Sometimes we find something when we stop looking for it. And sometimes, we not only find it, but so much more.
Spring of 2003 in Madison, Wisconsin… I had been out of work for a year and the job market was still bleak. But after several years working type-A jobs in type-A companies, I had also decided that I needed to take time and follow my interests and live a life that extended beyond work.
One of those interests was web design. It combined a creative outlet with a geeky, technical bent that reminded me of the computer programming that I had abandoned in college. I began learning everything I could, along the way creating my personal website as an online resume and work portfolio.
I then stumbled onto the website for the Madison Polo Club and found that they had a student program. When I was in high school and I discovered and began watching the fledgling Des Moines Polo Club, I never dreamt of actually playing the sport of kings.
In hindsight, taking up the challenge of learning to play polo, not to mention how to actually ride a horse, with neither income nor health insurance, was perhaps a risky and foolish move. But to be young (it’s all relative) and industrious has its merits, and after all, I had decided to throw excuses to the wind and follow my interests.
I offered to take over management, and badly needed redesign, of the club’s website, and to groom for one of the club members, in exchange for my dues and student fees.
Who would have thought that this would have changed the course of my life forever.
This grabbed the attention and referral that led me to meeting with another club member in a professional capacity. The company she worked for was also in dire need for website improvement, and after a few discussions with company leaders, my first client relationship was formed.
It was then, in August 2003, after landing my first official client, that I realized I needed a company. A few months later, Identity Developments was born.
Founded On Passion
Even before the company officially started… going back to the work done for the Madison Polo Club, there was always a strong drive to do things the right way and offer up the best work and service possible. “Web standards-based,” table-free web design was making great inroads, but still technically challenging to do. It would have been much easier to just slice-and-dice images for table-based design, but it just didn’t feel right.
Combine this with my more traditional consumer packaged goods marketing background, and SEO (search engine optimization) became a natural path to follow. Just like I taught myself HTML and CSS for web design, I read every book, of which there were few at that time, and every blog and website that I could that talked about SEO.
I began offering the SEO services that I felt qualified to offer to more and more of my growing web design clients. Then a few purely SEO projects for new clients were undertaken, and the fire was lit.
To further accelerate my SEO journey, as well as expand my knowledge and skills into the ecommerce arena, in 2007 I jumped at the chance to join Netconcepts, which was an early-days web design company, that likewise expanded into SEO, founded by Stephan Spencer (co-author of “The Art of SEO”).
Identity Developments remained mostly in low gear, just serving and maintaining existing clients, over the years while I held other full-time roles, until 2014 when I brought my wife into the company as well to form Identity Developments, LLC.
Today it continues to act as a holding company, if you will, for our shared passion for this field. SEO has not only paved a career path for us both individually, but led to our meeting, and the life we share together.
It’s About Your Identity
Identity Developments has always stood for something beyond the surface. From the beginning, it wasn’t merely about “web design,” but “web presence.” And shortly after the company was launched, the original tagline was created that encapsulated the vision that led to the company name, “It’s not about websites, it’s about your identity.” Now that changes everything.
Identity Developments was founded on a pursuit of knowledge and interests and to funnel that into a passion to deliver the best service to help clients achieve their own pursuits. While the specific interests and services provided have evolved over the years, those founding principles remain solidly today.
And it’s still not about websites, it’s about your identity.