As the SBDC’s technology expert, Jennie Johns assists clients with website, email service and other technology issues. She also runs the SBDC program that matches Harper College web programming students with small business owners who need help building a website.
What do you specialize in at the SBDC?
I mainly work with clients on website development, including the functionality, design and user experience. When our clients are matched with a student developer, I oversee the project. We help clients through the entire process of designing and building current, impactful websites.
How does your experience benefit your clients?
I have over 20 years of programming experience in the web development field and almost 10 years of experience teaching website usability and programming. I understand the challenges that small business owners face when it comes to building and maintaining a website, and I can help them work through the creation, deployment and ongoing maintenance.
What’s a common misconception small business owners have about web development?
A lot of people think they can just hire someone to quickly build a website for them. They don’t realize how much time and effort will be needed from their end. Before you can even get started on designing and programming, you need to take time to think about the audience and develop meaningful content.
Do you have a piece of advice for someone who is interested in building a website?
Focus on your content. Copy should be short and easy to scan, but it also needs to be thoughtful and precise, and it should have a story-like quality.
Why do you like working with small business owners at the SBDC?
I love coming to work at the SBDC. It’s fun to meet new clients and hear about the unique and interesting businesses they are starting. Their hope and energy is inspiring, and it’s rewarding to help them fulfill their dreams. I feel very fortunate to be a consultant with the SBDC and to be able to provide this free service.
How should clients prepare to get the most out of your advising sessions?
Spend some time looking through other websites, including your competitors’ sites. Also, bring the URLs of sites you like and don’t like so we can get a sense for your design preferences. Also, bring a list of questions. Thinking through what you want to get of the session can make it more productive.