Take yourself back to 1997. Do you remember the state of tech back then? I remember all too clearly. Want a big monitor? Think 21″ CRT (cathode ray tube) that took up all of your desk. Want blazing fast internet? 52 Kbps modems were just coming out. Decent laptops cost $5,000, and a good quality photo scanner was around $2000 and connected via SCSi cables. It was in this era that I started The Web For Business.com, and I have an arrogant IT guy to thank. 

I was working at Eurocopter Canada at the time. My boss was the Chief Operating Officer and I was working in marketing and sales. We were ahead of our parent corporation because we had registered the domain eurocopter.com (.ca didn’t exist back then) and our IT department built a website. The state of website design back in 1997 was pretty basic. It was all HTML, Perl scripts, and limited Javascript. Our IT department’s effort was pretty good and they were proud of it. The problem: our customers hated it.

The biggest issue was that the homepage had a big photo of the Eurocopter Canada factory on the homepage. Large in dimension, but also large in file size. Image optimization technology wasn’t well developed yet so the boss’ wish to have a big picture of the facility meant the photo’s file size was over 1 MB. This is still considered large by today’s standards, but back in those days it was downright huge.

Our customers were located all over Canada and the United States. Sometimes they were accessing our website over satellite connections out in logging camps. The homepage took FOREVER to download on those slow connections. I was in touch with our customers weekly and I heard a lot of comments like “your website sucks” and “it takes so long to load we just give up”. Not the impression we were hoping for.

I took my findings to my boss and he in turn called the IT department. We sat down for a meeting to discuss the issue. I outlined the issue and my boss asked the IT guy what he thought. In response, Mr. IT pulled up the website on the boss’ computer (using Netscape). The site showed up almost instantaneously. The boss was impressed and my credibility seemed to be shot.

What the IT guy didn’t tell the boss was that he had pulled up the site on the company’s internal network. He didn’t access it online. Instead, he pulled it up locally. Of course it loaded quickly under those circumstances. My boss didn’t understand the difference between the local network and the internet. Despite my protests, he said the IT guy knew what he was doing.

To add insult to injury, the IT guy asked if I knew how to build a website. It was 1997. Almost NOBODY knew how to build a website. So I answered that I didn’t. In response to that information, he said that since I didn’t know anything, I should shut up about things I didn’t understand and stay out of his business.

I was steamed. My boss had been bamboozled. Our customers were pissed and this arrogant IT dude was covering his ass and screwing everyone over. I fumed about the situation all afternoon. On my way home I stopped at Chapters and bought the biggest book on HTML I could find and started learning how to build websites. The rest, as they say, is history. 

That experience of being screwed by the IT guy was the spark of my business. I set out to learn everything I could to help customers understand the technology and to keep them from being screwed by unscrupulous developers and marketers. That spark still drives me to provide the best service I can with honest advice that is the best interest of my customers.

My goal is to help my customers create a dynamic online presence that reflects their own “why” moment. If you need help and are looking for honest advice, please give me a call and let’s talk.