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@Work: Savant Media Group

Sept. 14, 2008 — Andy Clausen of St. John's Savant Media Group has joined the chorus of those who feel "the Internet changed everything," and he is busy proving it by building websites for myriad businesses across the territory.
His numbers bear it out. Clausen, 32, bought the company in 2001 from Andrea Herritt, and he said business is now three times what it was seven years ago.
Savant Media Group's customers include villa management companies, hotels, watersports businesses, restaurants, other tourism-related industries as well as companies without a need to lure visitors to their businesses.
In addition to websites, Savant Media Group also provides domain hosting, graphic design services, website marketing, and consulting.
Personnel for Savant Media Group, based at the Lumberyard Shopping Complex in Cruz Bay, comprises two people and a dog. Clausen has marketing director Debbie Hime to help him ensure that Internet searches turn up his clients' websites. And Harley, a 14-year-old dog of undetermined ancestry, is on hand to keep them both company.
As Clausen sees it, there are plenty of bad websites out there. While they may get a lot of hits, they don't hold the potential customer's attention.
"The big buzzword is usability," Hime added.
According to Clausen, some people create their own websites using kits they can buy inexpensively, but don't know how to do it correctly.
"You want to put your best foot forward," Hime said.
Savant Media Group's basic website with one page starts at about $1,000, with the price rising by about $150 a page for more complex websites.
Clausen faces some challenges, including customers who don't provide sufficient information for the website. If they're up to snuff with the required information, Clausen said it takes one to two months to create the finished product. If customers drag their feet, it can take many months.
Slow Internet connections on St. John are another frustration.
He learned website design skills by the seat of his pants. After studying computer science and engineering at the University of Texas in Austin, Clausen went off to work at Dell, where he stayed three years. When not busy at his Dell job, he taught himself website design.
Clausen volunteered when Dell launched a round of layoffs, visited St. John on vacation and returned to work for Herritt at Savant Media.
As for the future of the company and the Internet, Clausen said he can't imagine how things will be in 10 or 20 years.
"The industry is always growing," he said.
Reach Savant Media Group at 693-7615 or at www.savantmediagroup.com.
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