Stories from the Industry: A Better Sign

Company Name: A Better Sign
With RTD since: December 2008

I’ve spent most of my life in the sign industry and feel I know just about everything about it. When I got my start back in 1974, we would draw out the letters and images ourselves and hand brush them manually without any kind of automated system! We were professionals, craftsmen. I have never liked to stay quiet. I am always looking for something new and the following decades were years of changes and evolutions for our industry! About 1984, the automated cutters came out. I realized I had to move forward and thanks to this new machinery, I could finish faster and things would be easier. After that, the biggest change ever, the computer. That was The Revolution! A new way to work. People could make their own signs just typing and moving a mouse. I could do more things in less time. I could make more money with fewer people working. I was passionate about my job and still I am. That is why in the late 90s I bought my own company A Better Sign. We enjoyed the mix of craftsmanship and new technology.

But the evolution did not stop. Something else was in the air – something HUGE that changed completely the whole world: The Internet. I was soon aware of the importance of this powerful tool. My customers began coming to my shop asking to add grommets to banners they already had! When I asked them “Why do you not buy them from us?” they replied “We buy online, it is cheaper!”

I started getting really, really mad about this. I wanted to sell my banners too. I did not want to be left out from this new market! After a period of headaches, I made my decision: I had to go online and sell my own products as the others were already doing! So, I decided to embrace this new technology and it was not easy. It was a jump into the unknown. My thought was to hire someone to teach me how to do this, but it would be very expensive. I had to learn a lot but I knew it was the right choice and it had to be like this because I had my family to think about!

Well, we got online and our first website had a very basic brochure with just a few things in it. You know, just the essential information. But, I wanted more. I wanted to give to my customers the ability to design what they wanted. I started looking online for a designer suitable for my needs. There were a few, but after some research, I found RealTimeDesigner and It was simply perfect for my business at that stage.

I know what my customers want and RealTimeDesigner helps me and the other users, to make changes to reach this! It takes suggestions based from the real world, all the time!
We will work together to achieve it.” This is the spirit of the team. This is the biggest difference from the other designers. RealTimeDesigner is a visual proof of what customers want.

During these years, so many things have changed. New technologies came out.
Digital exploded and it had a powerful impact in our industry. Customers’ requests changed. They were more aware of what there was around them. We had to improve our tools to satisfy them. We had to be competitive and I did my best to do it and I am still doing this. All this is possible because I have the chance to talk directly to the RTD team. In the Forum, we have built a sort of Business community, where all users can give their suggestions about new features, talk about a particular problem with the configuration of a product, pricing or any kind of thing. It is extremely helpful because it might help anyone else, even if it is a problem that has never happened to us. It is both helpful and scary giving the instructions to solve a peculiar problem, knowing you could help your competitors to grow and improve. But to be honest, you never tell everything you know. There is always knowledge that keeps you ahead.

Today, the new generations know nothing but tech! They’re born with computer, cell phones and they do not know how things worked before. Is it right or is it wrong? Do these new technologies spoil “the purity” of the craftsmen? Well, I don’t think so.
There could be a wonderful product made by a craftsman and a wonderful print made by a printer. They are both beautiful, but they are simply different. I think it is very important to know the old way, the ancient techniques to better understand how the new ones work today.

The peace and the inner growth the old way gave cannot be replaced by technology.
The new generations have to learn the “manual” aspects of this job. They have to know the roots of how things were done. This is what I teach to my children who work with me. Why a letter is written in that way or where this or that style comes from. This will give them a whole vision of our job. And by the way, I still have my old sign painters kit in my shop!

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10 Years of Online Design

2016 marks the 10th anniversary of The RealTimeDesigner, a powerful, user-friendly interactive online design studio and ecommerce solution for sign, print and promotional products.

The RealTimeDesigner began in 2000 as a collaboration between Alex, a graphics and gaming developer, and Mark, a seasoned sign and screen shop owner. Alex first made it possible to create graphics dynamically online with his online character generator (check it out!). By the time it became one of the largest RPGM communities on the Internet, Mark realized the same technology could be used to create signs online. With Mark’s knowledge of the printing industry and Alex’s web skills, they created the first version of the design tool.

Launched commercially in 2006, The RealTimeDesigner still leads the online design industry with hundreds of customers- one of the most successful design-online tools available.

Created for the printing industry, with the printing industry.

The RealTimeDesigner is unique because it’s an innovative community-style collaboration applied to the business world. Unlike The RTD, the majority of other online design platforms are created by developers’ ideas of what could be helpful to the industry. But these developers have no real-world experience of the needs of their clients.

We’re different.

We want to provide custom solutions for our clients’ specific needs, which is why we encourage users to provide input into The RealTimeDesigner’s continuous development. In the 10 years since its launch, 90% of The RTD’s current features have been inspired by our clients’ direct requests via our open forum. Few other tools on the market will allow you to chat directly with the lead developer and see your requests fulfilled.

Because our success is only measured by your success.

Thanks to our clients, each month we now have 12,000 orders placed and 200,000 items sold with an average value of $4 to $6 million.

RealTimeDesigner online design order statistics.

That’s 460% growth in 10 years, 50% in the past year alone!

Since 2006, the tool itself has also grown to have:

  • 39,000 defined products
  • 150,000 design templates
  • 312,000 permanently stored clipart from registered users
  • 111,000 clipart uploaded by users
  • 205,000 permanently stored designs from registered users
  • 62,000 fonts uploaded
  • 151,000 users registered on behalf of our clients

2016 is our year to celebrate.

We’re looking forward to the next 10 years of The RealTimeDesigner’s evolution. But first, we’d love to know:  

How are you using The RealTimeDesigner to grow your business?

What features would you like to see from us next?

Leave us a comment and share your ideas!

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Integrating RealTimeDesigner With An Existing Website

By now you probably already know how powerful RealTimeDesigner is and lucky for you integrating with your existing website is very simple, and it’s how most RTD users begin. It’s important to recognize that RealTimeDesigner is not intended to replace your website, but rather works best in partnership with an excellent website. Your site will provide a “storefront” to introduce clients to your product, draw new clients in and provide more information about your company and policies.

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