Adam Bell owns and operates dataTV, a Los Angeles-based agency that offers everything digital from web design to SEO to online marketing. Meet Adam on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
Since a company name is so central to a brand, we tend to attach a lot of importance to it. How did you get your name and how do you feel now that you’ve been in business for a while?
I was originally a partner in a small boutique motion graphics organization called Design and Television Animation. DATA short. When I decided to go online, the name “data” had to be in there somewhere. In May 1996, however, data.com had long since disappeared and, to my surprise, datadesign.com too. However, as a tribute to my involvement in the TV business, I chose datatv.com and it stayed.
For some brands, location is an important part. Is there anything about your place of residence and work that has shaped your own brand?
Not really. LA is one of those cities that is a collage of many other cities. However, my previous home base in New Orleans has shaped me and continues to do so. I always think if I had moved straight to Southern California from Philadelphia, my life would probably have been very different. I would probably have been one of those people on a reality series.
How would you describe your work experience and background?
Originally, I wanted to be a designer in the television industry. Unfortunately, this industry is similar to a country club, only the benefits aren’t that good. Very difficult to get in.
However, web design was just emerging in the mid-1990s and many of the design principles between web design and broadcast design really don’t differ much – RGB color space, 72 DPI graphics.
I was always surprised that my TV colleagues no longer switched to the Internet at that time. But that turned out to be a great advantage for me.
Can you describe the scope of your work?
It’s a one-man work-from-home shop, but still full of service. I rely on a team made up of some of the top people in their fields, all of whom are independent and who assist with SEO, digital marketing, social media and so on. Everything as needed. This saves you money with a full, weekly payroll.
Some business owners describe one Aha! The moment they decided it was time to take matters into their own hands. Can you describe one of those moments that you experienced?
I had a couple aha’s! But what I really remember was Hurricane Katrina in 2005, and unlike many residents of the city, I didn’t just evacuate … I moved to another location on a whim. I always thought I’d end up in Los Angeles, but not by my own rules, and certainly not that way.
Which projects do you prefer to work on?
Ecommerce, but really anything that inspires creativity, and not just a stale cookie cutter site. With all the concerns about accessibility, page speed, SEO-friendly pages, etc., this creativity is lost, but it can also be achieved with limitations.
I also prefer to create sticks for industries that really interest me.
Since I come from the broadcasting world, I’m usually interested in anything entertainment. Likewise the cooperation with customers from the food and beverage industry. It’s a lot of fun, and I’ve covered pretty much every part of that category as best I could. With one exception. Never have I ever designed a website for a brewery. I’m a craft beer snob and have a lot of friends in the industry.
I’ve just never had the chance to work with any of these frothy delicacies. At least I have tequila!
Could you describe your typical customer (if you have a typical customer)?
Usually on the smaller end. A startup or someone new to the business. Occasionally, thanks to an agency, I can think of a large copy, but that’s rare. Instead, you are helping the smaller businesses that really need the help and hope that thanks to all of your advice, they will succeed.
Sometimes we are able to reject projects. What do these situations look like for you and how do you deal with them?
It depends on whether. If it’s political, I won’t touch it. Porn? Nope. I’ve been careful about legalizing marijuana here in California and other states, but it’s a difficult minefield to maneuver. When I turn down a project because of overload, I find friends who need the work a lot more than I do. This is basically my version of charity and I always feel a lot better.
Performance is always important, but sometimes we also need to pay attention to value. How do you position GoDaddy products and services for your customers?
I explain to customers what they need. A high quality host that keeps their offerings up to date instead of sitting on a server stuck at PHP 5.6 (has been there too many times). I am discussing ways to become faster and more optimized. I’m pretty blunt so customers don’t always like what I say, but it’s the honest truth (or at least my own version of it).
Could you describe a project that you think will best illustrate you?
Two years ago I was lucky enough to get the site redesign for New Orleans’ very famous Cafe du Monde. A company steeped in history that dates back to opening before the civil war.
But their website sometimes felt like it was designed during the Civil War.
OK, not that bad, but similar to a project I had done years earlier for Acme Oyster House, I was ready to make customers feel like they were actually stepping into the French market and ordering coffee and fritters (mix … .please do not ask them to ship beignets. That will not happen). Seen sales growth just added email marketing for the first time in its history. Really proud of this one.
An obvious metric to measure our own success is how much you paid and how much time it took to get it. In your experience, what are the advantages and disadvantages here?
I find that projects that I put under budget tend to take much, much longer than projects that I actually have on a level budget or higher. That often seems to be the case. You most definitely don’t want to get burned and end up doing the job for fast food money.
How does GoDaddy Pro fit into your job? Could you suggest ways to get the most benefit from this – especially for beginners?
The great thing about Pro is the ability to access all of your customer sites in one place. I can never remember all of their logins (can you? No …), that makes it so much easier.
Imagine traveling in a time machine to a point where you thought Forget that. I’m done! What advice would you give yourself?
Oh my God. I would probably say most of the early 90s when nobody gave me a break. I should have started studying the web much earlier. Or I should have just used a Mac instead of this Amiga that I was using. The early days of Photoshop and Illustrator and I missed it!
What’s your farewell picture for people who want to be like you when they grow up?
Am i grown up?
That is the point. You can not.
You need to be able to keep track of things and trends and see where things are going. If you don’t, in what I call a decade you’ll be stuck thinking about how great the 90s or 2000s were. Yes, the 2020s didn’t really start that hot, but here we are and we need to keep thinking about what could come next.