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Web Firms Keep Pace With Industry Changes

As the online realm continues to mature, companies on the San Diego Business Journal’s Web Development and Design Firms list are encountering a range of issues surrounding security, social media and digital platforms.

Thomas Powell, CEO and founder of the No. 6 ranked Web agency Pint Inc., which provides online marketing, social media, analytics, consulting and speed optimization services, said Internet hacking is nothing new, but it is gaining more media attention through attacks by such groups as “Anonymous.” Powell’s company dealt with security problems last year as an attempt was made to bring down its United Nations climate-change conference website. He said the large-scale, global nature of the site made it a much richer target for people who “try to make a name for themselves.”

“It added in a new wrinkle,” Powell said. “The Internet does mimic the real world. If people want to make mischief, they will.”

The Rules Apply

A related aspect that he says is also a reflection of the real world is the fraud or deceit perpetrated through social media venues such as fake or paid reviews of a business or product. People are discovering that the old rules matter, he says: “Do you trust them to provide good services?” “Listen to the customer” and “Give good customer service.”

Following his advice, the 50-employee Pint has been successful at retaining the San Diego Chargers and Kyocera Corp. as longtime customers of a decade, and Central Garden & Pet Co. for nearly as long.

Mindgruve, ranked No. 11 on the Web Development and Design Firms list, has also held onto its top clients — House of Blues, Live Nation, Visit Carlsbad — for several years, according to its CEO Chad Robley, who expects business to improve this year over last. Evidenced by a 15 percent increase in employees from 34 last year to 39 this year, Robley attributes much of the growth to the proliferation of digital devices and a shift toward digital media.

“The reason that they’re (businesses) doing it is they’re getting better returns on investment, and there are far better ways to measure campaigns from a digital perspective as opposed to traditional media,” said Robley, adding that the HTML5 programming language enables websites to render Web content and rich media seamlessly across all desktop computer browsers and devices including iPhone, Droid and digital tablets. “Mobile is changing how people approach Web development. When creating a website, we develop the strategy and user experience for mobile first and desktop computer second.”

Robley says that social media is growing at such a rapid rate that it’s forcing companies to integrate social media into their websites.

Growth is also apparent at Time Zone Multimedia, ranked No. 13 on the Web Development and Design Firms list. The company that specializes in producing dynamic websites, which include shopping carts, ad placements and systems for gathering and delivering information, increased its employee count from 22 in 2010 to 26 in 2011.

Cash for Content

Time Zone Multimedia CEO Lenny Magill said a new avenue it’s pursuing is a pay-per-view video platform that allows individuals to sell video content in a protected way.

“It gives smaller producers with an instructional video or how-to video or a seminar who want to monetize it a way to pop it on the Web,” Magill said. “It’s just starting to get some traction.”

Magill said one of the challenges the industry is facing is making sure websites work on various platforms such as Droid or the Apple iPhone. It’s part of the evolution of developing cross-platforms for the Mac and PC and then ensuring browser compatibility with Netscape and Chrome, he said.

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