Archive for February, 2007
Who is a Webmaster?
The term webmaster has been used in several connotations over the years. To some it means a web designer whereas to others it means a web server technician. Actually a webmaster does more than that.
A webmaster’s duties are a blend of web design skills, web marketing and administrative functions.
Primarily, a webmaster manages websites hosted on a server. He may not necessarily be the designer but he has the fine skills of making sure that viewers are able to asses the pages within the website and that the site functions well. So he has the qualities and technical knowledge of a web designer, a web developer and a software guru.
A webmaster also serves as an advisor on web technologies and updates for the principal of the sites he works on. He closely monitors events taking place in the internet world and recommends or advises against which practices to adopt and which to drop.
He is also concerned with the marketing of the websites and affiliates programs. Web marketing doesn’t necessarily mean placing adverts and running promotions. It also involves optimizing the web pages so that search engines are able to index them . This way web surfers can easily find the site and thus maintain or increase traffic.
Web content is dynamic and several changes may be made to a website during its hosting lifetime. A webmaster maintains the code and documentation for s website so that reference can be easily made to it in the future for upgrades, trouble shooting or appraisal. A webmaster may leave a job for another to take over. In the course of this transition, records on how the site is structured should be made available to the one taking over for study and mastery so he know how the site functions and which method to apply for updates. Remember that a website code also contains something we call comments which shows why a particular program was written and what it is supposed to do. This feature is very important if a changeover occurs so you know exactly what works at which place.
A webmaster also maintains the software aspect of a server. I mean the programming aspect. A server has two meanings depending on your perspective: it can be the physical cabinet-like machines we find at ISPs or a software used to share or distribute data. The hardware aspect of a server like installation of extra hard disks etc is managed by a technician but installation of scripts like perl modules and PHP are managed by the webmaster. He manages these scripts to enhance the operation of the sites hosted on the server. Scripts are very important if you want to run dynamic websites like chatting sites, database sites , etc. Scripts are just small programs that automate otherwise laborious or repetitive processes. Think of emailing newsletters to ten thousand subscribers. It will be time consuming to sit at a machine and send the newsletters one by one. A script does that conveniently.
Obviously, a webmaster also updates or maintains the contents of a website. He fixes scripts and repairs broken hyperlinks. A website is never static. Occasionally or frequently, you may have to make changes. A webmaster does that.
A webmaster also takes feedback from the site visitors and translates these comments into improved service for the website. It is necessary to monitor site users and carve a website to suit their taste. A website thrives on its traffic. Once you get the traffic coming, they will look at the content. You can have nice content but if you don’t keep monitoring your site visitor perceptions, you may not serve them well. Perhaps, demand and supply also applies in web dynamics too,
Lastly, a webmaster sets up websites on a host machine. He can register your domain name and then put the web pages on a server to be accessed by visitors.
To become a webmaster, you will need to know web technologies. You should have excellent knowledge of web design, web development (i.e. programming) and then server management. There are a lot of certifications to prepare you for this job but the widely known is Certified Internet Webmaster.
So, next time you visit a website and find “Contact Webmaster” at the foot of the page, you know the guy there has more stuff in his head than Archimedes: He is Jack of all trades, master of all (not none).
Bandwidth refers to the use of resources on a website. It can also be defined as the amount of data that is sent to and from a website over a given period. Specifically, it refers to how many times a resource is called from a server through your website. So anytime a page is called from your website, you are consuming bandwidth. If a script is called upon to process some information, you are consuming more bandwidth. This is because script processing uses more CPU and hard disk power. Whenever a person visits a site to undertake an activity, some computer hardware or software is called upon to do some task.
From this description, it follows that web hosts should charge clients differently according to the amount of resources consumed on a site. For this reason, there is a bandwidth limit for websites on a server. If you exceed the limit, then you ought to pay some extra to compensate for the wear and tear you exert on the hosts’ facilities.
There is a simple way to calculate your bandwidth needs. If a visitor clicks on a 2KB picture, you are using 2KB of bandwidth. Now look at your access logs ( that is, the statistics on your website) to see the total number of pages being viewed in a day and their total size. 1 Gigabyte views a day means 30 gigabytes a month. If your host has allowed only 20 gig, then you can calculate in advance that you need an extra 10 gig so you upgrade your hosting to that amount before you are surprised with a bill.
Given that, it is always advisable to reduce bandwidth as much as possible on your site. Some people resort to a bad practice called bandwidth theft in this regard. Instead of putting large images on their sites, they will rather link to another site. So when visitors click on the image in their site, the picture is actually called from a different site and the second party pays for the bandwidth. Apart from the fact that this practice is unethical, there is a hidden danger of broken hyperlinks. If the image ceases to exist, your link will not work. Also images linked this way, open slow.
There are various way to reduce bandwidth.
Remember that , there is a limit to which you can economize on bandwidth. Low bandwidth means, slow access to your website. You don’t want visitors to waste a lot of time in obtaining information from your website. Do you?