the United States. Integris Design offers one of the most comprehensive solutions available. Our services include consultation, planning, design, web development, training, drone services, marketing, and videography. Plus, we’ve added virtual tour services in 2023.
What are the three essential elements when designing a website?
Oddly enough, planning is the first step. Understanding each business and what is unique is critical. We strive to understand each business’s target audience and competitors as we identify its strengths and weaknesses. In our initial consultation, we run reports in real-time, such as a keyword and competitive analysis. Most businesses make the mistake of starting with a design, and then they try to force-fit a marketing strategy – this is a big mistake. But unfortunately, this inefficient process is a common occurrence.
The second step is creating a proposal to help meet established goals. This step can be challenging as we build each website with growth and potential future needs in mind. Over the years, we’ve created a robust and highly flexible platform to help prevent the need for redevelopment.
Once we understand a business model, we can start the creative process of building a website.
How do you secure a website from hackers or data breaches?
Security is a big issue. Unfortunately, most small businesses underestimate these issues and don’t consider small things, such as hijacking mail capabilities.
We work with some companies prone to malicious and intentional attacks, so we must stay on the cusp of this topic. We use Cloudflare and a Global Edge Security system (such as an advanced firewall, DDoS mitigation, advanced CDN capabilities, and SSL/TLS encryption to prevent session hijacking). These concepts are complex and require a heavy investment.
From a cybersecurity perspective, do you have a CMS preference when creating a custom website?
Yes and no. We develop almost exclusively on WordPress. The problem is that WordPress is A CMS (content management system) used by novices and experts alike. There are specific steps and infrastructure considerations to ensure WordPress is safe and secure for a client. We offer a complex recipe that considers premium plugins, proprietary coding, regular update scheduling, vulnerability scanning, and review processes, in addition to what’s known in the industry and an overall “hardening process.”
WordPress is estimated to be used by 60%+ all websites today. It’s also open-source, meaning the code is accessible by both “good guys” and “bad guys.” These two elements, combined with designers that don’t understand the complexities of security, create a perfect environment for hackers to flourish.
Do you have any tips for our readers on the best way to increase engagement on their websites?
First and foremost, I recommend understanding your business and its goals. Engagement is a great metric because it shows how well your website resonates with your market. However, suppose your company offers a trade service, such as an electrician or a plumber. In that case, engagement will differ significantly from someone searching for a rental property or fashion.
Some standard rules, such as easy navigation and a clear value proposition, are a given, but the first 7-10 seconds are critical. That’s the average time a new visitor decides whether to stay on a website or leave.
Ultimately, Integris Design wants to be an approachable and trusted resource. However, we realize this trust must be earned and not given. So, we establish confidence through our Experience Guarantee and offer a free consultation at our Asheville office or through Zoom. Feel free to learn more at https://integrisdesign.com.