Oleksiy Synelnychenko is an entrepreneur and IT professional who is also a founder of ArtDriver, a web development and SEO company based in Washington, D.C..
We recently asked Oleksiy for his insight on navigated a career in Web development and got his advice on salary negotiations. Here’s what he shared:
Tell us about the mission behind ArtDriver. How are you hoping to impact the world of web development and digital marketing?
ArtDriver’s motto “where art meets technology, and our clients become our partners” closely coincides with our mission to deliver top notch web development and SEO services on time and below budget.
We always strive for 100 percent customer satisfaction and aim to explore the latest technology trends in order to apply them in our UX/UI and programming projects. Constantly experimenting with various SEO initiatives allows us to be on the cutting edge of digital marketing by sharing our findings on various SEO blogs and forums.
What were some important lessons you had to learn early on in your career in Web Development that have helped you find success today?
One of the most important lessons is to never give up and get the things done! Lots of the time web development projects have technical constraints that need to be overcome. A minor improvement to the UX/UI may require a significant effort in coding. Web developers tend to find easy ways to solve UX/UI problems and do not go an extra mile to optimize their code which eventually leads to a big technical debt.
How do you approach salary negotiations with your employees?
During job interviews, I have a specific strategy on how to approach the salary discussions. Firstly, I focus on the person’s technical skills and ask to rank yourself on a scale from 1-10 for specific areas. This question usually shows me whether a person is really good at something or he just has a high opinion of himself. After we do this evaluation exercise, we ask what salary range would be preferred and based on the answer, we then negotiate the salary based on the lower number of the range. I must admit that if we really see a talent and the personality suits our team spirit, I can be quite generous on the salary offering.
What can employees do to add value to a company?
Employees should always promote their company’s brand. In addition, they should be open to contribute to innovation and process improvements (be it agile software development or technical project management).
What advice can you offer other IT professionals on navigating salary negotiations? How can they ensure their being compensated what they’re worth?
Be realistic about their skills and experience before applying for a specific role. Shoot for the sun and land on the moon does not really work on job interviews and salary negotiations. If an IT professional presents himself well during the interview, there is a good chance that the employer will be more willing to offer a better salary. Do not only focus on the technical skills and experience; rather, show what personality you have, what your communications skills are and how you work in a team. Be honest with your potential employer about the salary you think you deserve and would like to help.
What are some of the major challenges or frustrations facing businesses with web development today? Why do they need professional help?
We have seen more and more small businesses trying to use off-the-shelf website builders that allow to drag and drop your website design elements onto a page and easily populate the site with your content and images. While these solutions offer a cost effective way to create a site, they still require computer knowledge, time as well as the basics of online marketing if you want to make your website a success. A successful site is a seamless blend of a creative layout, fast loading pages and properly integrated SEO that allows the site to gain visibility in Google search results. Oftentimes, business owners underestimate the amount of time required to build a “drag and drop” site because they do not think about the text content and image requirements.
We have also observed that a number of our clients come to us because their previous relationship with a web developer did not go as well as expected. The latter shows that there are way too many companies or freelancers who position themselves as knowledgeable web designers and attract clients using competitive pricing models. In the end, their clients become dissatisfied with the service and have to look for reputable web design companies to complete the website development which oftentimes means starting the project from scratch.
What’s your approach to web design? How has your approach evolved since you started in your career?
I’ve founded ArtDriver after spending a couple of years as a freelance web designer which had helped me to put myself though the graduate school. I mostly worked with small businesses that needed to establish an online presence and did not have big budgets to invest in web design. With ArtDriver, our projects have gradually become bigger and required effective design that would help to generate leads from websites. Our philosophy has been to adapt the minimalist design, which is surprisingly very effective for conversion rate optimization and good SEO because web pages with minimum graphics tend to load faster which is something that search engines like.
What role does collaboration play in how you approach web design? How does collaboration help create better sites?
Collaboration and communication play a pivotal role in a successful web development project. A good design starts with an idea, and we often generate great ideas while working together. We tend to start our web design projects using a brainstorming session with a whiteboard and an LCD screen where we can research various competitor sites and come up with a winning combination of colors, typography and imagery. Everyone in a group has a say.
What are the tools have you found are critical to better web design? What can’t you live without?
There are many tools and blogs that contribute to creating award winning web design. Since we adapt minimalism in our design, our key tools are the ones that allow us to put together wireframes and then turn them into visual design layouts that can be used by front-end developers. As a result, for wireframing we use Balsamiq Mockups and for UI designs we use Photoshop to created layered .psds.
What trends or innovations in web development interest you today? Why?
Adaptive web design is of a great interest to us. We’ve also started building AMPs and Progressive Web Applications (PWAs). Both AMPs and PWAs are the future of mobile web development since they tend to load fast as well as take advantage of the smartphone features such as geolocation, voice search, notifications and so on.
Thank you Oleksiy!
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