We're glad you found us.
Most likely, you arrive here from one of the websites we built, and so you already know a bit about our work. Here we explain how and why we do the things we do, a little of our history explaining why we are better at our work than our competitors, links to many of our clients and projects, and a few irrelevant details that we find useful or amusing. To know our deepest motivations in working the web, you can view a legacy sampling from our durable “soapbox,” the Solar Utilities Network legacy site, and especially the article there on Sustainable Hedonism ...or read on...
We started helping folks integrate computers into their businesses in 1979. Our first clients were Montessori pre-schoolers, but soon we graduated to high-school students, then their teachers, and finally managers in the real world (whom we found, in many cases, to have more trouble wrapping their heads around computers than did our pre-schoolers.)
In 1992 a beloved student said “You need to look at this,” and showed us the World Wide Web. We were delighted. Our clients have come to share our enthusiasm for the power of the web: it's nothing less than the most important new medium for information exchange since movable type. Printing in color for free! Feedback! Hypertext links that explain themselves and lead to a web of informative resources for searchers to navigate at will! Interactivity! What a great communication tool!
During 2017, our websites "published" more than 56,000,000 pages of information, instantly and faithfully, to more than eight million people all over the planet ...without uprooting a single tree! ( Click here to jump ahead to our Website Gallery. )
Being able to present meaningful, up-to-date, attractive, and lively information to a global audience using recycled electrons and existing infrastructure fulfills a dream for us, and we eagerly offer to share it with you: this web tool is not going away and anyone with ideas to share or products to exchange should consider taking it up.
We call ourselves “websters,” and have contempt for the word “webmaster.” We know the web to be a demanding and rapidily evolving art form, and shrink from declaring ourselves masters of such a protean and slippery medium.
|Nature can take care of our needs, but not necessarily our greeds.|
Professionals practice – doctors, for example, don't advertise themselves as ”healthmasters.“ Like lawyering and doctoring, webstering combines craft and art. Many critters build webs, and all us critters are involved interdependently in the web of Life. Anyway, webster is shorter, and describes what we do.
Here's a hot flash that still seems to escape many who work the web: This is not paper! No trees were killed to deliver this message. Nor are website visitors passive "readers" as we are with books, TV, and the movies. The web is active and interactive, better than a video game and much better than a four-color brochure on glossy paper. By coordinating print and web efforts and integrating media in a single design process, much time and money can be saved. When we help you design your web pages, you benefit from what we have learned posting thousands of other pages for our clients. One key to our success: we make our clients' websites look like them ...not like us.
|Our calculations show that on the web a picture is worth 4,000 words|
We continue to be intrigued and dazzled by the web, although we lament some of its recent evolutions. Striving to be a single source for everything – it's barely out of its teenage years – and under concerted assault from its many abusers, it is impossible for most business folks to keep up to date with their businesses and the web, and to continue making good decisions about what new developments belong in the electronic storefront – their website – and what will not. The latest craze is an attempt to make a single web page serve the wildly different requirements and abilities of computer screen and mobile phones; this is called “responsiveness”. In our opinion, looking a full-blooded web page on a tiny hand-held screen is as unlikely as passing a camel through the eye of a needle. Nevertheless, we have been able to guide many of our clients through the difficult transition to responsiveness without undue expense, adapting valuable old “legacy” content with caution, using the new abilities only when they enhance the client's message, never just for eye candy or to indulge the phone-bound. Our clients trust us for good advice and knowledgeable guidance through what can otherwise be a costly techno-swamp.
|Everything should be as simple as possible ...but no simpler.|
One important thing we have learned in our practice is that building a website, with the associated organizing, analysis, and carefully enunciation of mission and purpose, provides a business owner with a great tool for thinking about how the enterprise works best, or could be improved most. The business graveyard is full of companies that didn't understand their real business, and were busy doing something peripheral right up until they failed. ( Remember Woolworth, Compaq, PanAm, Oldsmobile, Borders, Delorean, Enron, Tower Records, Blockbuster Video..? )
A website is structured, visible, and can usually be navigated in many ways for differing purposes by an enterprise's various audiences: customers, workers, managers, stakeholders, critics, competitors. Thinking of a website as a metaphor for a brick-and-mortar institution, many of the same traits that distinguish a web page from paper apply. Ink, once dry on paper, is immutable; not so with the architecture of a website. While business owners and entrepreneurs are undoubtedly their own best customers, being as diverse as their website's visitors is impossible. They tend to look in the same window and walk in the same door every time. Appealing to the full diversity of the customer base is important, so the corporate website turns out to be a cost-effective, low-risk way to experiment with different ways to entice customers, showcase capabilities, and broaden product offerings.
For us, as for our clients, message comes first, and is best expressed in words, with images for support ...and, yes, why not a little eye-candy? We believe firmly that content is primary ...and we can point to results that confirm our beliefs. To this end, we provide our clients, as necessary, with editorial, copy-writing and -editing help as well as marketing, positioning, graphical,identity package design, and strategic advice – so much more than the mere “programming” at the foundation of web design (in which we also excel.)
|Work smart, not hard|
We started this computer gig as teachers, knowing that our students would be entering an intensely computer-laden future. Our work soon moved into industry, where two generations of “information immigrants” needed remedial education to catch up with the way business was changing. Our interest, always and to this day, is the impact of automation on workers – on people. Save a bit of insulting duplicated effort here, some time there ... all without impairing precious human interactions ... made for a happier, more productive workplace on every level.
|I think [tolerance] sets the bar too low. I recognize that tolerance is progress over intolerance, but I believe a great democracy should have higher aspirations. Instead of tolerance, we should be calling boldly for the creation of brotherhood and sisterhood. Let us not merely accept our differences, but celebrate our kinship as sisters and brothers of the human family.|
–Coretta Scott King
The Web: Earth at night
The Internet has been lauded as a democratizing force, a tool to be put in the hands of everyone right 'round the planet, but as can readily be seen from the nightime view of the web of light above, this tool is unevenly available. Even now, a quarter century into the reign of the 'Net, it is too easy to see that many here in the US are disenfranchised. It strikes us as a simple matter of noblesse oblige that we who have by chance been endowed with the ability to see these tools in the hands of those whose lives might be bettered by access to the web's burgeoning trove of information should bend at least some of our talents to this task pro bono publico ...and this is the work that makes us happiest.
“The cloud” and “Cloud computing“ are buzzwords with a simple meaning: instead of keeping data on your home office or business computer, it resides on a fast, well-connected server “who knows where.” (Most of our cloud sites depend on a data center in Santa Rosa, California.) The advantages are obvious: you can access your data from any net-connected computer ... and so can others. Two or more authorized users can work on the data simultaneously, while visitors can make orders and retrieve data. One of the purest uses is noted above in the paragraph about Redwood Coast Seniors' menu system.
We are cautious about novelty, especially when it's flashy displays and annoying animation, but the cloud is something we’re enthusiastic about, because it confers on clients the ability to make simple website changes – hours of operation, names of the Board of Directors, upcoming events – easily, without depending on us. More and more of our clients have the ability to keep their sites up-to-date by maintaining their own calendars, adjusting their home page announcements, or adding new products.
In our decades-long practice helping businesses improve their operations while enhancing the human values that make work enjoyable, the Donor Management systems used by some of our favorite non-profits, and the publication management system at the heart of the Green Living Journal publishing empire and that's used by Mendocino Eco Artists.
Ask us how we can make your business operations more efficient and humane by moving parts of them into the cloud.
|If you can't find time to do it right, how will you find time to do it over?|
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