Early days / 1996-2000
Community Web Development, formerly Community Internet, was founded in 1996 in the South Dennis home of Charlie and Roxanne Heller. Noticing the emerging trend of “this internet thing”, Charlie plunged head-first into the emerging technology, learning everything he could about it.
Having already gained experience coding a custom inventory system for his wholesale food distribution business, Charlie took what he already knew and applied it to the online world. He began building HTML websites and custom applications for Cape Cod businesses including some of the first e-commerce solutions in the region.
By 1998, the number of global websites had exploded, and it was becoming difficult for “surfers” to find what they were looking for. Then Google came along. Recognizing that smaller businesses could now compete with national companies for targeted traffic, Charlie turned his attention to another emerging field, search engine optimization (SEO).
The SEO-CMS / 2000-2006
By the turn of the millennium, Charlie and Roxanne had identified two major problems their clients had:
- Clients couldn’t make changes to their websites without technical expertise
- Clients wanted to get found in these newfangled search engines
Content management systems already existed to make it easy to change your website content, but they weren’t optimized for search engines. What if Community Internet could build their own content management system (CMS) that put search engine optimization (SEO) first? The concept of the SEO-CMS was born.
But who would build it? Charlie had a lot of clients and didn’t have the time to bring his vision to life. Then, an opportunity presented itself.
Charlie and Roxanne had participated in the School to Career program for a number of years, and now one of their high school graduates, Cody, was pursuing a degree in computer science. Cody was given free reign to build the architecture and user experience of the CMS, while Charlie focused on the SEO features it needed. After Cody left for college, Matt and Ben (also from the School to Career program) joined the team. All three contributed to the success of Community Internet for the next 8 years.
The project was a huge success. Clients could update their own websites, while their websites consistently ranked higher in searches than their competition. It didn’t hurt that Charlie was a great salesman too.
Moving on / 2006-2012
Community Internet now had almost 100 clients, most of them using various versions of the SEO-CMS, with many of them processing hundreds of thousands of dollars in online payments every year. Cody had long-since graduated and was now pursuing his own companies and freelancing opportunities around the world with his business partner Matt.
In 2007, Charlie’s daughter Tiffany joined the company full-time, having helped out doing small jobs for the company over the years. In 2008, she convinced her dad to hire her then-boyfriend Kieran, from Ireland, as part of his green card application. Charlie had always encouraged learning on the job, but this shabby Irishman was fresh out of college with a barely-relevant degree. Tiffany raised her eyebrow. Charlie caved.
Kieran and Tiffany immersed themselves in the business, learning as much as they could and applying it to every project they worked on. Tiffany was great with the clients, and Kieran had a knack for coding and design. Business was booming.
A new start / 2012-present
Although Charlie and Cody thought of almost everything with their SEO-CMS, the social media and mobile revolutions of the late 2000’s were not fully supported by an application conceived in the shadow of Y2K. What’s more, some quirks in the CMS were becoming challenging for clients who now expected a more intuitive user experience in a world filled with rich web apps like Facebook. A new solution was needed.
Kieran and Charlie had been monitoring the rise of WordPress as a CMS for years, and were drawn to it for these reasons:
- Ease of use for clients
- Great for SEO
- Mobile-friendly with responsive web design principles
- Lots of plugins available to enhance functionality
- A robust e-commerce solution
- A burgeoning community of developers
- Open source ethos aligned with their own beliefs
- Built in the same language as the SEO-CMS
- Endlessly customizable
They forged ahead and began building WordPress websites exclusively. The SEO results continued to be excellent, and clients appreciated how user-friendly the new admin experience was.
In 2016, Charlie and Roxanne began to take a step back, and Kieran and Tiffany, now married, took over the business. Today, Community Web Development has its own office in West Dennis, MA and services more than 150 clients in MA, NY, NH and RI, but primarily on Cape Cod, Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. We retain our commitment to the education of our clients, empowering them to make great decisions for their online presence.
We still remember everything that came before us, including our family values and a commitment to the Cape Cod community. Partner with us to join us on our journey.