Web editors are critical to website success. They have a combination of communications, marketing and technology skills. Most of all, they know their readers inside out.Great websites require communications, marketing and technology skills. Today, there are very few organizations that have combined these skills into an effective mix. However, the better organizations are working hard to do so, and they are finding it difficult to get people with the right blend of skills.
The web editor is a crucial role. It is the person who decides what gets published on the website and what doesn't. In essence, it is the person who is in charge of the website. This will be the highest paid position in the web team and will be hardest to fill over the coming years.
If you are excited by the idea of a career as a web editor, then the first and by far the most important skill you must develop is to have a gut instinct for what your readers want. To develop a gut instinct-to have your finger on the pulse of what your audience wants--you will need constant contact with that audience.
Every week you must observe, meet, phone, and email your readers. Nothing else-absolutely nothing else-is more important. There is no greater skill to develop than to know what works with your customer and what doesn't; to know what they will read-how much they will read-and what they will not read.
Developing a gut instinct allows you to quickly evaluate the worth of new ideas for content or applications. This is a tremendous skill and will guarantee you a successful career in web management.
To be a good web editor you must have strong web communication and marketing skills. You must recognize that web communication is not the same as print, radio or TV communication. You must be willing to embrace these new skills and have the ability to spread these skills within your organization.
You must recognize that your reader is impatient and that your website must always be obsessed with being convenient and fast. You must be willing to promote and sell to the reader why they should pay your website attention. Remember, the reader always has a choice, whether it's a commercial website, an intranet or government website. If, for example, your intranet is too confusing, they can pick up the phone and ask a colleague.
You must be comfortable with technology. I sometimes meet marketing and communications people who say "I'm not technical." Today, we live in a technological world, and we all require some degree of technical knowledge. You need enough technical competence to avoid technophobia on the one extreme, and techno-euphoria on the other.
This is a wonderful time to be involved with the Web. We have come through the experimentation phase. We know a lot about what works and what doesn't. The organizations that the Web can deliver real value to are now giving the Web its due recognition.
These organizations are looking for talented people who can help them deliver this value. These people are web editors.
Gerry McGovern, a content management author and consultant
, has spoken, written and consulted extensively on writing for the web and web content management issues since 1994.