TGW Business Spotlight - Visceral
As you probably know if you're here reading this blog, one of our biggest goals at This Good World is helping brands, businesses and organizations tell the stories of the good they're doing. We're certainly not alone in this effort... not by a long shot. There are a ton of businesses out there using their skills, expertise and influence to not only spread the good, but ultimately help others do even more good. One of these organizations is Visceral - a digital design and development agency based in San Diego, CA focused on supporting the creative needs of non-profits and socially conscious businesses. We've recently had the good fortune to get to know them a bit over the past few weeks and couldn't wait any longer to share their story. The interview highlights below from our discussion with Co-Founder and CTO Jason Buys details Visceral's efforts in selecting impactful clients, treating their employees right, gaining inspiration from others and so much more.
TGW: Your client list and their initiatives/efforts are pretty incredible. Was there something that impacted your decision or focus on only working with clients that are doing amazing things for the greater good?
Jay Buys: Yes and no. Initially, we didn't set out to build a business dedicated to working with nonprofits and cause-driven organizations. We knew that we wanted Visceral to stand apart from our competitors, and we felt that the way to do that was to have a greater purpose than to simply build websites for large corporations and turn a quick buck. But as a small partnership just starting out, we weren't quite sure how we'd accomplish that.
Shortly after Visceral's inception, we lucked into working with a couple of nonprofits and immediately felt a level of enthusiasm for our careers that we hadn't experienced before. Helping to empower these organizations to thrive in the digital world was tremendously satisfying. In the 9 years Visceral has been in business, we've worked with a wide array of clients in different industries, which has given us the ability and confidence to essentially work on anything. However, helping nonprofits and mission-driven organizations tell their stories to the world is far more rewarding and fulfilling. We're very proud to be one of the leading digital agencies with a vested interest in doing good.
TGW: Similarly, do you find yourselves gaining inspiration from the good things your clients are doing? Have there been instances where you've shifted the collective thinking within the Visceral walls to reflect this inspiration?
Jay: Absolutely. This is one of the best aspects of working with mission-centered organizations because with each new project, we learn about another way in which a positive impact is being made on the world. For example, we just launched a site called 'A Closer Look at Stem Cells' for the International Society for Stem Cell Research, which provides a wealth of information on the numerous advances we're seeing in the life sciences.
We're also proud to have developed the website for the Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation, an organization that awards need-based scholarships to military children. I had the honor of giving a presentation on entrepreneurship to MCSF's 2014 scholarship recipients and interacting firsthand with these bright young men and women.
As such, this kind of work is incredibly inspiring for both Visceral as a company as well as for our employees on a personal level. I think it's virtually impossible to feel grim or jaded about your life and your work when you're directly involved with, and witnessing firsthand the impact of, doing good.
TGW: Your This Good World profile mentions your emphasis on creating a fun and flexible work environment for your employees. Can you give some examples for our readers of some of the things you do for/with your staff?
Jay: It was very important for Matthew (Visceral's co-founder) and I to make Visceral a relaxed, fun working environment. We both have a strong work ethic, but we're also laid back and approachable people. We believe that you can still accomplish your business goals without inflicting rigid corporate parameters on your employees, and that productivity actually increases as a result of being flexible.
Some of the things we do to make Visceral fun is having craft beer on tap; an office pool table that gets used 2-3 times a week; offering flexible work hours; and company outings, like baseball games and happy hours. A couple years ago, we did a staff retreat in Tahoe, which was awesome. We also encourage and pay for our employees to attend conferences that they're interested in--fostering professional development is really important to us.
TGW: We've talked in our exchanges about the importance good design and user experience plays in the digital world. We love your stance on this, as this is probably especially true for your nonprofit and socially conscious clients. Can you elaborate on this a bit?
Jay: Any organization whose purpose is to mobilize their base to act, or to donate money to their cause, has to first establish a sense of credibility. These days, that is done almost solely via an organization's website. There are certain interactions from a website that people simply expect now: smooth and fast load times; straightforward content that clearly states the call to action; and a site that works on tablets and phones without frustration.
We believe stunning design paired with a thoughtful user experience has the power to inspire authentic engagement. The organizations we work with are trying to solve complex, real-world challenges. We use design to break down those complexities into an at-a-glance narrative that is essential for engaging supporters online.
By illustrating an organization's social impact--and weaving in engagement opportunities throughout the narrative--we have not only inspired support, but offered patrons a clear, accessible way to get involved. A well-produced experience is a facilitator of action. Moreover, it's proof that an organization is modern, savvy and ready to tackle challenges in fresh and innovative ways.
TGW: Are you currently looking for clients within a specific vertical in the nonprofit/social enterprise space? If so, what's the best way for someone to get in touch to chat with your team about their design, web & tech needs?
As far as specific industry verticals are concerned, we're very interested in emerging technologies that offer solutions to the crucial environmental issues we face, such as clean energy and water. We're also huge supporters of the life sciences and its many advances that will continue to improve our global quality of life. Wildlife conservation is paramount to us; all of us at Visceral are animal lovers, and working on the Wildlife Conservation Network's website a few years ago educated us on many different conservation efforts. Finally, we would love to continue working with humanitarian / philanthropic foundations; from supporting education, to the arts, to poverty alleviation, the work these organizations do preserves our humanity as a whole.