Can I learn to manage my own website?

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Cut and Paste

“I'm a business owner who would like to manage my own website. Can you teach me?”

This is a request that I get at least a couple of times per week. It's nothing unusual for site owners to be unhappy when it comes to depending on a web developer to make the changes and updates they need. It makes perfect sense. These days, websites have evolved to be much more than an online business card. They are now rich publishing platforms which require continuous updating to feed and inform our information hungry customers. Because of this, it has become very unwieldy to keep relying on an external company for content updates and simple changes.

Luckily, technology has been quickly evolving to make things easier, less expensive, and at the same time offer a greater level of control then ever before.

Still, there is some good and bad news for those seeking to do it yourself. The good news is that content management systems like Joomla and Wordpress can make managing your content readily possible for those lacking technical skills. The "bad" news (only bad depending on your point of view) is that even with these systems, you're really not going to get much farther than basic content management without a professional background. Unless you're not concerned with the site maintaining a professional appearance across all browsers, the ability to change the layout and most graphical elements is something that requires a professional.

I offer two solutions for business owners who want to manage their site. The first is to build a new site based on a content management system and then train you to use it (which is not difficult). The second is to train you to use your existing CMS if you already own one.

I do not offer: Training beyond basic content management to those who aren't interested investing the necessary time and to take regular lessons for a period of time. Changing the graphics/layout/theme of your website is a skill that requires extensive training (and practice) to properly do. There's a lot more to it then you may think, and it's not something you want to cut corners on if you care about presenting yourself and your business in a professional image.

So in a nutshell unless you are someone who plans on web development as a career, I would not recommend trying to go beyond basic content management. But on a trip back to the good news, the options you'll have for even "simple" content management are getting better all the time. There are many great photo galleries (with automatic resizing and thumbnail creation), shopping carts, events calendars, newsletters, forums, etc. available as extensions that can be set up to allow you a lot of control.

If set up properly, a CMS can put quite a bit of power in your hands... while lowering your web maintenance costs. But you'll probably not want to throw away that rusty web developer quite yet ;)

Andy Uppole  - Graphic Artist, Marketing Consultant, and Small Bu 03-15-2011 7:49pm
as a web developer myself i usually build the site for my clients and do all the heavy lifting, and when im done i teach them how to do simple updates and upload new content. Anything above and beyond that i recommend that they use a graphic artist or web developer to do any aesthetic changes to their site. I also teach them about seo and things of that nature as well for site optimization.
TopHTML  - Learning Website Programming 06-18-2011 8:55pm
Really, you can learn about it by yourself, you can get so many guide on internet. I did it, and I keep studing.
Jason Gallagher  - Give it some good thought first 06-19-2011 4:18pm
avatar Hi TopHTML, like most other matters sure you can learn how to do it yourself, as long as you know what you are getting yourself into as far as time requirements and various skills required. A successful website is actually quite complicated and involves skills in many departments.

Learning how to code or use a software like Dreamweaver to make the actual site, is only a fraction of what's needed. To be competitive, you'd also have to study and gain experience in the subjects of web marketing/communication, search engine optimization, art and design, building successful user interfaces, utilizing different screen sizes (27" widescreen monitor to iphone), solve browser bugs, javascript or Flash animation.... Next do you want to create user interaction and grow your online community through social networking, blogging, etc.? So you see it's quite a cocktail of skills that are involved!

Say you're reading along and trying this or that. What you are doing is conducting an experiment on the reputation of your business as you learn to make your very first website (or even 2nd or 3rd, etc.).

The point is yes of course you can do it yourself, but rarely is it a wise choice and an efficient use of your time as a business owner. You're much better off hiring someone with years of experience under their belt. I know that sounds like a plug for my industry, but if you think about it it's the truth. I wouldn't dare try to be my own dentist, and likewise, I wouldn't recommend most people be their own web developer unless they are creating a hobby site or are learning the trade.
Phil Mayall 06-27-2011 8:58am
Hi Jason,
I saw your ad about Joomla! the other day and have been thinking it looks like a great tool...I have made a short film "8 Guns Over a Dead Girl" and have been submitting it to's a little late to start but I would like to get a website going that can track our progress for those who are interested..I'll be back in the Bay Area the week of July 11 and would like to meet with you to discuss getting this going,
415 517-2474
Jason Gallagher 06-27-2011 2:25pm
avatar She must have been some girl! Thanks for letting me know of your project and yes I am interested, so you will be getting a ring soon...

From the basic sound of it, possibly a simple Wordpress blog may be the solution for you if you are pressed for time and don't need it to be heavily customized and branded.
sam 08-18-2011 2:00am
This is the most informed writing I’ve ever seen on this subject’s
onewhirl  - Joomla Headaches! 11-17-2011 3:32pm
I had a web site template created in Joolma 1.6.5 and I manage my own content. However, Joomla isn't as "user friendly" as I thought it would be. Also, weird quirks happen like text jumping around, photos disappearing, etc. The Text Editor that came with it ins't trully WYSIWYG!

Is there a better solution to deal with these issues?
Jason Gallagher 01-07-2012 12:27am
avatar Hi Onewhirl, I hear you. Joomla can seem complicated at first but if you give it time once you get to know it, things will fall into place. There's no doubt they could do a better job to make the backend more user friendly, but part of the reason some poeople think Wordpress (for example) is easier to use is because Wordpress simply doesn't have a ton of what Joomla has. Or at least not without a lot of coding (example: module positions, article parameters like show category, show read more link, etc.).

IMO, Joomla really shines for me as a tool to build sites. When I deliver a Joomla site to a client, I create an custom interface for them on the front end so they don't have the usability issues at all. When you set up a site that way, for whoever needs to update it later it's 1 - 2- 3 easy!

As far as the editors, I totally agree. They suck for trying to anything other than basic text. This isn't unique to Joomla though, Wordpress and everyother CMS have the same issues. I suggest downloading JCE, which is a better editor for Joomla. Or, if you have some programming skills and are doing the site for someone else even better is a CCK extension. With one of those, you can have custom fields and make a tempalte for them. That removes all the hassle from trying to create layout in an editor... and the inevitable bad hairdo effect on the site over time.

Best of luck!
Nataniell 02-20-2012 4:16pm
Well, i do not find Joomla user unfriendly, i think it is rather a matter of one's experience. I admit that making updates is just a little harder than sending emails with attachments, and it can usually be learned in 1 or 2 training sessions of about an hour each.
Jason Gallagher 02-21-2012 12:22am
avatar Things have have gotten much better for updates. Since Joomla 1.6, updates are one click and now there are updates with a notice in the backend for both the core and extensions.

Once again, out of the box Joomla has a few quirks in the back end, but in the right hands it is easily possible to be set it up in a very user friendly way. In fact with a CCK extension and custom front end forms, it is arguably easier to use and with better usability than Wordpress.
santa 03-24-2012 1:49am
Some websites require a subscription to access some or all of their content. Examples of subscription websites include many business sites, parts of news websites, academic journal websites, gaming websites, file-sharing websites, message boards, web based email, social networking websites, websites providing real time stock market data, and websites providing various other services. Thanks.
website design
James  - Having Control of Your Website Is A Great Idea 12-15-2012 4:58am
As a online business owner myself I like to control the content and other features of my websites on a weekly basis and it only take a about an hour to manage. Especially when take a few minutes to plan before making changes. Having that control makes me feel good about my business. If you need a recommendation email me I would like to help.
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