How it all began.
Groundwork was founded in 2004 by James Giroux. At the time the first tech bubble had just burst and the world was trying to figure out its relationship with the web and where to go from such a colossal collapse. It was a great time to be a designer.
In the early days much of Groundwork’s focus shifted away from the web and into more traditional design. Logos, corporate identities, print and collateral design became the primary focus of the company and it was very much, part time and freelance.
“I learned a lot in those early days about how to do design projects and run a design business at the same time.” says James. It was an experience for sure. As a part time gig, it worked out well and allowed James the freedom to pick projects he was passionate about.
By 2012, the iPhone had been invented, tablets were picking up steam and the web as James knew it back in 2004 was gone and something different had taken its place. James made the decision to leave his other career behind to focus on his design company.
“I remember thinking at that time that I didn’t really want to be a web designer, I thought the whole industry had surpassed me by many generations and the only thing I was good for was traditional design.”
But with the new wave of tech came a whole new way people approached design. It was easier to outsource design to other countries, on-demand sites with premade graphics meant that building something from scratch was going to be a long, hard, uphill battle.
In that time, James found that even with DIY website builders, a huge prebuilt website theme market and many web designers out there, people still had a hard time building websites.
“It became very clear early on that even though I thought I’d never be able to catch up, I was still pretty in touch with what was going on in the industry. This was in sharp contrast to many of the people I connected with. They didn’t even know where to begin when it came to the web and their digital presence.”
James began to lean into what he knew and discovered that what a lot of people were looking for was a designer/developer they could trust. Someone who could walk them through the process, explain things to them so they could understand it and make better decisions.
After a year of building sites for local clients, the launch of a platform James had been using to build sites changed the game for him and the future of Groundwork.
“I was using PageLines as a foundational framework for many of the sites I was building and over a few months, ended up with a few themes I thought other people might like as a starting point for their own PageLines projects.”
Those themes thrust James and Groundwork into a global marketplace and soon many new opportunities arose.
“I just began getting calls from everywhere. It was awesome! It was better than a portfolio because people could see, play around with and know what I was capable of.”
From there, James hired some staff and began to grow Groundwork. The success of those themes and the growing client community allowed the team to really dig into the web and digital marketing in a way they hadn’t been able to before.
“One of the most exciting things about Groundwork is that we’ve really matured beyond just building digital brochures for our clients and customers. We have a much better understanding of how marketing is changing and how a great digital presence has evolved since 2004.”
Groundwork continues to work with organizations of all sizes helping them to understand the digital landscape and put the web to work.