How I started my agency: Patrick from Progress Labs
Welcome Patrick! What set you up to be successful in launching Progress Labs?
When Progress Labs first started, we were just a dev agency. And that was because I was a developer by trade - and having worked at Red Antler, I had a ton of relevant eCommerce experience.
The great thing about Red Antler was that they paved the way for businesses to desire strong brands that require more advanced engineering support behind them. I remember building very bespoke solutions for businesses like Colugo or Supergoop.
So when I eventually decided to go out on my own, the market was ready to support an agency like Progress Labs. It was those dynamics coupled with a genuine interest and personal care for design helped us attract the client base that eventually put us on the map.
So what’s your edge? How are you getting these clients?
I'm a firm believer that there are thousands of really good agencies out there - and so many “pretty websites” - but where we win is with our business-minded approach to making sites.
We look out for lawsuits via ADA compliance, we learn about your product roadmap, we make sure your systems work with your ERP, inventory and fulfillment etc etc. We not only make pretty websites, we make sites that perform at the highest level (speed & conversion rate) and are set-up to grow with your business.
That approach has created an enormous amount of goodwill in the community where our clients stick with us for a long time and refer their peers.
What's one project that screams “Progress Labs”?
I'll tell you two.
First is Haus. Although the business has recently been shut down - they’ll forever be in our hearts. We did development for them on a retainer basis from their earliest days. We shined in our working relationship with them. We’d help them figure out complex operational challenges that were business critical in addition to the standard web development work you might expect. And that’s our favorite type of client.
Second is Loisa. I like this one because we did so much work on it. We did branding, web design and development, and helped them as much as we could from a packaging standpoint with design file sharing & exploration. I’m a big fan of the business’ mission of celebrating Latin culture through food & I think we did a great job in translating that into design.
2 great brands. What's one thing you got wrong at Progress Labs?
What we got wrong along the way was not bringing things like site speed and ADA compliance to the forefront for clients sooner. Coming from an engineering background - those are topics that I think about a lot. But designers may be less sensitive to them. And overlooking these subjects may lead to debilitating lawsuits or other issues.
And that can be avoided on day 1 if you bake those elements into your process. Which is exactly what we do today.
And what’s one thing you really got right since the beginning?
We’ve always designed websites that feel unique, fresh and different - but also aren’t at odds with conversion optimization practices.
Our philosophy has always been that you can build a beautiful website that converts well. And that's one thing we will continue to double down on.
Last question: Any hot takes on eCommerce?
A high quality brand does not equal a high quality product. And because it’s never been easier to buy eyeballs - we’re now seeing two very stark extremes in eCommerce: Some brands over-indexed on brand and while they have a super beautiful site, they might have a weak offering. And on the other side, some brands have invested all of their efforts into product and not a penny into their online presence - so they’ll suffer equally.
Both approaches are wrong - and you need to be somewhere in the middle.
So I personally can’t wait to see the brands with outstanding product level up on a design standpoint and the new age brands invest more heavily in product.