I was recently asked if I could meet with a company’s webmaster to help them troubleshoot an issue with their backup process. My meeting was yesterday.
It lasted 6 minutes and I left feeling very troubled. I don’t know the reasoning behind why this business hired this “webmaster”. What worries me is their webmaster isn’t a webmaster, they’re not a web developer or an expert WordPress website implementer either, they are a novice WordPress website implementer only. So what’s the difference and why should you care?
I’m so glad you asked! Let me explain. (I’ll try to stay off my soapbox.)
With today’s technology, anyone with enough tech-savvy to understand the tools can create a beautiful website. That could be you! Unlike the pretty girl at the end of the bar, a pretty website won’t attract or keep any web traffic unless it has all the right stuff. Search engines, bots and web crawlers are blind, all they read is source code. Beauty means nothing to them.
A website implementer is anyone who uses WordPress or another Content Management Systems (CMS) such as Squarespace or Wix to create and publish a website.
I’m not dissing website implementers, the tools are awesome and are meant for people without coding skills. Many websites are published this way, but if you want your business website to perform and really work for you – you need more.
There’s a spectrum of website implementers ranging from Novice to Expert.
If you are creating your website yourself or know someone who is doing it for free, kudos to you for taking on the challenge! This is a great way to get started. This is the perfect space for being a novice and learning.
If you’re hiring someone to implement your website and/or are an established business looking to grow beyond your current website, make sure who you hire is an expert in the tool they are using and possesses webmaster skills.
Otherwise, you probably won’t see a return on your investment and you’ll be stuck holding the bag a few months down the road when there’s a problem or your website needs changing.
The title website developer is often used interchangeably for website implementers but in reality, there’s a big difference.
A website developer is anyone who writes code to create a website from scratch OR a feature, function or tool for website implementers to use.
Rates for website developers are higher than those of website implementers because of the technical skills required to do the work.
For many small business websites, a true website developer is overkill for their website needs. If you choose to go this route however, make sure they too possess webmaster skills.
So what is a webmaster?
A webmaster is responsible for everything related to a website. Their job is to ensure your website and its infrastructure are operating effectively and efficiently.
If you look at webmaster job descriptions, most indicate they need someone who is detailed-oriented and can balance creativity with analytic thinking. In addition, they need to have strong technical skills and excellent communication skills. Responsibilities include:
- Build functional and easy-to-use websites; work with designers to create designs & marketers to establish desired conversions
- Ensure site security
- Optimize website performance
- Fix problems & fight fires
- Manage & update website content; review SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
- Monitor & analyze site metrics
So what qualifies me to write this post? I’m all three.
- I focus on implementing WordPress websites and am an expert WordPress website implementer.
- I write code when needed and have a technical, programming background (website developer).
- Putting it all together to make something great for someone – well that’s my jam. One of my talents is bridging the gap between the technical world and the business/marketing world. I love being a webmaster.
Going back to my meeting, I thought I was helping another webmaster figure out an issue. Turns out I was educating a novice website implementer on how to backup a WordPress website. They didn’t know. (They didn’t sound like they even Googled it.)
I helped. I told them what I would do if I were in their shoes because I would hate to see anyone lose their website investment. In parting, the other “webmaster” admitted to their limited experience with WordPress and asked a few other questions no WordPress expert or webmaster would need to ask.
I’ve been cringing thinking about the exchange since. I’m not sure I’ve picked my jaw up off the floor yet. I believe this “webmaster” has their client’s best interest at heart and is trying to learn, however, their skills are still limited to a novice WordPress website implementer and I fear all they’ve actually done is create a pretty website.
I hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think so. The pretty girl at the end of the bar is going to generate a lot more interest than this website will generate traffic.