By Mark Thomas
Kate Nielsen knows what her essential skill is at her company, On Tap. She guides. She guides her clients and her team through the process of developing responsive websites that are critical tools for her customers.
The web design industry moves rapidly and often uses technical jargon, words that can sometimes baffle those on the outside. Nielsen has a gift for conveying what On Tap can do in a way that doesn’t intimidate or require a quick Google search.
A good indicator of On Tap’s ability to build a good website is the company’s own site, at www.beontap.co. And yes, “dot co” is correct.
“Responsive design is tech-speak for a website that automatically adjusts its layout, content and size to fit different browsing devices. This means that a site will look good and remain optimally functional and navigable whether it is being viewed on a desktop, smartphone or tablet. It’s responsive because it responds to the device from which it is being accessed.” This explanation of On Tap’s specialty is quite clear.
Nielsen points out that the origin of the company’s name comes from the trend of more computing devices requiring a touch, or tap, rather than a click.
Nielsen’s path to leading her own cutting-edge company wasn’t direct. Originally from Utah, she graduated from Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, focusing on international studies. From there, she migrated to Kansas City to work in organic farming.
“I wanted to do grassroots local work in the community and make positive change,” she said. The community organizations she worked for included Bridging the Gap and SAVE Inc.
Her creative side ultimately moved her to the business world.
“I found a friend with a small business and built a website,” she said. “I thought it was fun and creative.
“I taught myself SEO [search engine optimization] and other skills. I taught myself coding. I did some freelance for friends, and then went back to school for some more skills.”
Nielsen, who also likes to paint, found she was strongly attracted to the concept of design in the website business.
A local company hired her as part of a web development team. While working in-house, she discovered that her strongest skills were in managing and guiding.
“I started bossing my team around – not in a mean way, but to keep them focused on deadlines.”
She was rewarded with a promotion, but eventually the agency changed directions and laid off her group. That’s when she realized it was time to strike out on her own and she formed On Tap.
On Tap focuses on local and regional clients. “When you need to add a little more sophistication in design or functionality, you come to us,” she said.
Theresa Van Ackeren, managing director of Family Bicycles, introduced Nielsen to the Mid-America Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce.
“I attended the first Business Equality Conference, and it was really good,” Nielsen said.
However, she notes, “There were few lesbians involved at first. I was frank with her about that.”
She says that situation is rapidly changing. “I have been extremely excited, because leadership and the board are totally committed to diversity, and I want to be a part of that.
“I’ve been an ambassador. I invite as many people as I can to the B2Bs [networking events]. I’m also actively involved in Athena League and Kansas City Women in Technology. We need to invite people!”