WICHITA, Kan. – Wichita-based marketing agency, Greteman Group, has launched SmartParts, a website theme that streamlines the web-development process. Its backend code serves to save both time and money. The agency estimates in many cases it will save clients 20-30 percent on backend development. SmartParts combines best practices in prototype, responsive development and content management systems (CMS) for sound web solutions.
“SmartParts grew out of clients’ communicated needs for the best possible creative and functionality at the best possible price,” says Sonia Greteman, agency creative director and president. “We listened.”
Clients increasingly must do more with less as their teams get streamlined and marketing departments are tasked with ever-greater responsibilities. Their websites have become critical, dynamic tools for guiding prospective clients through every stage of the buying cycle: awareness, consideration, preference, purchase and repurchase. Having a website that’s always up to date becomes crucial. A CMS site that can be easily updated with events, special offers, blog posts, newsletters and more becomes paramount.
The agency started with a foundation of web knowledge that dates back to its first website 24 years ago. It began research and development for SmartParts three years ago. SmartParts consists of custom-programmed, fluid templates that improve upon the conventional WordPress content management system (CMS). The agency built the theme to be lean and intuitive, which minimizes the need for plugins that can be vulnerable to security breaches and random updates that play havoc with your site. They can also slow down a website, which is both bad for SEO and the user experience.
SmartParts is used throughout our website process, creating efficiency without sacrificing responsive design and avoiding me-too websites that look like everyone else’s. (Example: drag-and-drop builders such as SquareSpace.) Beginning with the prototype, SmartParts enables the agency to collaborate with clients and navigate the site as if it were fully designed. They can offer input early on rather than waiting until the site is almost ready to launch before having a chance to give feedback and Clients are able to see the site come to life, grow and take shape.
A key benefit of SmartParts is enjoyed post website launch. Unlike proprietary CMS systems out there, SmartParts gives clients the control to manage their websites internally. Plus, they need not have knowledge of programming. SmartParts was built with the end-user in mind for quick site loads and mobile optimization.
Being the Change
“In the early ’90s, we designed one of the region’s first agency websites. It only had a few pages. There was little text. The navigation was so subtle finding your way around became a game. It had no SEO because Google didn’t exist. Nor did Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or YouTube. You accessed the site through painfully-slow, dial-up modems. We persevered and evolved,” says Greteman.
“Today, every project we touch is digital or has a digital component. We haven’t just changed with the times. We’ve been the change. Responsive design, search-engine optimization, data-driven marketing, email campaigns and social-media management. We dive into analytics to see how well everything’s performing – and adjust as needed. SmartParts is a part of our digital progression. One our clients will love.”
From Development to Implementation
Greteman Group created its first SmartParts site for Slawson Companies’ NewMarket Square commercial development. It launched in March. Collaborative meetings with the Greteman Group and Slawson teams determined everything from site architecture to information hierarchy. The main client request was for a store directory that was easier to update and would grow with NewMarket as the center continues to add stores.
“Using SmartParts allowed us to develop the site more efficiently, so we could design and build a custom solution for NewMarket’s directory map,” says Jordan Walker, Greteman Group digital director. “Our solution delivers a color-coded, interactive directory that is unlike most major retail centers. Slawson’s team says it’s so easy to use. As new properties open, changes can now be made in minutes rather than hours.”
“Like many websites, ours was born out of necessity and then evolved over time,” says Jerry Jones, Slawson Companies vice president of commercial development. “Our old site became cumbersome, not user friendly and a challenge for us to update. The new site elevates the user experience exponentially – both externally and internally.”
The Case for SmartParts
So, why not just use off-the-shelf WordPress themes? Well, if you’re a young person setting up an online portfolio, need a site for a short-lived special event, have little or no budget, or generic suits you fine, you probably should.
If, however, you’re a mid-to-large business reliant on a professional, functioning, put-your-best-foot-forward site, don’t do it. Off-the-shelf can be problematic if trying to integrate with other services, such as donor databases or customer portals. It can be difficult and time intensive to customize and have overly complex administration screens, because they’re trying to cover every scenario possible. That’s what happens with themes built for anyone and everyone to use. You often end up with lots of unnecessary code and unneeded features that bulk up and slow down the site. Sluggish site speeds result from a host of files automatically loaded onto every page – rather than customizing and only loading the ones in use. Off-the-shelf solutions force you to sift through lots of sections to locate the things you actually want to change.
“We think through how our clients will be updating content and whenever possible, we keep the code hidden so they don’t have to worry about learning a new language or breaking something as they complete updates,” Walker says.
“Bottom line, if you’re looking to stand apart from your competitors, a website can be instrumental in building credibility and customer loyalty. It is incredibly hard to do that with an off-the-shelf solution that is built for everyone. SmartParts helps us deliver outstanding return on our clients’ website investment.”