Who Is In Charge Of Your Website?
At this point I've worked on hundreds of website projects in one capacity or another and one of the best indicators of project success is a strong, invested client presence in the project. So today I'm asking you the question: Who is in charge of your website?
An all to common scenario I was reminded of again last week
A couple months ago I began working with a client who was unhappy with their previous web people. I've been working with them on small website enhancements over this time and last week I received messages from four different people in their organization all asking for different things:
- One asked for a miniscule color change to a button.
- One griped that they weren't showing up in search engines.
- One wanted to put banner ads on the website because they saw one of their competitors do it.
- One asked how easy would it be to add a quoting system to the website.
Now there is nothing inherently wrong with any of these requests (ok, maybe the button color request is a bit off), however in reading them over the week it became very clear to me what was happening:
- Their website isn't performing as well as they'd like and they're rushing to make some changes.
- They have no cohesive strategy for how to go about this and no one person responsible for the website.
I have seen this many times before and I reached out to this client to ask the question who is in charge of their website? To which he replied that nobody was and he does now see this as a problem.
Why is it important to have one person in charge?
To answer this question, a quick backstory. In the early days of NASA there was no point person. Various groups went off and did amazing work to launch astronauts into space but when it came to making hard decisions they relied on group consensus. What this resulted in was bad decisions (most notably in John Glenn's first orbit of the earth, which nearly caused him to be lost in space).
How did NASA deal with this? They mandated that there would always be one flight director in charge of making final decisions during all space missions. This is still true today at NASA and today I'm suggesting to you that this approach would also serve you well with your website.
Going back to my client from last week, let's see how this would work. Instead of having multiple, random requests sent to me, they would have sent them all internally to their person in charge who would look at them and prioritize them against the overall website strategy they have. That small step alone is hugely powerful. One of the nice things about the internet is that so much is possible ... but it's also easy to get lost and chase things that don't matter.
Signs that you have the right person in charge
Maybe you are reading this and aren't even sure if you have the right person in charge. Here are signs that you do:
- Your website is regularly discussed internally every month.
- You can clearly state the top 3 goals of and the overall strategy for the website.
- You are not constantly chasing your competition or trying to steal ideas from them.
- You are more focused on adding quality content than chasing search engine rankings.
- You know how many visitors your website received last month.
- You try new initiatives on your website every six months.
These are just a handful but they will help you to identify where you stand on the spectrum of being in a good place with your website or having one that is a badly underutilized tool on the internet.
OK, I'm sold. Who should this person be?
Well I'm glad to see you've come around. But it's not enough to simply say so and so is in charge. You should find the right person. That person should be someone who:
- Has an interest in and loves working on the internet.
- Has some background in website / internet marketing best practices.
- Has an understanding of internet trends in your industry.
- Can clearly define goals for your internet presence (or at least work with management to clearly define them).
Most often this person is not a senior manager, though that is the instinct of many clients I've worked with. More often it is the young intern who grew up with the internet and lives on it every day. Many of the old ways of doing things differ greatly in this internet age (the notion of constant improvement, better is better than perfect thinking, focusing on the user experience, agile development, etc.) and if you're holding on to those old ways you are limiting your website and your organization.
Taking the next step
So now your homework: Give this some hard thinking and answer the question, "Who is in charge of my website?".
Having answered this, my client is working right now on realigning internal resources to clearly define who is in charge of their website and what the goals and strategy are for it. Websites require constant nuturing. Make sure you have the right person in charge to do this important work.