Many businesses are lifelong dreams come to fruition. Others, like mine, slowly evolve.
My story wasn’t something I’d longed for or foreseen. Not growing up, and not in college.
I landed in a career I never even imagined, but now it has changed my life in the most astonishing ways.
I’m Alexis Priddy, West Point graduate, military veteran, and founder of the web design company YellowWebMonkey.
A Penchant for Puzzles
My story starts in the late 1990’s at West Point, where I was pursuing a degree in Psychology. I loved deciphering things, and the mind is the ultimate puzzle.
But then there were computers. They presented their own puzzles. I found it satisfying to unravel coding complexities and decided to minor in computer science engineering.
After West Point, I served on active duty for five years as a military police officer, including 14 months in Iraq, followed by 18 months with the Texas National Guard. I was proud to put in the time to serve my country and pay back my education.
But in my spare time, I was still solving puzzles. This included the creation of a reference website for fellow Army members called Army Toolbag.
You can akin Army Toolbag to Dropbox, before it ever existed. It was a site to upload and store reusable files. It saved servicemembers time; they didn’t have to reinvent the wheel with every policy letter or powerpoint class.
Army Toolbag quickly became popular within the military community. So popular that I sold it to a national marketing firm for five figures.
I had already begun studying for a Doctorate in Psychology. But the wind was blowing towards web design. In 2009, I decided to follow it with gusto.
“The Monkey Girl”
Starting a web design company meant finding a name. While flying on an airplane one day, my solution was to write down a list of nouns and adjectives and combine them until something “fit.”
Yellow made it on the list because it’s my favorite color. And I’ve always loved monkeys.
Yellow, web, and monkey are three unrelated words that, when combined, get attention. It’s a name that makes people ask, “where did that come from, anyway?”
It gives our brand an immediate, albeit whimsical, identity. While expanding my business locally, people would recognize my face and say, “Hey, you’re the monkey girl!”
Designing the monkey’s face with an inquisitive look made it more unique. No personification is memorable as a flat, boring expression. Instead, our logo represents a sense of wonder, curiosity, and amazement.
Every day, my company works diligently to represent these sentiments. We succeed by remaining inspired and intrigued by our work.
Online marketing is a high-speed, fast-changing field at its best. It demands limitless research, care, and attention.
Recruiting My Untapped Army
Founding a business also meant finding employees. But to my astonishment, I didn’t have the best luck with trained web designers. Many had technical skills but lacked those inquisitive, core values.
My office manager was an all-around professional, though. She had also served in the Army. The ease in which we communicated inspired me to direct my recruitment to the military community I loved and trusted: West Point Women Alumni.
Moving forward, I advertised all my job openings through their group alone. From my experience, military veterans are disciplined and talented. But once they separate and start families, their skills can be highly underutilized.
They become an untapped market wanting careers, but needing the flexibility to work from home.
As an educated mom of two myself, I know how hard it can be to choose between family and career. Parents deserve a chance to earn an income and devote time to their kids.
But team members at YellowWebMonkey don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. Through the nature of my online company, I can solve that dilemma. And the team members I hire have been eager and grateful for it.
Everyone at YellowWebMonkey, regardless of their Army background or qualifications, starts in a data entry position. From there, they have limitless opportunities for growth.
Our specialists that began in data entry are now programmers, SEO experts, graphic designers, and more.
Today I have fourteen team members, many of whom have been with me from the start. Some I’ve never even met (only because they live too far away)!
Regardless, our retention shows that our 100% remote work model is working.
We Thrive on Long-Term Commitment
Employment doesn’t work like it used to, and neither does a stagnant business model.
Many web design firms say “see ya!” after building your website. They don’t want to stick around for routine site maintenance or adapt your site to evolving trends.
But Google is constantly changing its page-ranking algorithms. Clients that easily found your site last year may not find it as seamlessly today. That’s because there are over 600 million blogs and 1.9 billion websites to contend with.
If your web design doesn’t evolve, it might as well be dead.
Many of the companies we service today have been with us since our humble beginnings. And in web design, that’s a rare statistic.
We know this longevity revolves around our model of a one-stop shop. We don’t just want to jump-start a company’s success—we want to help sustain it.
In order to achieve this, we’ve had to constantly reinvent our processes and add additional services. At one time, we worked completely with Joomla. Now, there are a variety of platforms, like Shopify, that excel within their specific function.
At one time, we didn’t offer inbound marketing or social media management. Now we have specialists that write content solely to increase search engine optimization (SEO) and online traffic.
That’s all part of the job. We will switch entire sites to more beneficial platforms for a company’s growing needs. We will write blogs and monitor media with the exclusive purpose of educating your clients and attracting countless more.
As a result of adapting so frequently, our brand has become synonymous with long-term web design. We’ve essentially ditched the idea of casually dating our clients.
Being a committed partner allows us to save our clients time and effort shopping for individual web services. It empowers their business as much as it empowers our team members.
To say it’s symbiotic is an understatement. Each relationship has helped both parties learn and thrive.
The Future of Web Design
Web design is so much more than an attractive, user-friendly website. No one can scale their business without addressing a myriad of intricate, online puzzles.
That’s the indispensable part YellowWebMonkey plays.
I can’t tell you what detailed operations will look like next year or the year after that, because the internet itself shifts faster than wildfire.
But I do know that as long as we evolve with new digital innovations, we’ll keep up.
It’s worked well for us so far over the last decade.