, ,

Your Webmaster: The Master of Some, Sometimes, When Possible

What do a VCR, a fax machine, a Walkman, and the term Webmaster have in common?

They’re all obsolete.

Yes, Webmaster is an outdated term.

It’s the year 2017; websites are interactive, dynamic, and imperative to business operations. They are the central command center for a robust, multi-faceted marketing approach.

In a way, a website is an organism. It is a complex system that only works well when various independent parts work together in harmony. If you look at your website under a microscope, what would you find?

Perhaps SEO and social media would serve as the respiratory system, breathing in new life…maybe passwords, firewalls, and encryption protocols are the skin, white blood cells, and spleen…the server could be the heart…the content management system could be the brain…with scripts and code transporting information and lifeblood like nerves and veins.

To look after and “maintain” these independent parts, many of us turn to a single web development company, a contractor, or look to hire someone in-house. Once on-boarded, briefed, and everyone is happy, we give our new “Webmaster” the keys to the city, and task them with the responsibility to:

“Look after all this, don’t let anything break, and build something that will make our company great. Oh, by the way–do all of this fast and on a limited budget.”

Ten years ago, you might have gotten away with this type of arrangement. Just like 200 years ago, the town had one doctor, who made his rounds on a horse and buggy, providing you with a one-size-fits-all treatment, regardless of whether or not you had syphilis, polio, or a broken arm from battle.

“Here’s a shot of bourbon, rub some dirt on it. I’ll notify the morgue, so they can free up a bed.”

I realized I wasn’t a Webmaster…

For a while, I considered myself, and all of Orpical Group, Webmasters. In my opinion, part of this misconceived notion comes from Google and Bing, who both subliminally knight us every time we claim and verify a client’s website for search engine optimization (SEO).

It wasn’t until June 2017 however, when I fully realized I wasn’t a Webmaster, nor did I want myself, or Orpical Group, to be perceived as one.

I always considered us a marketing agency and business consulting firm, but further verification (and understanding of what that meant) really took place once we made the conscious decision to focus a large portion of our time into developing a specialty web service under the growing web security spectrum. The productized-service: GOGET SECURE was born.

This post isn’t a sales pitch for GOGET SECURE, but I want to quickly share some background info on the brand, our motives behind it, and its initial reception to further emphasize how absurd our views of what a Webmaster is can be.

When I started cold prospecting…

At its core, GOGET SECURE is a 51-point proprietary process (it’s actually more now, but 51 still sounds cool) that we developed at Orpical Group to make websites more secure. The service safely, smartly, and thoroughly switches a website from HTTP to HTTPS. As far as we are aware, it’s the only branded SSL Installation and HTTPS Migration Service in the world.

In making the switch to HTTPS, businesses are able to encrypt the connection between their website and a user’s browser. This ultimately results in increased credibility and trust from prospects and customers, improved conversion rates, and higher search rankings.

When we decided to conduct our initial outreach, we aimed to first identify websites that weren’t on HTTPS. In addition, we looked for websites that had login forms or other areas on their website that collected sensitive information, like passwords or credit cards. We developed an app called Bandit that would find these types of websites, then generate a report and browser screenshot showing that the website was “Not Secure”.

Basically, we took this information and gave a courtesy heads-up to business owners and executives. Our message was simple. “Hey, your website is being shamed (flagged) by Google and other search engines and browsers. We have a specialty service, the only one of its kind, that can help you fix this to better secure your site.”

And prospects shut me down hard because they “have a guy” that handles their website already.

I quickly realized that most of my prospects were passing my report along to their existing Webmaster.

Thankfully, some kind souls did get back to me. Those that did agree to chat with me were hesitant and really put up their guard. But, I am immensely appreciative of those opportunities, mainly because they confirmed my suspicions that I wasn’t crazy.

“We already have a Webmaster.”

“Our website is managed currently by another company.”

I was thwarted like this over and over again. I’m not going to lie, it got frustrating.

So, I started to reply rather bluntly: “If you have a guy, why hasn’t this important security protocol been added to your website yet?”

As an agency, we understand the value of having a Webmaster on call to handle most of your website needs. It’s like having a family doctor when you get hit with a cold.

In fact, we provide clients with general web maintenance services, so we would be a giant hypocrite if we advocated totally against it. With that being said, we developed GOGET SECURE because many Webmasters are not fully dedicated to search engine optimization, server configuration, and encryption. In addition, many are simply unaware of the importance of HTTPS themselves, therefore they have not acquired the knowledge and skillset to encrypt your website. This did not happen overnight for us. We have invested tremendous resources (1000+ development hours) to be able to call ourselves experts in SSL Certificates and HTTPS.

So, is your Webmaster a bad guy? A crook? Digital Pirate? Con? No, we’re not saying that. Nor are we saying that they are incompetent. What it boils down to is this:

Webmasters are freaking busy and frankly a little overwhelmed.

When it comes to something hyper-focused like HTTP to HTTPS migrations, your Webmaster isn’t always going to have 100% understanding and laser-focus. Not a big deal. After all, I wouldn’t want my family doctor performing open-heart surgery.

More times than not, the person managing a website is running around week-to-week, day-to-day, switching gears to meet priorities and deadlines.

A “webmaster” is your modern-day chicken with a head chopped off, working on dozens of things to keep you happy: plug-in and theme updates, designing and developing new content, sometimes hosting your website, UI/UX testing, fixing bugs, analyzing data, pick your poison. Oh, and there is dealing with the marketing department…Good luck, Mr. Webmaster!

Working with multiple agencies and vendors is the way to go.

Doesn’t your family doctor refer you out-of-office for additional diagnosis and treatment when it’s out of their capabilities? Isn’t there a reason why doctors affiliate themselves with hospitals and medical centers?

In the web development industry, there is plenty of work to go around. As our clients, you are relying on us to deliver our expertise, creative services, and technical support. With the growing complexities of the web and digital marketing, it’s foolish to think that anyone of us can cover all bases.

So, I learned that we are a marketing agency and business consulting firm. What does that mean? To me, that means that we’re essentially a hub for your web, marketing, and business operations. There are days when I might look at you and say, “We need to bring someone else in here,” and then I’ll make an introduction to a partner, or vendor that I have personally vetted and trust. There are other days, when I will say, “Oh yea, that’s right in our wheel house.”

Finding the right balance and the right partnerships is key. Embodying the web via a lone webmaster is virtual suicide.

“If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”