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Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Catskill Farms Launches its New Website

 It's hard to quantify the degree to which our website deletion by the morons at Applied Innovations led by Jess Coburn disrupted our business, but 8 weeks later, we finished the heavy lift on a vision and execution of our new website, that can be seen here at www.thecatskillfarms.com.  It turned out great, on many levels, and the idea that it was going to turn out great was by no means assured or guaranteed for a host of reasons.

Nonetheless, it was a huge distraction, and energy suck.  My one colleague has not really worked on anything else for 8 weeks, uploading content, and that effort has been augmented by my own daily macro guidance and micro troubleshooting, and on occasion the other 3 people in the office would pitch in, like last Thursday, where we all pitched in.

Of course, for each minute spent on this, there is an opportunity cost of not spending it on something else, be it a client, a sale, a hire, a problem, a solution, an idea.

What made this even more challenging is the fact we were wholly unprepared for it, and a creative exercise like this is typically layered with a lot of brainstorming, branding conversation, directional ideas, visioning, evaluation of what works and what doesn't on the old site, as well as a process for interviewing and hiring a company to handle said task.

As anyone who knows the digital space at all, there are all types of solutions out there - solutions with their own language, their own terminology, pluses, minuses, drawbacks.

I'm an old hand at hiring, which mostly means I know I'm only going to get it right about 30% of the time.  With office employees, it's a real disruption when I get it wrong, since it's a small office and the investment in anyone new is pretty large, and the weirdness of having someone in our space is always tough on the culture.  With carpenters, I typically just say 'show up, and let's see what you know'.  With subcontractors, even if you hire right, there is bound to be miscommunication with anyone new because we have a lot going on and judgement calls are made daily, some right some wrong.

The risk on a exercise like this one - reinventing a space 10,000 people a month visit, a space that defines who you are, a space that is expensive to create - is fraught with challenges, and I'm happy to report we nailed with not just with the vision but with the hire we selected, Steve, from outside London, who we found on upwork.com, a site a client of mine recommended.

How did we select Steve from outside London with live in girlfriend and baby?  We put out a query on upwork, and I used my finely tuned ear to find a good match.  My colleague Kacy steered me away from some bigger firms who would've wanted to offer more than we needed.

We were trying to update our website, without losing the feel of the site, which is a lot like the feel of our homes - comfy, working, fun, cool, thoughtful, not too fancy, not too showy.  It's an improvement on what we had, my old partner of 20 years, a website that was added onto, patched up, greased up, so often it was like a pair of jeans, or boots, or anything else well-loved, and hard worked.

There's a lot more to this story, from a business vantage, that I hope to get to soon.

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