Was I a Webmaster?
I remember when I moved from a position as a technical writer with some web publishing duties to the web group as a "web writer." My boss didn't know what to call me, I didn't (at the time) know any more advanced programming languages than BASIC and Pilot. I was well versed in HTML, had published a book, could write Perl and shell scripts, and knew a lot about design and graphics. He felt that to be a webmaster, I should be able to program in C or C++. Once I learned C, I got a title change, to webmaster.
Are These People Webmasters?
Then I read an email message from a customer. He was probably in his teens and had been writing HTML for three months, and wanted some advice and possibly a critique of his pages from me. He signed his letter "from one webmaster to another..." He published a personal web page on our servers, so he felt he was a webmaster, but is he really?
After that I received another email from someone asking for a link exchange on our server. She wrote, designed, and edited a small business website. I don't know if she wrote the CGIs on that site, but she managed them, she signed herself a "web developer" and said if I needed more information I could talk to her webmaster, the person who maintained their web server.
There are dozens of different profiles and job descriptions that are associated with working on the web. My official title was webmaster, but at the time I called myself a web developer. I am not, under any circumstances, a "webmistress".
Webmaster Titles and Short Job Descriptions
Here are a few job titles that some people in the web industry have used and what I think their descriptions are.
Webmaster: This is the person in charge of maintaining the web server. They know how to install Apache, PHP, and other web services. They typically know unix and cover the administrative aspects of web development. They don't write HTML.
Web designer: This is the person in charge of the design of a site. They do graphics, color and layout. They focus on the look of a site and less on how it functions. They may know HTML, but probably use the WYSIWYG function in their web editor more often. They should know CSS - and it's usually a designer who is in charge of a site's CSS files.
Web producer: This is the person who writes and maintains the HTML and CSS for the site. They take the content and put it together with all the scripts and designs that the designer and developer have written and make it all work. They know both HTML and CSS and may know some scripting as well.
Freelance designer: Most freelancers know all of the above skills. They may be better at design or development, but they have to do all of them, including maintaining servers, to be really good at their job.
I don't believe that the title is all that important. My job duties didn't change dramatically when I was promoted from web writer to webmaster. I think I would have performed just as effectively as a web developer as I did a webmaster.
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