A website which can be easily changed and updated is a universal goal of site owners. A Content Management System — the software that ‘powers’ a website — is designed to help make this easy for ordinary users. While a Content Management System (CMS) can take you a long way towards this goal, sometimes it is just not enough; that’s where a webmaster comes in.
What is a Content Management System?
A CMS is the software that runs a website. It provides the basic user interface for adding and editing content in the site. It stores all of that content in a database, and builds the code for each webpage when a visitor accesses it in their browser.
Our preferred CMS software is WordPress — the most popular and widely used CMS in the world, powering more that 1/3 of all websites worldwide.
Shortcomings of Content Management Systems
A CMS tries to give regular users a word-processor-like interface through which they can add and edit content for their website. Since webpages are made of HTML code, and regular users don’t know how to write HTML code, the CMS tries to ‘translate’ their input into the needed code. A CMS that has been well customized to suit the owner’s needs can do a reasonably nice job of this. However:
- A CMS ‘WYSIWYG’ text editor (What You See Is What You Get) is not a word processor. If you’re expecting functionality similar to MS Word, you’ll be disappointed and often frustrated. A CMS editor interface is several orders simpler and less versatile.
- A CMS ‘WYSIWYG’ text editor uses only a limited subset of HTML and cannot finesse the output like someone knowledgeable in coding can.
- Working with a CMS involves a learning curve; you must be willing to learn the ins-and-outs of the system to make good use of it, and use it frequently to remember how to do so.
- Consistency is an important part of a professional looking website. You must be willing to learn and stick to a ‘style book’ and keep your formatting simple and uniform to avoid looking amateurish.
- Set-up, customization, and upkeep of a CMS can be tricky for a “layman”. A webmaster who is familiar with the software is in the best position to provide its “care and feeding”.
Benefits of Webmaster Services
Nothing beats the simplicity of a webmaster: pick up a phone or write an email explaining the changes or additions that you want to make and you’re finished. Attach a Word document or any content that you wish, or copy/paste your content into an email. Your webmaster then makes the changes to your site. Whether using (and finessing) your CMS, or by direct coding, your webmaster is an expert in creating webpages, and knows the ins-and-outs of your system.
Writing for the web is different than writing for print. Your webmaster understands how to write for the web: using hierarchical presentation that lets visitors get the basic idea — or dig deeper to get more information when they want it; writing content that is easy to read while scrolling on a phone; using headings, short paragraphs and ample whitespace to avoid eye fatigue; andwriting to please search engine spiders.
Whether you’ve tried using a CMS and found it frustrating or inadequate, or whether you have better things to do, a professional webmaster may be the answer to your needs.
- Is an expert in writing for the web and making your pages user-friendly;
- Possesses excellent writing skills;
- Is an expert in Photoshop and can create and optimize visual content for your site;
- Is an expert in HTML and CSS and can make your content look it’s best;
- Is an expert in Search Engine Optimization and knows how to make your webpages search engine-friendly;
- Is an expert in the use of your CMS;
- Knows how to maintain, upgrade and add to your CMS.
What Kind of Webmaster Services Do You Need?
The type of webmaster services you can get varies with your need. If you’ll be doing most of your website updating yourself using a CMS, you might only need a webmaster to maintain and update the CMS and make occasional changes to your server’s settings. If you have a website with only infrequent changes needed, your webmaster can make those occasional changes for you on an as-needed basis.
If you prefer to have someone else doing all of the changes to your site, perhaps helping you with copy editing and preparing images, helping you maintain your search engine rankings, or a range of other services, you might like to have a webmaster available when you need one.
Is a Webmaster the Right Solution for You?
Will an editable website which you can add to by yourself make you into a web designer? Probably not, but it may be perfectly adequate for your needs. Do you want to learn the skills you’ll need to turn out exceptional quality web pages? Perhaps you won’t need to.
Insite Website can help you to decide whether a professional webmaster is the right solution for your project and exactly what services you’ll want from him, or whether you’ll be better served by an in-house approach augmented by training and, if appropriate, a customized manual. Either way, we’re here to help, and to be your partner in achieving the best possible website.