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AMA x Design in DC

Tonight, AMA invites Ziad Foty, Co Founder and CEO of Design in DC, to speak to the members. Design in DC is a digital development firm specializing in website design, app creation, photography and video, and digital marketing.

Foty begins by introducing himself to the members and sharing that he hopes to take the meeting in whatever direction the members want it to go, as he would like to share with them whatever they find most useful and interesting about his work.

room full of students from behind watching presenter speak
AMA students listening to Ziad Foty's presentation

Foty plays a quick video that

shows his personal background and how it came to influence his career and company. While Foty was born in Michigan, he moved to DC at a young age and came to think of himself as a “native Washingtonian.” He previously worked as a film director and producer, and then began teaching at DC Universities like Howard, Catholic, and George Mason. Foty’s idea for Design in DC was sparked by his love of and appreciation for the city and all of its unique attributes. He highlights that a key marketing strategy for the company has been to emphasize its DC pride, as local clients and customers are more likely to trust a local company that respects the surrounding community. Foty tells the members that while he and his business partner began working on the company around 7 years ago, they began to really focus their efforts on it 3 years ago, taking advantage of the COVID-19 pandemic to “go all in” on their idea. Since then, Design in DC, which started with no funding, experienced exponential revenue growth and now pulls in around 3 million dollars a year.

After discussing a little bit about his personal background and his company’s backstory, Foty begins to dive into the specifics of what his company does. First, he asks AMA members to ponder how a digital marketing company may brand themselves. Members suggest ways like creating a strong website, highlighting their case studies of past successes, etc. Foty acknowledges the importance of those things, as well as stresses that it is critical for a young company to optimize its appearance across search engines like Google. He tells the members that many companies pay for their names to appear on lists of the best firms in a particular industry in order to make their company more accessible to potential clients.

Foty walks our members through an example of a past client his company worked with, Prestige Health, which hired Design in DC to improve its SEO, or search engine optimization, and make sure its website is laid out to give it the best shot at attracting web traffic and viewer engagement. Foty notes that a goal of his company is to make clients’ websites interactive to viewers to keep their interest. He shows a detailed score his company gave Prestige Health’s website and speaks about the advice Design in DC gave the company so they could improve.

presenter pointing to a screen during a umd ama meeting
Ziad Foty showing AMA students a website used in Design in DC's marketing strategy

Next, Foty begins a presentation about his company’s process. He prefaces by emphasizing how a good presentation avoids being “too salesy” and instead focuses on processes and details. The presentation gives insight into how Design in DC works with clients, preferring to meet with them once a week in addition to internal company meetings with the team assigned to the project. Foty says that when meeting with clients, Design in DC takes a personal, detail-oriented approach and is sure to form a connection with the client based on something the team finds meaningful about their business model. On a larger scale, Foty stresses how Design in DC values diversity in race, gender, background, and thought. He notes that one of his key team members is a painter, and how her unique artistic perspective is extremely useful to the company.

Foty ends his presentation by opening up the floor to the AMA members for any questions they might have. There were questions about site animation, the design process, and working as an agency. He thanks the members for listening to him speak.

Tonight, Ziad Foty shared valuable insight with our members into the world of digital marketing and what components go into creating a strong, competitive business model in the industry. If you would like to connect with him and discuss website design, film, or positions at Design in DC, here is his LinkedIn.

If you are interested in website design, digital marketing, SEO and more, check out the Design in DC website or their Instagram page.

- Katherine Gough


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