by Matthew Carmichael
With headlines dominated by user-created-content sites like MySpace and YouTube, Crain's looked into the business end of the Web. We asked Tony Svanascini, CEO of longtime Chicago Web developer AmericanEagle.com, to fill us in.
What's the state of the Web development business in Chicago?
There's a lot of business out there — we've never been busier. Chicago's a great city because it is central. It's not really dominated by any one industry. It helps us get business in the rest of the country, because there's almost no industry that we haven't done something in.
What's the biggest trend in terms of what your clients are looking for?
Content management. People want to maintain the sites themselves. We're seeing companies hiring people who do nothing but maintain and manage their Web site. It's something taken much more seriously as an extension of the business. Also, companies are more interested in developing interactive applications. We're starting to see that trickle down.
Does that mean that even smaller businesses have big wish lists now?
Obviously they all want to know how much things costs, but they're getting more savvy about realizing that they're leaving a lot of money on the table if they don't implement some of this technology.
Is the technology changing as rapidly as it was in the late '90s?
A lot is changing, but the consumer doesn't necessarily see that. We do a site for (home furnishing store) Chiasso. That site integrates with their accounting package, so if (an item) wasn't in stock, it wouldn't have shown up (on the site). To the end user, there's no way of knowing that all that technology is happening, but it is.
Should businesses have podcasts?
"Podcast" is a big buzzword, but unless you really have an audience that wants that, we wouldn't recommend a customer do that. If you have new-product releases or announcements, that's a great thing to put into a podcast. Tie that in with an e-mail blast to customers, and it can be highly effective.