|While the statistics may vary, one thing remains constant, more and more
black people are using the Internet regularly. According to a Commerce
Department study 23.5% of black households had Internet access as of August
2000 up from 11.2% in a 1999. That figure does not address the overwhelming
number of black people who also have access to the Internet through work or
school. The bottomline is if you want to share information or sell your goods
and services to black people; the Internet is one avenue that must be
included in your marketing portfolio. Indeed the relative anonymity and reach
of the Internet allows you access to global market. But if thoughts of "URL"
and "HTML" leave you frustrated and confused, Donya Douglas of BBC
Technologies says the new technology need not intimidate you, all you need is
the user friendly guidance her company provides.|
"Most of our clients are small to medium-sized businesses who know they need
an Internet presence but they typically don't know how to begin and where to
begin. That's where BBC Technologies come in. We offer a very comprehensive
and fairly priced program that begins with Internet training and
instruction," Douglas said. "We make sure our clients get an understanding of
the medium so that they can then make a reasoned decision about how useful it
can be for their type of business. Its important to us that each client
clearly understands the process because that is the only way we can design a
site that will meet their needs."
It is indeed a very hands-on process and Douglas is prepared to work very
closely with her clients through all stages of the project. "From our initial
meeting we encourage our clients to bring all their information and ideas to
the table, whether it's the colors to be used or a logo. Once we know how
much information we are working with we can then plan our design strategy,"
Douglas said. "And because most of our clients are working with a limited
budget, this open process works because we can then move ahead in stages the
client is comfortable with."
In addition to be very responsive to her clients needs, Douglas has a wealth
of knowledge and experience to draw on in creating these Internet-based
business environments. Unlike most web designers who come from a graphic
design background, Douglas has extensive technical skills and know-how. She
has a mechanical engineering degree; in fact she said she knew at the age of
10 that like her father, who was an electrical engineer, she too going to
become an engineer. But while she loved computer programming throughout
college, she would not be sidetracked from her career goal.
Once she started working at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in
Greenbelt, Md., Douglas had the opportunity to get into programming and she
really enjoyed it she said. And she was also very good at it because she even
developed a reputation within her branch -- if you had a programming question
more often than not she had already figured it out. From there she then got
keenly interested in web development and so she picked up some books on the
subject and did research on the web and taught herself the programming
language. One of her first projects was developing a knowledge capture
website for her branch. Two years ago she started BBC Technologies (named
after her three children with husband Keith - Blair, Brooks & Christopher).
While the mainstay of the business is web development today, Douglas expects
to move into other areas like training on various software programs that take
further advantage of her skills.
Douglas' vast technical know-how is an added benefit that most small business
owners treasure because she is then able to offer a wider range of services
free of charge. "I know computer programming, I know how to get out on the
web and find things and do things to enhance their site that they may not get
from someone who only knows graphic design," she explained. And even if you
already have a website, Douglas says with her knowledge she can go in and
offer enhancements that many other designers cannot.
"I actually write the codes, I know HTML. There are quite a few programs out
there like FrontPage and Dream Weavers where you basically lay out the pages
and drop the information in and it generates the code for you. But people
oftentimes run into trouble because when they want to add things to their
site many web designers cannot go in and edit the codes. So then they have to
find someone like me. Because I know programming I'm actually able to go in
look at someone's site that's been created by someone else and make the
adjustments or additions that they need." Douglas is also particularly good
at database management and e-commerce sites. And if you visit her website she provides links to sites the company has
But Douglas cautions that building a website is only the beginning. "Just
because you have a website doesn't mean that people are going to come to it,
that is why we also work with our clients to promote their site. We look for
different avenues to market your website to people and from there you get
your customer base," she said. "Even though the cost of maintaining a site is
relatively cheap compared to some other activities, if you are in business
you want your site to help generate income. The only way that will happen is
through effective marketing so that is a part of the package you get when you
have us design your site. We design, publish and promote your site."
Douglas admits that her greatest challenge now is time and putting a value on
her time. She gets so caught up in her projects that she looses track of
time. "I start working on a project and time gets away from me and I'll be up
at 2 or 3 O'clock in the morning at the computer. Really the biggest
challenge is putting a price on it because I do so much more for my clients
that I don't charge them for." But Douglas with not let that challenge quell
her passion for programming. "I love it, it's a whole lot of fun. And I
particularly love working from home."
If you have questions about the internet or simply want to learn more about
how your business can have an effective web presence contact BBC Technologies
by calling toll free 877-531-6589 or by visiting their website.