Webmaster or Web Content Manager?

What is The Difference between a Webmaster and a Web Content Manager?

As our website world becomes more defined and refined in Web 2.0 there is a distinction that most organizations should start to consider and that is the difference between a Webmaster and a Web Content Manager.

Peter Beare, BeareWare Our content management systems have taken what was traditionally a one man (or women) technical operation and it has become a multi-skilled environment that now requires key marketing and sales focus within your website. Content Management Systems have started to allow us to streamline the process of managing the website as well as given us the ability to allocate the right person for the right job.

Wouldn’t they be the Same Person Anyway?

Not necessarily and pending the size of your organization they could be distinctly different people (even different organizations).  Traditionally there is no doubt that the webmaster was the all encompassing Web Guru in particularly in smaller organizations. The Webmaster would be the person creating (seeking) and managing the information content (words and pictures) and organization of a web site and also managed the computer server and technical programming aspects of a Website. The may have also been the person that designed and developed the website.

Sounds like the Webmaster is KING – why would you need anyone else?

That is a good question and one that I have seen answered with a new client recently. The client’s website was designed and developed and maintained by a very good “Webmaster” that would probably fit the description above to a tee. Everything in the website was accurate, each area designed clearly and descriptively, and each piece of software (3rd party software) interfacing with the website correctly. The website was in great working order….

SO WHAT’S WAS THE PROBLEM?

The problem was the website had little marketing consideration. The site assumed that if they linked to a 3rd party site the job was done. There was very little static content to update and no allowance for advertising and marketing campaigns. They key basis was the website was a working piece of software. The perception was there was no need to convince anyone of anything from a selling point of view. The bottom line was the website was a good functioning website working absolutely correctly but had very little marketing appeal. 

And I would bet there are 1000’s of websites which fall into this category. Was this a deliberate plan by the webmaster not to focus on marketing? Probably not – it most likely was the fact the webmasters skill set strongly matched the tasks described above – a technical background, helped build the website, setup the hosting account (or server), routed the domain name, added the user e-mails and then performs the task of updating content and information.  The webmaster probably had no background in marketing.

Webmasters Generally Have Strong Technical Skills (not Marketing Skills)

This is now becoming much clearer as companies go from the “direct” webmaster relationships to a Web Design/Hosting Company that now supports a Web Content Manager. The Web Content Manager is much more focused on the content information on the website and much more in-tune with the marketing of the organization. You can see by this brief description that it would always be very valuable to include the Web Content Manager in the actual web design process from day one. (So the site is focusing on marketing and sales in line with the technical decisions of the website.)

At the same time A Web Content Manager is still a very new position (and of course another piece of computer jargon to many mentally exhausted folks) – but the Web Content Manager is definitely the new kid on the block and every company large or small wants to develop, nurture and grow this position. Here are some of the tasks a web content manager will focus on (and develop knowledge of) when managing content. I have also include “Webmaster” comments to clarify role differences. These descriptions are from an upcoming Web Content Management Class that BeareWare offers to clients (and prospects).

Understanding Website Structure

To effectively manage your website you must have a base understanding of the structure of the website. This includes where the website actually resides, your domain name, the composition of your website (programs) and the actual structure that your website is made up. This includes learning the operations of your administration control panel and having a good understanding of your website support agreement.

** Your Webmaster will have a high technical understanding of website structure *** 

Managing Your Website Content

Managing your websites content starts with a strong understanding of what good content is and why it is so important for your website. Lets start with a look at each area of your website that contains “updatable” content and how to update your website. This includes learning how to update text, images, multi-media, and documents in static content and content management.

** Your Webmaster will not be involved (or have little involvement) in this process ***

Website Content Management, SEO &Web Analytics

Now that you have developed a good understanding of your website structure and have the steps involved in updating your website content. It is time to apply these principles to a permanent plan in website content management. This would include promoting good content management policies and techniques throughout the organization. A sound knowledge of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how content influences SEO results should be incorporated into a meaningful measuring system of your website (Web Analytics). Your website results should be clear, understandable and renewed often.

** Your Webmaster will help you with SEO – No content involvement **

Associated Website Products

A Web Content Manager should develop a strong understanding of all the Ad-On products Shopping Carts, Calendar, Photo Gallery, e-NEWS and 3rd party software such as Real Estate and Travel Planners. Knowing how to make sure your online shop is sparkling with great product pictures and correct pricing is a great example of good web content management. This area is way to often left in the hands of the Webmaster who cares about the software working – not necessarily whether a producing selling.

** Your Webmaster will support you in using any software tools. Their role would be to support your usage (and training) and ensuring the software programs are working. **

Advance Content Management

Advance Content Management includes developing strong skills for updating Static Content, New and Blog Content, Menu Items, Modules and Templates.  A good skill set should be developed for image management (and techniques), multi-media and document management as well as link management (internal and external to your website).

** Your Webmaster will generally not be involved in advance content management **

The Purpose Driven Website

Finally we focus on the overall management techniques of your website ranging from web content (sourcing) to web analytics, SEO, e-NEWS & Blogging. Establishing a full understanding of what content is most effective on your website, when you should link to other websites and when you should be building content. (and having a long term content plan).

** Your Webmaster will be a part of the team that makes your website successful but from a marketing point of view the Web Content Manager is going to bring home your bacon! **

I think the list above will start to really show a separation of skill sets and people. And no this was not a devious plan by computer people to double up on people working on your website and doubling up on your cost. In actual fact most of our clients have their Web Content Manager lurking within their organization – usually the marketing person.

And when you remove the webmaster from your monthly web management process your monthly fees become more hosting based and generally are reduced. Ultimately and more importantly you stop paying a technical company to assist you with marketing that is simply not a skill set and the company is generally not in the companies marketing flow. 

Even with our own company – BeareWare – we have gone from a company that managed all our clients websites 3 years ago to having 95% of our clients now using CMS systems and establishing (or have established) their own Web Content Manager. We still have plenty to do from a webmaster point of view and as a Web Design company we will always have a very strong marketing focus on all aspects of the website.

Helping a company achieve their desired results online is definitely a team effort. Relying on a technical webmaster (or a hosting company that is not involved in your day to day operations) to actually make key and decisive marketing and sales initiatives is more a pipe dream than a reality.

Great web content management really connects the client to their website. It is an exciting position and the reward for a company with a good web content manager can be tremendous.  So spending time understanding the difference between a webmaster and web content manager can start to direct your organization in really growing its brand online and obtaining the absolute best results from your website…

Cheers Mate,

Peter Beare – Webmaster
Interview with a Webmaster – Full Blog – Click Here

Peter Beare, BeareWarePeter Beare is CEO of BeareWare, a Website Design & Development Company located just outside of Nashville, Tennessee. Since building his first website for a local sports club in 1998 Peter has been a webmaster. Over the last 10 years Peter’s duties with BeareWare have included website planning, design and development, website marketing and sales, as well as database application programming & project management. But when all is said and done, Peter is still a webmaster and this is “Interview with a Webmaster“.


Peter Beare

CEO Peter Beare founded Bear Web Design in Nashville, Tennessee in 2000 and has been actively involved in web design & development, web content management & education, web hosting & support and more recently internet marketing. His experience gained by working with clients from the sales cycle to launching a new website to a overseeing a client’ s second generation redevelopment has given him a unique understanding and prospective of the internet and he now shares those experiences in his blog. Peter is a proud member of Lebanon Wilson Chamber of Commerce, Mt. Juliet Chamber of Commerce and Donelson-Hermitage Chamber of Commerce.

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Nashville, TN 37214
(615) 504-6845

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