It might come as a surprise that Cincinnati, OH (or Cincinnati, USA as some call it) would be a major hub of website development and web design. The Greater Cincinnati metro area has a population of over 2 million and is the 30th largest metro area in the United States. So it’s not a small town but not in the top 10. It’s a random name people and Hollywood throw around as a generic slice of the American experience.
The reason why Cincinnati and web design go together is primarily due to a collision of two major factors.
Cincinnati is home to several big businesses, but the one that matters for this is Proctor and Gamble. The company produces an enormous number of consumer goods, each of which have their own brands, packaging, and materials which need to be tended.As much as possible, P&G like to use local talent. There are tons of creative design agencies in Cincinnati that cater to the needs of P&G. This is somewhat of a scary predicament for small agencies and winning a contract for a major brand can be quite lucrative, but the loss of one can be devastating. If you talk to anyone that was a designer in the 80s or 90s in Cincinnati, they’ll have stories to tell you of how they or someone they know had their life turned upside down when P&G took away their business on a whim.
The point is that graphic design and advertising are special skills that involve communicating ideas with words and images in a way that was the closest stepping-off point for web design. Cincinnati has a very large pool of this talent, perhaps the largest in the world in terms of per capita.
Cincinnati was quite an anomaly in terms of ISP availability. While the US federal government was bemoaning the lack of broadband in many communities, Cincinnati had tons of options. I don’t mean to say that everyone had broadband access all the time. I remember frantically making website updates over multiple dial-up connections to a web host because we were running out of time to launch a site and one connection was taking too long.
But Cincinnati had lots of options, particularly because of Cincinnati Bell. Cincinnati Bell was a scrappy independent bell franchisee that watched as the entire country was split up into the Baby Bells. Even though they only served the Cincy area, they acted like one of the big players, determined to play in a league they had no business being in. As a result, when the first broadband services came online, Cincy Bell didn’t want to be left out. Cincinnati also had some great technical minds due to companies like General Electric. There’s also a significant amount of old money in Cincinnati and a culture of venture capital that didn’t want to miss out on the next “railroad-scale” investment. As a result, there were a ton of options for broadband. I don’t remember them all, but I’ll try to recount some. If you remember more of them, send me a message and I’ll try to add them:
We used a company with a satellite/microwave tower relay system for a while at our downtown office ISP. I can’t even remember what they called their company. The point is, while some towns were begging for just one ISP, Cincinnati had handfuls of companies competing at any given time.
Cincinnati was a town bursting with creative talent, technical talent, and easy access to cheap broadband. Granted, I’m talking about what passed for high speed two decades ago. Still, you get the point. Cincinnati was way ahead of the curve.
As you can see, Cincinnati had a lot going for it in terms of Web Design. But there’s one last key ingredient that would make Cincinnati a web design power house: young educated people. Cincinnati has several major universities in it or nearby. UC of course, but also Miami University, Xavier university, University of Dayton, Northern Kentucky University, and dozens of smaller schools, including art schools.
At the dawn of the World Wide Web in the late 90s, Cincinnati had everything going for it.in terms of web design. While the tech industry isn’t the wild west that it was in the late 90s and early 2000s, there was every bit as much design and innovation going in the world of web design as there was in silicon valley or Madison Avenue.
It was exciting to be a part of the web design movement back then. While a lot has changed since then, (you might even call where we are now the version2 of web design) we still take innovation and seriously for our clients. not innovation for the sake of exploration, but innovation for the sake of creating better, more effective solutions for our clients.