Web Sites - Should I Learn or not?

A common dilemma most small and medium businesses face when coming to their web site is if they should take the time to learn how to build a web site or not? Here's my honest thoughts on this topic.

If you read my previous article you would know that a web page is fundamentally written in HTML (let's leave the dynamic stuff out for now). So, if you've got to create a web page you need to learn at the very least, HTML.

Is HTML difficult? Not really. But ask yourself:

What do I need my web site for?

What do I expect to do with my web site?

How much time do I have to spend learning?

How much time will it take away from my regular business?

There's tons of other questions you can ask yourself but this will do.

Learning a new "skill" isn't difficult if you have the right teacher. But then, once again, if you had to learn how to construct a house and that really isn't your background, would you do it? Or take something smaller, like changing your bathtub? How about a light bulb?

Do you see what I'm getting at? It all depends on the task at hand, the degree of your familiarity with the subject and your willingness to learn. Let me give you my own example. Sometime back we wanted to change the faucet off our kitchen sink. Here's the exact steps I took:

We went shopping to three Home and Garden stores.

Evaluated the prices, features etc.

Chose one faucet and brought it home.

Hunted around for the right tools.

Went to my borther-in-law's house and borrowed some more tools.

Came home and removed the old tap.

Fixed the new tap.


Literally. The entire episode took me an entire day. Now, some of you may laugh and say, "What? I can do it in two hours!". My response would be, "Yes! Certainly. But if you aren't a programmer (and I am) can you write a program in two hours?". Ah ha! Now you get it? You see, I'm not good at fixing taps. I had to "learn" how to fix taps. I knew how to do one in my country of origin (India, by the way) but had to learn the new way of doing it here.

In the end, I asked myself, was it worth it? Definitely not. My time is far more expensive than experimenting around trying to learn something that I really didn't want to do.

On the flip side, we wanted to make some jam during the summer. It was something I truly wanted to do and walked into the whole situation fully knowing I had to learn and that it would take some time from me. However it was worth it. I can think of many situations where this same analogy applies. For example, painting my bathroom (I did it) as against painting my living, dining rooms (I got a professional painter).

The same applies to the web business. Ask yourself, how technical are you? Do you enjoy learning new technology? Most important, if this isn't really your primary business, would you rather spend your time doing something entirely different? Perhaps yes, or no?

The unfortunate problem is that several software vendors today tell you you can build a web site within minutes. And they are right. If you like what their product builds for you. Some even tell you, you don't need to learn HTML. Yes. Once again, if you can conform to their design, great. But the minute you want to change something that does not conform, now you have a risk of blowing it all up. How much time do you want to invest in "fixing" things? Also think of the work that would be involved if someone else takes over from the mess you've left it in? All of this costs.

So, in the end you really need to decide if it is worth it in you learning something new? If you've consistently gone around this article and nodded yes to all of my questions, then go ahead and take the plunge. You will be able to do it and will succeed. However, if you've got that small nagging voice at the back of your head telling you you really don't have the time or the inclination, then don't do it.

Finally, if you've never built a web site or created a web page, and you need one for your business, I personally recommend you get a professional to do one. I'm sure you would have made the right decision.

Till next time.

Elvin Picardo
Delivering Net Results to Small Business
Author of numerous articles on web development and Internet Marketing
10723 159th St, Surrey, BC V4N 3J1 Canada
mailto: epicardo@netmedian.com

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