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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Free Stuff for Plucky Web Site Owners

horatio alger pluck & luck bookBusiness owners have limited supplies of three things: time, patience, and money. Whichever of those items is the scarcest commodity in the moment will determine the relative importance of finding hidden stores of the other two. Most often for my clients, money is the hardest thing to spare when they're looking to improve their existing web site; they're looking for the best ways to save it. Fortunately for them, the web is full of free resources that -- while they may take time to search and patience to implement -- are great ways to save money on some things you can do for your web site by yourself. Like the plucky young heros of early 20th century rags-to-riches novels, entrepreneurial web site owners willing to do some of the work for themselves with free tools they find may find themselves pulling themselves up by their bootstraps (only this time, it's often backed by a Twitter tool actually called Bootstrap).

In this post, I'll break down the kinds of free stuff you can get for your web site into several categories: Free Images; Free Extensions & Plugins; Free Advice; and Free Everything.

JebraWHAT!?: Friendly Answers to Webby Questions...About .SUCKS

Jebrawhat?!: Friendly Answers to Webby QuestionsWell, hi there! It's time for this month's episode of JebraWHAT!?, our  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.

A few weeks ago, I received a message from the fantastic Nora Brathol of Arka Pana Consulting. Nora's mission and work with Arka Pana is something we can really get behind. Connecting the knowledge she gained working in international human rights advocacy with her passion for the world of social media, she is our go-to person for helping nonprofit organizations utilize their web presence for fundraising, advocacy, and consciousness-raising.

Nora had a really important question about things that suck.

Specifically, she wrote me to ask if I would blog about the domain availability for .SUCKS. No, she's not planning to open up a vacuum cleaner web site. In reality, she's thinking about the best interests of her clients, knowing the headache and expense that will be sure to follow if they don't stay a step ahead of the game. 

If you haven't heard about .SUCKS, or if you're checking your calendar right now to see if this blog post is an April Fools joke, you'd better keep reading. Not knowing how to handle .sucks could get you in a lot of trouble, and that would...well...I think you know.

Why You Still Need a (Real) Web Site

backspaceIn June of 1993, there were approximately 130 web sites. That's all. By September of 2014, the organization NetCraft was able to confirm that there were a billion web sites.

That is a lot of growth in just over twenty years. During that time, web developers and consultants went from trying to convince organizations that they needed to have a web site, to convincing them that they needed to update and continually improve that web site, to convincing them that they needed to include social media when it became an integral part of online marketing. The growth and dynamic nature of conducting business online has been staggering, but at the heart of it all was always a web site.

Now, in 2015, after spending nearly twenty years working online, I find my pitch beginning to edge its way back to the beginning. People are, once again, considering a weakened focus on their web sites. The reasons are different, but I maintain that the need for a web site is as powerful as ever. The arguments I'm hearing are varied. Indulge me as I knock them down, one by one.

Mobile-Friendly or DEATH BY SMARTPHONE

chokeWARNING: TOMORROW YOUR MOBILE UNFRIENDLY WEB SITE WILL REACH THROUGH YOUR SMART PHONE AND STRANGLE YOUR BUSINESS TO DEATH!

No, I'm not being melodramatic. If your web site is not mobile-friendly, you are in deep, deep trouble. You can find out your fate immediately by using Google's Mobile-Friendly Test at https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/. After the tool does its work, what you want to see more than anything else is this:
google says jebraweb is mobile-friendlyIf you don't see that, the end is truly near. We'll explain why, and then we'll throw you a rope. Read on...if you DARE.

Plugging the Hole: Web Site Triage in 2015

triage"Hi there! I got your name from my friend Susan whose web site you made (looks great, by the way!). I have a web site which works great for me, but I've been meaning to change the address on there since we moved last year, and now I have a bad Yelp! review because someone went to the wrong place! I don't know why they didn't just call us. Anyway, I need someone to change the address and also some other small things that we may as well get fixed at the same time. How much would you charge for that?"

The above is an amalgam of the many "quick fix" emails I've received over the past few years. They are almost always word-of-mouth referrals from existing clients, and also almost always from someone whose previous web developer is no longer available. When that happens, I can usually guarantee that the previous developer did little to no effective training of their client on how to manage updates, whether those updates were supposed to be made by the client herself or by the developer. These poor lost souls often come to me with no background on what they can expect out of their site, what's easy to change, or how involved editing the site might be.

Today I'd like to write about the kinds of triage projects I've been seeing, which quick-fixes are really quick and which are not, and how to decide whether to pursue triage or just overhaul the whole site.

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