Global Reach: Web Design Company JM Online Rolls with Change

JM Online CEO Jonathan Patton knew from an early age where his professional life would play out. At 14 years of age, he could already see the important role the internet would eventually hold for companies’ survival and growth. In 1998, he and co-founder Michael Ratcliffe launched JM Web Designs to help clients conquer this new frontier.

Since then, the neighborhood web design firm – recently rebranded at JM Online – has grown into a multi-faceted provider of digital branding and web technical services on a scale the teenaged Patton likely never imagined. 

“There has been significant evolution throughout the years,” he said. “At first, it was just getting online in general – security, domain, and informational websites stating this is my business, this is what I do. Very simple, very plain. Then the second big revolution was blogs. We started to build websites and then you’d attach the blog to communicate a lot more effectively with customers or audiences. 

“Then it morphed into the whole mobile revolution. You name it, the sky was the limit and that is still at our core, literally being able to develop whatever the mind envisions for our clients to help their business and communicate with their customers.”


Now up to 17 employees located in Omaha, Colorado and Ukraine, the company has also expanded from merely building web tools to a diverse suite of consulting services for clients on how their internet presence can best be leveraged in service to their company. 

“We can create a beautiful website, but what we’re really focusing on now is, what is the purpose of the website? How are we going to measure the success of that site? How are we going to help it grow your business and give you a return on investment?” Patton said.

“Today, it’s a lot more about the story and a conversation about getting the site built and then watching it and adapting it and constantly tweaking it to be able to squeeze the juice out of it. That’s where we’re at now.”

Remote Pioneers

The company’s courage to change has also been applied effectively on the staffing side where JM Online was an early adopter of remote work. This led the team to harness talent from afar and allowed it to continue operations unabated during the pandemic.

- Advertisement -

“Back in 2011, I moved out of Bellevue to a small town, Smithland, Iowa. My commute literally went from 15 minutes to about an hour and a half,” Patton said. “I said this is crazy; there’s no way I’m going to drive an hour and a half, one way, five days a week. As soon as I saw the opportunity to use the Internet to work from anywhere I was in the world, I said we’ve got to get on it. 

“I know [remote work] has challenges; you do lose some of that camaraderie and collaboration. So, we’ve had a balanced hybrid approach for 10-plus years. We’ve maintained that and it seems to be working very well because it gives you the space you need to have that quiet time on your own work, but then also allows you to come together as a team.”

Constant Change

Being in the field it is, there’s no shortage of trends and technologies to feed JM Online’s engine of change. Patton said he can already see things percolating in the industry that will define the company in the future. 

“If I had to boil it down, it’s going to be how is AI going to disrupt our industry?” he said. “And I know it is going to disrupt our industry. I’m already seeing it turning heads right now; it’s remarkable. What they thought was going to take 10 or so years to develop was really done in less than two years.

“How that all plays out is the big question right now. But we actually have two team members who that’s all they do, is just R&D. We will be able to grow and spread our wings and figure out what that looks like. If we have a conversation six to 12 months from now, I believe we’ll have a much better snapshot to work from.”

If there’s anything a quarter-century in business has taught Patton, it’s not only to expect the unexpected but to count on it to push the company forward. 

“It’s all about consumer behavior, figuring out where your audiences are and being able to target your message to where they’re at and how they’re consuming that content. It’s ever-changing,” he said.

“The market’s always going to tell us what it’s thinking, what it’s seeing or where it wants to go. Then it’s our responsibility as a company, as a team, to be versatile and to begin to adapt and not be afraid of change.”

402-292-7500 • 1907 Farnam Street, Omaha, NE 68102
Social Media: Facebook • Instagram • LinkedIn • YouTube