By Michael Stodola Special to Published Dec 23, 2007 at 10:05 AM

A few months back I wrote about self-promotion and the development of our new Web site. Well -- yadda, yadda, yadda -- our Web site is done. It's been nearly a year since we first dove into this project, and I now appreciate my wife even more; this "gestation period" and birth have been as stressful as they've been wonderful. And now it's alive!

Creation can be a hinky, little flibbertigibbet. From the very moment you create a project (or a child for that matter) you've made something that instantly makes progress and grows evermore independent of you each day. And the more you develop it, the more it develops you right back.

At some point in the creative process, you have to respect this "being" for what it is and even let it make some decisions about where it wants to go. It's a living, breathing entity, and you've become its caretaker.

This is what happened to our Web site.

The better part of invention is the recognition of what lies outside of you. We started our project with a look backward. Our past Web sites had been jam-packed with creative work, but very little philosophy and absolutely no focus on those who do that work. We also uncovered some meaningful research -- research that actually simplified our jobs.

That research reinforced something my friend, Matt, always told me. Matt's one of the best salesmen around, and if he's taught me one thing it's this: 80 percent of the decision in a first-time sale is NOT based on product or service; it's based on whether you LIKE the person selling it to you. Another sales truth is that when a potential client is considering you, they will check out 100 percent of your Web site, 100 percent of the time.

Just those two bits of information framed our site. In fact, you can sum up our overall goal with one word: familiarity. Sure, there's plenty of philosophy, portfolio pieces and expert-speak, but we set out to breed familiarity with our audience. We also wanted a social media component; blogs and podcasts are the perfect blend of expertise and personality.

And, personally, I'm not sure you can write off the "fact of familiarity" to our "celebrity" society. It goes deeper. It's akin to a newborn and its mama. Faces imprint something special and mysterious within our psyche, and there's value in making that connection. Our newborn site exploits it well.

And now we're live at, and I feel both exhausted and smarter for it. So, when considering an overhaul of your Web site, remember: A site should be as much "culture" as it is "content." A Web site needs to make a real, human connection. And brevity is a virtue. That said, enjoy.

Michael Stodola Special to
Michael Stodola is the Creative Director at Boelter + Lincoln – a Milwaukee advertising agency. He loves his job, but not as much as he loves scuba diving, crab cakes or playing with his kids. His favorite thing is sneaking off for dates with his hottie wife. Born and raised in Nebraska, he’s been calling Milwaukee home for well over 10 years. After Michael’s impending death, he’d like to return to this world as your next American Idol®.