Not that long ago, a ‘webmaster’ or website manager had to have significant technical skill to be able to manage your business’s online presence.
Typically they had to be able to work at a ‘code’ or programming level to be able to make the technical adjustments necessary to not only keep your website humming, but to keep adding functionality as both market and organisational requirements changed.
But qualifications of this kind have never come cheaply. Qualified programmers are in high demand and so are able to demand high fees, whether as an employee or outsourced help.
If only there was a way to maintain your website without requiring such extensive development skills!
Website management gets easier
Thankfully for smaller business operators who wanted a professional online presence without breaking the bank, the same people that so cleverly maintained their web presence at the ‘coding’ level equally cleverly came up with the tools to enable ‘ordinary’ computer users to manage this brave new world to a very significant degree.
As far back as the turn of the millennium, editable websites were coming onto the market at a price that was not only well within reach of smaller business, but would save them a packet in maintenance and future development expense.
What’s more, the providers of these platforms provided ongoing improvements without any further charge. They were built in to your regular licence fee.
These website platforms really revolutionised the entire website landscape. No longer did you have to do a course in html or even Dreamweaver to be able to maintain a very professional online presence for your small organisation.
Instead, experience with MS Word or Powerpoint and perhaps a little guidance was more than enough to ensure that your website could easily be altered to meet the ongoing business needs.
Always the exception
Well, that was true to a degree. Any functional or really creative requirement still needed the skill of a professional. But when it came to adding and editing content like text, imagery, forms and even some basic animation and other effects, reasonably basic computer operation skills were all that were required.
This isn’t to say the developers have been completely replaced. They simply have been able to move on to more complex projects and requirements than day-to-day management of your online presence.
Where the functionality was less ‘out of the box’ and more customised, a skilled developer was still required.
But for the vast bulk of smaller business requirements, the growing array of website management platforms was quite sufficient for day-to-day management.
Beyond the website
This ease of use soon extended beyond the website into the various digital marketing techniques. Professional email marketing, Adwords (etc) management, a degree of search engine optimisation and of course social networking all could be managed without significant technical expertise.
For the employer, these developments meant that instead of hiring a developer to manage their ongoing online presence, they could actually hire staff with the core marketing and communications skills who could manage it all themselves.
In many cases they could hand the task over to marketing managers and personal assistants who cut out this more technical and often costly middle man.
But this could only occur if your online presence was established with the ordinary computer user in mind from the outset.
Have you been set up correctly?
There have been plenty of occasions when incumbent webmasters and website managers have not encouraged this evolution of ease of use, potentially fearing they were doing themselves out of a job.
Alternatively they may be so accustomed to managing technology at this coding level that they simply were not aware that content and marketing management tools had evolved so rapidly.
If you are uncertain as to just how much of your online presence could be managed without development skills and experience, it’s worth getting independent advice to assess your requirements and estimate the cost of altering them in this way.
Whilst the initial setup may require some investment, it may well save you considerably over the mid to long term.
In addition to being a leading ebusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.
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