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Monday, April 23, 2001

Managing sites as Web producer
By Sumesh Raizada

IN todayís world there are millions of Web sites covering a variety of areas like trade, literature, science and entertainment. One can watch movies, listen to music, read books, explore news and search scientific and engineering data on the Web itself. As a result producing a Web site has become a complex and a specialised task and professionals are working exclusively for this job. These professionals are generally referred to as Web or Internet producer and are responsible for creation, maintenance and marketing of a Web project. They are involved in the activities right from the beginning till the complete life cycle of any project.

To some extent a Web producer may be compared to the producer of any film, television show or a commercial, where they are required to coordinate a variety of back-stage activities. These professionals work with Web designers, technical writers, network and database analysts and several others to bring out a Web site or portal. Since costs involved in any Web project are high a Web producer has to ensure that the developed product becomes commercially viable.


Like any other media-based project, Web project also involve mainly four processes: pre-production, production, publication and post-publication. In pre-production stage, financial planning is done, action plans are prepared, schedules are set and various risk factors are considered. This is followed by the actual production or designing of a Web site as per the clientís or project requirement. In the next stage, a designed site is put on to the Web and is made open to the Internet viewers. Finally, a Web site is reviewed, updated and redesigned in the post-publication stage. This helps in managing and positioning a Web site effectively during its lifetime. Though the Web producers are engaged in all the phases of development, placement or maintenance of a Web site yet it is the pre-production and publication where their involvement is relatively more.

Web producers are required to organise the required software, procure equipment and hardware and arrange production facilities for the projects. A Web producer needs to have excellent communication skills and be able to resolve conflicts among personnel. They generally have the practical experience and backgrounds in areas related to their present Web assignment and are therefore able to envisage or revise a Web site effectively. They may be a content writer, programmer, graphic designer, HTML editor, sales or finance personnel. For sites related to entertainment, sports or news, a Web producer might be someone from the trade itself but having sufficient exposure and knowledge of Web-related activities.

Big companies that operate different Web sites, employ separate Web producers for producing each specialised site. Similarly firms that undertake the Web projects for number of clients simultaneously, hire the services of these professionals. Web producers also operate as freelancers for carrying out production activity for the client. Almost all big portals as well as the Internet Service Providers (ISPs) employ them for managing different sections like entertainment, education, news, science and shopping. Most of the media and TV companies require these professionals to bring out a Web site for their operations to reach wide audience. Here, they are required to coordinate with sales and editorial staff on various aspects of project management.

Web producer needs to have proficiency in HTML, graphic design and have basic understanding Internet-related laws. They must have ability to work in team environment and should possess excellent communication and service skills. The educational qualification might vary depending upon the industry for which they operate. In some areas, Web producers may possess degree in science or engineering while in others they may be having background in sales, finance or journalism. However, an experience in Web programming, content layout and navigation is must for all candidates.

Web producers are required to make contact with the client and other parties to oversee the development and implementation of a project through its entire cycle and work to adhere to the time as well as cost schedules. They might be required to work with multiple clients at a time and work on different unrelated projects. They should be able to resolve clientís queries on different navigational tools and choice of domain name, server address and search engines.

In media companies like television or news channels, newspaper, magazines, Web producers are generally taken from the field of journalism and should have a reporting and writing skills. Ability to meet deadlines is essential. Here they are required to integrate Web site with the existing programs and news contents. Oracle Corporation, a leading company in electronic commerce, employs Internet or Web producers for marketing and positioning of operations in a consistent manner. They plan and organise presentations, manage various contents and schedules, work for developing ways and means to improve customerís service. They act as quality control in case of live presentations and work for optimising resources. They may possess a graduation degree but experience in e-commerce or Internet-related industry is necessary. They need to have excellent presentation and marketing skills. Knowledge of hardware and networking is an added advantage for them. A person going in for career as an Internet or Web producer should be familiar with Photoshop, Deamweaver, Pagemaker and HTML.

In e-commerce or consulting companies, Web producers work with the designers to create e-services. They work with market research team in getting feedback on product performance and steps that should be initiated in improving the content or presentation of a web site to make it popular. As a freelancer, Web producer are responsible for generating Web business for their clients.

In India and many other countries, the job of a Web producer might sometimes overlap with project manager or a Web developer, but yet it is specialised task and requires experienced professionals to take up the job. In the USA, Australia or Canada, they are working in large numbers either as freelancers or as an employee. Since the concept is relatively new, it might take some time before the profession gets popularised in India like other related jobs of designers, analysts or programmers. The task is challenging and has a lot of scope for creativity. As a result job satisfaction is high and the growth potential are bright in terms of financial earnings.

Yahoo! one of the largest portals and Microsoft, the leading software firm, hire Internet producers for their media projects. Web or Internet producer identifies specific needs of the customer and then organise manpower as well as material resources to bring out the product i.e. a web portal or a site. Usually, these professionals have background in editing, marketing or online publishing. They must be able to prepare a budget for a project, negotiate terms with the outside content providers and monitor the costs or the revenues.

In countries like the USA or Australia it is among the fastest growing profession and almost all major industries like finance, banking, telephone, ISP, software consulting, employ these professionals. The more they are experienced in trades like editing, programming, marketing, publishing, the better it is for them to manage the show.

Though it might still look a career for tomorrow in India yet it is already a popular trade abroad. Therefore those who get into this profession now shall have a bright future ahead of them, here as well as abroad. Others, who are in related profession like Web designing and script writing, can also look for a change in their respective fields and venture into a more responsible, challenging and critical task of a Web producer.

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