four blossoms with the word jebrawebbed below

Jebrawebbed is the blog written by Debi Lewis, founder and owner of sustainable web site development company Based in Evanston, IL, Debi and her firm are focused on building web sites for organizations with a purpose beyond (but not exclusive of) profit. Debi blogs about open source content management, non-profit and small business web sites, the importance of local community building, and women-owned business. She is the mother of two young daughters, married to a non-geek, prefers her bike to her car, and is the proud owner of a few too many stringed instruments.

You can find Jebraweb on Facebook and Twitter. You can email Debi at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

Tags: this i believe open-source ethics web content content content management

The Never-Ending Web Project

businessmen in a spiralYou signed the contract with the vendor in July. The kickoff meeting was in August. The project was slated to be running through development phases through the fall, with a final launch in early November. T's were crossed, i's were dotted, and the calendar was shiny and organized.

So why is it now nearly March with no sign of the project end in sight?

I've been building web sites for businesses and non-profits since the late 1990's, and at least once every year, I look across the table at a client and know right away that the project for which they're hiring me is going to take at least a third longer than a normal project of the same size. There are warning signs I've learned to identify, and if time-to-launch is important to you, you'd do well to learn how to recognize them in yourself.

How Your Web Site Makes Your Business Better

entrepreneur at deskThere is nothing like a technology project that seems huge, daunting, and enterprise-defining to make an entrepreneur realize how poorly organized his business feels.

Sure, he knows why his company is the best at what it does. He knows that if his prospects would just call him, walk in the door, buy his product and hire his staff, they would love him and help him achieve every goal he's ever set. In the very marrow of his bones he knows this is true. The only problem is this: his business is brand new, and no one knows it exists.

When an entrepreneur sets out to build a web site, it is often in the midst of all kinds of other huge projects that are high on the priority list at the outset of launching a business. The web site, however, is the one that provides the platform on which every other project must come into sychronization; where the systems of marketing, operations, accounting, and customer service overlap; and where the entrepreneur must automate every single process that currently exists only in his head.

The web site trains the entrepreneur to think through his business.

Should Your Dog Be on Your Web Site?

Everyone loves their pets, but do those pets belong on your web site? Consider this a public service decision-flow guideline from us to you.

Does your dog belong on your web site?

Are you a veterinarian?

Yes? Your dog belongs on your web site.

dog and vet

Are you a gourmet pet food chef?

Yes? Your dog belongs on your web site, especially if your dog is a Prairie Dog. Specialty pet food is hard to find.

prairie dog

Do you run a pet photography studio?

Yes? Your dog belongs on your web site.

puppy with flower

Do you own and operate a kennel?

Yes? Your dog belongs on your web site.

golden retrievers

Are you a professional dog walker?

Yes? Your dog belongs on your web site.


Do you write children's books about animals?

Yes? Your dog belongs on your web site.

dog with toy

Are you an accountant, attorney, women's clothing boutique owner, restauranteur, journalism professor, or any other kind of professional whose business doesn't have anything at all to do with animals?

Sorry, but no. Your dog doesn't belong on your web site.

But I love my dog!

Still. No. You don't need your dog on your web site.

But my dog is so cute!

I believe you. But still no.


Nope. Not on your web site.

This also goes for your cat, your lizard, your guinea pig, your ferret, and your parakeet. If your business has absolutely nothing to do with your pet, leave your pet in your personal life. This means no photos of your pet, no listing your pet on your "about our staff" page, and no blog post called "15 Things I Learned About Accounting from My Boston Terrier." For dog lovers, this may sound harsh, but for people who are not dog lovers or for people who like dogs but don't think of them as central to their relationship with your business, the inclusion of such personal information on your site can be jarring. Non-pet-owners in particular cannot make the connection between accounting and dogs, no matter how many things you learned in your pet-human relationship.

Keep your pup in your heart, but leave her off your web site.

Need help including some really relevant information on your site? Let us know! We're happy to answer your questions on Twitter or Facebook, or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .


JebraWHAT!?: Friendly Answers to Webby Questions...About Domain Names

jebrawhatWell, hi there! It's time for the second installment of JebraWHAT!?, our new non-techy, ultra-friendly advice column for social entrepreneurs and non-profits managing their web sites on their own. We'll be answering your questions about ways you can take control of your own web presence, keep your site updated, and integrate the technology that best supports your customers and donors -- and hopefully, our answers will be as easy for you to understand as a cookie recipe.

This week's question comes from Hilary Faverman of Hilary Faverman Communications, a content marketing and social media management consultancy. She writes content for her clients like a veteran celebrity impersonator, taking on their voices with such smoothness that you'll never know they used -- shhh! -- a ghost writer. She also helps them set out strategic plans for their online content and social media placement, and fairly often, she's writing the content of their web sites.

In her own personal writing, which you can read on her blog (here's my favorite post), her tone is confident, irreverant and no-baloney, but that doesn't mean she doesn't have questions. In her work on planning client web site content, she's often approached by people who are starting from absolute zero. There is a lot of ground to cover there.

This month, we're answering Hilary's question. She asked "Should a solo entrepreneur's domain name be their actual name or a new name just for their business?"

5 Reasons to Focus Web Content Above the Fold, or Maybe Not

newspaperNewspapers have adapted beautifully -- if slowly -- to publishing their content online. They've embraced social sharing, robust in-site search, and adapted their business models to use either advertising or subscription-only content, or both. They've adapted their mastheads to include typical navigation items associated with online content. These content-rich, content-focused sites have found ways to work with the new medium they've been forced to embrace.

Knowing that, why on earth are web strategists and designers all still using a phrase from the days of yore, when paper newspapers were the only way to get the news each morning? That phrase is above-the-fold. Above-the-fold refers to the space on a print newspaper that is visible when the paper is folded in half and stuck in a newspaper box behind a plastic window. Back in ye olden tymes, if the content above-the-fold in that print paper was compelling enough, ancient man would put an ancient metal coin known as a quarter into the slot above the window, which allowed the box to open and for ancient man to remove a newspaper.

Above-the-fold was a SALES TECHNIQUE. For paper. So what are the benefits of using it on the web? I'll admit that there are some, but I contest that a paradigm shift is occurring that will soon make it meaningless.

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