BILLINGS — It’s 2021 and we’re in the midst of a global pandemic that has people at home more than ever. If a business doesn’t have a good online platform, chances are it's losing money. But there's hope in Billings from a company called Cardsetter, one of the country's newest website platforms. The idea started in 2016.
“She had ideas about what she wanted to do, which seemed really simple. It seemed like, ‘Oh, I just want this to show here,’ and that should be easy," said Cardsetter co-founder Josh Toenyes during a conversation with business partner Jessica Baldwin. "I completely agree that should be easy, but it’s not, so let me sit down and do some coding and make that happen.”
Toenyes and Baldwin were frustrated. Baldwin had started a local calendar site called Billings365 five years back, but after thousands of pages of content, the site was bogged down, almost impossible for the average user to navigate. So they invented a new way to showcase it.
“Our main goal was to make it easy for the owner to move anything around on the website and get it to show up anywhere," Toenyes said.
Five years later, Cardsetter is now hailed by users as one of the most user-friendly website platforms in America. “Once they showed me the project, I knew it was exactly what we needed," said Jeff Ewelt, executive director of ZooMontana and a Cardsetter client. "Our website is an important piece of our organization. Animals, their pictures, the big beautiful pictures, sell.”
“You have your control panel, and then you see the website on the other side," said Chareese Jorgensen, another Cardsetter client describing the interface of the system. "So when you’re making changes, you can see it, and then you just hit the go live or the publish button, and it’s there.”
The design and application has been key for businesses like Bitterroot Sip and Paint, which Jorgensen owns. The concept stems from Cardsetter’s simple philosophy.
“Every business is to some extent a content creator," Toenyes said. "The way that Cardsetter helps them is by helping them share the content that they have with the web, and that content’s about their small business things - the services they offer, the products they offer. But we look at it as content.”
And they do it in the "teach-a-man-to-fish" style. “What I was using previously, it was all back end," Jorgensen said. "So if I wanted to make any changes, I had to talk to a tech. If I wanted to change the words a little bit, I had to talk to a tech.”
“If we do have an issue, they describe what’s going on, so if it does happen again, we won’t panic like we normally do," said Ewelt. "We can just sit back and know that it’ll be taken care of, if we can’t fix it ourselves.”
The quick turnaround has been key during the pandemic, when an online presence has often been the difference between staying in business and filing for unemployment.
“Because of mandates in place, my studio which is a 3,500 square foot studio sits mostly empty, 90% of the time," said Jorgensen. "The virtual classes have been good bread-and-butter for us, and to have a website that supports that and is a little bit more comprehensive made a huge difference.”
It continues to help businesses rebound and reimagine what’s possible in 2021.