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  Website Administration



Webmaster and Website Administration Team: IT Responsibilities
(By Dino Borelli)

Large organisations such as Hospitals, Government Departments or Universities often run many web servers which store thousands of web pages for many clients with different needs. A dedicated Webmaster will often be found in organisations of this scale where there is a need to split web project roles amongst multiple people.

A typical team might consist of, or have access to, one or more of the following...
    * Web Architect
    * Programmer
    * System Administrator
    * Database Administrator
    * Content Administrators
    * HTML cutter
    * Project Manager
    * Graphic Designer
    * Trainer

and of course a Webmaster, who's role is discussed on these pages. Descriptions of the other team members follows..

The Web Architect role will probably be split amongst the others, or may be championed by one individual, but won't often be a dedicated role. This person will be interested in navigation around the site, may set standards for Meta Data and technical integrity but may not have a personal interest in the technology as such, more the effectivenes of the way it is delivered to the customer. Look and feel and conformance to corporate identity will be of interest to this person and they will often have dealings with management, and/or pubic relations groups within an organisation.

The System Administrator (Sys-Admin) is probably looking after dozens of servers other than yours. In fact he may have to clear old keyboards and 19" rack bits to actually find your dusty old web server. He probably looks after backups for your machine and rolls his eyes when you need something restored. Changes to the root password may happen at his fingertips, followed by a knock on your door to whisper the new one. Upgrades to the Hardware or Software are probably his domain and he probably proceeses IP traffic in and out of the boxes at the end of the month. The Sys-Admin is your friend. Do not annoy this person!!!

The Programmer may be from a development team elsewhere in the organisation. They may be recruited to develop system utilities or modify scripts or code left by former staff. The programmer probably plays a lot of 1st person shoot-em-ups and only gets excited about the web when you mention words like Java or Perl. They may not care at all for Markup Languages, unless they're object oriented of course.

The DBA or Database Administrator speaks one languge and it's name is SQL <%= glossSQL %>. This person looks after structure, security, archival and integrity of the corporate databases. It is this person you will probably deal with any time you need to write a web application or tool to access, or update the halloed ground of corporate data. The salary a DBA receives, although initially shocking, is nothing compared to the cost of the Database software and its licensing and support fees. A DBA will frown any time you use the words 'Web' and 'Data' in the same sentence because HTML is not structured to a DBA, it doesn't count. A DBA will also treat you with suspiscion anytime you mention "MySQL".

The Content Administrator is kind of like a Chief Editor for a portion of the web site and there may be many of these in a large organisation. They may publish content themselves, but will also help others in their department to look after their own web pages. This may only be a small part of their normal job, so depending on how much time they can dedicate to the role, they may also be interested in checking conformance to standards set by the Web Architect/s before documents are published. This person might have a background as a Librarian or researcher and will probably enjoy ploughing through Web log reports.

The Project Manager is the person who acts as a firewall between the web team and the client. This person may or may not come from a web or design background and may possibly come from a more generic management background. The project manager is one rung down on the food-chain below the pointy-haired boss and probably signs your timesheets for certain tasks, Treat the project manager with the same caution that the sys-admin receives.

Graphic Designer. According to A List Apart, Usability Designers are from Mars, Graphic designers are from Venus.

The HTML Cutter might be someone who takes content supplied by authors <%= glossAuthor %> and marks the text up into HTML to whatver specification or layout is required. The role could be shared with others in a team on occasion, or may be something contracted out or performed by the Authors themselves. The Webmaster may need to bash out HTML for user guides, or to help clients who may lack the knowledge of HTML to finish or fix some part of the website. This sort of role however can be a major distraction from other tasks and roles that a Webmaster could apply oneself. HTML cutting should be a position easily filled by contractors, part-timers, or enthusiasts with some time on their hands.

Source/Author: Dino Borelli at
(Minor content updates by Eric Gondwe)

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