Or a lawyer, or plumber or electrician, you can sometimes get away with doing it yourself.

But not always.

That’s why the Dr. Phil show always runs a line in the closing credits that says this show “is for informational and entertainment purposes only and is not intended to replace or substitute for any professional financial, medical, legal, or other advice.”

There’s nothing wrong with doing it yourself when the task doesn’t require any special knowledge beyond common sense. Get a scraped knee. Put a bandaid on it. Sometimes you can pour a little Drain-O down the sink and get by. (Better yet, fill the drain with a box of baking soda and then pour a bottle of vinegar in. But that’s a story for another post.)

A scraped knee is one thing. A broken knee is another. A clogged sink drain is one thing. A burst pipe is another.

Here’s the thing. When you have a totally buggered knee, you don’t go to a website looking for instructions for how to do knee surgery at home. It seems ludicrous to leave a message on a surgeon’s website asking them to “please give me step by step instructions for operating on my own knee.” Or, “Please teach me everything I need to know in order to set up shop as a knee surgeon, and by the way, I’m on a very restricted budget, so I’m not going to pay you, but please help me because my knee hurts so bad I can hardly walk.”

I suppose it happens. It probably happens more often to plumbers than doctors. I’m not a doctor or a plumber, so I don’t really know.

I do know it happens frequently with web sites.

Take this request I got earlier this week, for example:

I would like to clean up the source code on a Responsive Design website that exists and get rid of any unnecessary CSS or JS. Would also require you to teach me why you would strip something and I would do it myself. No FTP access would be permitted and would strictly be hired for me to be trained on this one design to utilize over and over again for more clients, if I ever get any.

Let’s hope, for her prospective clients’ sake, she never gets any. In the same request:

Extensive CSS needs to be EASY not extensive. As you will see, mine are too extensive and a lot of styles are not needed, but I delete them and the website breaks….hence, needing someone experienced at this.

I know nothing about PHP coding, so this is all HTML; however, I am converting a php client to responsive design which includes a database, so would like you to be experienced with such things as a go-to person for my every need in the future when I start back on finishing up their pages. It is a non-profit ministry that I do not charge any fees, so it can’t be one of these high dollar programmers.

(Hint: if you delete something and the website breaks, you probably did need it, even if you don’t understand why.)

Even when you’re a non-profit ministry, you’re not exempt from “you get what you pay for.” God help the “php client” she’s “converting to responsive design.”

You can launch a website yourself without knowing anything about code. It’s like buying a car without knowing anything about how it works.  You can buy it, and you can drive it, and most of the time it’ll work fine for what it was designed to do.

Just don’t put up a Ford Pinto website and then want to “customize” it to drive like a Cadillac Seville, and to make all the modifications yourself when you don’t even know how to change the oil.

If you know any “low-dollar” mechanics who do Pinto-to-Cadillac upgrades you should probably keep your Pinto away from them if you still want to be able to drive it when they’re done working on it.