What it’s like being a developer at an advertising agency

People who know that I’m a developer are sometimes surprised to learn that I work at an ad agency. But it makes perfect sense to me.

Developers can help guide agencies into building things they may not have realized were possible. At Well Done Marketing, our development team is always looking for new ways to engage customers in fun and interesting ways. Also, agencies run fast, like a startup. An onsite technology team allows them to provide solutions to their clients on a tight schedule.

But the benefits of having an in-house tech team at an ad agency don’t stop there. Third-party vendors can build pretty good websites, but they rarely achieve both beautiful design and excellent functionality. It’s hard to do both. But a really good in-house development department can do it consistently because they are in the mix with the agency’s creative team.

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Our developers are bumping shoulders with our creative talent—writers and designers—all the time. We don’t have to be filled in later. And we don’t wait until the site is ready to build to think about what’s possible or how to execute the project.

We know a good site starts with great content, but it’s more than a just a text bed. A website is a full creative concept that developers translate into code.

It’s not a linear process either, although many places treat it that way. They design first, then develop, fill the site with content, and then do analytics. This might seem easier, but it has a stifling effect on the project. How many times have you heard, “It’s too late to make that change,” or “We can’t go in a different direction or make adjustments now, the site’s not adaptable.” Form over function is never good.

Digital strategy plays along too

We also have a strong digital strategy team. Our developers build the site and make sure it’s functioning, while our digital team makes sure it draws an audience and engages them appropriately. As one of only a few accredited Google Partners in Indiana, we’ve shown that we understand the mechanics behind search engines and we make sure sites are accessible through analytics tools and built with SEO in mind.

I’ve worked in places where we waited around for copy and design elements and had to email thoughts on strategy instead of talking them through out loud. That’s not how we work at Well Done. Processes are streamlined, and in-person communication occurs throughout the entire project lifecycle.

Rebrands lead to refreshes

It’s worth noting that we rarely ever do only a website for a client. Many times, a website refresh is part of a client’s rebranding initiative, or maybe they need content or a campaign landing page. Clients might also need social and SEO integration, mobile-friendly updates, or a mobile app. As the hub of most marketing activities, it makes sense to have developers onsite, because marketing never stops, and neither does web development.

We recently launched sites for three of our longstanding clients: Wheaton, a worldwide moving company, Wabash Valley Power Association and its PowerMoves.com energy conservation site, and Duke Realty — a site with some fairly advanced mapping capabilities. We also added a more intuitive interface, bigger photos, and clear, bold messaging in a new site for IndianaLandmarks.org.

But these sites represent just a portion of the work we do. All of our PR and marketing services go hand-in-hand. When done together, as a team, we can deliver broader campaigns and better results.

Plugged in Creatively

Being at an agency has made me more creative as a developer. In August, WordPress published my Worth The Read plugin. In two months, it’s had over 200 active installs and 700 downloads.

As a ThemeForest author, I knew WordPress had stringent standards and a thorough review. The code must work perfectly with no bugs. Most get rejected. But if they choose to offer your plugin, it becomes accessible to hundreds of millions of WordPress users.

I wanted to challenge myself to make something of this caliber. My supervisor had also asked me to do something that was of personal interest for professional development, so the plugin became my project. After about 40 hours and a few months of intense back and forth, it was approved.

So you can see why we have developers at Well Done Marketing. Creativity begets creativity. Proximity breeds collaboration. And synergy might be an annoying buzzword, but we’ve got that too.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Brian McCulloh, senior developer at Well Done Marketing, is a Purdue University grad and a ThemeForest contributor and author.