Want to know where the name ‘Vanilla Active’ came from? Find out this and more, in Neil’s interview with Which Web Design Company! http://www.whichwebdesigncompany.com/uk/profile/vanillaactive


Q: What’s your name and position in the company?

A: Neil Mandel and I am the Managing director


Q: Describe your company in 5 words.

A: Dynamic, innovative, professional, personable, creative


Q: What’s your business philosophy?

A: To satisfy our customers and take the worry and technology waffle out of the situation so clients can focus on their business.


Q: Describe your office environment.

A: We have a team of 3-5 people including permanent staff and freelance designers. We are in a moderately sized office and have access to meeting rooms in our building when entertaining clients. All work is done within our 4 walls and our clients benefit from the personal service and high standard we achieve thanks to our close communication.


Q: Describe how your team interact and work together.

A: We are split between designers and developers. The designers will create the interface as agreed with the client and on approval, will work closely with the developers to communicate the requirements so that the site is built as expected with all the required functionality in place.


Q: What makes you different from other web design companies?

A: We are small enough to offer such a personal service yet cover the experience and skill set that big agencies claim to have.


Q: How do you get the majority of your business?

A: Networking, word of mouth, referrals based on out integrity and honesty and work ethos.


Q: Describe how you manage projects from the initial client contact to completion and handover.

A: We receive a brief and apply a cost. We then develop concepts and on approval, we implement the technology. On final approval, the site is placed ‘live on the web.


Q: What do you think is the most crucial element of creating a good client relationship?

A: Communication. To understand what a client actually wants as opposed to what you think a client wants. Creating bespoke solutions, we have no pre conceived ideas and love to start with a blank canvas rather than simply plugging in something that already exists and ‘trying’ to make it work for the brand.


Q: How do you manage demanding clients?

A: With patience, managing expectation and foreseeing any issues that may arise and discussing them as early as possible.


Q: If a client was trying to decide between a shortlist of web design companies, how would you recommend they go about selecting the right one for them?

A: Work with a company that is appropriate to your business. Web design companies offer a wide variety of prices which is often down to the size of the company. A one man business is going to charge a lot less than a large agency with huge overheads. Get a feel for the project manager and who is going to help you through the process and try to get a feel if you like their manner, their work ethic and find a company that is professional and not just after a quick profit without a care for brand/product.


Q: Where do you see your company in 10 years time?

A: I would like to keep the company relatively small/medium sized. As a ‘people person’, I don’t wish to lose site of real communication with my customers. Don’t get me wrong, like any business, I would like to see significant growth over a 10 year period, but not just to get ‘bums on seats’. That’s what I did at the height of the .com boom in my early days helping the big wigs on their mission to double their staff every 2 years.


Q: Where do you see the web design industry in the future?

A: A lot more mobile based and working more with tablets. Quicker instant access and more integration with other technology. The world is getting faster and people will demand more, smaller and quicker than ever before.


Q: What computers do you have use in your offices, PCs or Macs?

A: Both PC and Mac


Q: How was your company name chosen?

A: I sat and did some brainstorming with a glass of wine! Creative juices flowing I wanted something (a word) that people would recognise, that people already like and make an association with. I wanted to create a creative company full of creative flavours and ideas on how brands should express themselves!


Q: If you were to give your clients one tip on how to get the most from their website what would it be?

A: Have clarity in what your web site is trying to say to its customers. You need to be clear about your message and your brand. Make it hard for potential customers to find fault in what you are saying. Then shout about it as much as possible through social media, networking, word of mouth etc. Don’t let it be a state of the art ‘shop’ down a dark alley that no one passes.

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