Hanging out my shingle – Sterner Stuff is born

Hey, I’m Ethan

I’ve been doing web development for a while now and there’s never been a dull moment. I’ve seen the best and worst of every aspect – design, content strategy, clients – and I’ve certainly come a long way since I marked up a page for my Neopet. This experience together with a hunger for learning and a craving for the flexibility (and sheer terror) that can only come with self-employment has resulted in the birth of Sterner Stuff – a digital design and development agency.

What are we doing here?

With Sterner Stuff, I’m setting out to do a few things that I think set me apart from other people in my business who, sometimes, are doing more harm than good. I’m also doing some things that are for me – running a business that embodies my values and affords me the freedom to self-actualize. At the core, those goals are a result of a set of values that I’ve come to develop that will drive most aspects of the business.

These values are pretty straightforward: Problem solving, utility, exploration, honesty and relationships. This blog will be many things, and in part, it will be a place where I explore those words and what they mean for the business and how they affect the work you do with us. I think you’ll find that they’re all very positive influences that can only mean success for your business.

To be less abstract, I’ll be performing some services you’re probably already familiar with, grouped under overarching offerings that tailor each to your specific needs. To be clear, this isn’t “just another” web design and development agency. Sterner Stuff won’t be doing work dictated by whims. Sterner Stuff will consult with you, leveraging our expertise to come to ideal solutions for your business that only the web can provide, and then executing them to perfection. Here’s a quick rundown of how:


Sterner Stuff’s first offering is Blueprint, where I’ll meet with you to discuss your business inside and out. Many people will come to the table with something already in mind for execution, and while this is great and will drive the conversation, things will begin more broadly. I don’t want to pitch you work that doesn’t have a return on investment for you or that I don’t believe in, and at the same time, I want to show you ways the web can drive your business that you’ve never dreamed of – whether that’s through a website, digital marketing, internal tools – most anything that can happen on a computer. That sets Sterner Stuff apart.

With a project in mind, we’ll begin meticulous planning – what’s our minimum viable product? What should it accomplish? Who will be using it? How will we know if we’re successful? What will be after that? I don’t want to get too deep into the weeds here, so I’ll direct you to our services if you want to read more.


With a foolproof plan in place, we begin construction during Forge, our second offering. This step includes design of the product, content writing, development – whatever it takes to get to a product that we can set free in the wild and begin measuring the success of.

No matter how complete the end of this step may seem, it’s important to remember that it’s really a prototype, a beta. I don’t believe in products without a version two – projects thrown to the wild and left to fend for themselves are poor investments. There’s no knowing if it was profitable. There’s no knowing if it’s accomplishing anything. Its frustrating aspects will live on unaddressed, driving away whoever was expected to use it. So we have our third offering.

Eyes On

This is the biggest distinguishing factor of Sterner Stuff. Tailored specifically to you, Eyes On will be where we maintain the health of your product. This can mean a variety of things, including software updates, user interviews, user interface iteration, A/B tests to determine where to iterate and anything deemed beneficial to what we’ve created. All of these things will happen with respect to the goals we set out with during Blueprint. We can make sure people are filling out forms. We can push your product on social media. We can see if your employees are saving as much time as we’d estimated.

This also keeps a line of communication open, so when you’re ready for your next project, you don’t have to worry about onboarding a new firm or starting from scratch – we’ll be right here ready. If your company is going a new direction, we can adjust your website as necessary. If you’re launching a new product, we can market it to every corner of the web. You and Sterner Stuff will be a blossoming relationship.

Set Sail

With all that out of the way, I guess I’m ready to launch. There’s nothing like a new adventure, and you’d do well to hop on for the ride. If you just want to keep tabs, you can sign up for our mailing list to see new posts when they hit the blog, and if you’re interested in making a bigger commitment and starting a project with us, well, there’s a form for that, too. After all, your business should be made of

Sterner Stuff


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