A little personal rant if I may. I’m working on a new project, a membership based online community for athletes, pro or recreational, that want to create deeper more meaningful lives. I am coaching each member through either one-on-one conversation and program design or written feedback on a DIY program design. Members will be able to see and interact with the other members work and progress. I’m pumped about bringing this vision to fruition.

Plenty of athletes go to great lengths upgrading their riding skills or upgrading their bikes, but very little is done to upgrade their mindset, especially in a way that acknowledges the complications and challenges we face off the trail and in the rest of our lives. I’m going to call the website either UpGradedAthlete.com or RealActionAthlete.com – they’re registered and ready to go…but the website isn’t designed yet, which is where I’m running in to my own challenges.

I wanted to use WordPress to create the website. My vision was clear, so I just had to find the right plugins to bring it to reality. What was so dizzying about the research was that all the marketing and promo for the plugins was oriented toward making me money fast rather than exploring the actual user/member experience. My vision was born out of developing a more effective and potent way to deliver my coaching skills in to the world, and it is therefore crucial that I understand in detail the user benefits of each plugin rather than how easy it will be to make money.

The closest combination of plugins I found were to combine OptimizePress2, vBulletin, and DigitalAccessPro; from reading all the promo material it felt as though this combo would be the ‘best way to dupe as many customers in to joining my website as possible’! None of them really answered the question: what would the user of my website experience? What options do they have when logged in? How will it be of exceptional value to my customers?

So linking back, it seems the default approach in our culture is about endlessly upgrading our bikes to be faster and better just like it is to design our websites to make endless amounts of money-these are the promises from marketers. If I owed money on a new bike that I didn’t need I would have been much more easily romanced in to buying those plugins–it’s a cycle that keeps us moving in body and mind just a little too quickly and desperately to take an awake look at what’s going on. Now don’t get me wrong, I want to make some money, but I want that to be a side effect of my ability to be of deep service, they have to be linked.

A friend suggested I try using a corporate style social network system such as Yammer, and save for hiring a web designer at over 10K, it looks to be the most powerful solution for my clients…stay tuned for announcements!