I have worked building my business for nearly 18 years. I have learned lessons as I self-taught everything from Organizational Development to CSS3. The platforms have changed along the way. The Internet has gone from web infancy to web 2.0. My web presence has changed too. I’m not embarrassed by the slow evolution only because I am more excited about the current results. Here’s a post for everyone who keeps learning and developing humble because each advance reveals just how much more there is for you to learn.
I thought this was a great advance in my skills as a web developer. I remember showing the site to a colleague. She said, “I hate it! Change it! What is that anyway?” I was caught up in the design elements and the technical skill that it took to accomplish what I had done. I had just begun to use DreamWeaver in my design process. I hadn’t considered that it may not be functional for users.
Never one to dismiss constructive criticism, no matter how destructively it is presented, I began to rethink the design with questions the user would ask. My next iteration of the site would answer those questions visually. I wanted to keep the main advance of more photos and navigation buttons.
I was proud of this design because of the color palette. Much more muted, which fits my personality AND the corporate function of the site. I attempted to communicate all the things that MAWMedia Consulting and Development, Inc. could provide. Yes, I had incorporated the business into a C-corp.
My great advance here was to have the current date pop-up on the site. This was an early attempt at currency. Little did I know that web 2.0 was making this process even easier. By this time I had added Fireworks to my work flow, allowing me to create nice consistent photo and navigation schemes. But, it was time intensive and not at all flexible.
I was excited about this design because I was also clarifying what I offered as a business. I began to integrate both the face-to-face and web services along with free information that could drive traffic to my site. I began thinking about creating a destination space for information about social work and socially conscious business.
The 4-part structure of MAWMedia services was emphasized, but the challenge of maintaining currency was made even more of a hurdle because the homepage design was static. I created a box with the idea that the content would change, but I did not have the technical know-how to either code the box graphically. Text in the box just did not cut it. I was not aware of the work going on with CSS2.0 or the fact that CSS3, which would allow exactly what I was looking for, had begun development in 1998.
I dissolved my c-Corp, and adopted MAWMedia Group for the first time focusing on the idea of partnership and consulting. The coolest design features of this site were texture and depth. It was my first experiment with #333, charcoal grey for those who don’t know hexidecimal color codes. I still love that color especially with how my other mawmedia colors pop with it as a background.
Still static and inflexible, this site was not an improvement on my dream of currency. But, it did present an advance in my thinking about my business: multiplicity. My central question was, “How can my main for-profit business support other ventures including non-profit operations?” This thinking eventually led to COACHMethod Interventions.
I patterned this after pharmaceutical and hospital corporate sites. I was drawn to them because of the the elegant way in which they organized massive amounts of information. I continued the 3 areas of practice theme with media, research, and business consulting. I also attempted to present the purpose of MAWMedia Group prominently with presentation of the mission on the front page.
This site feature a display window with changing content, termed a slider these days. I had learned ActionScript 2.0, and was able to create advanced photo transitions. My focus was on research and building competence in evaluation. The site reflects that desire.
By 2010, I have learned ActionScript 3.0 and created a number of interactive CDROM. I also created MAWMedia Group Publishing primarily to publish my wife’s novels. I stripped down the site, but added the idea of a blog. With all that I was learning in print, tech, and coding, I planned to program a blog interface at some point. But, the time escaped me.
Instead, I gained knowledge in PayPal integration and created a fancy new site to sell the published goods from MAWMedia Group Publishing. This sparked an insight into commerce integration, and a need to get web products to market quicker. Prior to this, I would search for what others were doing. I began to search for their code and platforms. I realized that I did not have to build every thing myself. In fact, I was a fool for building everything myself…a slow fool.
While I researched, learned, and lamented my self-imposed ignorance, I removed my web site. As I gained more insight, I realized that I would have to change ISPs. My current ISP did not have the ability to provide what I needed. After hours on hold and on the phone with tech support, I decided to make the switch. What was it that I was switching for? WordPress.
My love affair with WordPress began with non-literal tears at the time I had wasted. It was similar to when I had switched years earlier from text coding to DreamWeaver. I learned about plug-ins, and my heart jumped again. The need for currency, for integration with social media, for interaction could be automated with greatly reduced time to market. I could actually launch a blog because now, I wasn’t spending all my time coding. I could spend that time writing.
Just as my first web re-design in 2002 was sparked by a friend’s comment, my 2015 re-design began with the question from a friend, “But, what does MAWMedia really do?” I have wrestled with the presentation and made great progress in articulating that answer when asked. But on the web, you may not get the chance to be asked if your marketing plan is not well integrated with your sales plan. My 2015 redesign addresses some of the question, but I continue to develop, strengthening networks, enhancing customer relationship in order to address more of it.
The new site! Corresponding with the launch of MAWMedia Group, LLC, incorporated in Tennessee, this site has systematic marketing elements, a call to action, font-awesome characters, subjugation of the blog to services, testimonials, and my favorite colors. And, for the first time on a site for my business, a photo of the Chairman, Yours Truly. There isn’t much more you could ask for in a site design.
In 2002, I might have spent 12 hours working on just the visual elements of a site along with staging and function. For my redesign in 2015, I was finished in 2 hours. It’s a lesson in development and learning, the advance of technology, and rise of web2.0. But, it is also a challenge to stay on the cutting edge, ever-vigilant for the next efficiency improvement. I’m on it, so you can focus on content.