Bonnie Arbittier / Rivard Report
Before choosing a company to design your website, typical questions to ask might focus on pricing, past work, and references from former clients. One often-overlooked, but crucial, question should be: "Will you train my employees to manage and maintain the website?"
Most web design companies don't offer that service. Instead, they charge clients for ongoing website maintenance – a lucrative practice, especially over the long term.
Kori Ashton and her parents, Rusty and Joy Postell, started San Antonio's WebTegrity with the intent of designing WordPress websites for clients. To demonstrate its core value of integrity, Ashton decided WebTegrity would offer clients more than customized website design with the standard services in search engine optimization, digital marketing, and analytics.
WebTegrity would also train clients on how to maintain their new websites.
What began as a small web design startup in 2012 has grown into a thriving female-founded tech company that recently relocated to larger office space on Huebner Road.
WebTegrity builds customized WordPress websites and will work with clients to teach novices how to build their own website or train employees on how to manage a fully customized, complex website once launched. For those looking for a more affordable do-it-yourself option, WebTegrity offers classes around San Antonio, as well as online WordPress training.
WordPress powers more than 28% of all websites worldwide, including the Rivard Report's site. Ashton explained this market dominance is due to WordPress' user-friendliness, which makes it an approachable choice for those unfamiliar with software coding languages.
“What sets us apart is that we build fully customized WordPress themes and we can teach clients how to maintain their website,” Ashton said. “We’re interested in having educated clients, so they understand what it takes to maintain a smoothly running website.”
WebTegrity clients include Geekdom, St. Mary’s University, UTSA, the University Health System, and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. For a small business with a mere 15 employees, WebTegrity developed an ambitious 80 fully customized websites in 2016.
Ashton also offers free WordPress tutorials on WebTegrity’s YouTube channel every Wednesday. With more than 1.5 million clicks to date, viewers from across the globe often find her free videos when searching for solutions for specific website issues.
“Every single one of our videos is manually transcribed, so viewers can choose their native language for the closed captioning that accompanies each video,” Ashton said. “We’re the only ones doing free weekly tutorials step by step on YouTube.”
She also co-organized the first Word Camp in San Antonio in 2015.
Ashton has noticed several emerging trends in website design. For one, video has become a critical component. Ashton showed me several websites, including WebTegrity’s, to demonstrate how video is being incorporated into web design.
If you look at Ormeida Cabins’ website, the cabin builder has a closed loop, time-elapsed video of a cabin being constructed. WebTegrity also shot the video for the Tiago’s Cabo Grille website. Owned by Sea Island Shrimp House, the group has asked Ashton to do the same for its seafood restaurant.
The videos, Ashton emphasized, are silent in order to avoid the added distraction of sound. Over the past 10 months or so, this video trend has become a more common client request.
“We were created to be intrigued by imagery, so video instantly takes a boring website and breathes life into it,” Ashton said. “It’s not that expensive to create a nice video to use on your website."
The oft-employed slide show in the top third of a homepage is outdated, Ashton said.
“No one will take the time to watch slides past the first or second one, but people will watch a looping video that’s about 10-20 seconds long,” she explained.
Recognizing shifting consumption habits, WebTegrity is encouraging clients to increase user engagement by incorporating dynamic feeds from social media accounts directly onto the website, rather than clicking on the social media icon to navigate away from the website.
“We’re seeing larger corporations and universities realizing their users are on social media – they're not checking the website,” Ashton said. “Using premium plug-ins, they can make announcements on their social media accounts and make sure they feed onto their webpage automatically.”
UTSA is one client embracing this trend. The UTSA Office of Facilities webpage uses this feature as an efficient means for making announcements to its students on UTSA social media platforms while also ensuring these announcements automatically appear on the UTSA website.
In short, the marriage of video and social media is reflected in the evolution of website designs, Ashton said.
Ashton and her team continue to invest in local businesses in their hometown of San Antonio with their “one-stop-shop” approach to website design. Ashton also admits to a broader vision for her boot-strapped company.
“It’s a massive flaw in our industry that we want to almost maintain that arm’s length distance from the client who can’t know what we do,” she said. “I’d like to take WebTegrity’s concept and franchise it across the U.S. and worldwide – a company that would offer robust WordPress website design executed with a level of integrity that also trains customers on how to use their websites.”