Ultimately the web can be profitably used to attract clients, help them solve their needs through our products and services, and make their overall experience with our product more productive and pleasant. This can also be seen as delivering on our brand’s promise, and catching up to our customer’s expectations which are being changed by the web itself. This gives us some idea of who should be in charge of our web projects.
Since the web can be used to reach more clients and expand their experience around our product, a logical choice would be whoever is charge of new business development: depending on your organization this could be your CEO or your brand or product managers. The relationship is even stronger when our use of the web has implications for adapting or improving our product itself. For instance a coffee brand may use the web to help its customers express how they prefer their drink, which may be different from the custom in the brand’s country of origin. In this case the person in charge needs to balance the opportunity to serve a new market with the risk of diluting the original brand.
Web projects can also be seen as the natural purview of Marketing, since we are talking about the brand and fulfilling its promise. There is a specific danger as the marketing department can easily fall on its default use of other media but now on the web, with the resulting campaigns generating advertising that is irrelevant or annoying to our customers. The biggest cost of traditional advertising on the web is that we are missing out on the stream of queries from our customers, eroding their trust in us and putting our long term relationship with them in jeopardy.
Given that the web has an effect on many business areas the CEO may need to be the team leader. Taking into account the amount of work CEOs already have to cope with, they may need to delegate this task but remain the ultimate stakeholder. The easiest way to begin is to define the stakeholders, and from this an executive team.
From the impact of the web on our business we can also see who should not be in charge: our web projects are clearly not design projects, so the arts department or an external designer with no knowledge of our customers and our business cannot generate the goals and the specific web solutions. Once we have a web medium strategy, a content strategy that responds to specific opportunities, then we will certainly require functions such as information architecture and usability testing that will help us give form to specific web projects – and even this is far removed from “web decoration”.
The same logic applies to our IT department or external developers: some technology will be required but technology by itself with no content is of no value to us. Our IT department’s contribution could be invaluable once we define the goals of our projects and a content strategy, as they could help us choose the best web technology, manage suppliers and have better control of our digital assets.