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Job Profile of a Webmaster

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The last career path discussed in the Internet Technology field is the role of the Webmaster (also known as Web administrator).The term Webmaster is as old as the Internet itself. It was originally given to individuals who could perform the entire gamut of tasks related to delivery of content over the Web. These tasks included Web development, site design, e-commerce integration, and Web server administration. Because of the rapid expanse of Web technologies, it is not only difficult to find such an individual nowadays, but also is not very desirable for large corporations.

Therefore, for the purposes of this article, let's focus on the Webmaster role as being that of the person responsible for maintaining the computers on which a Web site is hosted. Like any other position, job roles may vary a bit, depending on the company for which you work, but generally, a Webmaster maintains, structures, and authors various core Web pages, implements design, monitors the presence of a business s site, and acts as a focal point for communication.

For the most part, as a Webmaster, you may be given an updated page from the Web development team to post onto the Web site. This is a very common task performed by a Webmaster. Oftentimes, however, a Webmaster is a jack-of-all-trades and a master of a couple. This can make the nature of the position a bit like a digital fireman-chasing down and solving a wide variety of challenges. For example, a problem can arise from server-based difficulties where, perhaps, a poorly authored piece of code causes the processor on the Web server to become overloaded and subsequently users are unable to connect to the Web site There may also be situations where you may find yourself performing emergency repairs on a site that is not functioning properly as a result of poorly written code. Therefore, the ability to quickly shift from one problem situation to another and still maintain a good attitude towards resolving the problem is essential.

Daily Tasks

Many of the daily tasks of a Web administrator are closely related to those of a local area network (LAN) administrator. Therefore, not only is a solid knowledge of Web design and authoring necessary, but also a strong background in Internet hardware technology. Web administrators are often called upon to put out fires related to server hardware, Web page content, and security breaches. This combination of skills makes a seasoned Web administrator very desirable in today's job market and guarantees that there will never be a dull moment.The following list contains some daily tasks that a Webmaster might expect to encounter:
  • Administer /Maintain Web server-This duty includes a variety of tasks ranging from making sure the Web server is functioning properly to updating hardware and software.

  • Backup Web site content-A critical task is the backing up all of the files that make up the various sites being hosted on the Web server.There are many options available to accomplish this, and it is up to you to know which options best suit your needs and how to use them.

  • Generate Web site statistics reports-Many Web server packages and some third-party programs generate a slew of information that relates to how site visitors use your site. This can be of particular importance when deciding what areas of a site need frequent updating and how valuable the space is on popular areas.

  • Troubleslwot hardware related challenges-The unfortunate nature of computers is that, like any other mechanical device, they break down. Fortunately, they usually don't pose a physical threat, such as a wheel falling off a car going 60 mph on the freeway. But a nonfunctioning server can cost a large corporation millions of dollars an hour in lost revenue. It is critical that you have the ability to solve these problems quickly and as seamlessly as possible.

  • Update security patches/software-Like many areas of IT, there will always be the threat of outside persons attacking your site for the purposes of disrupting your business. Your most basic line of defense is to incorporate a solid security plan to protect your site. This includes firewalls, antivirus software, and logging the traffic to your site. These solutions, however, require a modicum of administration to keep them up-to-date with the latest patches and updates.

  • Research/Evaluate new Web hardware and software-Perhaps one of the more enjoyable aspects ofWeb administration is keeping yourself up-to-date on the latest and greatest technologies available to you. The less enjoyable aspect is creating proposals and justifications for your client or management team as to why you feel that your company would benefit from these advancements.

  • Add/Remove user accounts-Not all content available on a Web site or intranet site is publicly available. Controlling who has access to these areas usually involves creating user accounts for each individual and assigning permissions to these accounts to access private areas.
Qualifications and Requirements for a Webmaster

The fundamental qualifications for a Webmaster involve being skilled in the areas of Web development, network administration, and PC technician.You will need to know how Web content is generated in order to update and maintain it. In addition, you will need to know how to troubleshoot any network connectivity issues, especially if you are administering an intranet. An intranet is like a miniature WWW that is created for private use in a company. Creating an intranet is accomplished by adding a Web server to the company's network, creating a series of content pages, and adding functionality for the employees of the corporation-a large task that can invite many challenges.

You will also have to troubleshoot and replace any failed hardware in the Web server itself. Problems can range from hard drive crashes to a complete system failure of the Web server.

Knowledge in Microsoft IIS 4.0 and Apache are essential in that they are the two most commonly used Web servers. Certification for both IIS and Apache are available and listed below. Because site designers are expected to be able to perform many of the similar job requirements of a Web developer, many of the training and certification option outlined earlier still apply for site designers.
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