Social Hiatus Explained

I’ve been away from blogging, social media and the like with respect to Websuasion for a while now. I feel a bit awkward coming back to it without explaining what caused the hiatus, what we’ve been doing since and where things are heading now.

On Memorial Day of 2009, my long-time friend and business partner, Norbert Taylor, passed away. I won’t go into detail, but it was a terrible shock to his family, friends and colleagues. For me personally, it was devastating. Though we were separated by the over 700 miles between Atlanta and Chicago, we spent large portions of every day working together on our business. It was the most perfect intellectual working relationship I’ve ever experienced — a true partnership. We were so much alike, we could finish one another’s sentences. And yet, our strengths stood in sharp, complementary contrast. We shared a clear vision of what we wanted to accomplish, and I was honored to work with him. Most importantly, he was my closest friend.

We started Websuasion, in part, because of our mutual love (as both web developers and users) for the internet. We were mesmerized by the opportunities web technology can offer when done well. But, we were often frustrated by the vast chasms separating technical expertise, effective marketing and successful business models. The best practitioners of each seemed to be unaware of one another or unable to communicate their knowledge and experience outside their own community.

We noticed that great business models were often hampered by poor choice of technology. We saw exciting technical innovation failing to communicate their opportunities to businesses and going unrecognized. And, we saw an ocean of old-guard marketers assuming the traditional approaches would work in the internet medium while failing to understand how technology could be used to more appropriately and efficiently connect with users. In short, we felt there wasn’t anyone out there translating between these factions, and… well, teaching.

So, Websuasion grew into two areas of focus. Internally, we would develop our own web application platform on which we could build quality sites and web services for our clients quickly and cost-effectively. Externally, we would do our best to impart why businesses should care about good web development practices; teach web marketing and PR departments how to better utilize the tools available to engage their customers; help commercial, nonprofit and government organizations to understand what constitutes a strong technical and customer strategy; explain the necessary roles and appropriate expectations business should have when hiring a web team; demonstrate how best to ensure their technical plan falls into place on time and on budget; and finally, stress the importance of continuously measuring their success.

Capocus

We’ve spent several years developing our own web application platform, called Capocus. We’ve launched several large-scale websites with it and learned a lot about flexible application design, usability and the basic functionality needed for most successful web implementations. Our previous versions have been proprietary releases, but it was always our intention to release Capocus as open source software. Before his death, Norbert spent the last several months completely re-designing our software armed with all that we’d learned. Since his death, I’ve picked up and moved that work forward with the help of our friends and fellow IBG cooperative members at Twelve Foot Guru. There is still a lot to be done, but we hope to unveil a beta release of Capocus 3.0 by summer.

Podcast

Just before Norbert’s death, he and I recorded several episodes of a podcast aimed at doing some of the teaching work we felt was needed. They were never released for obvious reasons. But now, I want to rectify that. I’ll be posting up the first couple of episodes next week. They are a bit dated, but the information is still relevant. And I just really think they should see the light of day.

Moving Forward

Moving Websuasion forward over the last few months has been daunting. As I told a friend recently, “It’s much more difficult to rebuild a company than it is to build one.” Our development and client work has continued, but I needed time to rediscover the heart of Websuasion’s message. That’s becoming clearer each day, and I hope that I can use this spot on the web to provide a narrative of experiences and ideas which you might find helpful. You can aid me in that goal by offering topic suggestions (click the tab to the left) and sharing your comments on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and below. I look forward to the ongoing conversation, and thank you for reading!

  • J Ryan Williams

    I am principal of Websuasion LLC, based out of Fayetteville, GA. We Develop Web and Mobile Applications, Produce Video and provide tools and methodologies for Responsible Brand Marketing.

    This blog tends to focus on the technical and conceptional aspects of our work with Ruby on Rails, iOS, DSLR video, the business process and a little branding discussion at times. I welcome your relevant comments, and if you have questions, feel free to speak up. For info on rates and service packages for Websuasion, please visit our Service Packages page.

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