Wow. It's hard to believe that 2012 is already coming to an end. As I write this, Focus Lab has already ceased all client work for the year. We're wrapping up some things internally as we prepare to take about ten days off to enjoy the holidays with friends and family. Like last year, we wanted to recap how 2012 went for the Focus team.
Also like last year, we have to start this off right.
Thank you to all of our friends and family who’ve been with us for the 2012 journey. We learn so many things from you and value the time we have with each of you. Whether it’s in the form of an occasional tweet or a conversation that lasts hours, we love to continue learning and wouldn’t be where we are today without you. Thank you!
January — the kickoff
We started off the year with a facelift of our own website. The Focus Lab site relaunched with more portfolio content, team bios and other details that help tell our story. Before this we just had a simple one-page scroller site that also included a blog. For the 2012 iteration, we went deeper, and it truly paid off. We received some fun recognition for the site’s design and interactions and also had many sales leads referring to our site as one they loved. With the launch of the new site we held a contest where people hunted for our hidden “monocle man” references. We gave away $300 in Amazon gift cards, and had a lot of fun with it.
This year our site traffic grew quite a bit. The addition of more in-depth content certainly helped. Here are some stats:
- Visits were up 345%
- Uniques were up 250%
- Page views were up 600%
- Bounce rate dropped 25%
To-date, the launch of the website was our highest traffic day ever.
This iteration of our website has served us well, but we realized late this year that we have again outgrown our current site. While superior to the last, it doesn’t tell our story the way it should. We’ve been so busy helping our clients tell their stories, that we haven’t kept up with ours. So we’re in full swing to redesign our site again for this coming January. We’re planning yet another contest and look forward to launching it.
We took a break from events this year so we could focus on completing high-quality client work and strengthening our team. We attended a few small local events and I went to a business/leadership event in Orlando, but for the most part, we stayed in the office. This really paid off. Our team is stronger than ever, and we’re ready to crank things into high gear for 2013.
Dribbble is an interesting thing. I can share this with pride in our design team, knowing they would never say this if they were writing this article. Our team’s collective following on Dribbble has skyrocketed this year. As a result, we have more eyes than ever looking over the shoulder during our creative process, which leads to a great network of peers providing productive, creative feedback. As a team, our Dribbble following has increased more than 10 fold this year.
Our site traffic is largely from Dribbble referrals and the majority of our sales leads find us through our profiles and work on Dribbble. These are some really big numbers and we’ve seen it impact our business dramatically this year. Dribbble not only allows us to get the real-time feedback on work, but when our clients allow us to showcase this real-time work they get early feedback on their products as well. It’s basically like free marketing for many of them. Our buddy Ian Landsman, owner of Userscape, even wrote an article partially about how our team’s use of Dribbble helped him build the Snappy user base early and quickly.
We’ve had the honor of working with some great people this year. I can’t list everything and everyone, but I wanted to share some highlights. As with our portfolio, we typically showcase the design work because it makes for much more visually appealing content. Our dev team did some awesome work too, but who wants to look at code in a blog post!?
A Glimpse into Next Year
Next year will be a defining year for Focus Lab. We were intentionally slow to grow this year, saying "no" to way more project opportunities than we said "yes" to. As mentioned earlier, our focus was on our small team and the quality of work for our clients. Now that we’ve settled into a process and flow we’re really comfortable with, we’ll be ramping things up. Next year we’ll see more growth and high-quality work. We more than doubled in revenue year-over-year in 2012. We’re aiming for a similar goal in 2013. Here are a few things we hope to achieve next year:
We truly believe our new website (in progress as I write this) will help tell our story in a way we don’t come close to today. The site will stay true to our aesthetic simplicity, but dive deeper into what we do and how we help our clients succeed. As a response to the Dribbble network interactions, we’ll be building in some fun pieces to the new site around what we post there.
As mentioned earlier, we spent a lot of time strengthening our team this year. Next year will be only be different in how much more time we spend with our team. We’ve each set our own goals to become knowledgeable and experienced in ways that help us do our respective jobs better. Bill and I have similar goals, and will also be spending more time creating an environment that encourages this kind of learning and growth. We’ll also attend the occasional conference when appropriate topics arise.
If we’re going to aim for 100% year-over-year growth for 2013, we have our work cut out for us. We adjusted our sales strategy in November to impact January and get us off to the right start. The growth we’re projecting isn’t just revenue centric though. To achieve the growth we want, we’ll need to slowly expand our team, our client base, and even the work we do. While we are currently only a services-based company, and we love the work we do with our clients, we’ll be trying out a few things in 2013 on the product side of life. We’re really excited about it!
If you ask any of my teachers from my childhood they would probably tell you that I hated reading. I never read my assignments and when I did, I skimmed them and wasn’t engaged at all. What they didn’t know though, was that while I wasn’t reading my fiction books in high school, I was reading about PHP and other topics that actually interested me. I like learning and I like reading things that interest me. That being said — I don’t do it nearly enough. Next year I’m planning to do a lot more reading and learning. Our team is following suit in a number of ways. The end-game with the reading is to learn more and better execute on projects and strategies across the company. I’m really pumped up about this one.
Lastly, I want to touch on goals. I’ve never really been a big goal-setter. I’ve done it a little here and there, but not much. We had a revenue goal for 2012 (which we hit) but it was only verbally acknowledged a few times. Honestly, it’s either fluke or a testament to our work that we hit the goal considering we never broke it down into steps necessary to achieve it.
For 2013 our company is deeply embracing goals. In fact, Bill and I have produced a document that outlines our company’s goals at-large, our design team goals and also our dev team goals. Additionally we’re working with each team member to encourage them to set and reach goals throughout the year. I’m really excited to see where this takes us.
“Give me a stock clerk with a goal and I’ll give you a man who will make history. Give me a man with no goals and I’ll give you a stock clerk.”James Cash Penney (JC Penney founder)
We are all gassed up and ready for battle.
Bring on 2013.