How much does a small business owner need to know about web work?

As much as possible.

Yeah, that’s easy to say and harder to make into a reality. It’s also important to think about what “as much as possible” really means.

If you are a small business owner who does landscaping, and you actually do the landscaping yourself, you simply aren’t going to have time to work a bunch of yards and know everything you might want or need to know about every aspect of web work. In fact, you probably would fail pretty quick in the landscaping business if you only did one job a week because you spent all your time on Twitter.

So how much time you dedicate to learning about the web depends on your own situation.

One note about that: the longer you hang around the web and the more questions you ask about working on the web, the more you’ll hear “it depends on your situation” as an answer. When people tell you that, it’s not a copout. It’s just that the web is not one size fits all. Different situations demand different answers, and there are millions of ways to succeed or fail in this game.

So having said that, how much does a small business owner really need to know about web work? One way to look at it is you need to know enough about how things work in order to hire the right people if you are going to have to hire people for things like web design and development.

I’m a web designer and have been since the late 1990s. If I was running a small business, I’d probably do most of my own web work, but if I did need to hire somebody, I’d have no problem. That’s only because I know enough about the field to know exactly what skills are needed for a given project and how to find somebody with those skills. On top of that, I know enough about the supply and demand for these things that I would be very unlikely to overpay to get good work done.

In that sense, I know the lay of the land. Yeah, I know how to build sites and write code, and knowing that stuff is part of what would enable me to make a good hire if I needed to, but I think it’s attainable for somebody who doesn’t build websites to learn enough about the lay of the land to make solid choices around web work.

So how do you do that? I’m not completely sure, but I think a good first step would be to find some web design and web work blogs and read those from time to time. Web designers write a lot of tutorials and advice articles, and if you read a bunch of those over time, you’ll start to get a feel for what kinds of things matter in building a website and a web presence.

When I say read a tutorial, I don’t mean that you should be sitting there breaking your brain trying to figure out how to actually write the code you’re reading about (unless you just want to). I’m talking about reading with the goal of gathering in your mind what these people are doing that you might need to get done for your business.

There are tons of sites worth reading for that kind of thing, but here are a few to get you started:

Leave a Reply