Updated March 25 at 6:26pm

Five Questions With: Sarah F. Garnsey

Vice president of marketing and content strategy at Exnihilo Inc. talks about her company’s recent design awards and the challenges of building a new Web project.

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Five Questions With: Sarah F. Garnsey


Sarah F. Garnsey is the vice president of marketing and content strategy at Exnihilo Inc., a technology firm that specializes in Web design, development and maintenance.

Providence-based Exnihilo designed and built the Roger William Park Zoo’s new website www.rwpzoo.org, which was recently awarded a W3 Award and a Davey Award, both for creative excellence on the Web.

Garnsey talked to Providence Business News about the recognition, why it’s hard to pick a favorite project and the challenges of building a new site.

PBN: You were recently honored for your work on the Roger Williams Zoo website, what do you think made that project stand out?

GARNSEY: For starters, who doesn’t love the Zoo!? It’s a wonderful institution here in RI and it was a great opportunity to apply creative inspiration. We were also fortunate to work with a great team of strategic thinkers on staff there who knew what they needed and wanted from their website to support their organizational objectives.

PBN: Have you had other projects honored with design awards?

GARNSEY: We’ve been recognized for a good deal of our work. In addition to the RWP Zoo, we’ve also recently received awards for our work for The Providence Journal, the city of Providence (www.opportunityprovidence.com) and Admirals Bank.

PBN: Is there a favorite site you’ve worked on since your company’s inception?

GARNSEY: Our projects often feel like children so it’s hard to have favorites. After 15 years and more than 700 projects, we’ve learned its more about the relationships with our clients that develop out of these projects that matter most. Our favorite projects are those where we can work in true partnership with our clients – that’s where the best work happens.

PBN: What are some of the most common challenges you deal with when taking on a new project?

GARNSEY: Sometimes it can be tough to sort through the opinions of dozens or even hundreds of diverse stakeholders to tease out a client’s most important online objectives. It requires taking a fairly deep look into the organization’s business goals and strategies. At the outset, not everyone understands this process, but once they begin to see the results, they appreciate the diligence.

PBN: What advice do you have for startups or small companies looking to define a web presence?


      First and foremost, know your business and what you want and need from your web presence. Without a good handle on that, you can actually do more harm thangood. A good friend once insightfully quipped, “your web presence will always amplify your business’s dysfunction.”

        Avoid the temptation to shortcut your way to a Web presence. Like any construction project, you need a smart architectural plan and a solid foundation or the final structure won’t meet your needs.

          Choose a reputable partner to help guide you through the key strategic decisions you’ll need to make. You owe it to yourself to work with seasoned professionals who can steer you through the many minefields you will undoubtedly encounter and get you to a place where your web properties are working in harmony and producing the results you need.


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