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Job Description: Web Editor

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A web author/editor is responsible for the content and images used on a website. They plan, research, write copy and edit the content of a website. They may be involved in providing copy for the internet or for an organisation's internal intranet site.

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Job Description, Salaries and Benefits

A web author/editor is likely to get involved in:

  • producing new content and writing it in an interesting and appealing manner
  • sourcing images and artwork, and commissioning photographers
  • liaising with clients or internal departments
  • maintaining the site once it is live and ensuring the information is accurate.

They may take on the role of webmaster and be responsible for dealing with enquiries emailed from the site and overseeing any message boards.

A web author/editor works between 37 and 40 hours a week, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Additional hours may be required to meet deadlines, which could include weekends and evenings.

Salaries range from about £18,000 to more than £40,000 for senior positions.

A web author/editor should:

  • have excellent communication skills, both written and oral
  • be able to undertake research using a variety of sources
  • be creative, able to alter their style of writing to reflect their audience
  • be able to multitask and prioritise work schedules
  • be computer literate and possess good keyboard skills
  • be interested in different methods of communication.

Web authors/editors may be employed by web design companies, IT consultancies, media organisations or a company's marketing/corporate communication department. This is still a relatively new role.

There is no set entry route, although many employers expect applicants to have a degree. Degree course subjects such as communications, journalism and multimedia may be useful. Employers may look for previous experience of copywriting, supported by relevant work experience and vocational skills. There are no age restrictions.

Training is mainly on the job, and may include in-house training courses.

As this role is in its infancy there is no clear career path. Opportunities and promotion prospects vary depending on the size and type of organisation. With experience there may be possibilities to become self-employed.

What is the work like?

A web author/editor is responsible for the content and images used on a website. They plan, research, write copy and edit the content of a website.

A number of factors affect the role of a web author/editor. These include:

  • whether they are providing the copy for the internet or for an organisation's internal intranet site
  • the frequency of content updates, for example a corporate website will be relatively static, whereas a news information site may be updated on an hourly basis.

A web author/editor is likely to get involved in:

  • planning the style of copy required and the frequency with which it will need updating
  • creating schedules and agreeing deadlines
  • producing new content and writing it in an interesting and appealing manner
  • identifying suitable subjects for interview
  • sourcing images and artwork, and commissioning photographers
  • liaising with clients or internal departments to check on content, style and presentation
  • incorporating written copy onto the website from other individuals or departments
  • maintaining the site once it is live and ensuring the information is accurate
  • developing editorial policies, copyright, data protection and best practice.

Web authors/editors may also take on the role of webmaster and be responsible for dealing with enquiries emailed from the site and overseeing any message boards. They may also get involved in analysing statistics to determine the popularity of the site and how many hits/visits it receives. In larger organisations the webmaster may be a separate role.

A web author/editor may work within an editorial team or alone. They work closely with a range of individuals, from web designers/developers and project/account managers to photographers and marketing professionals. It is essential that they understand their site's target audience and requirements.

This is a non-technical role requiring creative writing skills, although some technical understanding is useful and will help career progression.

The average starting salary for a web author/editor may be around £18,000 a year.

Hours and Environment

A web author/editor works between 37 and 40 hours a week, 9am to 5.30pm, Monday to Friday. Additional hours may be required to meet deadlines, which could include working weekends and evenings. Part-time work and flexitime are also possible. There may be opportunities for self-employment and also to work from home.

It is usual to work in an open-plan office environment. There may be a limited amount of travelling for research purposes or to interview people.

Salary and Other Benefits

These figures are only a guide, as actual rates of pay may vary, depending on the employer and where people live.

  • The average starting salary for a web author/editor is around £18,000 a year.
  • With experience they may earn about £30,000 a year.
  • For those in senior roles salaries may be £40,000, or more

Skills and Personal Qualities

A web author/editor should:

  • have excellent communication skills, both written and oral
  • be able to undertake research using a variety of sources
  • be creative
  • be able to alter their style of writing to reflect their audience
  • be able to multitask and prioritise work schedules
  • be computer literate and possess good keyboard skills
  • be able to simplify and explain complex issues and procedures
  • be able to work on their own or in a team
  • be able to work to tight deadlines
  • be thorough and precise in their work with a good attention to detail
  • be able to use their initiative
  • be able to follow style guidelines and client briefs
  • have a broad understanding of copyright laws.

Interests

It is important to be interested in:

  • different methods of communication
  • the worldwide web and its importance in today's society.

Getting In

Web authors/editors may be employed by web design companies, IT consultancies, media organisations or a company's marketing/corporate communication department. There are job opportunities throughout the UK.

The IT industry is working in a rapidly expanding global market-place. As a result of the internet developing at great speed, there has been an explosion in the number of new roles being created, such as web author/editor. Many internet roles are still in their infancy.

Vacancies may be advertised on individual company and recruitment websites, and in trade publications, such as Computer Weekly, Computing, Marketing and PR Week. The local and national press also advertise positions.

Entry for young people

There is no set entry route, although many employers expect applicants to have a degree. Degree course subjects such as communications, journalism and multimedia may be useful. Entry to degree courses is usually with at least five GCSEs/S grades (A-C/1-3) and two A levels/three H grades, or equivalent qualifications. Check with individual colleges and universities for entry requirements.

Some web authors/editors come from a background in journalism, or may have worked previously in marketing or IT.

Employers may look for previous experience of copywriting, supported by relevant work experience and vocational skills. Applicants may also need to have some knowledge of, or experience in, the field they are writing for. Technical computing expertise is not required, although skills in web design and desktop publishing may be useful.

Entry for adults

Relevant work experience in copywriting may be useful and specialist knowledge may be required by some employers.

Access courses are available for people with no formal qualifications who want to do a degree.

Training

Training is mainly on the job, and may include in-house training courses. These may cover style requirements, research methods, copyright and privacy laws, and content management systems. (This covers areas such as web design, desktop publishing and photo imaging.)

The Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP) and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) offer a range of courses, which specialise in writing for the web and web editing.

Web authors/editors would be expected to keep up to date with changes in web design trends and in software packages.

Getting on

As this role is in its infancy there is no clear career path. Opportunities and promotion prospects vary depending on the size and type of organisation.

There may be opportunities for web authors/editors to become more specialised within the role, perhaps developing their technical ability, or to move into a position in management, training or marketing.

With experience there may be possibilities to become self-employed or work on a freelance basis.

Further Information

Further Reading

  • Careers Information pack - British Computer Society
  • Careers in Computing and Information Technology - Kogan Page
  • Careers in Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations - Kogan Page
  • Information Technology - AGCAS
  • Working in computers & IT - Connexions
  • Working in English - Lifeskills

Magazines

  • Computer Weekly
  • Computing
  • Marketing
  • PC Pro
  • PR Week
     

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