What It Means
Web management refers to all of the activities included in the process of posting and maintaining a website on the World Wide Web. Though many individuals and businesses create and manage their own sites, the majority of websites are professionally designed and maintained by technology firms; this is because every phase of website development requires technical expertise.
The web management process begins with the design phase. At this point in a business relationship between a client and a technology firm, the client meets with the graphic designer to present his or her company’s logo and colors and to discuss the image the company hopes to portray on its new website. In addition to creating a site that properly represents the company, the graphic designer has to build a navigation system that makes the site easy to use for all web visitors. The navigation system refers to the series of links that gives users access to the subpages (the pages other than the main page, or home page, on a website; users bring subpages up on the computer screen by clicking on certain words and images on the site) containing the information they need. On an ideally designed website, users are only one or two clicks away from the information they need at any given point during the visit to the website.
After designing a visually appropriate, easy-to-navigate site, the graphic designer gives a mock-up (a visual model or picture of the new site) to a programmer, who writes the code that will present this material on the Internet. After the website has been designed and the code has been written, the site needs to be hosted on a web server and maintained. The web server is the computer that holds the website and transmits the code that displays the website on the end user’s computer screen. Maintenance involves posting new words and images on the website whenever the company needs to update the information on the site.
When Did It Begin
The origin of the World Wide Web can be traced all the way back to 1980, when London native Tim Berners-Lee (b. 1955) created the first version of hypertext (the words and images that change appearance by becoming bold, changing color, and sometimes appearing underlined when users mouse over them, a feature that indicates to users that they can access more information by clicking on these words). At the time Berners-Lee was working in a physics laboratory, and he drafted the code for this clickable computer language so that the physicists in his research group could share information more easily. Berners-Lee’s code, though it was only used in this small community, was the basis for HTML (hypertext markup language), the computer language that is most commonly used to present text and pictures on the World Wide Web.
When the Internet first became widely available to the public in 1995, website development and management became one of the fastest growing industries in the world. Because of the early success of such online stores as Amazon.com and eBay, thousands of other businesses wanted to use the Internet to market and sell their goods and services. In 1995 there were approximately 1,000 companies in the United States that designed and hosted websites for clients. Within only 10 years there were 30,000 such firms; by that time most businesses considered a website a necessary part of their operations.
More Detailed Information
A number of technical terms associated with web management are easier to understand than they may sound. People hoping to do more than just surf the web (visit websites to examine the information there) need to master this vocabulary in order to follow the conversations among people who work in the field of computer technology. To begin, a web browser is a software application (a program that enables a computer to perform specific tasks) that allows a user to view websites on a computer. Most people who use the Internet access the World Wide Web with a web browser called Internet Explorer. All users have to do to get online is to click the Internet Explorer icon on their computer screen.
Connectivity (the ability to communicate with other computers) is a term used to talk about the technology that transmits or carries the data from the web server to the user’s computer screen. When a user clicks the Internet Explorer icon to open the web browser, the computer sends a signal, usually through a telephone line, to a web server that transmits the HTML (coded instructions) for displaying the web page on the user’s computer. After opening the browser, the user will see the home page of the Google website (unless he or she has set the computer to automatically load a different website instead). The user can then access another website by entering the appropriate web address in the field at the top of the page. The length of time it takes for the user’s computer to present the new site depends on the quality of the user’s connectivity. The science involved in transmitting the website’s programming code from the web server to the user’s computer screen is quite complicated. Average users, when choosing an internet service provider (such as AOL or EarthLink), only want to know how fast the connection will allow them to load a website and how much they will have to pay per month to be able to connect to the Internet. Most individual users today have a DSL (digital subscriber line) connection to the Internet, which posts information within seconds after the user enters a web address in the field at the top of his screen or clicks a link on a website.
In general there are two types of websites a user can visit. The first is called a static site. A static site displays information when a user clicks a link, and it additionally allows the user to e-mail the organization sponsoring the site. Other than this, however, the user cannot interact with the company through the website. A dynamic site, on the other hand, offers the user an opportunity to conduct business with or interact with the company via the Internet. For example, on some dynamic websites users can purchase merchandise. Such a website is called an e-commerce site. Other dynamic websites allow visitors to post their opinions in writing and to read the opinions of others. This type of site is called a blog, which is short for web log.
Though the web development industry remains quite large and profitable, more and more individuals are learning how to manage their own websites. Such software programs as Microsoft FrontPage and Adobe Dreamweaver allow computer users to build websites without knowing how to write HTML code. With Dreamweaver, for example, users need only browse through their files for the picture they want to display on their website and click the appropriate icon on the Dreamweaver command menu; the software will automatically write the code that presents the picture on the website. Given the ease of developing and maintaining a website with these software programs, many small businesses now design their own sites. Medium and large businesses often use web development firms, but they also usually purchase what is called content management software, which allows them to change the content of the site (the text and pictures) without consulting the web development firm. Since the year 2000, web development has become less costly. Prices for design software and hosting fees have gone down, and more intricate applications such as e-commerce and e-newsletter software are also less expensive.