May 7, 2008

Who Owns Your Web Site?

Of all marketing projects, perhaps web site development requires the most diverse set of skills. All but the smallest sites require the involvement of designers, copywriters, programmers, and IT personnel. Since most corporate web sites present a broad range of information, it's likely every department manager wants input in the project. With all these stakeholders, who should be in charge of a web site project?

Designers are most concerned with how the we site will look. IT's viewpoint is how to make the web site work. Each manager may have differing ideas as to what should be included and prominent on the site. Although each of these people are needed to develop the site, egos and goals can easily clash.

The person who leads this project needs to be someone who can bring all of these divergent views and personalities together. But even more important, this person has to have a firm understanding of the purpose of the site. This person may ultimately need to define the purpose. This is a job for someone from the Marketing department.

A company's web site is at its core, a communication tool, and as such should be managed by those most experienced in communicating the company's message. Your IT people may be extremely skilled at working with the technology behind your web site, but are hardly the ideal people to develop your site's content. Designers can make that content look great, and copywriters can make the words flow, but neither are likely to be best at placating the various managers who often have differing views.

Marketing understands its company's products and/or services, audiences, and value proposition. It also has the experience of working with multiple departments while developing various marketing tools (collateral, advertisements, sales aids, etc.).

This doesn't mean that Marketing makes all the decisions regarding the web site. In most companies, Marketing answers to someone else, whether that be a Manager, Director, VP, or even the company's top position. In fact, there may be several people in the company that have more authority than Marketing. However, Marketing is the proper entity to manage the web site project, pulling together all the pieces, keeping the project on schedule, and coordinating all the needed resources.

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