Web Site Management: Where Have All the Webmasters Gone?

Article excerpt

Thinking that I alone am the "master" of anything other than my dogs (on a good day) or entertaining the idea of me mastering very large Web sites and associated services is ludicrous.

In the early 1990s, the role of Webmaster generally encapsulated all things Web. The title was unique and somewhat mysterious. Had any of us ever heard of anyone with "master" at the end of their title? Plus, what were we the master of, anyway? It sounded more like a Dungeons & Dragons character than a legitimate title. I remember quite vividly being introduced as the Webmaster. The introduction was received with perplexed silence as the person tried to assess whether I was, in fact, serious. Too often, introductions were met with "Web what?"

But over time, the title grew beyond just a small group of IT hobbits. Those of us who actively worked in the role were proud to bear its name and all things included in it. I remember once debating a colleague who, as the administrator of our single Web server, suggested we both be called Webmaster since we each played a role in managing the site. At the time this seemed utter nonsense. Surely the person who developed and managed the Web pages was the only one who could legitimately be called the Webmaster. Little did I know. Even then, the role of Webmaster was expanding. The title itself was actually better-suited for a team rather than one somewhat-shortsighted individual.

Today the role of Webmaster can be ambiguous, especially for very large Web sites that run smoothly only because of the participation of many individuals, including content coordinators, server administrators, writers, and editors. While I carry the Webmaster moniker, I consider it more symbolic than anything else. To me, it says simply, "The buck stops here." Thinking that I alone am the "master" of anything other than my dogs (on a good day) or entertaining the idea of me mastering very large Web sites and associated services is ludicrous.

As Internet and, specifically, Web technology have evolved, so too have the roles and responsibilities of those who work within these mediums. While some of the job titles remain virtually the same, such as business analyst, Web technology has spawned new jobs that didn't exist before. No doubt this is analogous to the boom of jobs following the launch of radio and television. The following is a list of some of the core positions required for any strong Web team, along with several of the more unique positions that are gaining prominence within the Web development process.

WEB MANAGEMENT

Similar to Web technology becoming mainstream within IT, Web management roles have evolved to earn a spot at the table within most senior and executive management teams. Those in Web management roles are generally responsible for developing and operationalizing the organization's Web strategy and ensuring the Web strategy is in alignment with the overall business strategy. The following are just a few of the job titles in use today in the area of Web management:

Web Operations Manager/Director: Responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Web site and related services, including oversight of the overall Web strategy, staff, and budget. This position is responsible and accountable for the design, development, implementation, and maintenance of the organizational Web site(s). This position works closely with customers, colleagues, and other stakeholders to identify and maximize opportunities to utilize Web-based technologies to improve business processes and support critical business strategies, provide information access, promote the strategic use of information technology, and enable the workforce to use Web-based technologies and new media applications. This position provides organizational leadership, vision, and direction for Web-based activities, ensuring support of the organization's mission. If the Webmaster title is used at all, it is often this person who bears the name. …