This homegrown developer likes fast snowmobiles…and faster websites
When asked about his role at RainStorm, Ian Belanger is matter-of-fact, “I build the websites.” he says, “Basically, I take the design and turn it into a functioning tool for the client.” As the lead developer, Ian develops custom websites to meet a client’s specific needs. He takes into consideration trends in development and best practices while keeping true to RainStorm’s goal of making solutions which are elegant and simple to use.
“Online business development tools” is how Ian views his websites. He sees his work as building a custom solution in which a customer can find great utility. “You can,” he admits, “have a site built anywhere these days, but most of our sites get a lot of use beyond being a mere online reference or brochure. For instance, the MDI Biological Lab is one of my favorite projects — they don’t just use it for people to look at their website. They use it to enter and keep track of information. There’s a lot going on behind the pages.”
Ian had been developing websites for eight years from his home near Skowhegan before joining RainStorm in 2013. He started in internet and email marketing and expanded to offer design and development services. As a sole practitioner, he had to learn every aspect of the business: marketing, client consultation, design, development, coding languages, and master all the communication associated with project management. While Ian’s development focus is pointed at RainStorm’s client base now, he still markets a set of WordPress themes designed specifically for podcasters.
“I learned a lot about marketing on the web, SEO, and the psychology of sales. I started using WordPress and taught myself,” he says with a modest laugh, “because I decided to never say no to a client. Then I’d have no choice except to figure it out myself. That promise definitely made me a better coder. Eventually I found that I liked building sites better than I liked marketing them.”
Operating a small business taught Ian something that only experience can, “I don’t see the development as just a programming task or development task. I try to look at it through the client’s eyes and consider how I can make it easier for them to use in the long run.”
During the development process, RainStorm’s clients work directly with the team members working on their projects; Ian’s experiences taught him critical aspects of client communication. “It’s one of the reasons I like to talk with our clients and have them use the site a bit and give feedback before it’s launched. That way if they find any sticking points we can come up with solutions and fix them in a way that will make the whole experience better.”
Ian – and RainStorm – hold to the philosophy that websites should be, in addition to beautiful and functional, easy-to-use and up to all the latest standards and best practices for code and SEO. Those are moving targets, as any developer knows, perpetually changing. Fortunately that constant change is something that Ian really enjoys, “Every project has a new challenge and that’s great. I love that.”
And we’re really glad he does.