In the pre‐Web days, in fact not more than two years ago, there was no mention of the word or even a job description for what we know today as the Webmaster. The phenomenal and even unexpected growth of the Internet, but specifically the World Wide Web, created the need for a completely new and unique staff member in an organisation with very specialised interests and skills. It soon became clear that practical knowledge of new skills such as HTML formatting and Web server installation and maintenance were imperative for an organisation that wants to stay ahead of its competitors. Today, the main assignment of a Webmaster is to design, implement and maintain an effective World Wide Web site. To be able to do this the Webmaster must acquire knowledge of diverse fields such as network configuration, interface and graphical design, software development, business strategy, writing, editing, marketing and project management. Furthermore, both the growth rate of the Web and its impact on enterprise are responsible for the fact that the task description of the Webmaster is under constant transformation. Instead of being only responsible for HTML formatting, programming and Web site maintenance, Webmasters have become an integral part of a larger Web site team and have to manage other specialised tasks such as being an editor, graphic artist and programmer. The Webmaster has in certain instances become an important part of the team responsible for the entire business strategy of an enterprise, because many Web sites are now being used for their marketing and supporting activities. However, with online database vendors such as KR Dialog, DataStar, Medline and LEXIS‐NEXIS also moving into the Web environment, a few of which have already implemented Web‐based interfaces to assist in the online search process, the Webmaster's responsibilities might extend to that of supporting information professionals and their online search activities as well. Hence the goal and position of the Webmaster will be discussed in an effort to indicate how the Webmaster can play a role in enhancing the online search process.
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