How does a web site happen?

I’m a Big Picture person, so it’s helpful to me to have a bird’s eye view of anything new in my life before I dive into it.

In my working life, I’m often approached by people wanting to have something done on the web, and who are like me, wanting to see the thousand-foot view first, then nibble on the details. I’d say fully 50% are people who have either a) never done a project like theirs before, and so have NO idea what to expect, or b) have done it before and had a bad experience, or at least one that left them feeling bad.   So most are apprehensive because they don’t know how the process will go. What can I expect? How long will it take? What are my responsibilities in all of this? How arduous will it be? How much does it cost? What if I make a mistake and at the end I get a huge bill for something?

I nod and smile at their emails. I get it.

Things have changed from when I first started doing web work about 18 years ago. Then, I was in charge of information technology for an organization that wanted to build its first web site. There were very few people who knew very much about the medium then, and since we worked for advertising agencies, we hired one of them to design a web site for us. They asked very few questions, and didn’t return phone calls, but reportedly held a lot of “team meetings” and brainstorming sessions we weren’t invited to. They came back with a site that made my eyes hurt: garish colors, cartoon icons, a menu that didn’t match what we wanted to put out there, and so much more. It would have made our sleek, professional association look like a children’s toy manufacturer.

And then came the invoice for $5000.00.

I still have bad dreams about that experience. And like all good nightmares, it drives me to run my business in such a way that I never, ever do that to anyone else.

I can’t speak for all digital marketing companies; I only know how WE do things. But I wanted to share what I feel is the process that should be followed by everyone who does what I do:


Marketing yourself on the web is like a complicated machine. There are lots of decisions to be made about what goes where, what its purpose is, and how it needs to work once built. No one outside your brain can know what your goals & dreams are, who your audience is, what will motivate the people you want to reach, and where you want to go with your life & business. So this first phase involves questions . . . sometimes lots of questions . . . in order to clarify what you’re creating, and synch up your brains so you both have the same vision. Beware the professional who does not ask enough questions.


In this step, you take all of the answers above and co-create a roadmap from where you are to where you want to be. At the bare minimum, this articulates all of your goals and expectations, as well as a detailed vision of the people you’re trying to reach (and what you offer when you reach them) the site’s structure, interactive features, desired timeline, and cost range. This may take some back-and-forth to get right. Take that time. When it IS right, you enter into a contract to bring it all to life.


The web designer takes everything she (now) knows, along with agreements about things like color and structure, and sits down at the drawing table to create some possible designs – the beautiful container into which you want to pour your words and pictures. See this as the beautiful, functional space into which you’ll welcome your audience to talk with them. Typically, the designer produces two or more different ways of putting all of the pieces together into something the works well, and emails the drawings to you to review. You choose, or adjust and then choose, approving the final one you like best.


So now the final flat drawing can be brought to life, as it’s programmed into an actual interactive space on the web. It starts with just a framework, with yawning empty spaces where your unique materials will go. You again have a chance to look this over, and make sure it’s what you signed up for. Then comes . . .


With guidance, you provide source materials like your logo, the navigational structure (“menu”) you want, specific photos and imagery you want to use, text, etc. You may already have things written, or you may need to write them. You may have photos you want to use, or you may need to be pointed to places where you can pick out what you like. No matter the exact path, with these building blocks in hand, the designer can create complete pages, menus, useful mechanisms, signups/contact forms/calls to action . . . everything your site or social media presence needs in order to come to life, and to open for business.


Step back and look at your shiny new web space, lovely but still closed to the public. A good designer will give you a tour of it, and identify what’s needed in terms of the proper care and feeding of your site. Any specific training you or your staff will need to move forward happens now. Web sites are never “done,” but are constantly evolving as your work evolves. Your web designer should make sure you know how to make that happen.


When everything is polished and you’re ready to throw open the doors to the public, the designer will do the behind-the-scenes work to get your domain name to “point” to the beautiful new creation, get your email working and delivered, submit you to the search engines, etc.

. . .

This may seem like a lot, and of course it is. But — at the risk of sounding like a bit of a cheerleader — it can be a priceless exercise, as you immerse yourself in your vision, your “tribe,” and your unique work for a few days or weeks, gaining a tremendous amount of clarity in the process.

So that’s our favorite bird’s eye view. We welcome questions about any aspect of the process that might worry you, or anything that feels the least bit murky or stressful. We love what we do, and love to use our skillset to help people doing good things. Give us a shout at 720-507-1893, skype mterrian, or drop us an email and say hello.


Why do we do what we do?

I have a skinny little Moleskine journal that lives in the riser on my desk, about 3″ x 4″, and in back of it is a page I call the Doom Page. This is the page on which I’ve kept a tally of the number of times I’ve been told I’ll never get rich by serving only people and companies doing good in the world. I put another hash mark on it this morning; it joins its many brethren there. Ho-hum. I keep the list as a little private joke, and because it makes me smile. (I’m big on smiling. It’s good for your health.)

It also keeps me in touch with my “Why.” Why do I do what I do for a living? Why do you?   What do you want to have done/been/had when it’s all over?

Here’s my Why: I want to wake up in the morning and get to work with some of the best people walking this world. People whose minds, hearts, and feet are all pointed in the same direction, and are doing good work.

With that as my Why, the organizations, companies and individuals we work with all share something in common: In one way or another, large or small, they’re spending their life energy on work that increases the amount of good in the world.

It may be an author writing a book about the resurgence of real wisdom. An organization creating a supportive community for those who build . . . community. A coach who helps people heal themselves through writing. A consultant who wants to help develop leaders who run better businesses.


Check out Billions Rising, which helps people become more self-reliant worldwide. Awesome.

It’s hard to describe what it feels like to have daily contact with people helping others become bigger, better, healthier, happier, and more prosperous. And it’s even harder to describe why it matters so much to me, moreso than just monetary wealth.

It’s the opposite of drinking in the poisonous messages pushed by the global media machine, which collectively make you feel like we’re all going to hell sans handbasket, it is all (insert villain’s) fault, and thus the only thing worth doing is to squeeze as much wealth/power/prestige/stuff out of the earth as possible, because, well, everyone else out there is only in it for themselves. Aren’t they?

Here’s the truth: All over the world, there are people who woke up one day, looked around, and decided to become more than just an income-producing, stuff-accumulating short-timer on this rock. They decided to do something that matters, and focus on something bigger. Yes, you have to have some type of income to make it in this world, however much you’d like to have, but these people are finding ways to do that AND leave the joint a little better than they found it.

We get to work with those people, receiving regular injections of good news about community building, pioneers solving societal and environmental problems, courageous acts on behalf of perfect strangers, and hundreds or thousands of small actions taken to nudge us in the right direction. Is this for the future, for our kids and grandkids? Sure, but it’s also for NOW. For us. Because this sort of life is so much richer, and so much more fun, even if you are an introvert like me.

Technology can be a beautiful thing, in many ways. I became hooked on teaching it when I realized how much it helps good people get the word out about their unique work, their offerings, their gifts.   And so we help people use digital media wisely, efficiently, and affordably, to help these good people attract the eyes and ears of the world and gain support for what they’re doing.

So I sit down in my chair, the chair from which I’m writing this post, with a smile on my face. Every. Single. Day.   Most of the people I serve do the same.

We help them get where they want to go, no matter what the “where” might be. They are part of something bigger, better. And when they forget, I remind them.

Which makes me rich beyond measure.

Wanna be rich too?