Tooting my own horn

Today, I did a vanity search for “Toban Penner”. As embarrassing as that sounds, I was surprised to see that I was quoted on the News and Observer site. They were asking me about Google’s “Get Your Business Online program in North Carolina”. It’s one of these “you can build an amazing site all by yourself for free” programs. Sometimes, programs like these are scary for designers like me… but then I read what I said to the interviewer, and I feel better and calm down a bit. Here’s the snippet:

Google and Intuit’s program faces plenty of competition from companies, many of them small Web design firms, that have been helping small businesses get online for years.

Toban Penner, a Durham-based web designer that customizes WordPress templates for his customers, said local firms can often personalize a webpage better than larger companies like Intuit.

“A lot of my clients start off with a company like that, and then they realize that their site doesn’t reflect their company’s look and feel,” said Penner, who has been in business for about three years. “If you work with someone locally, they’ll be able to meet with you, see your company and get a feel for what you need. They’ll be able to design a site that fits with the identity of your company.”

The fact is, if you want a website for free. No problem, you can do it! But if you want your site to reflect your business in a professional way that doesn’t harm your image, you’re going to need some design skills. That’s where designers like myself and others will come in, and I think we’ll be in demand for years to come.

Portugal. 10 year wedding anniversary trip

My wife and I celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary by taking a trip to Portugal. It was absolutely fantastic! We enjoyed it so much. But unfortunately (for my clients), I was without internet access or telephone for almost 2 weeks (SORRY!). It was a much needed break. But to be honest, after a week, I was itching to get back to web designing. I guess it’s a good sign that when you are in paradise, you’re looking forward to work. My wife and I both absolutely love what we do. We’re in completely different fields (she’s a professor), but it works very well. If I had any other job, taking time off like that would be very difficult. It’s amazing how much traveling we get to do because of the flexibility of our jobs. We are very blessed.

South West International Boat Show, Houston, Texas

Mantus Anchors invited me down to the South West International Boat Show this weekend to help them out with their booth and enjoy a little bit of Texas.

I had a great time.  I created the Mantus Anchors iPad app which turned out really well.

ipad app design

I spent most of the weekend in the booth.  I never thought I’d have a job as a “booth babe”… but you’d be surprised how the old rich boaters like me. 😉

This morning I went Kayaking out in Galveston Bay where fish were almost jumping in my kayak.  It was awesome.

texas web design

It was a great time and it’s nice to have great clients like Mantus Boat Anchors.  For today, it’s back to Durham where I will be feverishly working on all of my other clients web design needs.

It’s been Hectic here in Durham… Hectic, but good

I’m excited that work has been busy. I love what I do and I’ve had the privilege of finishing off and launching 3 websites in one week. All of which I’m thrilled by how they turned out. is a fitness center in Durham, just off 15-501. Bryan Diaz is a fantastic business man and runs a tight ship. I think so highly of him and his business, that I’m going to be sending my wife for some physical therapy. is a Brooklyn-based photographer who wanted to redesign her site to feature photo essays. This was my first photography site I’ve ever done (officially), and it is unlike any other site I’ve worked on. Sidescrolling pages presented many unique challenges that I loved figuring out. is a professional painting service based in Cary and Raleigh NC. Dawn wanted a redesign and wanted to be able to use wordpress. We had this site designed, and up and running in under a month.