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Evolve Creative Takes Flight with LightCMS

Sarah Hokuf, the founder of Evolve Creative, a website design and branding agency, likes how LightCMS empowers web designers to showcase their creativtity in building websites with powerful visual impact.

But Hokuf has also found that LightCMS also offers great flexibility on the technical development side of site creation.

“WordPress developers might see LightCMS as simpler and want more advanced features, but I feel there’s nothing you can’t do in development with LightCMS,” said Hokuf.

“It’s all about creativity. Being a good web designer is one thing, but if you’re also a good web developer, there’s a whole other level of creativity in what you can do with LightCMS.”

Hokuf speaks from experience. With both technical and design skills, Hokuf founded Evolve Creative in Minneapolis, MN, in 2004. She left a management position at Northern Tool + Equipment, where she headed a team of 10 graphic designers. What started as a part-time freelance practice has flourished into a thriving agency, now in Bemidji, MN.

“We’ve grown from myself working probably 20 hours a week to six people working full-time,” Hokuf said. “LightCMS has been a big part of our growth. More than 90 percent of our sites are on LightCMS, so it’s a key player in the services we offer.”

100+ LightCMS Sites and Counting

After initially using Joomla as a CMS when she launched Evolve Creative, Hokuf began looking for alternatives. Joomla was at the time not available as a hosted solution, which left client sites more exposed to security breaches. Clients also found the platform difficult to use for ongoing updates, meaning that Hokuf’s time was often filled with troubleshooting issues and keeping sites up to date.

After finding LightCMS in 2007, Hokuf put it to the test by building a website for her husband’s business, AirCorps Aviation, which specializes in the restoration, maintenance and rebuilding of vintage WWII aircraft. Evolve Creative took flight from there with LightCMS.

Since then, Evolve Creative has built more than 80 websites with LightCMS for small businesses, government agencies and nonprofits, while Hokuf also built an additional 20 LightCMS sites as a contractor for Think Creative, a digital marketing agency in Minneapolis.

Evolve Creative clients enjoy how LightCMS lets them easily update pages and content on sites that are mobile-optimized and designed to attract and engage visitors and drive business, Hokuf said. Unlimited pages, storage and products at a set price through the LightCMS Developer Program is another benefit for clients who build out their sites over time.

“Clients can have a great presence online and know that their site is always going to be up,” Hokuf said. “They don’t have to worry about technical maintenance and can focus on their business, not monitoring downtime or uptime. It’s also great to be able to offer LightCMS with no limitations in pages and storage.”

Innovation in Development

Evolve Creative has taken advantage of development flexibility in LightCMS in adding innovative features to client sites, such as additional animations that enhance slideshow presentations. Many of those innovations are bundled into a set of seven prebuilt templates that Evolve Creative has recently brought to market.

Suitably themed for restaurants, retailers, contractors, agencies and other organizations, the templates are white-labeled as EvolveCMS and available for clients who want to build their own sites and handle their own licensing with LightCMS. Like the hosted sites that Evolve builds for clients, EvolveCMS templates reflect the development and design creativity that’s a focus for the agency.

“We’ve really pushed the boundaries of LightCMS,” Hokuf said. “An element might be there for one thing, but we might get creative and come up with an innovative use. Because we have both designers and developers, we approach things as something of a puzzle—putting pieces together to work in an entirely new way.”