May 24th, 2019
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09/15/2005 - WestWise Joins Liberty Building

WestWise helps their clients with “smart marketing solutions.” The partners in WestWise LLC are Jill Smith and Robert Johnson; newly relocated in the Liberty Building at Main and Washington. WestWise’s specialty is the small, maybe even tiny, retail business. One often cited statistic is that the majority of small retail businesses do not have Web sites. Smith did some research and found this definitely true in downtown Spokane. WestWise set out to find a remedy.

Smith, an award winning veteran of several businesses, is a consummate market researcher. As she talked with small business owners, she learned that what they really wanted wasn’t a Web site, it was a map – a map that would find its way into the hands of both Spokane's visitors and people across town. They wanted a map that would allow people to find their way to the front door.

She also learned from talking to visitors that they had difficulty finding places like the sports field, arena, or ice rink where their children were supposed to perform. Along with this went the various districts. What did it mean when they were told “we’re at Carnegie Square”? Furthermore, they didn’t want it on the Internet, they wanted paper in their hands. WestWise put aside the idea of creating Web sites and set about creating the map, Experience Spokane. Thanks to sponsorship by Washington Trust bank, the map was ready to go to the printer in time for last Bloomsday.

With the print map successfully in place, WestWise turned their attention to creating the Experience Spokane Web site. The mission for is to market Spokane along with its small retail businesses. “Spokane is a great gateway and we’re offering the keys to the city,” says Smith. Experience Spokane is very visual with many of Johnson’s photographs. The site includes the map, calendars, quick facts, services, neighborhoods, and even the weather report. “The Web site is designed to show Spokane at its most interesting so that visitors will want to stay longer and spend more money."

Also featured on are over one hundred small retail establishments including restaurants, hotels, antique stores, boutiques, and traveler services. Thanks to the sponsorship by Washington Trust Bank, several non-profits could also be included. provides one page Web sites for all of the businesses who have bought in. If the business has another Web site, it is linked to If not, the business may use the URL as its own.

Users and stakeholders alike appreciate well produced visuals, but Smith’s research indicated that people look at Web sites differently. Older people will actually read text. Younger people just want bullet points. Each Web page has each. Along with the photos and pertinent information, there are both bullet points and paragraphs describing what one would find in the business. The text is light, airy, and witty, reflecting Smith’s style and sense of humor. “Everything is optimized for search engines,” says Johnson.

If you would like to ‘Experience Spokane’, visit

Billie Moreland
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