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May 28, 2010

Summer's Here and Web Melons Abound
Erin Lehn Floresca, Contributing Writer

Let's face it: Every company that wants to survive, and thrive, past the first year needs a website. But sometimes figuring out who can help design, maintain, and navigate the success of that website can be a daunting task. Enter Watermelon Web Works (WWW)--a full-service vegetarian-owned web design, hosting and SEO company (that's Search Engine Optimization, for those of you going "Huh?" right about now).

The company, created in 2001, is the brainchild of Paul Clerc and Sydney Weaver, who aimed to "create an environmentally sustainable, human-friendly web development company." While Weaver is no longer active in the company, except for the occasional consulting opportunity, Clerc is busier than ever. Just visit the WWW website where you can oooh and ahhh over the extensive collection of satisfied customers in the company's online portfolio.

With a name like Watermelon Web Works, one might wonder how the company got its name. According to Paul, "We’re really into usability in websites, and watermelon seemed like a way to communicate that we are friendly and fun-loving people. We love the challenge of communicating complicated technical issues into simple and understandable ones for a non-technical audience, and the watermelon somehow seemed an appropriate business symbol for that idea. OK, and the apple one seemed to be taken (smile). That; and we liked the alliteration and 'www' of Watermelon Web Works."

WWW works with mainly smaller companies of less than 200 employees, who really need a website that makes a splash. "Our clients are mostly non-profit or small businesses that are doing something positive for the community or for the environment," says Paul. "We have clients from all sorts of industries, from tree planting to organic beauty products. In the last several years we have worked with many natural health practitioners." Since WWW is about building relationships, they prefer working with clients who are seeking a long-term relationship with a web services company. "It’s extremely satisfying to see our clients hit the ball out of the park in terms of revenue, outreach or otherwise. We’ve watched some organizations grow quite a lot. We also do almost zero advertising, so most of our business comes from customers telling their friends and colleagues about us."

While WWW focuses on many aspects—like e-commerce and website design—website usability is a huge factor. Like many of their customers, WWW likes to apply a more organic, holistic approach to Search Engine Optimization. Paul explains, "Years of experience have shown us that the sites that do best in the search engines are the ones that are built correctly from the start. This means that the content of the site needs to be aligned to what people will search for. So we do research before the first pixel is drawn to determine what the appropriate search words are for a given site, and then we work with our clients to create content that will be relevant for people visiting the site, but will also speak the language of the search robots visiting the site. We generally stay away from 'pay-per-click'. While it has its place, a well-built site generally doesn’t need it."

It’s obvious that Paul is enthusiastic about making his clients’ websites the best possible sites they can be. This long-time vegetarian is also quite passionate about the veg lifestyle. "I see being vegetarian as just another opportunity to give the world a big fat kiss. It is so much easier on our environment, and it is one way that just a few people can make a huge difference. I have felt absolutely no need to sully a gorgeous diet of mostly whole foods with animal flesh for almost 20 years now. Knowing that I’m not contributing to the misery of sentient beings with my eating habits is a great gift. And finally, I am vigorously healthy. Much of the credit for that goes to what I eat."

Paul enjoys being able to help out non-profit organizations that share his beliefs. That’s why WWW has been involved with NW VEG for almost a decade. He explains, "We’ve been working with NW VEG since 2001 when I moved to Portland and Sydney and I created the business. We designed the first NW VEG website back when NW VEG was called Earthsave Portland/Vancouver. Since then, we’ve been involved in each new site in some way or another, and we’ve been donating hosting services since 2003 (as far as I can recall). It’s important to me because it is just one small way that we can support an organization with such an important mission."

When Paul isn’t busy designing, optimizing and hosting in the web world, he has a wide array of other interests. "I garden quite a bit this time of year, write fiction, practice yoga five times per week, and rock-climb whenever I can." He also enjoys savoring the scrumptious meals at Blossoming Lotus and loves attending VegFest every year. "What a lot of good energy in one place," he says.

For more information and to find out how WWW can help your business, call 971-645-4352 or visit

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