The Future Forward

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  • PHP
  • JavaScript

Meet Nick Hoag, MODX lover and FoxyCart lover. He and Grant Stewart (the other half of The Future Forward) just flat out build beautiful websites for their clients. Below, Nick shares his experiences with Foxycart and why it's the e-commerce choice for many of their websites.



  • Hello! Could you tell us a little about yourself? Who are you? What’s your company? How’d you get started in web development or with your business? What types of work do you enjoy doing? What types of clients do you typically serve?

    Hello! I’m Nick Hoag, one-half of The Future Forward  - a design and development studio in Burlington, Vermont. My background is in web design and development, while my business partner Grant Stewart has worked in the graphic design field for many years.

    After meeting around 5 years ago, we worked on a personal project together for our church - Grant took on everything from naming the church, all the way to identity and web design. I took on everything media-related, including website development, SEO, podcasting, etc.

    The project was a success on many levels, and Grant and I began to realize that we could accomplish great things together. We both had witnessed something very unfortunate occur in our industry far too often - designers and developers struggling to work together. We also worked for firms that were either heavy on design and “threw in” development here and there, or vice versa.

    We wanted to write a different story, one where both design and development worked hand-in-hand, performed under one roof at an equally high level. Out of that desire, The Future Forward was born.

    Since starting the company we have worked with a variety of clients - from a boutique jewelry company in LA, to one of the largest providers of carbon offsets in the country. We love working on a personal level, truly getting to know the individual or company that we are working with. And no matter the client or project, we have one primary goal: to build lasting relationships with individuals and businesses that share a similar vision, passion, and excitement.

  • What skills do you have in your arsenal? (html, css, javascript, php, ruby, nunchucks, etc.) How would you rate your level of expertise with those skills? Any favorite apps you use for development or new technologies you’re excited about?

    Our skills are heaviest in the front-end design and development departments. We enjoy building a creative platform that acts as a springboard for everything from naming and identity design, to marketing and print collateral, all the way to website design and development.

    When it comes to development, we are proficient with HTML, CSS, Javascript/jQuery, PHP, MySQL, and the MODX Content Management Framework. We also enjoy working with our clients to develop their content (including copywriting and photography), which then leads right into search engine optimization. And last but not least, we have a particular passion for responsive web design.

  • Please describe your experience with FoxyCart. How’d you find it? Why’d it appeal to you? What are your favorite features or aspects of it?

    We found FoxyCart by way of the MODX community. As a MODX developer, I was searching for the best e-commerce solution to integrate with, and quickly began to realize that FoxyCart was the answer.

    So many e-commerce systems try to be everything to everybody, and they fall flat on their bloated face. The fact that FoxyCart did simply what I needed it to do on an e-commerce level and nothing else, really appealed to my development sensibilities. I could continue using MODX to build great websites, and then seamlessly add an e-commerce component if needed. It didn’t matter if the site sold t-shirts, music downloads, carbon offsets, or accepted recurring donations, FoxyCart was ready. Pure brilliance!

    Another one of our favorite aspects is security. The PCI-DSS situation is getting more and more complicated by the day. Knowing that Foxcyart is a locked down, monitored, and compliant hosted solution that we can depend on is a huge burden lifted.

  • Did you have ecommerce experience prior to using FoxyCart?

    Yes, quite a bit actually. I had become quite proficient with another PHP/MySQL-based platform that definitely falls into the “try to be everything” category. While I still use it from time to time, MODX+FoxyCart has my heart.

  • Has FoxyCart helped you better serve your clients? Increase your revenues? Improved your overall quality of life? :)

    Yes, all of the above. It’s also improved the life-span of the wall next to my desk.

  • What has been your favorite FoxyCart project? Why?

    One of our all-time favorites would have to be the aforementioned Projects often start with lengthy design briefs, lots of bullet points, and a little marketing jargon thrown in for extra flavor. Our relationship with WORKSTEAD began with a question… "Do you get it?" What followed was an ongoing dialog about our shared design philosophy and sensibilities.

    WORKSTEAD was looking for a portfolio site to show their body of work, with added e-commerce functionality, without feeling like a typical online store. We built the site on MODX+FoxyCart, and utilized a heavy dose of jQuery and jQuery UI to accomplish the unique functionality we were going for.

    In the end, they needed something different. They needed a site that truly reflected their approach to design. We developed a site that, like their work, was strong and rich, yet simple and efficient. We gave them a square, and allowed all the work to flow out from there.

  • What would you say to other Developers/Designers/Merchants who are looking for an ecommerce solution?

    Merchants: First of all, ask the tough questions - what do we really need our ecommerce solution to accomplish? Chances are you don’t need a lot of the things you’ve grown accustomed to, and there are better ways to do it. Now, let FoxyCart be everything you need your ecommerce solution to be, and let other needs be handled by the best solution possible.

    Designers/Developers: If you are in need of an e-commerce platform that allows you to do what you do best (ie design and develop brilliant sites) but don’t feel like re-inventing the e-commerce wheel, just use FoxyCart. It will make your life easier. Plain and simple.

  • Got any FoxyCart websites we can look at? What were your favorite parts of each? - because it’s different. Because it’s functional. Because the site itself gets out of the way (kind of like FoxyCart) so the personality and character of the company can shine. Oh, and because you can move that square with your finger on touch devices. It’s just fun. - because it really shows off the flexibile nature of FoxyCart. The site needed to do many things, including selling carbon offsets. By way of multiple carbon calculators, users are able to calculate their carbon footprint and purchase offsets based on the calculations. They also needed to integrate with multiple third-party solutions like SalesForce and Vertical Response, as well as provide easily manageable recurring billing. The combination of MODX + FoxyCart (and, of course, some crazy javascript) was a perfect fit. - because we needed to get something off the ground quickly (aka, a few days), and FoxyCart enabled us to do just that. We also put the amazing FoxyShop Wordpress plug-in to work here, which made the incredibly tight deadline possible.