Abalone Designs Inc.

Abalone Designs Inc. optimizes websites to make them search engine–friendly. That means in the search for relevant keywords, the optimized sites appear very high on the list of the results on the major search engines such as Google, MSN and Yahoo!. Search engine optimization (SEO) is done in several ways. One is site optimization; cleaning up a website's HTML code to make it more search engine–friendly. Another is by heightening the user–friendliness and usefulness of the site through the implementation of information services, visitor interaction and overall likeability of the website. And third, there are ways to develop a website's link popularity by enticing other related web sites to link to it. Like all programming companies, Abalone Designs needed to keep track of its clients, the time spent on each website and, above all, billing.

Canadian web design and search engine optimization company runs efficiently with the help of FileMaker Pro


  • Small Canadian company makes websites user friendly and easy to find using search engine optimization.
  • Located in Vancouver, Canada, Denmark and Mexico


  • Small Business
  • Creative Services


  • Custom designed FileMaker Pro databases make keeping customer data and links simple and organized.


  • The versatility of FileMaker Pro means clients can be attended to on a custom basis, resulting in rapid updates and happy customers.

For any data organization needs I will ever have in the future, I will choose FileMaker Pro, it is simply the easiest, most adaptable tool we use.

— Courtney Heard, Founder/Director Abalone Designs, Inc.

Business Challenge

Courtney Heard, Founder/Director of Abalone Designs, said the company had several challenges in its early days. "I began using FileMaker Pro when I started Abalone Designs Inc. I needed a way to keep track of my clients, time spent on their websites, and billing. FileMaker Pro offered a completely customizable solution to all of these.

"I felt as though our company had some unique requirements. I found that we could start from a template with FileMaker and adjust absolutely anything to our needs. It was the only option available to us that could offer everything we needed and would easily adjust as our business grew."

But there were hurdles as Courtney explains. "The original prototype of our database for linking was designed in Microsoft Excel and we outsourced a version of it to someone to adapt into Microsoft Access. But neither of these was stable or reliable and we quite often lost data and database edits.

"I piped up suggesting FileMaker Pro, as I had been using it for my invoicing. After the two other options failed, we adapted the database to FileMaker and everyone has since been pleased with how it has turned out. It is stable, reliable and the sharing over a network of Macs is invaluable. Not to mention web publishing so that our clients can see the progress being made on their website themselves."

Successful Solution

SEO requires constant updating which, Courtney says, brought its own problems. "One of the largest hurdles we had to overcome was keeping track of our link exchanges. When you contact hundreds of websites a day for several clients in several different industries, you can find yourself disorganized and lost in no time. "Over the course of a couple of years, three of us developed a FileMaker database that can be adapted for any client that keeps track of all of their link exchanges, what stages they are in, and keeps a database of one–click email templates for the more frequently asked questions we find ourselves answering. It now enables us to make sure not a single potential link partner slips through the cracks, all while showing each company we communicate with that we are organized and professional."

And, says Courtney, the master database performs many roles. 'We are using one master database for our billing and invoicing, as well as one for each of our clients. Over the past year or so we have probably adapted the linking database for a new client 14 or 15 times. Each of these has between 200 and 700 records and continues to grow. And yet there are only 5 people sharing these databases at one time."

And those 5 people aren't even in the same place! Truly a global small business, Abalone Designs runs a batch of Macs including two MacBook Pros, one Powerbook, one iBook, two G5s and one G4, in Mexico, Denmark and Vancouver, Canada.

Some of the other programs we tried were DayLite and OD4Contact. The biggest problem was they're not designed for Abalone Designs and we had to learn a new system, train ourselves to things differently. In short, we had to adapt to these programs whereas FileMaker Pro adapts to us.

— Courtney Heard, Founder/Director Abalone Designs, Inc.

Customer Benefits

For Courtney Heard, FileMaker Pro completely fits the bill. "The best thing about it is its versatility," she says emphatically. "It is extraordinarily easy to adapt any database we have designed for any new needs. It will always be able to serve our needs because of its easy adaptability. It has enabled us to communicate more efficiently with more people, acquiring more links for our clients which in turn increases their search engine–friendliness and makes for happy clients.

"We have saved ourselves immeasurable amounts of time, which translate to a lot of money. We have been able to pass these savings on to our clients as well. And because we are able to use our time more efficiently, we have been able to take on more clients. Each of us now has the ability to take on one or two more clients for a full client load. Depending on their type of business, revenue increases vary."

And she says, along with the links and other uses, FileMaker is still managing all the company's contacts across a network of several Macs and one PC.

"The headaches we had with other programs! Our biggest problem was that other software had already been designed with a default structure in mind. With FileMaker, we started from scratch and added everything we need, the way we need it. It is all designed specifically, by us, for us, and as new needs arise, all we have to do is add a new field here, a new option there.

"Some of the other programs we tried were DayLite and OD4Contact. The biggest problem with those was they're not designed for Abalone Designs and we had to learn a new system, train ourselves to do things differently. In short, we had to adapt to these programs whereas FileMaker Pro adapts to us."

Furthermore says Courtney, Abalone Designs can now pass the benefits onto their customers. "We are able to charge less because what we do takes less time. We are able to obtain more links for their websites, raising their link popularity faster and showing the results on the search engines quicker. They are also able to watch what we do by logging into their database remotely.

"For any data organization needs I will ever have in the future, I will choose FileMaker Pro," Courtney announced," it is simply the easiest, most adaptable tool we use."

For FileMaker:

Kevin Mallon
Public Relations Manager
FileMaker Inc.

For Abalone Designs Inc.:

Courtney Heard
Abalone Designs Inc.

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