Teach a man to fish – Web & Digital Training

Paul Boag

As web professionals we focus too heavily on delivery and not enough on knowledge transfer.

Take a moment to think about the services you offer. Design, development, front end coding, strategy, content creation, the list goes on. People come to you because you have the ability to deliver something that they cannot. This is either because they lack the time or because they lack the skills they need to do it themselves.

This is how business works. You sell something that you have and somebody else wants. However, in doing so you hold something back. You hold back the knowledge of how you do what you do.

This makes the client reliant on you to deliver next time and the time after that.

Stop holding back knowledge

Some clients are happy with this arrangement. They are too busy to do the task themselves and so have no desire to learn. However, other clients want to understand the processes behind what you do. They understand that digital is crucial to their business and so do not want to remain reliant on outside suppliers forever.

These organisations end up hiring web professionals as much to learn from them as to see a final deliverable at the end of the process. For them the process is about knowledge transfer as well as delivery.

There are also organisations who already have some in-house web professionals who they wish to see better equipped. For them hiring an outside expert is almost entirely about providing their team the skills they need to deliver themselves.

With all of this in mind, I find it interesting that most web agencies and freelancers still focus largely on delivery and not on knowledge transfer. At Headscape we take a different approach.

For us there are three levels of service we offer:

  • Delivery. For example; build a website, write a strategy or help hire an internal web team.
  • Education through delivery. Delivering a website, but working in close collaboration with the client ensuring they learn through the experience.
  • Pure education. Run workshops that equip clients to go away and produce the deliverable themselves.

The most effective I find, is the education through delivery option. However, this is also the most expensive. This is because the client carries the cost of delivering as well as additional time to ensure they understand what we have done and why.

Sometimes this involves adhoc education as the project is progressing, while other times it involves more formalised workshops or presentations at key points during the project.

What we should be teaching

Don’t get me wrong, most of the education you could be doing is not about the logistics of how to build a site (although some clients are interested in that). However, there are a whole range of subjects you could be teaching. Here are just some of subjects we teach at Headscape:

  • Writing for the web
  • Creating a content strategy
  • Managing social media
  • Establishing a digital roadmap
  • Building a digital team
  • Forming your digital brand
  • How to monitor and iterate
  • Running effective usability testing
  • Working agile
  • Beginners guide to wireframing and Information architecture
  • Using pattern libraries
  • Front end development best practice
  • Introducing multimedia to your site
  • Fostering a community
  • Accessibility 101
  • Collaborative design

To be honest the list could go on. I passionately believe that our job as web professionals should be as much to educate as deliver. I believe we have an obligation to teach our clients how to better use digital and not just deliver shiny websites.

As the old proverb goes…

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.