Urban Renovators: Finished Basements +

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Based in burgeoning Northeast Denver, Urban Renovators is a family owned and operated business serving Stapleton, Lowry, and communities throughout the Denver Metropolitan Region, from Boulder to Highlands Ranch and beyond. With scores of projects completed every quarter, Urban Renovators is one of the city’s most prolific builders, making it uniquely qualified to design and build the basement of your dreams, be it new construction or the remodel of existing rooms. Since its founding in 2013, Urban Renovators has grown quickly to become Denver’s premier finished basement company, offering exceptional quality thanks to the extensive experience of its seasoned tradespeople. Prior to founding the company, owner Ricardo Cordova forged lasting relationships with the workers he employees today, keeping them busy through the lean years of the great recession with small but impactful projects. As a result, Ricardo now has the human capital required to complete small to midsize projects on time and on budget. Based on my firsthand experience with Ricardo, who recently finished my basement, I am happy to say that strong working relationships translate into quality products, and Ricardo fosters open, honest communication. If you’re seeking to transform your unfinished or partially renovated living space into the home of your dreams, Urban Renovator’s experienced, friendly staff is prepared to actualize your vision.

Building a Website: Choosing a Platform

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When building a new website, there are a variety of platforms from which to choose, and if you watch television chances are you’ve seen commercials touting the ease of designing your own site. In recent years, a variety of companies have made tremendous strides, including WordPress, Wix, Shopify, and my personal favorite, Squarespace. While each platform has its benefits, every offering has its detractors as well, so deciding which one to use depends largely on the project. For instance, WordPress affords designers great freedom of expression, but requires technical maintenance, e.g., updating plug-ins, add-ons that when left unchecked stop working. Wix has great storage capacity, and offers phone support, but is more rigid in its design, limiting what a designer is capable of achieving in other platforms. Shopify syncs with numerous payments systems, but is far less versatile than Wix, and requires plugins from third-party vendors. Squarespace, by comparison, is quite robust, allowing designers to create visually striking layouts without the use of plugins. There is no phone support, but written conversations may be recorded via transcripts. In addition, updates are automatic, and a variety of features are available for a reasonable price, including emails complete with analytics.  To learn more, please contact Holt Design LLC at info@holtdesignllc.com or call (303) 218-3382.

Big Tony's West Philly Cheesesteaks

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Creating a new website for Anthony “Big Tony” Blaylock was a great experience. With a passion for food and people, Tony is as friendly as they come, and the four restaurants he owns and operates in Texas are reflective of his generous spirit. Born and raised in West Philadelphia, Tony long dreamt of owning his own Philly Cheesesteak restaurant, and several years ago that vision became a reality. As Tony describes it, the bread is essential to a great cheesesteak sandwich and he uses only the best, Amoroso’s bread, which is flown in from Philly, where “the water makes the difference.” Often praised as the best Philly cheesesteak in Texas, Big Tony’s is known for tremendous variety, making any cheesesteak you can think of for a truly special dining experience. Yet, Big Tony’s restaurants offer far more than cheesesteaks, to be sure they also feature hamburgers, fried fish, and an assortment of gourmet sodas from Hanks, desserts from Tasty Kates, in-house Italian Ice, Utzs Potato Chips, and many other specialty items. The restaurants also offer a kids menu, where fresh food is cooked to order, ensuring a great meal every time. Open six days a week, Monday – Saturday, 11:00am - 9:00pm, Big Tony’s is only closed on Sunday.

Ascent Health Center: East-West Medicine

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Denver based Ascent Health Center is the owned and operated by Dr. Julie Marchiol, a board-certified Chiropractor with experience numerous modalities. With a heart for healing and for guiding people to live a fuller, healthier, richer life, Ascent Health is reflective of her life purpose. After a trip to the Chiropractor at sixteen, Dr. Julie became fascinated with the body’s ability to heal itself once guided in the right direction and stabilized. Today, she applies her training in Chiropractic, Acupuncture, Nutritional Counseling and NET (Neuro Emotional Technique) to offer patients the most complete care possible. As Dr. Julie describes it, “Providing each of these disciplines has enabled me to better recognize disease and develop protocols for health and healing.” As described on the forthcoming Holt Design LLC website, which will replace the existing site in early 2019, “The Ascent Health team is passionate, kind, and motivated, and works together in an effort to help everyone achieve their optimal health. Each specialist has something different to offer, which allows us to reach more people, helping the community thrive. Our Mission is to provide a comprehensive environment for health and healing, to enable the achievement of optimal life performance, and to assist in developing the highest quality of life.”

Wily Cycles: Factory Direct Titanium Bikes

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Wily Cycles is the fourth website Holt Design LLC has built for Janus Cycle Group, a Boulder, Colorado based bicycle consortium comprised of Merlin, Dean, Wily, Rossin, and other top-flight names yet to be announced. As Janus grows, so do the offerings of its iconic brands, which feature innovative technology throughout their respective lineups. Where Merlin and Dean provide numerous custom options for cycling’s most discerning customers, avid riders who spend handsomely on small details, Wily is a bargain for customers desiring the strength, durability, and comfort of titanium without the premium price often associated with the aerospace grade material. Just as the Porsche Cayenne and Volkswagen Touareg shared the same frame and were assembled in the same factory, so do Merlin and Wily have much in common down to their geometry. The key differences between the two titanium brands lies less in their layout and weight and more in their respective finishes and options for customization. Of course, luxury cars and fine bicycles are also appreciated for their pedigree. Whereas Merlin and Dean are revered as some of the best titanium bikes money can buy for their exquisite detail and myriad design choices, Wily is respected for its cost-effective approach, savings that are largely achieved through factory direct stock frame sizing. Learn more at wilycycles.com.

C60 Energy: Powerful Antioxidants

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C60 Energy is the fourth site Holt Design LLC has built for Boulder, Colorado based Exercise Physiologist and Energy Medicine Practitioner, Glenn Streeter. Beginning with Vital Life Services, a holistic healing company offering a variety of energetic technologies, Holt Design helped to expand Glenn’s digital reach with Energy MedFit, a company whose online platform includes a variety of telemedicine and biohacking options. Based on the success of these two sites, Glenn commissioned a third site, CannaCarbon, which specializes in cannabidoil (CBD) products. Providing the naturopathic benefits of hemp with no psychotropic affects, Cannacarbon’s unique formula blends CBD with the Carbon 60 molecule, providing relief to both humans and animals, including cats, dogs, and horses. As CannaCarbon took flight, Glenn furthered his business success with C60 Energy, a powerful technology with 170 times the antioxidant capabilities of Vitamin C, which itself holds tremendous health and wellness benefits. As Vital Life Services and Energy MedFit became increasingly similar, Glenn opted to merge the two and now has three prosperous sites, Energy MedFit (energymedfit.com), CannaCarbon (cannacarbon.com), and C60 Energy (c60energy.com).

Aesthetics by Design: Denver MediSpa

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I was introduced to Aesthetics by Design (ABD) by my friend, Sarah Rutherford, who works as a Paramedical Aesthetician for the Denver based medical spa, and was duly impressed with the company’s Founder and Medical Director, Mario Imola, who proved well-versed in search engine optimization (SEO) best practices. Sitting down with Mario, Sarah, and ABD office manager, Jennifer Flores, the old adage, “how you do something is how you do everything,” proved true for the team took the discussion of building a new site seriously, offering high-level insight into what they were seeking in both look and feel. While Mario’s primary concern was preserving the SEO built into his previous site, Sarah and Jennifer sought a clean, elegant design in a platform that is easy to maintain and pleasing to the eye. Sharing the functionality of Squarespace, a drop-and-drag template-based website design tool, we agreed to proceed, and the rest is history. In under two weeks, the project was complete, and the ABD team is now fielding numerous calls from new clients. As part of ABD’s yearly maintenance plan, I continue to make small changes to the site, working closing with Jennifer, who is quickly learning the skills required to update the platform, from blogs to events. Indeed, the ease of using Squarespace is one of the reasons I am happy to recommend Squarespace to my small business and individual clients.

Eldorado Springs Art Center: A Local Gem

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After completing a website for Sculpture Giuseppe Palumbo, owner of Gallery Giuseppe, I began work on a sister site for the Eldorado Springs Art Center (ESAC), an artist collective founded, curated, and directed by Giuseppe. Established in 2000, ESAC rests on the foundation of a dilapidated Volvo repair shop, which recently renovated, is now a sculpture studio, art gallery, and public meeting space. Nestled in the woods of Eldorado Springs, a small, tight-knit community located a few miles south of Boulder, Colorado, ESAC is home to several artist studios, a public sculpture garden, a fine art gallery, Airbnb lodging, and a community meeting  space. As Giuseppe describes it, ESAC is based on the idea that “art is an essential component of a healthy society.” The collective “supports the arts, and those that create art, building community with purposeful action for current events and sustainable practices, understanding that true wealth is what we do and share, not what we have.” To this end, ESAC, a local gem, works with artists from multiple disciplines, including sculptors, painters, poets, writers, glass, jewelry, musicians, fashion design, graphic artists and creative nonprofits. In addition, the facility can be rented for private event functions and retreats.

Gallery Giuseppe: A Unique Opportunity

Through my work with the Colorado Cancer Foundation (CCF), a Colorado based 501(c)(3) charitable nonprofit devoted to curing cancer in all its forms, I met Giuseppe Palumbo, a renaissance man who expanded a career in architecture and building to include inventing and sculpting, crafting one of a kind furniture pieces and anthropomorphic works of art, from flying pigs to dancing sheep. A philanthropist, Giuseppe opened his Eldorado Springs Canyon studio, the Eldorado Springs Art Center, to the CCF Board of Directors for a party following its annual fun run, the Eldorado Springs Run for the Cure, which takes place on Friday, August 03 at 6:30PM beside the entrance to Eldorado Canyon State Park. Having spent several years in construction, and studied Art History, Painting, Drawing, and Graphic Design in college, it was a unique opportunity, and a distinct pleasure, to work with someone with whom I had so much in common. In fact, Giuseppe’s second and primary studio, located in Berkeley, CA, is not far from my home town of Palo Alto, CA, providing a chance to share stories and fond memories of the San Francisco Bay Area. Building Giuseppe’s site, Gallery Giuseppe, was rewarding, for it represented a stylistic break from projects I’ve done before. It was also fun to learn more about his works, and then to come face to face with many of them at the Eldorado Springs Art Center after viewing them, repeatedly, online; it was like a dream come to life.

Driving & Thriving: Life Well Lived

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I met Keith Hobgood ten years ago in 2008 while working at a Boulder-based Deneuve Construction, a reputable design-build company affectionately named after the French Actress, Catherine Deneuve. A Project Manager with a yen for teaching, Keith was quick to share his knowledge with carpenters, such as me, and I was eager to learn. Shortly after meeting Keith, I was introduced to his wife, Chantelle, who accompanied him to the firm's annual Christmas dinner. Flash forward a decade, and I reconnected with Keith and Chantelle near my home in Denver. Having recently retired from the "nine to five grind," they had taken to living on the open road in a large gold recreational vehicle (RV) they call "The Golden Snail." Though many years had passed, Keith and Chantelle were as warm as ever, and over the course of a long lunch at Stapleon’s Stanley Marketplace the time between us quickly disappeared until all that was left were feelings of commonality and a mutual interest in business. To maintain their traveling lifestyle, which takes them back and forth across the country, Keith and Chantelle share Essential Oils, a natural cure for many ailments, and needed a website. After a few conversations it was clear, that helping others, not sales, was their first priority, and a lifestyle site, Driving & Thriving, was born. 

A Survival Story: A Study In Courage

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I met best-selling Biology textbook Author, Linda Lundgren, through a mutual friend, and developed her website, A Survival Story, over the course of several months as she traveled the East Coast with her husband and high school sweetheart, Rich. Linda's story is as inspiring as it is moving, for she overcame tremendous pain at the hands of her physically abusive father to rise up the ranks of the publishing world, realizing her dream of becoming a successful author in spite of remarkable odds. Not only did Linda make it out of her father's house to marry a kind and loving man, but she preserved academically as well, garnering a postgraduate degree at a time when women were effectively banned from received PhDs. To read Linda's stories is to look into a world few wish to see, but in doing so you find the makings of a remarkable person, a woman who found beauty in the natural world, and channeled her passion towards helping others into a successful career. Now, decades after her youthful struggles, Linda is able to reflect on a life well lived. In her blog posts you can learn of her travels, her children, and her beloved grandchildren, all of whom are doing equally remarkable things with their lives. So, for anyone who has ever struggled A Survival Story is for you.  

Janus Cycle Group: Bridging the Gap

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After completing websites for Merlin Bikes and Dean Bikes, I had the pleasure of building a site for Janus Cycle Group, the parent company that holds the two brands, and several others yet to be announced. Family owned and operated, Janus is not a corporate holding company, but a family business through and through, with one of the members welding the majority of the titanium bikes it sells. The name is particularly fitting for a growing company, for in ancient Rome Janus was the God of transitions and new beginnings, symbolized by arched doorways and a double-headed figure: one looking to the future, and one looking to the past. So, it is fitting that Janus Cycle Group represents a collection of premium cycling brands spanning multiple generations. Home to a growing list of names, including the famed Italian bicycle company, Rossin, Janus offers sport enthusiasts the opportunity to experience the best of contemporary and classic cycling with frames made of titanium, carbon, and steel, bridging the gap between old and new. As a cycling aficionado it is a pleasure to work on such sites, for it is a walk, or should I say a ride, down memory lane. Indeed, one of my first jobs thirty years ago, was in a bike shop that carried Rossin. To this day, I fondly recall admiring the paint, the tubes, and the elegant lugs that held them together.

Merlin Metal Works: An Industry Icon

An avid cyclist for over 30 years, I remember Merlin Metal Works (Merlin) as the standard by which all bikes were judged in the late '80s and early '90s. Up until that point, the best bicycles were produced by hand, steel frames fitted together with steel lugs or fillet brazed by master welders, such as Tom Ritchey. Yes, Look had created a carbon frame, but at that point nothing held a candle to titanium (Ti), which was light, stiff, and forgiving, melding the best qualities a rider could hope for into a material that was remarkably strong and impervious to rust. Simply put, Ti was a game changer, and Merlin was the first to bring it into mass production. Designed by master revered frame builder, Tom Kellogg, and welded by a select few, Merlin was synonymous with quality, and quickly became an industry icon. When the opportunity arose to build a website for the beloved bike company, I considered it an honor and a privilege, so much in fact that I decided to purchase a piece of history and am now the proud owner of a new Merlin gravel bike. With immaculate welds, and gently swaying tubes, it is truly something to behold, like the bird of prey for which it is aptly named. To learn more about Merlin, please visit Merlin Bikes

Dean Bikes: Custom Titanium Bikes

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With a passion for cycling, it was a pleasure to design and build a new website for Boulder Colorado's Dean Bikes. One of the world's foremost custom titanium bicycle builders, Dean offers a selection of handmade bikes for multiple disciplines, including Mountain, Gravel, Travel, and Road. In the words of Dean Co-Founder, John Siegrist, “Dean Bikes began in 1989 when two bicycle racers set out to produce the most technically advanced bikes in the world. With this goal in mind, each and every frame is hand built using only the finest materials. With our cold-worked stress-relieved 3/2.5 aerospace Titanium you can rest assured each and every Dean frame is built to perfection. Continuing with its high standards in quality, innovation, and technical performance, Dean continues to expanded its product line with custom frame options, diverse color choices, and unique build kits.” If you're considering a handmade, custom fitted titanium bicycle Dean Bike's encourages you to visit its Boulder, CO showroom and adjoining workshop. Take a tour of their facilities, and you'll see firsthand the depth of quality and commitment to detail they put into every bicycle, from standardized frame offerings to one of a kind custom-fitted models. To learn more, please visit Dean Bikes

Providence International: Microfinance

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To be poor is to be hungry, to lack food, shelter, clothing, medicine, and education, and too often the ability to read and write. Nearly half of the world’s population—over three billion people—live on less than $2.00 per day. In underdeveloped nations, up to 50% of the children under the age of five are malnourished due to a combination of oppressive governments, social unrest, lack of business training, and insufficient capital. Yet, there is hope, and you can help by supporting Providence International's work at home and abroad. Providence International Enterprises, Inc. is a 501(c)(3) charitable organization focused on humanitarian relief efforts. Small business loans ranging from $25 to $250 transform the lives of individuals, and robust small business loans ranging from $1,000 to $25,000 shape entire communities. Repayment terms average six months with a 97% repayment rate. Every loan is based on character, not collateral, and is serviced by trained national staff and coaches, whose services are paid for via loan interest. In partnership with healthy food growers, employers, community organizations, and social services, Providence International's Garden of Hope and Smart Farms sites afford ex-offenders and recovery graduates the opportunity to develop marketable skills in landscaping, horticulture, construction, and food services via mentoring, job training and placement and character building. To learn more, please visit Providence International.

Net Neutrality: Why It Matters

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Net Neutrality is a set of guiding principles outlined in the Obama Administration's Open Internet Order (OIO) which states all traffic on the internet must be treated equally by internet service providers (ISP). Internet neutrality ensures that ISPs such as Comcast, Verizon, CenturyLink, AT&T, etc, cannot slow down or disable websites at their discretion, and must treat all content equally. In December 2017, the Trump Administration's newly appointed head of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Ajit Pai, rescinded the OIO clearing the way for ISPs to charge a premium for select content while slowing, or outright blocking, other content. This is important for two reasons: (1) Access to accurate information is crucial to maintaining an informed electorate and functioning democracy; (2) Large, established business will gain an unfair advantage over small, start-up enterprises. America is built on egalitarian ideals, and while many industries are heavily subsidized by the US Government, e.g., energy, farming, etc., there remains a cultural ethic of fair play. While large-scale companies can afford to pay more to distribute their content under the FCC's new rules, small-scale companies cannot, and will be challenged to bring new products to market. This change will result in decreased competition and increased prices for consumers. If you find the FCC's rollback of the Open Internet Order disturbing, please contact your Congressional leaders today.

CannaCarbon: The Synergistic Solution

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With a degree in Exercise Physiology emphasizing Sports Medicine, Glenn Streeter has been practicing Sports Physiology and Energy Medicine for over thirty years. His clients include world champion and national caliber athletes from a variety of disciplines, as well as celebrities. 2017 has been a busy year for Glenn, and in the last nine months I've built three websites for him: Vital Life Services, followed by Energy MedFit, and most recently, CannaCarbon. An avid off-road motorcycle and mountain bike racer, Glenn knows the value of Energy Medicine and pulsed electromagnetic field (PEMF) therapy. In his holistic healing practice, he employs a variety of PEMF devices, and contributes his knowledge to the alternative medicine community via syndicated radio programs, prominent news outlets, and online subscription services. His latest product, CannaCarbon synergistically combines the restorative agents found in hemp and C60 Carbon into one holistic product. As a designer, I enjoy working with Glenn for he's open to new ideas and quick to respond to requests for information. He's also detail oriented, and on the forefront of new information, sharing insight into his work, which I find useful. As Glenn's websites are constructed from scratch, I generate the lion's share of his copy, translating his thoughts and ideas into prose. I also select images to compliment his words, helping him to craft his brand online. To learn more, please visit CannaCarbon

The Ace Program: Weighing Options

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A veteran Options Trader and Strategist with over 30 years’ experience, Paul Forchione has traded in the pits of the Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) and the Chicago Board of Trade (CBOT), handling hundreds of clients as Broker and Commodity Trading Advisor (CTA). With his new website, The ACE Program, Paul teaches clients how to identify futures markets with overvalued and undervalued options. Like many clients, Paul’s existing website that was not meeting his needs. Specifically, the site was slow and ineffective, due in part to compatibility issues with legacy file types. While I enjoy working in Squarespace, the platform was unable to handle the sheer volume of Paul’s files, many of which were hour-long presentations detailing options trading. So, I turned to Wix, and built a site to meet his needs, allowing him to sell physical and digital products as a package. From a consumer standpoint, Wix and Squarespace look and feel very similar, in fact, with identical fonts and icons most people would be hard pressed to tell them apart. However, from a designer standpoint there are discernable differences, especially with respect to mobile optimization—the scaling of images to fit a handheld device such as a mobile phone or tablet. While both platforms are excellent, I find Wix easier to work with when designing mobile layouts, for the mobile layout does not impact the desktop layout, and Squarespace simpler for general editing, such as subtle color changes. To learn more, please visit The Ace Program.

SEO: A Recipe for Success

The best way to stay atop search engine results is by generating new and useful content for readers. Just as premier chefs continually change their menus to keep customers engaged, so must websites offer a variety of information. Google, the world's preeminent search engine, employs sophisticated algorithms to detect key words within appropriate context. Yet, simply inserting key words into copy is insufficient for search engine optimization (SEO), as Google also evaluates the quality and quantity of text. In fact, an overabundance of keywords can lower a site's ranking, or even eliminate it from the search results entirely. Therefore, it is imperative to include high-quality copy, and edit it according to Google's webmaster guidelines. The more copy that is included on a website, the more keywords can be added without diminishing its rank. Blog posts, such as this one, are an excellent way to keep a website relevant, for they are a natural extension of what is found on site pages and offer a great opportunity to continuously create new and useful content. In many respects, SEO is analogous to cooking, and key words are like spice: use too little and a dish will be bland, use too much and the senses will become inflamed. A well-constructed website, like a skillfully prepared meal, offers color, variety, and sparks interest without overwhelming the palate. 

CSL Redding: All Are Welcome

Creating a new website for Center of Spiritual Living, Redding was an honor for the church’s philosophy of universal acceptance is inspiring. “As part of a global community of over 400 theological chapters, teaching centers, study groups, and other ministries across 30 countries, Center for Spiritual Living, Redding (CSLR), located in Northern California, teaches a new thought philosophy, melding religion and science into spiritual tools for personal transformation and world improvement. At the heart of this work is Science of Mind® and Spirit or Religious Science®, a philosophy that holds all life as sacred and each human being as an expression of God (cslredding.org).” Like many of the sites I’ve created, CSLR had an existing platform, which served as the basis for the new site. After carefully assessing the old site, I carefully laid out a framework for the new one, incorporating familiar headings into a streamlined structure that is accessible to first time visitors. From ongoing classes to short-term workshops to cultural events, I also structured the site so that it can be easily updated. While the overall design-build process was enjoyable, I particularly liked editing the staff biographies for in doing so I came to appreciate the unique talents of those who make CSLR a welcoming place for everyone in the Redding, CA community and beyond. To learn more, please visit Center for Spiritual Living, Redding