Valet recently launched a custom website development project for the Dance of the Deer Foundation, and we decided to check in & see how our client felt about the results. We chatted with the site’s Managing Director, Nico Secunda.
Bringing an Ancient Practice into the Modern Age
The Dance of the Deer Foundation offers holistic retreats around the world, and they were looking to expand their Shamanism resources online. We updated their site, enhanced performance, and integrated an educational video membership platform to increase their outreach. Our custom website development team handled the project from start to finish.
Interview with Nico Secunda of the Dance of the Deer Foundation:
VALET: How did you find out about our team, and what made you decide to hire us?
NICO SECUNDA: Originally, our hosting company was going through growing pains, and they could not support us as fast as we needed. You were recommended to me by the owner of WP Engine. We came to Valet because you guys offer fast ongoing support—and you’re honestly faster than any hosting company. We can’t afford to wait 6 days for a response. Our SEO rank can suffer if we don’t receive quick support.
We were very happy with our support from your team, and your skillset was great, so you were a natural choice for custom development. Also, since the Valet team was already familiar with the site set-up, platform, and host, it felt natural to have you continue working on the site to expand it.
In the past, I’ve found it to be a huge headache to have a freelancer do a little part of something. It’s so much easier to have a team that understands the impact of everything as a whole on the site. Working with Valet feels more like an in-house experience than other companies we’ve worked with. You’re an external team, so you’re optimized, and you don’t get lazy like an in-house team might—which is a good thing. You’re treating me as a client and always trying to meet a deadline. You also have a good collaborative approach.
VALET: Tell me about the beginning of the project. What were the major things you wanted to accomplish? What problems did you want to solve?
NICO SECUNDA: I wanted to grow Shamanism.com by incorporating a video membership section and really hone in on what the strong foundation of the site is. Our events plugin was weak and needed help, and there were other site improvements for performance and design we wanted.
VALET: Once the project was underway, how were you and your team involved in the process?
NICO SECUNDA: I liked that I could communicate through Wrike, your project management software. I also liked that I was able to email my project manger directly sometimes as well. I appreciated the flexibility in your project management and your responsiveness, no matter how I got in touch.
VALET: What did you think about our Agile approach to your project?
NICO SECUNDA: You team changed some of your tactics throughout the project—which was great. You did not just stick to a game plan. This flexibility of your team made the end product a lot better.
VALET: Did anything surprise you along the way?
NICO SECUNDA: No, not really. Initially, some of the beginning speed was concerning. The on-boarding seemed to take a while to get things rolling. I wondered ‘Will I get my expectations fulfilled?’ at times. Then that shifted, and I realized the on-boarding was part of needed planning, and we got tons done. It’s like I woke up to the headlights and was happy with how things rolled out quickly with the project. It taught me to trust your process.
At the beginning, I was concerned, since I have worked with other companies who did not deliver. I was afraid because I’ve been burned in the past (like getting a CMS delivered that didn’t add pages.) So I had to learn to trust you, and am now very happy I did!
I realized the on-boarding was part of needed planning, and we got tons done… It taught me to trust your process.
VALET: What did you think of our launch process? Do you think the timeline, launch-day variables and logistics were handled well?
NICO SECUNDA: Absolutely, I felt the launch was smooth and well-handled. The flexibility and thoughtfulness was really appreciated. I felt you all have an open perspective, which I enjoyed.
VALET: Is there anything you’d do differently next time?
NICO SECUNDA: In future, I would try to figure out more of what I want specifically before I started. I liked that Valet always gave me the ability to prioritize what I wanted all along. I liked that I could change my mind. And I felt very aware of the choices I was making all along. The site Audit you did was very good. There were a number of items we didn’t realize were negatively affecting our site users until the site Audit. These fixes and enhancements which were then added to the project underscore the value of your Agile approach.
VALET: What are the future plans for your site & digital marketing?
NICO SECUNDA: I’d like to work more with Hubspot, and definitely integrate Hubspot deeply in the site with a dynamic homepage and landing pages. I also want to do deeper event management, and I look forward to building a better event tool with your team.
VALET: How would you describe your custom website development team at Valet?
NICO SECUNDA: Highly skilled and at the same time, very friendly and easy to deal with. It felt like I was getting on the phone with friends that I’ve worked with for a long time…and people who also work very hard.
VALET: Do you have any other comments or feedback you’d like to share?
NICO SECUNDA: I liked having direct communication with all the parties in the project team. I appreciated how the whole team was on a call with me every week. I’d say to other clients, support the structure of the communication, deal directly with the project manager, and be on that call with the team every week. It’s a strong process, and it works.
Learn More about the Project!
Check out our full case study on the Shamanism project. The end result is a modern site with multi-tier membership, functioning in English and German. The intuitive UI design really showcases the content, and looks terrific on desktop and mobile. The video membership was customized for the Shamanism team to easily use in their workflow. Now anyone can benefit from shamanic teachings, anywhere on earth.
We handled digital strategy, design, development, and everything in between for the Shamanism site. If you’ve got a custom website development project coming up, get in touch with our team for a chat!