Jan 9 • 7 min read
Wix Partner Awards Series: DA Creative
This article is part of our Wix Partner Awards series recognizing the exceptional work of Wix Partners. Each month, we recognize and shine a light on a different Partner who is blazing a trail within the digital space. We share the inspiration, insights, work goals and secrets that set the agency apart. This month’s winner is DA Creative, which is demonstrating excellence in the superior functionality category.
Note: This article originally appeared on the Wix Partner Blog on Wix.com
In an ideal world, every potential client who knocks on your door would be the right fit for your agency. However, the reality is something very different. Clients come in all shapes and sizes and at various stages of their journey. It’s up to you to figure out if working with them makes business sense.
After all, partnerships are a two-way street. You can bet clients scope out your credentials before reaching out, so why wouldn’t you do the same? Putting a proper vetting system in place goes a long way to saving you time and money spent developing a partnership that only leads to frustration.
“Before I start a project with any prospect, I send them a questionnaire, which aims to provide a brief top view of their business goals,” says Daniel Azarian, founder of DA Creative, a New York-based boutique agency.
“Sometimes it gets things in motion, but sometimes it might be that they're not ready for a website if their business goals aren't clear, so I advise them to take a step back and re-evaluate, or start with something small together to get their feet wet.”
Daniel got his own feet wet a decade ago when he dipped his toes in web design. Back then, he had a successful career producing TV commercials, but as businesses became increasingly reliant on the internet, he found himself working with clients who needed a website.
What started as a collaboration with developers building custom sites grew into a venture. Building on Wix enabled Daniel to turn it professional, and organically, his company transitioned from video production to web design. In 2015, DA Creative was established.
Today, the agency specializes in building websites and developing brands, but Daniel doesn’t waste his video skills, providing additional video production, animation and editing services. The agency hires and collaborates with freelance coders, copywriters and designers when the work requires.
Daniel describes DA Creative’s typical client as an “SMB serious about launching or has a clear goal.” Most leads come through Wix Marketplace or within Daniel’s network, but the agency’s sound vetting techniques and high-quality work help convert them into long-lasting clients.
One of those is language learning company Simply Spanish, work for whom earns DA Creative this month’s Partner Award for superior functionality.
When they connected through Wix, Spanish language teacher Laura Quaid was tutoring on the side but wanted to take her profession full-time and needed a website. “After discussing her goals, I said, let’s brand this, let’s come up with a name and concept,” says Daniel. “She didn’t know the specifics, only that she wanted to take her business to the next level. There was a trust there from the start, and it became a very collaborative process.”
Daniel started with the logo. Keen to get buy-in from a younger demographic, he created an animated parrot called ‘Rio’. “The logo came first because that’s where the brand idea came from,” he says. “Then it evolved into the website and later, video.”
Use storytelling for smoother user experiences
The website’s goal was to showcase and sell the company’s two main offerings: live tutoring sessions and video lessons. For Daniel, that meant using his storytelling skills to ensure a smooth experience for first-time visitors.
“One of the key components of a user-friendly site is strong storytelling,” he says. “Especially on the homepage, you need to tell a story and invite the visitor to learn about what the company offers. That usually starts with the problem. What are your frustrations? This is how we can help. And you want to communicate it in such a way that encourages them to scroll.”
One scroll through the Simply Spanish homepage shows the extent to which the user journey was considered. Conversational content entices visitors to move from fold to fold, including a DA Creative-produced promo video embedded halfway down the page. While the site is informative, it doesn’t overwhelm. A merchandise store, blog and a separate members section where subscribers can access a library of videos neatly categorize the client’s different content and services.
On the visual side, DA Creative effectively uses the brand colors of blue, orange and yellow against a warm beige background to create a fun, playful feel. Having employed an artistic director friend to make a puppet for interactive lessons, Daniel also set the client up with the tools to film her classes at home.
“It’s great that I was able to create her video elements and help her with her set so that she’s now shooting all that content herself,” says Daniel. “She's been a dream client, and she’s thrilled with the site. We have a strategy session two to three times a year to focus on what’s next.”
Delivering client work like this has helped Daniel earn a name for himself as a creator of websites that present education in a fun and engaging way. He recently got the chance to put that reputation to the test and work with a brand represented by one of today’s most iconic global companies.
Indeed, it’s not every day you take directives from Netflix, but when Daniel was tasked with building a website for the streaming service and production company Atomic Entertainment to promote their ‘edutainment’ series Brainchild, he stepped up to the mark. Like with Simply Spanish, the challenge lay in getting the UX right to drive visitors to the appropriate places. That involved dissecting the user journey and identifying ways to encourage visitors to download episode material and learn more about their podcast.
“You want to present choices to the site visitor, but you don’t want to give them too many,” says Daniel. “If you give them too many options or it's confusing, they either get too much too early and they leave, or they just don’t know where to click, and they leave. So you really have to figure out the journey, and I'd say working on Brainchild was a user experience challenge for me, but one we ultimately got right for the client.”
Other standout sites where Daniel injects his unique style and UX know-how include his work with Sony Music Entertainment for indie pop band The Accidentals; a sleek, minimalist eComm site for UK art retailer Apollo Art; a French-inspired design for New York fashion stylist Frédérique Le Chêne; and an edgy retro presence for London casting company Piece of Cake.
Keep your work varied to stay sharp and creative
While Daniel says he typically gravitates towards work on kids and entertainment sites because there’s more freedom to be playful and add humor, he avoids pigeonholing his agency into one category.
For him, the inspiration behind his work lies in learning something new and diving into an industry he knows very little about. Like his website for Deliberate AI, a company that uses software to diagnose and monitor mental health and neurological behavior.
“When you're always learning something new, it keeps things fresh,” says Daniel. “It engages a part of the brain to be more creative. If you’re doing the same thing over and over, you can go on automatic. So, for me, doing a wide range of sites keeps you really sharp and your work original.”
Create authentic content to resonate with your client’s audience
With a new year comes new design trends, and Daniel is always keen to stay ahead. He says video will continue to rule in 2023 and advises agencies to ensure their clients can adapt to different channels.
“Brands now need to shoot video that can work 16x9 on YouTube, square on Instagram, and vertical on TikTok. You have to keep that in mind constantly. The trend is to make sure the content you shoot can work vertically and horizontally, that you create different versions of it.”
Daniel also sees authenticity as something brands need to lean into. He says it’s a trend of previous years perpetuated by influencers on social media, but it will become even more prevalent over the coming months as big brands produce more low-end content.
“It’s unpolished,” he says. “But there’s something organic and authentic about it. It’s become a way to sell, to get people’s attention. You'll see big brands purposely shooting content that is low-end. They now need to have a combination of both polished and casual content. It also has to have thought behind it, but it can't be too cold. It needs to have that warm, interactive and authentic element that comes from low-end production.”
Be open to your clients’ ideas and optimize them when you can
With agencies keen to get off to a good start in 2023, Daniel advises them to be more than a designer to their clients – be a partner. He says when working with small businesses, you’ll be presented with ideas that are not optimal. It’s up to you to figure out how to push them in the right direction.
“Be someone who’s always encouraging,” he says. “Be a problem solver, but always make them feel comfortable because then – like me with Simply Spanish – you might work with them for years. Our work together is still developing because we have a rapport, and I am very open to what she wants to do, taking her ideas with openness and shaping them.”
In 2023, DA Creative will continue to shape brands of all types, building them websites and helping them keep up with today’s video demands. This year marks a decade of working with Wix, so receiving the Partner Award is an appropriate way for Daniel to celebrate the milestone.
“What can I say? I'm honored and excited,” he says. “It’s fantastic to be recognized by a team that knows good design and good website building. So I’m really honored to be on that list. It’s also a great way to start the new year.”