Invest in people and not just technology

Why are organisation willing to spend huge sums on their websites, but not the people who run them?

Ask any CEO how important the web is to their business, the majority will answer: ‘very’.

As Jonathan Kahn writes in his A List Apart article:

The website is now the digital manifestation of the organization, critical to marketing and sales, communications, branding and reputation, and customer service and support.

This belief is demonstrated in the amount most organisations are willing to spend on web technologies. It is not uncommon for organisations to spend tens of thousands on technology and periodic re-design.

Why then do most organisations fail to invest in their web teams? If the web is so important, surely it needs to be run by experienced, knowledgable individuals.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not criticising the amazing work done by web teams. I am saying that organisations are not investing in their teams.

Where is the investment in people?

Typically web teams are made up of two types of people. First there are the designers, developers and copywriters. These people are often relatively junior and spend their lives doing admin tasks. Although knowledgable about the web, they are not strategists and don’t have the authority to instigate change.

The second type of person is the more senior managerial type. These people do have the authority and experience to implement policy changes, but are not particularly knowledgable about the web. Also, they are rarely dedicated to the website, instead having responsibilities that’s span a number of areas.

Where change needs to be made

If organisations are going to really take the web seriously, they need to do two things.

First, they need to appoint some more senior, experienced individuals to their web teams; individuals who can work strategically on the site and who have years of experience in the web.

Second, they need to invest in their web teams by ensuring there is a regular programme of training available to keep their skills up to date. There are no shortage of conferences to send people on and there are even companies like Headscape who can create a program of training for staff.

The point is that investing in technology and the occasional redesign is not enough, a well considered web strategy has to start and end with the people who will implement it.

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  • Inexperience and ineffectiveness of client content providers is the #1 problem in the agency world today. Over the years, I’ve seen countless sites go through redesign after redesign hoping to solve the problem of poor content. As developers, we’ve gotten pretty good at creating frameworks for our clients’ content, but too often we’ve given the client the impression that they’re paying for us to just ‘fix it’ and make it go away.

    We need to do a better job of communicating that the web is a channel for content, and without that content, there’s not much chance of success. Excellent, and much needed post.

  • This is especially true for internal designers and developers (as I am one currently). The managers have all the power and none of the know how. Suggestions go unheaded and at the end of the day the site and it’s users suffer.

  • music to my ears