OK, all you training folks out there: How many of you train staff on how to manage your Web sites? Do I see any hands, or tentative fingers, going up? Not sure? Let's break it down a bit. You're probably wondering what the heck Web site management training is, anyway. Is it the latest craze in technology training? Or is it just something that Scott made up?
I confess that I do get accused of making things up all the time ... and one of the big ones is the expression "Training (or rather, the lack of) is the root of all evil." I know, I know, when you're an A: drive, everything looks like a floppy disk to you. (I made that one up too.) However, training is my life and my love--metaphorically speaking, of course. I think it was B. F. Skinner who said, "Education is what's left after you've forgotten everything else." And I say, "Training is what you need when education doesn't help you figure out the technology."
But, believe it or not, there is something to training and this whole Web site management "thing." Whether or not you should do training on it depends on the circumstances of your situation, obviously, but there are a couple of things to think about that can help promote good overall site management. For instance, if you have only one person managing all the files and doing all the Web publishing, you need quick and easy ways to identify when and which content needs to be updated. Or, if you have multiple levels of teams doing various Web activities, you need shared processes and structure to keep everything straight.
Just How Important Is Good Web Site Management?
Web site management, as noted by the various articles in this month's issue, involves many different aspects of organizing, troubleshooting, and maintaining software and hardware ("herding cats," some people say). It can range from upgrading and installing operating systems, to developing a search engine or Web form for your site, to doing usability and design studies.
Here are some of the many (and interesting) things Web site management may entail:
* setting up servers for new applications and services
* configuring workstations and associated hardware in different setups
* establishing accounts, directories! folders, and file-naming schemes
* organizing site(s) and designing end-user navigation
* developing overall design, theme, "look and feel," etc.
* installing or upgrading applications and ensuring that they work with older systems
* importing/exporting files and/or converting them to work with new systems
* troubleshooting to identify and resolve problems when applications don't work
* figuring out why things break and fixing them a second or third time
* installing patches to fix bugs (or reinstalling software after crashes)
* making changes to comply with new requirements or standards
* maintaining and manipulating log files for statistics
* constantly verifying that links are good; updating content
* performing usability tests or user satisfaction surveys
* and, of course, "other duties as assigned ..." (including backups!)
And why is Web management so important? It's just the transportation, right? The car or the truck isn't the important thing; it's the people or goods inside that really count. But imagine your morning commute if there were no standards, no rules, no organization. Things would get pretty messy fairly quickly. The underlying structure behind a well-managed Web site can make just about all the difference in the world. How can training help?
The One-Woman/Man Show
When it's just one person, where does the systems administrator get her or his training--studying UNIX manuals, perusing Usenet posts, or subscribing to list-servs? We'd like to think that Web site organization is an intrinsic quality of librarians, but it's just not so. …