Mastering the Web [Working Woman magazine]
by Hope Katz Gibbs
Working Woman magazine
Special Advertising Section
Design by Charlene Polanosky
KATHY HORVATH OF K LINE America, Inc. had little Internet training when her boss offered her a promotion in 1998 to the company’s Internet service developer. Although she rarely surfed the Internet and had never developed a Web site, she knew that with a little training she could do it.
So Horvath enrolled herself in a basic Web development course at WestLake Internet Training (www.westlake.com), an Arlington, Virginia-based company. After taking classes at the nationwide company’s Washington, D.C., location, Horvath learned all she needed to know to begin writing and designing K Line’s sophisticated Web site.
Her advice to others in a similar situation: Don’t be afraid to learn.
“Any woman who is good at working with Microsoft Word can learn how to design a Web site pretty easily,” she says. “Just start small and build on what you know. The key is that you have to keep practicing what you are learning while learning it.”
Like Horvath, thousands around the country are signing up with training companies like WestLake, which has taught more than 7,000 students from 40 states and 18 countries to use Web technology tools—ranging from basic HTML to the tools for creating interactive Web sites, such as DHTML, XML, Active Server Pages (ASP), and Macromedia Web software.
Steve Heckler, president of WestLake, says the easiest way to master the new technology is by building on your interests.
“If you love to cook, check out a CD-ROM about chefs,” he says. “If dance is your passion, use the Internet to research ballet. Once you get comfortable using software and the Internet, it’s only a short step to being able to design a Web page in HTML.”
CHOOSING THE BEST APPROACH
Of course, not everyone needs to become a techno-whiz to master the Internet. Some women, including corporate managers and small-business owners, may not have the time, or the interest, to study new technologies.
Although choosing an approach seems like a simple decision, it actually involves multiple decisions, says Theresa Lina, senior vice president and chief marketing officer at XOR Inc. (xor.com), a Boulder, Colorado-based company that builds and maintains e-business operations for dot-coms and Fortune 1000 companies.
“You have to consider whether you want to deal with the Web by learning the technology yourself or by hiring someone,” she says. “You will be forced to define how you work and, really, who you are. This can be a hard thing to do.”
Before making a final choice, Lina recommends women determine what is the best and most efficient use of that most precious commodity: their time. Then, she says, ask some basic questions:
What do you want to accomplish?
Someone who wants to incorporate sophisticated e-commerce technology into the mix might want to find a professional to help. However, if you need a simple Web site you can probably create it yourself.
How quickly is your business changing?
If things are moving fast, you’ll need to make sure your site reflects what is hot. A training company can help keep you current, as will a top-notch designer.
How fast do you want to accomplish your goals?
If time is of the essence and you need to get your site up and running within months so you can capture market share, it’s probably best to hire a company to help you.
How much do you want to spend?
According to Webmonkey, a Lycos/HotWired site for Web developers, small design shops start the bidding at $10,000 to develop a site. Prices go up from there depending on the number of pages, graphic needs, and the availability of content, and how complicated the technology supporting the site has to be.
“The more complex the site, the more you will need to prepare,” Lina says. “In the end, you’ll know the best approach to take if you simply figure out how you learn best and what your long-term goals are. Then go for it.”
As you master the Net, consider the following service-oriented sites that make it easier to navigate your busy, web-savvy life.
Ameritrade.com: This web site offers at $8 flat-rate commission on stock market trades, plus access to trading toots and 24-hour customer service. It’s among the highest rated on-tine brokers of 2000.
Noto.com: This self-help law center offers up-to-date legal information on everything from wills and estate planning to the legal details on marriage and living together. The legal eagles also offer a free monthly newsletter, on-line store, and even a few lawyer jokes.
OneCare.com: Small companies can pay bills, manage payroll, establish and process merchant accounts, get a credit card or loan, and even get insufficient fund alerts and cash flow projections.
OysterFinancial.com: Learn to interpret a credit report and what a banker’s remarks mean at this site, which gives companies a glimpse into what tenders see about you before applying for a loan.
Stamps.com: At this site, customers select a carrier, print postage and shipping labels, schedule a pickup, and track a package. With more than 200,000 customers, it was named by Forbes magazine in June to be the most promising and competitive stamp site on the web.
Verio.com: The largest Web hosting company in the world with 260,000
customer accounts, specializes in serving small and medium size businesses. It provides Web hosting services, electronic commerce capabilities, and secure Internet communication.
Vjungle.com: From Web building to Web hosting and file sharing, this company is another full-service Web integration firm that helps companies create sophisticated e-commerce sites.