The Accidental Webmaster

Robert Z. Calvert (Zion Studio)

Online Information Review

ISSN: 1468-4527

Article publication date: 1 August 2004




Calvert, R.Z. (2004), "The Accidental Webmaster", Online Information Review, Vol. 28 No. 4, pp. 312-312.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

The premise behind this book is that sometimes people are thrust into Web creation and maintenance without having any useful prior skills or experience. This obviously does happen sometimes, though in larger organisations the role of the Web seems to have been recognised for its significance, and more frequently we are seeing suitably qualified information managers taking the position of Web content manager. In smaller organisations, though, one is more likely to find “the accidental webmaster”.

This book is not a technical guide, so there is not much here on HTML, Flash, XML, etc. The author and publisher have rightly concluded that the market is already replete with books that handle such subject matter – I quite like Building Better Web Sites by Yuwu Song (Neal‐Schuman, 2003). What one finds here is the bigger picture on getting started and then maintaining a good but simple Web site. The need to write solid policies before starting, the need to work with a good and trustworthy ISP, and the critical but often‐forgotten matter of naming the site and handling file names are all included in the first half of the book.

The most important focus is on Web content – what should be included in the site and what must or should be omitted. It is this matter of Web content management which is often beyond the ken of the “techie” left in charge of a site, but it is the strength that is brought to the enterprise by a trained information manager. A second focus is on task management and avoiding overload. Other topics are marketing, fundraising, legal issues and liability, and the creation of communities online. Only the chapter on marketing and feedback is “semi‐technical”, but anyone who cannot follow the material here would be well advised to get out of Web work or seek more assistance.

Julie Still uses her experience as a librarian to provide some useful context to Web information management, but she is also a more‐than‐capable author who writes well for the non‐technical reader. She interviewed widely to collect background material for this book. It could be that there is a declining need for this book as more information specialists become involved in managing Web sites, but this is not what we see in some organisations, so the need for this book is obvious.

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