four blossoms with the word jebrawebbed below

Jebrawebbed is the blog written by Debi Lewis, founder and owner of sustainable web site development company Jebraweb.com. 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. .

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Let's Talk About Pop-Ups

jack in the boxI've begun to receive regular requests from my clients for "pop-ups," alternately called "pop up windows" or "you know, a little box that comes up with some extra information?"

I don't like them. I don't like them at all.

That said, as the consultant and designer that my clients have hired to make their web site visions into realities, it's my job to do what they want -- in part. Another part of my job is to steer them away from the technologies that might do them a disservice. I tell them not to host with their brothers-in-law who just opened a hosting company in their basement; I suggest they avoid flashing yellow "NEW!" buttons in front of each new blog post; and I tell them, gently, that there are other ways of making a piece of content "pop" without making it "pop UP." 

Here are some of the reasons why I recommend against using pop-up windows.

When Your Web Site Makes Your Business Worse: Funeral Edition

angryatcomputerThere are only two acceptable effects your web site should have on your customers:

  1. No effect at all. It's just there, and maybe they never even use it.

  2. An improvement in the way they interact with your organization or business, by making it easier for them to buy things, sign up for events, get in touch with you, make donations or learn about your work.

That's it. A web site that creates any other experience for your customers must be recognized as a failure. If your web site makes interactions with your business worse than before the site existed, you have done something very, very wrong.

Sadly, that happens.

Today, we offer case study of a business that did just that: used their web site to make interacting with them far, far worse than before. And, because Halloween is on the horizon, we've chosen an appropriate study: a funeral home.

Tough Choices for Your Next Web Project: Heavy Workload vs Lotsa Outsourcing

workloadvsoutsourceSome business owners can do it all: find the commercial space for their business, paint it, install the new light fixtures, find affordable office furniture online, source and hire all their employees via Craigslist, design their own business cards/print ads/online ads, and then actually do the work of their business too.

These people are amazing. Hats off to you, multitalented business owners!

These people are also working with the same 24 hours in a day as the people who go another route: outsourcing. These outsourcers pay a commission to the commercial real estate agent, hourly rates to the painters and electricians, flat fees to the interior designers, listing fees with online job search boards, and a package fee for graphic design. They have lighter pockets at the end of the day -- less money to invest in their business -- but more time to spend on their core work.

Rock on, outsourcers. You know your limits!

When it comes to your web site, these same two personality types also apply. Some business owners like to pay for the bare minimum of work from their web consultants, then learn to do as much as possible on their own. Some business owners want to hire experts to do everything from the design to the content to the maintenance. Which kind of site owner are you? Ths article will help you find the right balance of heavy lifting and outsourcing for your skills, budget, and style.

Tough Choices for Your Next Web Project: DIY Research vs. Limited Options

Jebraweb: DIY Research vs Limited OptionsWe have all become masters of online research in recent years, and perhaps none are so masterful as business owners. Need to find the best quality (but affordable) business cards? Google it. Need to learn how to use your new Square credit card reader? Surely there's a YouTube video. Where is the best place to cater lunch for your visiting investors? Yelp knows. After success with all that research, it stands to reason that business owners would apply the same can-do attitude to finding the right technology for their web presence.

It's always a good idea to investigate before you buy, but the big question is how much? How do you know when you're researching yourself into a rabbit hole or ignoring big sets of choices because your expertise just isn't in technology? This decision feels weighty! In the next few blog posts, we'll be pitting big choices against each other and helping you to find the best of both worlds. Today, we'll talk about the process of picking your web tools: doing your own research, or letting your consultants narrow down the field and present you with a limited set of options.

Tough Choices for Your Next Web Project: Budget and Flexibility

Jebraweb: confused manAs you prepare to build a new web site, redesign an old one, or make changes to the way your organization handles its online presence, there are hundreds of tiny decisions that compete for your attention. Do you need a new logo? Do you want to use WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, SquareSpace, Wix, hard coding? Should you go with bold color and design or traditional styling? What should be in the menu? Should you call that page ABOUT US or just ABOUT? Or ABOUT THE FIRM? Oh my goodness, you start to think. I need to make a list. I need a project management system. We need to track these things. What's first?

Well, all those decisions need to be made, but approaching it from a details-first position will be utterly overwhelming. The big-picture choices you make will help direct the smaller choices along the way. In the next few blog posts, we'll be pitting choices against each other and helping you to find the best of both styles. Today, we'll start with one of the first choices organizations need to make: will they be thrifty and decisive, or spendy and flexible?

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