A new website has been created to help local businesses get more attention, and it was partly created by a Cody high school student.
On March 21, Zachary Irvine posted on the “Love Thy Neighbor” Facebook page asking if there would be any interest in an aggregate website for local Wyoming businesses.
Irvine also said he thought it would be an interesting project to get tech savvy high school students involved in, as it would be a way to make up for missing school activities.
“High school students have lost their extracurricular activities and I assumed some of our local students had an interest in website creation and might want a project to do at home,” Irvine said.
Within a few days, the mother of 15-year-old Luis Mata contacted Irvine and suggested the two talk, due to Mata’s skills with computers.
Coded by Mata with business information from Irvine, shopwyolocal.com is a website featuring a collection of information on various Cody businesses and links to their websites for online shopping.
The website has a main page with all the businesses, but also sections based on business type and a search bar for specific inquiries.
The idea for the website came from looking at social media to try and find positive support for the community. He found this with the “Love Thy Neighbor” and “Western Wyoming Weather” Facebook pages, saying that technology has greatly reduced the number of hardships that everyone could have faced due to that ability to keep in contact with others.
Irvine also noticed an increase in online shopping during the pandemic, particularly through Amazon. Since Amazon sells products from a lot of different sources, Irvine said that he didn’t think there was anything like that benefitting local Wyoming businesses and bringing them online revenue.
“All online sales skyrocketed, and I thought, ‘what if a majority of those purchases were through local businesses?’” Irvine said. “But I didn’t know of a website that intentionally focused on directing online shopping to our local stores in the Big Horn Basin.”
Mata said he wanted to be involved to learn more about web development. He already having knowledge of the programming.
While it started with him and Irvine just implementing the businesses on the site themselves, Mata learned of a new programming language that allowed for a login-signup system to be used by businesses to add their own information and logos to the website.
“In the last week we have had a little bit over 2,000 views on the website,” Mata said. “The next step in development will probably be taking feedback from users. So far, we have had a lot of support and feedback which has helped us out a lot.”
Irvine and Mata plan to continue working on the website, with Irvine stating he wanted to add businesses from all over the Big Horn Basin.
Since the website is currently being managed by just the two of them, and with Irvine’s full-time job and Mata’s schoolwork, development will be gradual.
“To add to the challenge, we only communicate via text message or e-mail due to social distancing,” Irvine said. “In fact, we have only spoken to each other on the phone once. We have never met in person, although I look forward to it eventually.”
Even though Irvine didn’t know Mata, or if the 15-year-old could accomplish what he was planning, Irvine said he was very impressed with Mata’s work on the website.
Irvine also said he was impressed with the reception the website has already gotten, and is glad that it is helping locals and local businesses.
“I see Luis Mata doing great things in the future,” Irvine said. “He is skilled in computers, he works hard, and he is dependable. I hope great things come out of this for him. Maybe Kanye will see the website and offer him a programming internship. So many people want to know how to support our local businesses.
“I am proud of Luis Mata for creating shopwyolocal.com so that we have one more way to shop locally and support our businesses that mean so much to all of us.”