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How do I Become a Webmaster?

By G. Melanson
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A webmaster or “webmistress” facilitates the development and design of a specific website. In order to become a webmaster, whether self-employed or with a firm, one must be familiar with HTML coding and scripting and languages such as Javascript, PHP, and Perl. In addition to publishing and managing a website’s content, a webmaster typically has a broad range of responsibilities related to the website’s overall functionality, and needs to employ both technical and communication skills to ensure a smooth end-user experience.

While many webmasters have degrees in computer science or design, college credentials are not necessarily required to become a webmaster. Some aspiring webmasters take classes in C programming or obtain a certificate in computer programming in order to become a webmaster. Meanwhile, others combine a natural aptitude for computers with on-the-job training and other types of informal education in order to interpret how a website functions.

One needs to have an understanding of how programming, graphic design, and content development integrate within a website in order to become a webmaster. However, the level of expertise required in each of those areas may vary, depending on whether or not the website also employs specialists such as a programmer, graphic designer, or writer. While a person is typically not required to have an eye for design or a flair for words to become a webmaster, a little knowledge in each of these major website components helps a webmaster to properly conceptualize the website’s structure and make minor modifications in any area.

In addition to a having broad overview of a website’s components, a person needs to know how to perform specific core functions of the webmaster’s role in order to become a webmaster. These functions include publishing and managing web content, maintaining the website’s server, fixing broken links and other errors on the website, responding to functionality-related queries from the website’s users, moderating chat rooms, message boards and other forums that allow users to contribute content to the website, maintaining e-commerce functionality, and structuring the website’s navigation.

Since the webmaster is the “last stop” before content is published, webmasters are required to liaise with a variety of people involved with the website. These include the site’s contributors, such as web designers, programmers, and writers; as well as those in charge of the company for whom the site was designed, such as the CEO and other management; and finally, the site’s audience and end-users.

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Discussion Comments

By zeak4hands — On Jul 29, 2011

@minthybear19 - My set of webmasters tools aren't a secret. You'll be happy to hear all of the software I use is free. I use HTML Kit, NetBeans and PS Pad Editor for the most part. I also design the graphic half of the websites in the GIMP. I figured why pay for Dreamweaver when I have perfectly good editing software for free?

Adding a side bar isn't as hard as you think. You just need to learn how to make the div tag. Use the div tag to divide your website up into sections -- such as banner, menu, content box -- and just add in a sidebar that floats where you want it.

Sidebars are definitely beyond basic HTML, so only use them if you have to. Of course, the sooner you learn how to make one the better -- everybody loves sidebars.

By minthybear19 — On Jul 28, 2011

@zeak4hands - I've been making websites for about a year now and I was just wondering what kind of web master tools you use? Do you use graphic design programs like Dreamweaver or do you do it the hard way in Notepad?

My websites look pretty plain, but I'm afraid of overly complicating it. I figure that people are there for the information, not for a pretty website. I'm going to add a few more images just to spice it up a little. I haven't figured out how to add a sidebar yet -- any techniques to share? You seem to know what you're talking about.

By zeak4hands — On Jul 28, 2011

@wander - Woah there. Webmastering isn't that hard! I've been a webmaster for years. Yes, you have to learn at least HTML and PHP code, but they aren't that complicated. Think of learning coding languages like learning a foreign language -- you just need to practice to learn them.

Long after I started webmastering, I took a few college classes to learn the newest version of HTML and PHP. I hated working with templates -- I only did it for the first week of class -- so I learned how to create graphic and code from scratch.

As for my webmaster career, I mostly do it as a hobby. I've made dozens and dozens of simple websites and manage six or more bigger websites for friends.

If you want to know how to become a webmaster, just start by creating basic HTML websites -- then start with the most complicated stuff. The best way to learn anything is to just do it. Good luck!

By AnnBoleyn — On Jul 27, 2011

@peabody - You are partly right. In a large corporation, they may employ several people for separate areas of the website's production. However, practical knowledge of both programming as well as design are part of a webmaster's tools. The more they can offer, the more valuable they are.

By peabody — On Jul 27, 2011

@letshearit - Regarding your comment about learning graphic design and copy editing, shouldn't a company ideally have separate people to do each of those jobs? I'm sure that a website programmer would have very different skills from a designer.

By LTimmins — On Jul 26, 2011

@wander - Indeed, a lot of webmasters out there today employ similar tactics of working from predesigned templates. As you mentioned, many clients simply aren't knowledgeable enough to convey exactly what they want or need in a website. This is part of a webmaster's job, or rather, their required "soft skills". Webmasters should be able to liaise between different groups in a company to bring the overall desired vision to life.

By letshearit — On Jul 26, 2011

I think that enrolling in a college program that teaches you the programming languages used online is a great way to become a webmaster. Often schools have placement programs that will help the young programmer find simple work and help them make the connections they need to be successful in the website building field.

Taking additional classes in graphic design and copy editing can really help you become a full service webmaster. The ability to offer additional skills to clients can really help you earn more as a webmaster than someone would just putting the sites together from a basic idea.

By wander — On Jul 26, 2011

Becoming a webmaster is a serious task that requires a lot of dedication and hours spent studying all the nuances of programming. It seems to me that while a lot of people give themselves the title of a webmaster, very few people actually meet the requirements.

My friend was a self-proclaimed webmaster but worked solely from free online templates and really didn't put in the work to learn the programing himself. I never thought he did anything particularly impressive but people still paid him to put together their websites. I think it really came down to people lacking knowledge about what true webmasters can do.

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