Some of us are not like the others

If your schooling was completed before the mid-1980s, and you were not one of the rocket-science bound, humanoid-super-nerd types, computers were something that occurred only in science fiction movies, along with spaceships and aliens. There now exists a clear line of demarcation: A) a large group of folks that had smallpox vaccinations and didn’t go to school with computers; and B) those that sport no little round scar and did. What seems completely natural and effortless to the “digital native”, a term coined by U.S. author Marc Prensky in 2001, is Greek to the digital immigrant, i.e., the rest of us.

Apple Macintosh

I noticed this inequity early in my career. I was tasked with teaching our office manager how to use MacWord, a word processing program designed for use on the early Macintosh. This woman was a genius on a typewriter, but no matter how many times I explained to her she already possessed the skills to type circles around me, I could not convince her she could easily do this. The minute we sat down in front of the little box, I could see her shoulders start lifting and feel the tension oozing from her pores like heat off a radiator.

I was a fine arts major who, by a number of random twists of fate, became computer fluent by focusing on graphic art and online presentations. I was alone in my group of creatives. Many of them asked me if they should be concerned about not being computer literate in their profession. I assured my painter friends that they need not worry. Folks will always want a canvas hand-painted by a master, and I believe that to this day.

But now, some 15 years after I worked on my first website, websites are a virtual (no pun intended) necessity. What I see in assisting clients with websites is often similar to the poor typist I assisted in the ’80s. When looking to secure a website for their business or personal use, they feel like I did when I was a non-mechanical single woman and took my car to the mechanic. The words sound like the Peanuts cartoon adult-speak. You hear talking but haven’t a clue what it means.

Don’t fear the developer

Digital immigrants need not fear the developer. There are plenty of avenues to learn about how the web works and it’s all out there, on the web. Much of the information you can find is free. There is a vast community of knowledge and plenty of folks who enjoy lending a hand.

There are plenty of good resources for acquiring a website. There are free solutions through Blogger.com and WordPress.com, and there are plenty of reputable designers as well. If you want to hire a developer, the most important thing is open communication. I think this is key and is a matter of doing your ground work and discovering a developer you can feel comfortable with. They should listen carefully and explain to you in a way you understand. If you feel you are being pushed and are picking up lots of “attitude”, by all means, move along. Remember that your website is just that: YOUR website. The best web team in the world can’t do a good job for you without your knowledge. They are not experts in your field, so if they aren’t getting lots of information and input from you, I can’t imagine you’ll get what you need.

Deluxe Interactive Services, a crew of digital immigrants, might be a good choice if you are feeling out of your element. We are digital immigrants ourselves, but fluent in the language. We like the idea of helping out a fellow immigrant in need, so give us a call and we will help you along. Our hope is that our relationship with you will result in a step toward your being fluent as well.

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