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Being a Webmaster

Who, Why, What and How?

     
10:19 pm on Aug 1, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Who is a Webmaster?
• Authors
• Hobbyists
• Journalists
• Businesses
• Special Interests
• Anyone else

Why have a Webpage or Website?
• Self-promotion (career or social life)
• Selling a product or service
• Sharing information
• Ideology promotion
• Community participation
• Fund raising
• To learn writing & publishing skills

What do I need to have a website?
• Computer & reliable internet connection
• Domain name
• Website hosting account
• Strong desire & motivation

How does one start?
Please discuss how you start building a site.

Helpful links:
• Google Webmaster Guidelines [support.google.com]
• Google Webmaster Tools (Google Search Console) [google.com]


- - -
3:09 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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The very first thing i'd work on more than anything else is the how the idea is going to work and to make money. A business plan is essential. Is it ad-supported, sponsored, is it ad-free and paid for by the ecommerce activity, or funded out of the goodness of my heart. It does depend on the nature of the site.
The result of that would govern how I moved to the next stage.
4:15 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does one start?


Oh, my. Let me count . . the ways and means.

  • I've learned a bit about running a VPS, which means I've learned 1) how to tweak Apache's settings; 2) which meant I needed to learn a bit about security (Config Server Firewall/CSF, OWASP ~ ModSecurity; 3) how to play with "regular expressions" in order to tweak settings; 4) how to manage caching and speed up a server.
  • I've learned how to tweak HTML and CSS
  • I've had to do a deep dive into WordPress since I needed a Content Management System. That includes learning a bit of PHP, learning a bit about security (a big bit), learning about themes and frameworks, including how to assess their strengths and weaknesses. (Too much "learning by experience".)
  • I know waaaay more than anyone should even need to know about domain names: their value, their unique advantages, etc.
  • Did I mention SEO? It would appear that the rules of the SEO game change endlessly but that's not the case. The rules of "easy peasey SEO" kept changing but the rules of long term SEO success have remained fairly constant . . except for the part about the ever shrinking "available (visible) non-paying SERPs".
  • Oh, then there's User Experience - the now ubiquitous "UX" dialogue, as if it's something new.
  • I've learned about "defensible traffic", "junk traffic", etc.
  • I've learned about bots, bots, bots: how to identify them; how to block them; which ones are worth the bandwidth and which ones give nothing in return;
  • I've learned a bit about conversion and converting traffic to leads and sales. I've learned about demographics and traffic. I've learned about decision trees and conversion funnels.
  • Did I mention marketing? Is it internet marketing, multi-channel marketing or digital marketing? I know it's more than advertising, but staying abreast of and running PPC campaigns can be a full time job.
  • Business plan? Argh. Too much planning. Not enough business. That's a formula for failure. Still, one must be thoughtful, circumspect, etc.
  • I've learned about the Federal Trade Commission / FTC and how, if you don't play by their rules, it can cost you . . so I play by their rules


Being a webmaster for ~18 years I've learned a few things that matter most.

First, change is a constant, so keep learning. Just be careful that you don't spend all your time "learning" instead of constantly deploying that learning.

Second, opportunities can be fleeting, so if you see a real one - one that is actually making you coin - RUN WITH IT. Also, when you do identify such an opportunity STFU. Keep it to yourself or your closer colleague who knows, exactly, what "Tell no one" means. Whatever advantage you've identified that advantage is certain to be lost soon enough, even if you keep it to yourself, because you aren't the only person poking and probing and searching for opportunities. By the time people are talking, publicly, about their (secret) advantage - including selling a system or course built around it - those in the know know that "advantage" is in serious decline.

Third, manage your cash flow. When the money is pouring in set aside a significant portion of it, for it's certain to stop raining money. No surer way to go broke than to fail to manage cash flow (i.e., spend it all giddiness)

Fourth, those who live by Google often die by Google, again and again and again. How strange how often this has happened, that you can read the Google related wailing and whinging.

Fifth, when the independent webmaster types are increasingly moving to agency jobs, that is as clear a signal as you can get that this thing - webmastering - isn't an easy game, even for the very best.

Sixth, if someone is broadcasting that they have a "system" that is guaranteed to "make you money", then understand that YOU are "the money" and it's a game of selling the system to the next sucker . . umm . . source of money. This never seems to end. There's always a new stream of . . people with hope or people looking for an easier way to make a buck than a 9-5 . . . OMG . . job. Hold onto your money. Really. Most of what there is to learn or what you need to know to succeed is freely available online. Here, for example. IF there is a "secret" system . . trust me . . it really IS SECRET and NO ONE IS SELLING IT UNTIL "the secret" is NO LONGER MAKING COIN. Think about it. Get it. Run away from those selling secrets.

I could go on but there's work to be done and there are plenty of smart folks lurking about here who will or should have something to contribute.
6:29 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I don't think a beginner really needs to understand the entire world of the internet to just start building a few pages. All that will surely come with time.

How does one start building a site?
8:21 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does one start building a site?
Well, how did you start? In what essential way is it different now? Sure, there are more options than there were 20 years ago--but everything you did back then could still be done now. Just leave out the webrings and the hitcounter.

If you look at a site run by someone who has been doing it for 20 years, can you find the ghosts of things they originally did because it was the only way to do them? To this day there are aspects of vanilla html that I haven't internalized because I never got past the first few chapters of the (now-defunct) UIUC tutorial.
8:49 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well i started with some software that came on a disk with a pc mag. Netobjects fusion i think it was. Then upgraded to Dreamweaver. Now build most of my sites on Wordpress.
Where does the nebie start now? Wordpress I guess - you can build a basic site with no coding skills or knowledge and no design abilities - all done for you. just need to write some decent content and upload a few decent pics (which back in the day meant a dslr but now you can use the most basic phone for!)
8:53 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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@webwork - sound advice especially 3 and 4.
Still can't decide whether i should have saved more when the income was good ready for the lean times or invested it in the business.
10:34 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Let's not confuse things. Webmastering is just a specialized tool set, a skill. As with any tool set what you get out of it is what you put into it. The title webmaster does not mean "businessman", "tycoon", "nut job", "public relations", or any other JOB/TRADE/EDU that might be named.
11:05 pm on Aug 2, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Well, how did you start?
I started by copying someone else's web page and then changing all the colors, images, and content.

In what essential way is it different now?
I now know what I'm doing (or so it seems.)

The basic DOM (document object module) has remained since the beginning. An understanding of how a web page markup is built is very important. Even if you are using a CMS (content management system) like Wordpress, it is essential to have a basic grasp of how things work.

Then, to start building your content... as with all things creative:
• Imitate - See how others do it
• Emulate - Do that kind of thing yourself
• Innovate - Be unique with original ideas
4:10 am on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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There also needs to be a distinction between building a website and long term management of that site. This is not a situation of "build it and they will come." After launching your webpages, there is still much to do.

A website will surely fail if not tended to. It needs steady fresh content to maintain visitor interest. Your awareness of competing sites in your industry/niche is essential for a successful web presence. What does your site have that the other similar sites do not? Why should users visit your site and not the next one in Search Engine Result Pages (SERP.)

Backlinks are probably the single most important factor of ranking well in the SERP. You must have content that is valuable to people so that they will link to your pages. Also, if you build pages that are useful to the visitor, Google/Bing/Yandex will give your pages better ranking.

Keeping up with the never-ending trends on the internet is also crucial to maintaining your success. The last couple years has introduced some new & significant changes in how webmasters must maintain websites:

• Pages that properly adjust to the visitors screen size is absolutely required nowadays. You site must be Mobile Responsive [webmasterworld.com] to maintain good ranking in the soon to be launched Mobile-First Index [webmasterworld.com] .

• You pages must now be secure, using the HTTPS protocol [webmasterworld.com] . This will soon apply to all pages, not just LogIn or Payment pages.

• Pages served to European visitors must display their Cookie Consent Policy [webmasterworld.com] or risk reprisal.
5:36 am on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does one start building a site?

- Even before building a site, one needs to have a clear picture of the same in their mind.
- Why do I want to build a site?
- What is the sole purpose of building one?
- Why should this website come into existence?
- Once that is clear, then you'll have to visualise it, once that is also pretty clear, just hire someone to do for few bucks!
- Or better, DIY.
7:35 am on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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just hire someone to do for few bucks! - Or better, DIY
Which presents the question... are you a webmaster if you hire someone else to build your site, or are you merely the owner?
10:12 am on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Strong desire & motivation

This came naturally when I started in my early teens. Today... not so much ;-)

are you a webmaster if you hire someone else to build your site, or are you merely the owner?

In my book, you're the webmaster if you manage it. It depends on the starting point. If you've never made a website and get someone else to do it for you, you won't really be able to manage it except by using a CMS, and that doesn't seem very webmastery; you haven't quite "mastered" the web! But you can, of course, outsource any development work and still be the webmaster.
4:53 pm on Aug 3, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does one start building a site?

Easy :)
Look at the few first hundred posts of senior members with a few K post under their belt!
5:09 pm on Aug 4, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I've been involved with the Internet since the early 1990s, and I've always thought the term "Webmaster" referred to someone (more often than not, an employee or contract worker) who was in charge of a Web site, typically for a company or other organization.

For those with their own Web sites, I prefer to use the term "site owner" or (it they have information sites) "Web publisher."

As for how you start, that's pretty easy these days, thanks to the proliferation of blogging and build-your-own-Web-site platforms. The hard part is building an audience, attracting decent revenue (if you're operating a for-profit site), and motivating yourself to stick with it day after day, month after month, year after year.
12:55 am on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is the webmaster label really a useful one for most of us? As EditorialGuy says, some people are site owners or publishers.

In addition, a lot of us specialise more - back end developers, front end developers, sysadmins, UI developers, designers, content writers, video producers, SEOs, social media marketing people, .....

Many people have multiple skills, particularly ones that overlap. Not many have the full set you need to create and run a web site (or web app!) of any size and complexity.
12:59 am on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is the webmaster label really a useful one for most of us?
It's probably the most inclusive and recognizable term for what any of us do IMO.

The Webmaster World includes all of us :)
6:08 pm on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is the webmaster label really a useful one for most of us?


The term "Webmaster" is relatively subjective in that it could mean anything you want it to mean - In the larger scheme of things, a three fingered dolt putting on a web page makes a Webmaster not.

First rule of thumb is having a general knowledge of how it all works - Knowing how and why things happen on a domain, platform, or even a single page, is usually the hallmark of being a Webmaster. Being able to go in to any site, regardless of whether or not it be static or dynamic and making the necessary adjustments on the back end or front end in order to further the cause to a good end is what a Webmaster does.

The Webmaster not only understands the seen, but also understands the unseen on any site. The Webmaster also understands many of the basics when it comes to the actual server the site is being hosted on - Aliases, pointers, sub-domains, and MX all come into play - A Webmaster is usually fairly proficient in all of these things.

A Webmaster is so much more than someone who might reload a page via 3rd party ftp or paste text into a box on the back end of a cms - Webmasters usually have a well thought out plan of action and error to the side of caution before pasting that script or deploying that modal -- Consideration is paramount to success of the Webmaster. Most genuine Webmasters are grounded and focused.

When ever I get a call for Webmaster services, the first place I go to is the source code of the particular page/site. In just a few minutes, while still on the phone with a potential client, I am able to tell them what might be wrong, or right with the site they are considering having me administer. After a few more minutes I am able to make suggestions on any number of courses of action that might be taken with regard to the site we are discussing. Knowledge is power, and the more you have, the more you'll be able to direct and control the site to it's ultimate successful end.

These are the things that a Webmaster does
8:44 pm on Aug 6, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Reminder that this is the New To Web Development forum, not so much about veterans that have been in the game for years.

Steering back to topic: Please discuss how you start building a site.
5:49 am on Aug 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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in fact it's not only the tech side that matters
equally or even more important are the pre-building researches:
mktg, definition of target in terms of age, revenues, geographic, how to penetrate the market,
learn to know about competition etc....
5:59 am on Aug 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Good points henry0. Preperatipn is a huge factor, often learned as a result of doing the contrary.

In the past, I've drawn my pages on paper, each web page on a sheet of typing paper. Then stuck them up on the wall in a somewhat pyramid arrangement.

Then around the outside of my site, my influences, again on sheets of paper: competition, target audience, backlink possibilities, possible revenue sources, etc.

I called this my site plan, similar to a business plan. It helped me envision the steps I would be taking going forward.
7:51 am on Aug 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Is a webmaster an IT professional, or just a "person with some skills"? For the newbie to the web these distinctions ARE IMPORTANT, but actually do not count because, sad to say, their background/schooling hasn't prepared them to "draw it on paper, tack it on the wall in a pyramid, and go from there".

I came to the web with a minor background in programming (Assembly, Fortran, Basic) and BBS operations and Fidonet (dating back to 1980) and in 1993 started playing with a structured language (HTML is structured markup) that improved the ANSI interface of BBS. So this was not a foreign concept to me. Automation via macros was something known, so purpose results (PERL in the beginning) were possible.

Does the new guy start that way? Probably not. These days I don't see or hear much about computer being taught like it was "in the old days" and the current batch of newbies come from USING MS OFFICE or apps on their PHONE and plug and play into their XBOX and they will first seek those options on the web (and they are out there, WordPress for example) because that is what they (don't) know.

As for having plans... how does that fit? This presumes there's an end game based on commerce of some kind and I doubt many, if any, newbies firing up a website have any plan other than "gitrichquik" (sic).

These aren't webmasters, but they truly are the noise of the web---but HERE'S THE BEST PART! Some of them GET IT, LEARN IT, and become tried and true hard-working peers of the IT/Webmaster community. A WEBMASTER is someone who goes the extra mile, knows the nuts and bolts in more than passing fashion, and keeps a jar of TUMS beside the keyboard. :)

Newbies really should read "webmastering for dummies", or EVERYTHING they can find on that topic and show the grit, determination, ability to change horses in midstream when one pursuit failed and another path becomes obvious. Those folks are webmasters. All the rest are noise, bad actors, or worse, without a clue.
3:23 pm on Aug 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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And then there’s: The webmaster is the person who receives, reads and acts on the email addressed to webmaster@

By this definition, many sites have no webmaster.
7:18 pm on Aug 7, 2017 (gmt 0)

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They changed their name to "info"

Everything a new webmaster needs to know has been discussed here at Webmaster World at one time or another. The rest is just getting the experience.
8:21 pm on Aug 8, 2017 (gmt 0)

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I'll add to How Does One Start Today.

1. Get an idea.
2. Watch some youtube videos on topic, including one on SEO basics
3. Start a Wordpress site on the idea

Fastest way from 0 to a website.

A harder alternative would be to learn some basic HTML, php, and a javascript platform such as Node.js, Angular, jQuery.
[en.wikipedia.org...]
9:57 am on Aug 10, 2017 (gmt 0)

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How does one start, depends on what you want to achieve. What is your idea? What do you want to do? Publish content, publish user generated content, operate a web app...? What is your business model - ads, subscriptions, one off fees, lead generation for your offline business.....? What are you going to do yourself, and what are you going to pay other people to do?
12:39 pm on Aug 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Started out using Plone on a FreeBSD jail in 2003. Found the learning curve pretty steep so abandoned that for a simple HTML static site written in Dreamweaver. Then moved the static site up through to PHP, then added very basic e-commerce using Mals e-commerce. Then re-wrote the whole site using a PHP based e-commerce system called J-Shop. Then re-wrote it all again using the Elastic Path Java based e-commerce software. Added Drupal to the site to handle the content end of things. Due to PCI-DSS concerns we then converted the whole site including e-commerce side over to using 100% Drupal. Things were steady for a few years and late last year we re-wrote the site again this time using Magento 2. It has been quite a journey.

How I build a site really depends what I want it to do. If it is going to sell things (and a reasonable number of things), I'd take a lot of persuasion now to use anything other than a dedicated e-commerce system.

For a content site there's a lot to be said for the current crop of site generators like Jekyll and Hugo. I've just finished a site using Jekyll and found it to be very pleasant and the website is so fast it loads before I've finished pressing the [Enter] key.
6:18 pm on Aug 11, 2017 (gmt 0)

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Please discuss how you start building a site.


Oh let me count the ways - FUBAR wasn't something I was too familiar with in '93, (but upon looking back, it seemed the order of the day) but I gave it a go anyway and thought I had the greatest thing since sliced bread.
My curiosity got the better of me when i read "Hello World" and I never looked back from that point -- Ran the gambit - from pushing the directories to the early search engines with what I thought I might have had. Wanted to discover the magic behind all of those twisty-twirliy-shiny-spinny-thingys -- Why did this page do one thing while the other did something else. Animated graphics were a dead end because I didn't feel they would take me where I thought I needed to go -- I dissected and reverse engineered nearly everything I came across. Used a drag and drop prog back in '97 called IXLA - took 18 hours to ftp 10 pages to the server on 56k dialup - that site was heavier than my truck -- My how far we've come since those days.

Ran into some experienced fellows and I learned that coding came in all shapes and sizes and flavors -- Looked at a lot but settled on PHP because at the time, it was the bees knees.
Fiddled with Front Page, *Macromedia Dreamweaver - Went all in with Adobe Photoshop and Flash -- By the time I got really good at building and optimizing pages using Flash, it all went away.

Along about the time I had a good handle on writing tables, frames/framesets and DHTML,,everything started changing again - ever onward, ever forward it appeared.

Java Script was a sweet spot -- I ran a menu on one of my early sites that was beautiful -- it was liquid and the only traffic I really ever got on that site was when folks would come in to play with the menu. At the end of the day I came to realize that toys were fun and all, but they didn't really bring in the bucks -- Just like with all of those twisty-twirliy-shiny-spinny-thingys in the mid-late 90's, my fancy Java Scripted menus went away.

Early 2000's I came to understand that there was a real need for speed, so I quit messing around with things that slowed the load, and started focusing on the basic html (albeit sprinkled a bit here and there with a few minimal server side writes) - Search engines were coming into their own now so there was no time to waste in getting those *Page One Results. Focused more on instructing search via tags. Started to really be serious about getting it right the first time around instead of the second or third time around -- Started to join various groups and forums to pick up the info I might have been lacking along the way - Webmaster World was one of those such forums -- Worked real well for myself and a small but ever present clientele until search abandoned their core.

Static is my ultimate passion - I spend more time looking at the source code it seems these days. As far as moving ever forward, I still have a bit of a problem with apps - To me, they don't really represent the freedom of the web that I've grown accustomed to over the years - Apps remind me of sort of a walled garden, not too unlike Facebook in many ways.

As a new webmaster, per se', back in the day, I did the best I could with following the rules. What to do, and what not to do was extremely important. These days it seems that all of the rules from yesteryear have been thrown out the window. We're back to all of this onload-mouseover-autoplay crap. It's as if we've come full circle. The toys and the games are back these days with a seemingly persistent vengeance

In the beginning I really had no idea what it was I wanted to accomplish - The net was such a big place that had so many distractions that for a while I was all over the board. It took me about 5 years before I really started to focus. I settled in on *presentation, because after all, that's what the net is .... simple unadulterated presentation. If you could write it, front end and back end, and cause it to be seen and acted on accordingly by millions, through your marketing and listings efforts, then you've achieved your goal as it might relate to presentation.

Newbies really should read "webmastering for dummies", or EVERYTHING they can find on that topic and show the grit, determination, ability to change horses in midstream when one pursuit failed and another path becomes obvious.


If there is one thing I've learned over the years, it's this.
I think it's a mistake that many make who might be new to the game. My moments of truth came when Flash and DHTML fell from favor -- You can never get too comfortable or rely on totally on one skill set in the world of webmastering - Things change. You could go to bed one night only to wake up in the morning to discover that your current method is obsolete.