What Should Our Web Team Do?

webteamIn my role as Web Services Manager at a higher education institution, I lead a web team of three (including myself).  For a large institution, that is a small team.  No matter the size of your web team, you’ve probably asked yourself, ‘What should our web team do?’  I’ve been wondering that myself.  I’ve been in my role for a year and have seen some transitioning of duties and even more duties appear for our team.  It seems that the general thought on campus is if it’s web related (but not academic in nature), it is Web Services’ responsibility.  As technology, trends, and communication methods change, that could amount to a lot of duties ranging from online brand monitoring to online ads to e-mail marketing.

Randy Woods from non-linear creations has a great blog post where he suggests there are seven competencies required for any organization to succeed online.  A highlight of the competencies are below:

1. Technology
– Support of daily tasks
– Web integrations
– Large scale deployments
2. Education/Mentoring
– CMS training/support
– Web writing training
– SEO training
3. Content Creation
– Graphic design
– Information architecture
– Usability testing
4. Outreach
– Search engine optimization
– Pay per click marketing
– E-mail marketing
5. Social Media
– Develop strategy
– Monitor social networks
– Participate in networks
6. Strategy/Direction
– Set objective/priorities
– Instill best practices
– Promote web as a tool
7. Revenue Generation
– Manage onsite promotions
– Manage 3rd party ads
– E-commerce

In our post secondary environment we don’t do much with Revenue Generation, but our web team has primary responsibility for most of the aspects of the other competencies.  Over the next few months we will be working on developing a mandate for our web team and establishing roles and responsibilities for online efforts.  The ultimate goal of this process is to identify the best fit on or off campus for each competency and work towards moving the competencies where they best fit.

Randy continues by saying that these competencies can be put into one of four categories:

  • Core competencies – these should be maintained by the core team responsible for online activities, often deemed “the web team”
  • Critical support competencies – these should be maintained by the organization, but need not necessarily reside with the web team
  • Periodically required competencies – these can be maintained in house, but are often outsourced as they are not required on an ongoing basis
  • Unique domain expertise – while it is possible to develop experts in these areas in house, it is challenging. Many organizations chose to draw on external consultants to meet these needs.

We will be using these four categories in our process to assign roles and responsibilities for online efforts.   I see our web team having some role in each of the competencies, but the accountability may lie elsewhere.  Here is where I see responsibility should lie:

  • Technology -> Web Team
  • Education/ Mentoring -> Web Team/Vendors
  • Content Creation -> Web Team
  • Outreach -> Marketing/Vendors
  • Social Media -> Marketing/Recruitment
  • Strategy/Direction -> Web Team/Executive

How are your web teams structured?  What are their responsibilities?  Are the competencies listed above shared with other areas of your school? Please share your thoughts.

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  • http://www.ithaca.edu Chris Pollock

    I’m curious why you list “content creation” duties as lying with the web team, but “social media” with marketing/recruitment? Aren’t they more closely related than that?

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    According to Randy Woods’ chart, Content Creation is about information architecture, graphic design, usability testing, writing, etc. So while there is some overlap with Content Creation and Social Media, I would view the Social Media duties really about brand awareness and touch points. For traditional forms of brand awareness (advertising) and touch points (college fairs), those duties typically lie with the Marketing and Recruitment departments.

    One change that I should make with Content Creation is that it is shared with Marketing and Web Authors. But the accountability should remain with the Web Team.

    Thanks for your comments. What is the make up of responsibility like at your college?

  • http://www.ithaca.edu Chris Pollock

    At my college, my web marketing team resides within the Marketing Communications office. We are basically the middlemen (and -women) between campus clients, such as academic departments, and the web developers. So, for example, when we create a new website, my team takes the initial responsibility — working closely with the developers — in developing site structure, navigation, and other technical aspects, but as part of the marketing group, we take primary responsibility in developing messaging points that are consistent with the college’s brand.

    Part of the reason we have this setup is because our web developers worked very hard a few years ago to develop and implement a CMS that makes it possible for them to not have to be involved on every little detail of a website’s creation or maintenance.

    It’s part of what we call a “distributed content” model. There is a “primary content manager” (PCM) assigned to just about every site we have. Usually the PCM is a department chair or administrative assistant. We work with them often to ensure proper web usage, for troubleshooting, etc. but it means that the ultimate responsibility for each site is farmed out to various stakeholders. Otherwise there’s no way we could possibly maintain the thousands and thousands of pages on our college’s site.