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Basic Webmaster Skills

what would you have wanted to know just starting out?



6:53 pm on Jun 6, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I want to start a brainstorming session for WmW readers to come up with some topics they would have liked to know when first starting out as a webmaster.

What did you wish you knew starting out?

What are the four or five basic skills/areas of knowledge every webmaster should know starting out?

What basic info do you want to know now to expand your skills?

Any other topics that would be useful for a beginner.

This thread is meant to compile a list of ideas. We can hash out the ideas in other starter threads in the next few weeks.


5:22 pm on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Great ideas, thank you. I will compile them and work out a strategy. More ideas welcome.


6:17 pm on Jun 7, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member tedster is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

I wish someone had started me with a rigorous code approach to HTML from day one - instead of a cookbook style, "make it look the way you want, any way you can."

The first time I hit the W3C website was like the scales fell from my eyes.


12:22 am on Jun 9, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member heini is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

Not an exact topic here, more to the spirit of what tedster said: some basic prescriptions of what to avoid.
Guidelines on coding including a list of the worst mistakes.
Similar regarding promotion.

Reminds me: perhaps we should move the classic Thou shalt not thread over here?


1:37 pm on Jun 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

I wish I knew all the *nix tools & commands which I use today.

I wish I had knowledge of good site structure and page design.

Now days I want to know more about Microsoft based products because I've spent 90% time working with *nix based toys. When I started using places like WMW I realized it might be important to build knowledge in other major areas of systems and software.

5 basic areas of knowledge:
Understanding of programming and software
Understanding of basic networking
Site Design
Web research techniques(Use of search engines)
Proper use of grammar


8:59 pm on Jun 10, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

I wish someone had told me:
"If you want to run a database driven site (especially an ecommerce one) then you'd better get a dedicated server... shop around."
"Install your favorite OS/Webserver (which should of course be RedHat Linux/Apache ;)) software on your home machine so you can develop at home and get more familiar with everything."

nonprof webguy

3:09 am on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Great thread. One of the fun things about webmastering, I think, is that one has to know just enough about a vast number of things, and there's always more to learn -- and re-learn. But in addition to all the good proposals made already, I want to add two things I wished I knew more about early-on:

1. how to manage the uniquely iterative design and development process of web sites when working with a client -- whether it's one person, a task force, or an entire organization. Web sites are not like other product or design work in that the development process never ends. There is no end product, but rather a process that must allow for continuous change: new content, new features, and new strategy.

2. Which brings up item number two: how to develop communication and transaction strategy in which a) the web serves a larger purpose, and is not the purpose, and b) the web is deployed in connection with other technology and initiatives that all interact with and depend on each other. That's a bit high-falutin, but I guess at the simplest end it means that if you put your web url and e-mail address on your business card, you better put something on your web site that can serve the needs of the people who get your business card, and you better be prepared to answer your e-mail quickly.

These soft arts of webmastering are among the hardest parts of my job, and the areas where I've made the biggest mistakes in the past. I suppose it is a lot easier to fix a technical bug than to fix a process or strategy; though the bugs are often more maddening, flaws in the design of a process and a strategy can be frustrating in a more depressing way when they silently make it too difficult or costly to do lots of the exciting things we'd like to do.


8:29 am on Jun 11, 2002 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member topr8 is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

>>>>What did you wish you knew starting out?

1) that optimising my pages and overall site design for search engines is the most important thing (if looking for SE traffic) - i thought the SE's just found and spidered my site and traffic would then follow with no special effort or thought from me.

2) that teachers in adult learning centres are great at teaching html but clueless (please forgive the generalisation, i'm sure there are exceptions) about website development

>>>>What are the four or five basic skills/areas of knowledge every webmaster should know starting out?

i've taken a slightly different approach to this question ...

1) Planning ... learn how to plan projects and schedule the work, no matter how big/small the task write down a list of "things to be done" and write down when you will do them.

2) Records/Organising/Accounting ... keep good records keep the business end of things very tight, setting up a good system will save huge headaches later on.

3) basic but good solid html with an awareness of how things look different on different OS and browsers is all you need to get started.

4) knowing your product or subject is of equal importance to having web skills.

5) repeat this mantra... webpages are not magazine pages!!! learn that a web page is fluid and design accordingly.

also this ... webpages are not the cartoon network!!! if you are a great animator why waste time webmastering?? if you are not a great animator don't let it drag your websites down.

>>>What basic info do you want to know now to expand your skills?

i'll change this question to ...
What next after the first stage??

1) don't be shy about web hosting fees, you can get good quality hosting with all you need at the pocket money levels of a 12 year old.

2) log files ... find out what they are and what to do with them, miss out this step and you may as well give up (after a year of no sales, i discovered this step)

3) software ... learn to use it!!! see other threads for heated debate on different types, but all worthwhile software has depth to it; library items; page templates; code snippets; auto-complete macros; etc etc; learn to use these features.

4) learn about server side includes and external css.

5) set up a webserver locally - use the webserver that your host uses, its not that hard to set up.

>>>Any other topics that would be useful for a beginner.

learn a bit about how the internet works.

Less is often more, separate work from play - if you love playing around with cool web things like mouse trails and other funkie stuff, then great!!! but save self indulgence to personal fun projects and keep your commercial work mean and lean!!!

Acceptance - i can't be great at all things- graphics, scripting, layout, optimisation and so on. BUT there are always other people starting out who's skills are different to mine and who want work/experience as much as money don't be shy pay someone to do stuff you are weak at (and that you're not planning to be strong at) - there is a spinoff, they will have contacts and may return the favour at some point by putting work your way.


2:35 am on Jun 14, 2002 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I wish I had known about CSS earlier and had never used a font tag.

Web security issues are important. Once a person starts learning how to set up CGI scripts they need to learn about setting permissions. I don't see that explained very well in many places. Even now, I understand the basics but don't have a very thorough understanding of it and tend to worry about whether I everything on sites I set up is secure enough. Also, SSL and related ecommerce security issues.

I still need to learn how to set up a web server locally, and I know I will need detailed, step-by-step instructions to be able to do it but haven't found that yet.

This 38 message thread spans 2 pages: 38

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