Burts AIS, osCommerce & More Blog
New URL: www.osworld.biz

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Should a website owner learn HTML ?

On one of the Forums that I'm (somewhat) active on, an interesting question was posed today:

would it be in my interest to be familiar with HTML content ... what would you suggest I and others like myself, who just want to run our businesses the best way we can, do to leap this hurdle?
Most people would say "yep, learn HTML as it can only help you". That's all well and good, but usually Mr Joe Businessman doesn't understand that HTML is not the only thing that needs to be learned. What about Accessibility, Usability and general design skills ? We know that the DDA (Disability Discrimination Act) means that anyone running a website needs to be aware of the rules that need to be applied to not fall foul of this 5 year old law. What I am trying to say is: Leave website design and development to the experts. Sure, if you want to have a little go on your own that's great, but be aware that there is much more to creating a website than simply learning HTML. After all, just because you can string a sentence together in English, does not make you Ernest Hemingway ;) The other good reason is that leaving the website to someone else means that you (as the business owner) can concentrate on the more important things such as sourcing new products, wholesale deals, pricing, tax and the like - in other words, growing your core business. A proper businessman will use the best tools at his disposal, and that includes the use of a web professional to build his website!

New URL: www.osworld.biz - thanks!


At 10/18/2005 04:00:00 PM, Blogger JavaRoasters said...

I disagree with you on this one Burt. A business owner should know ALL aspects of their business otherwise they are at the mercy of someone else. When they get an error on their site are they going to HAVE to call their web designer to drop everything and fix it. I don't think they should need to be able to write code but they should at least be able to fix it.

At 10/18/2005 04:51:00 PM, Anonymous uknowho said...

>> I don't think they should need to be able to write code but they should at least be able to fix it. <<

Er... d'ya think the Chairman of Shell can fix a busted oil rig?

I presume you're in the IT industry; could you fix the on-board computer in your car? I highly doubt it, but you'd know what to do... delegate it to a person that does know.

At 10/18/2005 05:47:00 PM, Blogger JavaRoasters said...

Er... d'ya think the Chairman of Shell can fix a busted oil rig?

I don't think most of the people who reads Burts blog are CEO's of billion $ companies. Most of us are small business owners who better know how to fix things or the only poeple who are going to get rich are the people we hire to fix things.

At 10/18/2005 06:05:00 PM, Blogger Gary B. said...

JR, I can see the point you are making - but wouldn't it be nice to be able to rely on someone to make those changes that you need, meaning you can spend more time drinking coffee ;)

Spend the money to pay someone to build you a site and that investment will be repaid to you many times over...

At 10/18/2005 07:57:00 PM, Blogger JavaRoasters said...

Hey Burt, my site was not designed by me but from hiring them I did learn how to do alot of the things myself by going over the changes they had made. I roasted coffee before I started my business, but that is just a small part of running and managing my business. There were/are lots of things that you have to learn to keep it all going. Life is all about learning.

There is nothing wrong with hiring someone to help you but you better learn something in the process of paying them $$$ otherwise you won't get ahead. If I got Emmett to fix everything in my site Emmett would be rich now and I would be broke.

A freind of mine is having a site built, he doesn't want to learn PHP or even osC. He just wants "a complete web site" that he can get orders from. Problem is that was 5 months ago and the site is not done yet and even when it is it won't get many visitors because he has no concept of SEO and neither do the people working on it. But that is the fundemental problem, my friend does not know that they don't know because he just wants a "complete web site" and doesn't care about anything else. Do you think his business will be sucessful????

Now I have to go drink (more) coffee ;)

At 10/18/2005 09:07:00 PM, Blogger richandzhaoyan said...

I am with JR on this one Gary,

As I have found out over the last few years, running your own small business is no picnic and the one thing that is paramount is that you do have to be a jack of all trades.

When setting up the warehouse this summer, I have been painter, plumber, office partition erector, carpeter, shelf constructor, you name it. The only thing I paid anyone to do was put the mezzanine floor in! (A little beyond my scope)

With regards to setting up an online business, sure you dont need to be a programmer - I certainly am not - but you do need to know exactly what your web requirements are. You need to scope the competition, you need to know about site promotion, adsense and seo, newsletters, payment processors, hosting companies, etc,etc,etc.... Yes, you could pay someone to take care of all of this for you but I think the speed the web moves forward, it would pretty much involve taking someone on full time - just not economically viable for a small setup.

I agree, a proper programmer could improve my site and a decent designer could certainly improve my turnover but without the knowledge I have gained setting the site up myself, I would not have an idea of exactly what I wanted and wouldnt have known who to employ - paying over the odds for shoddy work could just sink the business.

Last comment, looking at my competitors, it is fairly evident that anyone who has paid for a site to be setup has not had any real comprehension of how much ongoing work is required to keep the site running well.

Just my view :)

(Oh yeah, you may just be surprised how much the Chairman of Shell does know about his oil rigs...)


At 10/19/2005 06:01:00 AM, Anonymous calimero said...

in my mind it comes down to opportunity cost, or how much is your own time worth in order to accomplish task A versus delegating it to someone else.

If I can have X fixed in 2 hrs at 50$ / hr, or if I have to spend 4 hrs my self while I can make 400$ during that time ... what do you think I will do ?

The open source world is the world of DIY where there are few people that actually can make this choice, most people don't have the luxury of having another money generating option, they are actively working on getting that option to work ... catch 22 ?

At 10/19/2005 11:26:00 AM, Blogger Gary B. said...

I think that Catch22 is correct.

Does the business owner know how to fix his delivery vans? Does the business owner know how to do his own accounts?

Maybe so, but the mechanic will usually fix the car better. The accountant will know all the tax loopholes to exploit...

Likewise, the website designer knows all the applicable laws. And the good webdesigner won't abandon his client or take 5 months (!?!) to get a site off the ground.

There's an army of small businessmen out there who realise that they need help with getting online and are willing to spend money to do so - this is a massive untapped market. I used to help run a business which catered to this need - some clients were paying £200 a month for having someone to call on when they needed help! And happy to pay it! One of those clients increased turnover from 250k per annum (via his bricks and mortar), to more than 800k (B&M + osC website). He couldn't have done this without the input of the website expert - computer illiterate, but very business savvy.

At 11/25/2005 08:48:00 AM, Anonymous Wong Online PoKér Hu said...

Businesspeople can leave the technical stuff to the experts, but some also want to learn because they plan to venture into that area.


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