Where Do Webmasters Come From?
Your choice of a Webmaster is important. This Newsletter outlines some issues for you to consider. As the Web increases in importance as a promotional and communications method, your site will become ever more important to your business, and your choice of Webmaster, by affecting the effectiveness of your site, can have major impact on your success.
A large organization gives the Web site job to their advertising or public relations provider, who has a staff that brings together a lot of disciplines to develop the site. They spend a lot of money with a company that typically has high costs, but as you can see from a lot of very effective large sites, they can get effective sites as a result.
For a smaller organization that doesn’t have a single agency supplying them a wide variety of advertising and related services, when the Web site is to be constructed, someone to do it must be identified. If the company doesn’t have this discipline in-house, then an outsider must be found. What sort of qualifications should a Webmaster have?
Often Webmasters come from an artistic background. They can make something that is beautiful that has wonderful colors and form. But they often see the site as graphic design, rather than as a communications vehicle, so their designs can be lovely not help the communication or even get in the way of it. And the artists sometimes may not be as sensitive as we might like to the idea that the words on the site convey the most important part of its meaning.
Other Webmasters come from a programming background. They are even less interested in the communcation aspects of the site, and their designs don’t look as nice as the graphics people, either. They see the site as something that does complex operations, and they are likely to have doing complicated things–potentially very well. You need one of these people if your site is likely to be very complex, collecting and providing data in many ways, or you plan on extremely elaborate graphics.
Today we are starting to see Webmasters who have an educational background in Web design, who understand a Web site as a communication vehicle, and can design it that way from the beginning. That’s the ideal background for you to seek. The generalist who can do enough graphics and enough programming, but who really understands how information can be presented so that visitors can understand it and be persuaded to act. There are also small companies that can bring together several different people to give you this sort of blended expertise. But you’re better off with a single person who understands the site as a communication vehicle.
If you’ve followed my advice and your site is being developed using Joomla, then you’ll be able to have it set up so that you can change content yourself, and you should. There’s no reason to pay a Webmaster, or wait for her to get around to your work, just to change a few sentences. The search engines will give you higher position if you change your content regularly; they want to dish up fresh content for their own customers. If you can change the site’s content yourself, you save the cost of a Webmaster’s time to do the work, but more important, you make it easy to change content–whoever in your organization knows the content simply makes the change. And it’s done.
You can do a Google search to find Webmasters in your area who specialize in Joomla. There are plenty of them, including small companies that do excellent work. Because of the nature of the product, firms that use Joomla tend to not try to milk their customers for all sorts of maintenance, since the customers can do it themselves and generally know it.
Visit your Webmaster, see examples of sites that she has developed, call the site owners and find out how satisfied they were with the relationship as the site was developed. And find out how much they paid.
Nothing is forever, not even your Webmaster, so engage her with that in mind. Be sure that you’ve registered your domain name or names yourself, so that your Webmaster can’t hold your domain hostage if there’s a dispute. If Joomla is used to develop the site, then all of the development information is on the site. Another Webmaster can take over without redeveloping or even rehosting the site.
As a precaution against a lot of problems that can occur with Web hosting and all the rest of the players, have someone in your own organization make a backup of the entire site on your own computers at least once a month. It’s a simple FTP job that’s not hard to do once it’s been done the first time, and that extra backup will protect you against all sorts of problems that can arise.
The Bottom Line
Choose a Webmaster who is a generalist who does graphics as well as programming, but most important, who writes well and understands that Web sites are for communication. And look for a Webmaster who prefers to use Joomla.