Welcome to our ongoing series of interviews with leading industry figures running successful websites. We came up with a list of 10 questions (which we’ll surely adapt over time) to help us uncover their secrets to success. This week we sat down with Isasac Gube, the Editor-in-chief at Design Instruct.
Isaac has a communication and philosophy degree from DePaul University and is the voice behind many of the inspirational/educational articles on DesignInstruct. He graced us with his time to help us understand how a site like “Design Instruct” is so successful.
What made you (or your colleagues) start the company/site?
Design Instruct is a sister site to popular web design/development sixrevisions
We started Design Instruct because we just love great design. Design Instruct was a place for us to share our thoughts and insights on the creative industry. We wanted to publish helpful tutorials and visually inspiring posts.
We all have a creative monster inside of us and Design Instruct is a way for us to keep feeding it; to help ourselves and others grow creatively.
What do you think are the most important skills every new site owner needs to know (or have his/her staff know)?
Personally, the most intimidating aspect of running a website is the technology. The tech is always evolving (whether it’s good or bad) and there’s always that nagging feeling that you should keep up with every new advancement or risk becoming obsolete.
That being said, with a blog like ours, we’ve found that the more important skills are always going to be related to leadership and editorial skills. That’s because content is king. Content will always be king when it comes to websites like ours. It won’t matter if we’re the most technologically advanced website if we have terrible content. Having a singular focus, discipline, and great ideas will always be the bread and butter of a site like ours.
Technology is evolving in the speed of light. Users are getting more picky and sites are being consumed in more and more devices, resolutions, and browsers. Meanwhile, the costs of running a site seems to be on the rise, with the need to monitor and manage so many moving parts. If you had to give your most important recommendations to new site owners with limited budgets, what would you tell them to focus on based on your experiences?
On Design Instruct, we’ve always invested our resources on producing content. From day 1.
Yes, technology is moving forward. But when has technology not moved forward? The tablets, phones, smart tv’s, or any incarnation of “the next big thing” will always be right around the corner. Tech is the easy part. The hard part is getting people to pay attention to what you’re putting out there.
Think about it this way, for instance: the thousands of dollars you’ll potentially spend on a “Responsive” redesign of your website will not mean anything if you can’t even get people to go to your website in the first place. It won’t matter if your content is 4K/Retina display-ready if there’s no compelling reason for people to go your site.
What are the tools/applications and devices you can’t live without and why?
Personally, all I have is my computer with Adobe Creative Suite and my iPhone. I sometimes carry a notebook as well and a nice pen.
How much effort do you put into Social media, SEO and Traditional Marketing (banners)? Which do you think is the most important and which is the easiest one to gain traffic?
While it’s true that social media can drive traffic to a website, we don’t believe in producing content purely for its ability to perform well on social media. It may provide your site with a good spike in performance for a couple of days but then people will forget about it in another couple of days.
Again, our philosophy on driving traffic to the website is to produce the best content we can at any given time. The goal is to provide something meaningful and memorable for our readers. Everything else is secondary. Social media, SEO, and marketing are all great enhancements to driving traffic but they should never be the primary way you get people to your site.
Managing a site is a complicated task if you’re running a brand new site on your own or have a very popular site with a support staff. In your case, how do you manage your time? Do you have any tricks that help you become more productive that you would like to share with our users?
I think any successful site (or any successful enterprise) starts with good leadership. Without good leaders to give a singular focus, even the most talented and hardworking group of individuals will find it difficult to find success.
In our case, we have a weekly general face-to-face meeting to just voice our concerns, keep each other updated, and to tell each other what we plan to work on in the week. The key is accountability. If one of us says we’re going to do something during the week, those tasks are examined and torn apart the week after. If it doesn’t get finished, we ask why; if it does get done, we report on how to do it better the next time. Either way, you don’t want to come to a meeting empty-handed.
In your opinion, how critical are core development skills in owning a successful site? If you think they are critical, what skills do you recommend anyone wanting to own a site know?
Development skills are important just for the pure fact that that’s how you build a site. However, if you have no plans on becoming a web developer yourself, then I recommend paying someone else to do the work for you so you can focus on the more important things for your business.
That being said, I think a conceptual understanding of how “coding” works can help anyone who’s trying to run a successful website. Personally, I don’t code. I can’t stand it. However, I do have an understanding of how most of it works and that has helped me become a better editor.
Do newsletters account for an important segment of your site ‘s success? If so, in what way?
We don’t currently have a newsletter. We should get on that, actually.
If you only had $1,000 and needed to plan the month ahead for your site, what would you spend it on and why?
I would spend it on paying top-notch writers to produce amazing content for us. That’s the reason we got into this business and that’s the only way we think our readers will allow us to continue.
Where can our users go to hear more about your insights?