Back in the days, in the early 90s with the growth and expansion of the World Wide Web, webmasters came into play. The webmaster was responsible for all aspects related to a website.
At that time, web technology was at its beginning and websites were not so complex. With HTML/CSS, some PHP, and a little server knowledge, one person could handle the tasks to create and maintain one or more websites.
But the technology evolved fast and websites became more and more complex. The web development evolved from static pages to dynamic websites; from hand-coding to WYSIWYG editors, and then to CMS platforms.
As for one person to handle all the tasks required in the process to create, promote, optimize, maintain complex websites and keep up with the rapidly changing Internet technologies, some webmasters teamed up.
What is a webmaster?
A webmaster is a skilled person responsible for the creation and maintenance of one or more websites. A webmaster acts as a website manager and completes all the required duties to keep the website operational.
From website design, website development, content creation, domain name registration to website maintenance, fixing and improving the website code, a webmaster uses his development and administrative skills to design and maintain functional and operational websites for businesses.
A webmaster is one professional taking care of a wide range of tasks covering all aspects of a website: development, design, maintenance, optimization, and everything related to a website.
Do webmasters still exist?
Even though web technology has evolved and everything around the web is changing, webmasters still exist, evolve, and adapt to new web standards.
There are individual webmasters or teams of webmasters, they can be site owners or employed webmasters … and for each of them, the responsibilities may differ depending on the requirements of the project.
Webmasters are still webmasters – they know it and are proud of it. A forum discussion between webmasters (2020!): WebmasterWorld.com.
Recommended reading: What Happened to the Webmaster.
Webmaster as a job title
Due to the increased complexity of modern websites, the duties of a webmaster are spread among several specific roles like web designer, front-end developer, back-end developer, UI designer, UX designer, server administrator, SEO specialist, content manager, database administrator, online marketer, blogger and so on.
Nowadays, in many cases, the roles of a webmaster are limited to the maintenance and administration of the sites. Depending on the project requirements or the complexity of the site, a webmaster can work alone or with a team of web professionals.
In companies, some roles assigned to a webmaster can be:
- design the website, or supervise web designers and programmers
- register and maintain the website’s domain name
- monitor and improve the performance of a website
- plan future growth and development of the website
Recommended reading: Webmaster Job Description, Career as a Webmaster, Salary, Employment.
What does a webmaster do?
We know now some of the webmaster’s roles in a company. But is that all? Let’s dive deeper into what webmasters are doing…
By definition, besides website maintenance and administration, webmasters can be skilled and have knowledge in many other web-related fields. This knowledge may differ depending on the needs of the project, website, or job requirements.
Just image a site owner who made the website by itself, hosted it, registered it in search engines, promoted it, and puts the content on his own. Or imagine an employee who made the company’s website and takes care of it from all points of view. In both cases, there is no better definition than “webmaster”.
In a company, in which the webmaster deals with a team of professionals, he must have knowledge in each of their fields.
Actually, the knowledge of a webmaster can be very vast, in some cases even overwhelming.
“The goal of a webmaster is to design, implement, and maintain an effective World Wide Web site. To achieve this, a webmaster must possess knowledge of fields as diverse as network configuration, interface and graphic design, software development, business strategy, writing, marketing, and project management.” ( Source: TheFreeLibrary.com )
What skills do webmasters need?
Even if the roles of a webmaster have diminished, the job of a webmaster still requires a wide range of skills and abilities. Here are some of the most essential skills that come in handy to know:
Content Management Systems
A Content Management System (CMS) is a web platform that lets you create a website and manage the website content easily. With a CMS you can manage the structure of the site, the navigation, categories, the layout of the pages. The most popular and most used CMS is WordPress. Other popular CMS options would be Joomla and Drupal.
Technical SEO and Marketing
One of the most important things is to drive traffic to the website. Here is where Search Engine Optimization (SEO) comes into play. At this point, you would need to know on-site and off-site optimization, working with Google Analytics and Google Search Console, keyword research, analyzing competitive websites, promoting on social media.
A webmaster needs to be familiar with the website’s content goals to properly manage them. Writing skills and content strategy are also good to have, as the content is the most important for SEO.
Purchasing a domain name, setting up the web hosting, creating emails, FTP accounts, uploading the website, and making backups are also important skills for a webmaster.
In an organization, the webmaster works with many different people. The ability to communicate well with the team, coworkers, and customers is an important skill for any webmaster.
The purpose of this post
The purpose of web-root.net is to put together services, tools, and learning resources for web professionals, programmers, and online entrepreneurs.
With this post we were about to use the term “webmaster” for a comprehensive definition of all web skills and web-related tasks.
But because for some the term “webmaster” is a bit outdated (and sounds like “Merlin” or “Wizard of Oz”) and by its definition does not cover all web masteries, we will use the term “web professionals” to refer to everyone who masters one or more web skills.