Yellowknife Inn

NNSL Photo/Graphic

business pages

Subscriber pages
buttonspacer News Desk
buttonspacer Columnists
buttonspacer Editorial
buttonspacer Readers comment
buttonspacer Tenders

Demo pages
Here's a sample of what only subscribers see

Subscribe now
Subscribe to both hardcopy or internet editions of NNSL publications
Home page text size buttonsbigger textsmall textText size Email this articleE-mail this page

A knack for computers
Heidi Selzler offers website services from home office

Paul Bickford
Northern News Services
Published Wednesday, June 23, 2010

THEBACHA/FORT SMITH - Heidi Selzler has a knack for computers.

NNSL photo/graphic

Heidi Selzler is the owner/operator of the Fort Smith home-based business Western Willow Ventures Inc. - Paul Bickford/NNSL photo

That probably goes a long way to explain her line of work, which is providing website development services from her Fort Smith home-based business, Western Willow Ventures Inc.

"A person absolutely must have a strong foundation in computer and web technology to do this type of work," Selzler said, adding the field changes by the second.

"Technology evolves at a phenomenal exponential rate," she said. "A lot of time is spent researching new technologies, testing and updating systems."

Her clientele includes private businesses, municipalities and the territorial government.

"Western Willow serves all of Canada and is working towards an international clientele," Selzler said in, appropriately enough, an e-mail interview.

The main part of her business is something called content management systems (CMS).

"Simply put, a CMS is a piece of software that produces a sophisticated website and separates the work of publishing, layout, content editing, programming and database management, allowing end users to edit content without having to know html, programming or data management," Selzler explained.

CMS also allows for the separation of graphic design from editing content, she added. "Customers can work with a graphic designer, a programmer and content editors separately, or do some themselves."

Western Willow Ventures also offers other services, such as CMS hosting on a dedicated server, CMS security updates and off-site backups, photography, graphic design, digital animation, multimedia production and photo prints on canvas.

Selzler enjoys the multifaceted work.

"I love the creativity factor, both in finding solutions for client requirements, as well as the purely artistic aspect of creating from the ground up," she said.

Plus, she likes working at home.

"I love the freedom to create my own work environment that is most productive for my needs," she explained. "There is nothing that I do not enjoy about working at home."

Despite the technical aspects of her service, Selzler said the most common question from potential customers is how much does it cost.

"The range is as variable as building a house," she said. "From creating a simple web presence to developing a complex online business application with e-commerce, there is no standard price."

She said clients often underestimate the depth of analysis required to properly develop a web application.

"Western Willow's site development model includes user profiling and analysis, advanced information architecture, rich media content for maximum impact, and standards compliancy to maximize accessibility and compatibility," she said.

The company's business model also often requires lengthy explanation.

"Western Willow strives to empower clientele so they are not limited by proprietary or costly software nor tied to any one company, providing freedom of choice and independence," Selzler said. "In the spirit of modern web publishing, Western Willow endeavours to give back control of editing content in a familiar word-processing-type environment directly to the client, so paying the contractor and waiting for service to make basic changes to the site is not required."

Born in St. Catharines, Ont., Selzler, 36, has lived in the North for 28 years, since her family moved to Yellowknife and then Cambridge Bay. She moved to Fort Smith in 2002, after some time in Alberta.

Selzler studied Internet production through an online course from Malaspina University (now Vancouver Island University) in Nanaimo, B.C.

Western Willow Ventures was incorporated in 1999 and, in the beginning, focused on business management and administrative services, since Selzler was a legal secretary.

"It was formed in Alberta, but the business really took off when I moved back to the North in 2002," she said.

Western Willow began offering website development services in 2003.

We welcome your opinions on this story. Click to e-mail a letter to the editor.