Who’s Your Webmaster?

We build beautiful WordPress websites for all kinds of organizations. We like to continue working with our web design clients as strategic partners, helping them get the full benefit of a great website, but sometimes the budget isn’t there or the organization is confident that they can do the needed things in house. For these sites, we’re always happy to help when they need a little bit of work done or some training, but of course we don’t provide the services and care we offer for our ongoing clients.

We had a surprise recently when one of these companies assured us that they were paying us a monthly fee to take care of them. They aren’t — we’d have noticed — but it struck me that there are dangers to thinking that you have a webmaster when in fact you don’t.

First, you might not do the things you need to do. If you assume someone else is taking care of your website for you, you probably won’t make needed updates or be vigilant about hacking. Your web host might be watching some of this for you, depending on the hosting company you use, but no web hosting company is watching to make sure your staff page is up to date. And cleaning up a hacked website can be a complex and time consuming project.

Second, you might think that things are being done when they’re not. Our clients can rest secure that we’ll fix that stretched picture and catch the weird formatting in their news release. If you just think you have a webmaster, though, you might do all sorts of things to your website, confident that your webmaster is going to take care of it… but you don’t have one.

Third, things don’t get done, even though you want them done. We were contacted some years ago by a software company. “We can do everything we need to do,” the caller assured me, “but nothing actually gets done.” The people in your organization are busy, and there is a tendency to figure that someone will take care of all the little things that need doing at your website. But when it’s everyone’s job, it’s no one’s job. Often we’ll talk with people who had a staff person who was the webmaster for their website, but who left months or years ago.

Losing your webmaster isn’t like losing your receptionist, though; nothing terrible happens right away. You only notice it as things need doing at your website, or your website stops doing its job as well as it used to.

In the case of the client who contacted us, everyone sort of felt that we were looking after them, and as staff changes took place, the legend sprang up that we were taking care of their website. Ask yourself: who’s your webmaster? Are you sure?

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