Generalists are companies whose clients come from different industries, different walks of life. Maybe they’re local, maybe they’re global. Some are nonprofits or start-ups; some are medical or hospitality giants. Some projects are small, and some are large.
There are lots of good reasons to specialize – you get pretty good at that thing you do. Your process matures, your client communication is normalized, maybe your projects go faster and have fewer surprises. Companies that specialize get to know that vertical or that industry well; they follow it and learn about it and speak about it with deep knowledge and enthusiasm.
What do specialists and non-specialists have in common? In our field, they have in common the desire to do quality web development, to deliver products and services that meet their clients’ needs, and to make a decent living doing so.
But there’s a difference in what specialists sell, in their approach to new business. Some website specialists are so specialized that they build one thing: it could be a website for a college, or for a small municipality, or for a mid-size vertical. The benefit to the specialist is that all the websites look very similar. They use different colors and fonts, but the structure, the functional elements, the content types are all the same. The drawback is all the websites look very similar. One person counted 81 websites in a particular industry that all looked the same. That means the site works and is probably well-priced, but it’s not designed for that customer. It was built by a company that does that one thing.
Other specialists might build websites using one base technology or content management system; this is also attractive to certain customers who like the pricing or other aspects of the offering. The client, however, is removed from any conversation about what technology is best for them in the long term. Many specialists work on a subscription model, so while your website might be inexpensive to build initially, the monthly payments add up quickly and over time cost much more than a custom website built with an open-source content management system that does not require any upfront costs OR ongoing payments.
We are aware that many potential customers want to work with a specialist; they feel confident and secure that they are getting an expert. While we don’t specialize in one industry or customer type, we DO specialize in something: the web. We build all kinds of web projects from virtual reality conference videos to data visualizations, complex applications, intranets, and of course websites. And we don’t specialize in one content management system; we talk to our clients and recommend the best choice for them based on their needs, their budget, their staffing, their IT strength, and more.
This means that although we don’t have the advantage of specialists, we do know a lot about the web in lots of different industries, and we can bring that broad experience to every customer. And this is what keeps us happy, motivated, and thrilled with each new customer. Something different to work on each and every day.