A few weeks ago our local paper ran a list of the top dozen web design companies in Sioux Falls. I flipped right to it to see if my tiny empire made the cut. But it turns out that by “top” they meant “biggest” as measured by the size of the staff. (Maybe next year?)
It’s a smart way to go about compiling a list for a mid-sized city rag. Local papers in towns like mine have to be kind and decent to everyone. There’s a good chance that your critique is going to pinch a friend of a friend so it’s best not to make things awkward when you don’t have to. In other words, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.
And unless the cops are involved, that often goes for journalism too. Remember the buzz around that seemingly positive North Dakota Olive Garden review? To catch you up, she talked about the decor and staff uniforms because the food wasn’t memorable, but it wouldn’t do to say so.
However, there is much good to be said of the web design/development scene around here. We’ve got plenty of great companies doing first-rate work that could rival anything coming out of certain tattling towns on the coasts.
In looking over the list (here, as a PDF), I noticed a surprising statistic: Most companies only launched 2-3 websites per employee per year. I don’t want to read too much into that – some websites take an afternoon and others take months of planning – but I’m really surprised that there’s not more easily-documented productivity pouring forth from the better-staffed firms.
Bigger is obviously more impressive. That doesn’t mean that it’s always better. Sure, there’s a confidence that comes from being part of a grander machine. You can point to what “we” did instead of just what “you” did. Nothing wrong with that – if you’re a team player, you should be proud of what the team achieved. I wouldn’t mind that a bit.
I often wonder if I’d accomplish more if I took that leap, packed up the portfolio, shined my shoes, and trotted my resume over to these guys. But after looking over the list, I’m not sure that I would. After all, there are only so many hours in the day. It looks like mine are spent as well as theirs. I like to think even a little bit better.