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What is the Ideal Web Development Team Structure?



What is the Ideal Web Development Team Structure?

Do you need a web development team? To start with, most companies either outsource web development or have one person responsible for it.

However, as your company grows you may find that it becomes too much for one person and/or cheaper to do in-house. At this point, you need a web development team. Understanding the ideal structure for one is a challenge, similar to working out the ideal structure for your marketing team in general.

So, what does your web development team need? How do you structure it in a way that supports your overall marketing strategy and all stakeholders?

Roles Needed for a Web Development Team

First of all, you don’t necessarily need a full-time person for all of these roles. In some cases, somebody may wear multiple hats until the team is built out further. You also might bring some functions of web development in-house while continuing to outsource others.

But here are the roles you need to have covered.

Project Manager

Somebody has to be in charge. For web development, this is ideally somebody with both IT and project management experience. They don’t necessarily have to be a coder themselves. But they have to understand what is possible and what can be achieved.

They also need to decide when outsourcing is an ideal solution and when things can be done in-house. Consider looking at whoever has been liaising with an outsourced developer if you have one; that person has likely been building the required experience.

Project Architect

Professional web development companies also have a project architect. This is the person who oversees the entire project arc and ensures that everything is put together in the perfect way to support your business needs. This person typically involves himself in project requirements analysis to study what you need. They then coordinate with other team members to ensure that the development process supports it. More technically, they may work with the developers to make sure that the site you are building supports the right information architecture for your content.

Most businesses don’t have a separate project architect but roll this into project management. However, it’s important to understand that somebody has to have a solid idea of what the structure of the website is, what your needs are, etc.

Back-End Developers

Back-end developers work on the stuff that you and your customers never see. The back end is the nuts and bolts of the website. They handle a lot of the server-side stuff and will need to work within the technical specifications of your web server. You can sometimes avoid needing a back-end developer by using a content management system to run your website. In this case, the back end, and much of the front end, is handled for your plug and play.

If you don’t use a CMS or need to significantly alter one to meet your needs, though.

Front-End Developers

The other side is the front-end development, which is the site itself as the users see it. This means things like how web pages are served to clients, making sure that the site recognizes mobile devices, etc. It also includes integrating with social media. They handle everything client-side to make sure your site works across multiple devices and in all browsers.

On many smaller teams, the back end and front end are handled by the same person. This is also the largest chunk that tends to be outsourced. Software development and web coding are highly specialized skills. Unless you already have them in your IT department, it may not be worth trying to get somebody in-house.

UI/UX Designer

Do not neglect this piece! UX/UI designers work on how your website looks and feels. A good user experience designer makes your website care. Okay, a website can’t care, but…

UX design requires a mixture of graphic design, coding and, yes, marketing. It’s the UX designer that helps you make a website that will actually sell products. The developers make sure it stays up.

The UX designer makes it sing. Good UX design requires a solid understanding of your business and target audience. And a really good designer avoids the temptation to do what is fashionable right now.

Quality Assurance Engineer

The last IT is quality assurance. This is the person in charge of testing your website and making sure it works. They might rope in other employees to act as testers. A good QA engineer will test your website across multiple devices and multiple browsers to make sure that you are not losing customers just because they happen to not be using Chrome.

Content Director

Finally, there is the person responsible for putting content on your website. This might include getting your logo and giving it to the UX designer so they can put it in the layout. It also includes seeding your blog with those few initial articles, linking YouTube videos, etc.

Again, you don’t necessarily need a full-time person in each of these roles. If you outsource to a web designer, though, they probably will do that.

For the average company who refreshes their website maybe once a year, though, a full-time web development team is generally overkill.

So, how do you structure such a team to make it work and give yourself the best results? In many ways, it depends on your goal and your budget.

Structuring a Web Development Team on a Low Budget

If you are a small business looking at this you might be panicking. Stop! There are plenty of ways to reduce the size of your web development team.

One of them is outsourcing. Typically, you would outsource the web development part of the package and likely project architecture. You hire a vendor to design (and possibly maintain) the website for you.

Outsourcing leaves you only in need of a project manager to work with the vendor and a content director to get your content onto the site. You can integrate the latter role into your overall content management policy and even automate using a platform such as Welcome.

Another way to keep your team’s needs down is to use WordPress or another content management system. With these systems, you install a basic framework that sets up your site for you. You don’t need to do any code or hire a coder, although you may want to hire a consultant familiar with the system you are using to help with the initial setup.

Your low-budget team thus might only be a project manager to keep things running smoothly and a content director to put content onto the site, and that need can be further reduced.

The Effects of Outsourcing and the Use of CMS

Both outsourcing and using a CMS reduce your control over your own site. With outsourcing, you have to pay again if you need the website to be refreshed. Whether this is a good course of action depends in part on how often you need or want to do this.

With a CMS, your user experience is limited, or rather the amount you can change it is. Many experienced web users can immediately tell when they are on a WordPress site. This reduces the uniqueness of your site dramatically.

But if you have a low budget this might be your best option.

Web Development Team Structure on a Higher Budget

Of course, you might be reading this article because you are hitting problems with full outsourcing or your WordPress site and have reached the point where you need to increase your team.

The best way to cover all the team roles with a reasonable number of people is:

  1. Project manager and project architect. If the person in charge of the project also understands how they want the site to be, these roles can easily be combined into one. If you need a specialist requirement analyst, they can often be brought on as a consultant for one-time or occasional needs.
  2. Web developer. This person handles the back-end and front-end coding of the site, with the potential to outsource website refreshes when they happen (at a lower rate because you’re doing your own maintenance). Web developers need to know CSS, php, multiple programming languages, etc. so they can produce a technically solid site that will not go down.
  3. UX designer. UX design is highly specialized, but you may have somebody on your content creation team willing to learn the skillset involved. Otherwise, it’s best to outsource this to a specialist.
  4. Content director. This role can typically be done by somebody from your existing content management team, as it is mostly editorial, especially if you use Welcome to control publishing content. However, they also need to understand search engine optimization and how web content works. Choose somebody with experience in text-based content and SEO.

You need to get your team together at the very start of the development process unless you are transferring an existing website that has been designed by a vendor. In any case, a significant refresh of your user interface is recommended at intervals to take advantage of advanced technology.

Should You Use a More Hierarchical or More Flat Structure?

As already mentioned, somebody has to be in charge. However, beyond that, your team should operate in a mostly flat way. Nobody is more important than anyone else, although some might have more work to do at particular times.

It’s vital to make sure that everything in your web development project supports the needs of your business, and that means involving the content director and other people from marketing from the start. Resist the temptation to let your programmers “play,” as you can end up with a very pretty site that does none of the things you need.

One way to reduce the size of your web development team is to have your existing content manager take on the content director role. This can easily be achieved if you use a marketing software platform that automatically posts to your site as well as to social media. Welcome does this and more. Check it out today and sign up for a free account here.

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Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases



Worsening economy has more shoppers getting online info before making in-store purchases

Summer’s here and the shoppers are wary. Consumer spending increased in May, but only by 0.2%, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. This explains why 76% of U.S. shoppers are searching online for reviews and better prices before buying in store, according to a new Adobe Commerce study of sentiment among over 1,000 U.S. consumers. Also, when they’re in a store 60% are using their phone to look for better prices elsewhere.

Another sign of the slowing economy: 24% say they won’t be able to take advantage of big summer holiday sales because they have less discretionary money to spend due to inflation and the higher cost of goods. 

Read next: Adobe: Online prices were up only 2% in May

On the good news side: 76% of those planning to participate in summer sales say they’ll spend more or the same amount as last year. And the motivation varies — more than half (56%) of consumers say they save money by shopping on Prime Day and other sales events, while others want to get ahead of their seasonal holiday (32%) and back-to-school shopping (23%).

However, most of those who intend to buy don’t believe big retailers’ promises of deeper discounts because of overstocking. Almost 65% expect discounts to be smaller than last year. 

Other findings:

  • 61% said receiving personalized promotions or recommendations will make them more likely to make a purchase.
  • 43% said they are more likely to purchase from a retailer that offers buy now, pay later.
  • 72% want the online purchases delivered the same day or via two-day shipping.
  • 50% are now more likely to make retail purchases on their phones, 26% prefer in-store shopping and 24% prefer shopping via their computer
  • 57% search for and buy products online if they can’t find them in stores.
Categories for which consumers report using buy now, purchase later.

Why we care. Inflation and higher interest rates are, as expected, taking an increased toll on consumer spending. That makes marketing more important than ever, via activities like personalization and customer experience. That should also include offering payment options like buy now, pay later. People are used to putting everything on a credit card, but interest rates are making that less attractive to them.

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About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.

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Getting Started with the Agile Marketing Navigator: Building a Marketing Backlog



Freeing agile marketing from its software development roots

We recently introduced you to Agile Marketing Navigator, a flexible framework for navigating agile marketing for marketers, by marketers in the article A new way to navigate agile marketing. The navigator has four major components: Collaborative Planning Workshop, Launch Cycle, Key Practices and Roles. Within these categories, there are several sub-pieces for implementation. In recent articles, we covered the pieces in the first stop of the navigator, the Collaborative Planning Workshop.

Now we’re going to dive into the next stop on your agile marketing journey — the Launch Cycle. The Launch Cycle is a repeatable cadence for delivering valuable marketing experiences early and often. Within the Launch Cycle there are five key components — Marketing Backlog, Cycle Planning, Daily Huddle, Team Showcase and Team Improvement. If you’re familiar with the Scrum framework, there are a lot of similarities here — with a few different nuances to make it more applicable to marketers.

Building and managing an effective Marketing Backlog

Now, let’s dive into the Marketing Backlog and some tips and tricks for marketers to be most effective. 

The Marketing Backlog is an ordered list of prioritized work that the agile team will pull from to work on in their Launch Cycle. The backlog is emergent, not static, and changes as new information is learned. 

This part of the framework is incredibly important and can have a major impact on how marketers work. First of all, there’s one shared place where all work lives. This avoids work happening “behind the scenes” that no one knows about.

In fact, one client that I worked with took all of the work that was already assigned to stakeholders, put it in a single backlog and realized that it would take five years to deliver! It’s with this level of transparency that teams and leaders can begin to visualize everything the team is doing and start to really understand what’s important and what may just be someone’s pet project.

There are many tools for managing your marketing backlog and they all have their pros and cons. The main thing to watch out for is ensuring that everyone on the team, as well as stakeholders have access. We want to build a transparent system.

If you’ve started with the Collaborative Planning Workshop, you’ve already begun to build out the Marketing Backlog. The items in your Minimally Viable Launch will go near the top, and other items will fall below. Work is never guaranteed until the team starts working on it, and even then sound business reasons could cause them to pivot, although that shouldn’t be the norm.

Prioritizing the backlog is one of the key responsibilities of the Marketing Owner. While they don’t do this in a vacuum and conversations with stakeholders are imperative, this role has the ultimate authority to decide what order the team will work on and which items won’t be considered (there are always way more good ideas than time).

The role of the Marketing Owner

The Marketing Owner needs to really understand the business value that each idea brings. Each marketing backlog should be thought of in terms of:

  • Level of effort it will take the team to complete (let’s face it — all things aren’t created equal. Building a Tesla may take longer than a base model Honda, so think through marketing ideas as well).
  • What value does it bring to customers? Joy? Satisfaction? Solves a problem? Addresses a cause?
  • What will the business gain from this idea, and how does it tie to business goals, KPIs and revenue?

Stakeholders, customers and team members should all be thinking about new ideas all of the time and everyone is invited to submit ideas to the backlog. However, it’s at the Marketing Owner’s discretion to decide which ideas will be worked on by the team and when.

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Work should never be directly assigned to a team member in agile marketing. It should be submitted to the backlog or discussed with the marketing owner as it needs to be visible and prioritized among everything else.

In agile marketing, backlog items should be used to test and learn and are thought of as micro-experiments, rather than large campaign blasts. 

While a backlog item may be for a post on Facebook, the team should be thinking in terms of testing elements, such as content. If the content is successful, similar content pieces would be on the backlog. However, if the content doesn’t perform well, the team would want to think of new backlog items with different content.

agile marketing workflow

Catch up on the Agile Marketing Navigator series!

The backlog may contain some business as usual items to keep the lights on, but the majority of items should be small, testable experiments that can quickly get to customers for real-time feedback.

If you haven’t started a marketing backlog yet, what are you waiting for?

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily MarTech. Staff authors are listed here.

About The Author

Stacey knows what it’s like to be a marketer, after all, she’s one of the few agile coaches and trainers that got her start there. After graduating from journalism school, she worked as a content writer, strategist, director and adjunct marketing professor. She became passionate about agile as a better way to work in 2012 when she experimented with it for an ad agency client. Since then she has been a scrum master, agile coach and has helped with numerous agile transformations with teams across the globe. Stacey speaks at several agile conferences, has more certs to her name than she can remember and loves to practice agile at home with her family. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she recently relocated to North Carolina where she’s busy learning how to cook grits and say “y’all.”

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When Your SEO Competitors Don’t Match What You Know



When Your SEO Competitors Don't Match What You Know

You know your competitors, and you’re not going to let some damned SEO tool tell you different!

Hey, I’ll give you the first part, but there are a lot of reasons that the results from a tool like True Competitor might not match your expectations, and that could be a good thing.

I’m going to dig into five of those reasons:

  1. You’re living in the past

  2. You’ve hit a brick wall

  3. You can’t see the trees

  4. You’re stuck in one tree

  5. We’re just plain wrong

First, the toughest one to hear — the world is changing, and you’re not changing with it.

1. You’re living in the past

Look, I know Big Wally at Big Wally’s Widget World said your Grandma’s meatloaf was “just okay, I guess” at the church potluck in ‘87, but you need to move on. Even if you’re not quite-so-literally stuck in the past, you may be operating on an outdated sense of who your competitors are. Especially online, the competitive landscape can change quickly, and it’s worth re-evaluating from time to time.

2. You’ve hit a brick wall

Quite literally — you’ve run headlong into your own brick-and-mortar wall. As a business with physical locations, your competitors with physical locations are absolutely important, but from a search perspective, they may not represent who you’re actually competing with online.

Take, for example, McDonald’s — you might expect the competition to include Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and other fast food chains with physical restaurants. Meanwhile, here are the second through fourth results from True Competitor:

While DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats don’t have traditional, physical locations, these are the places where McDonald’s online customers go to order, and they represent a significant amount of organic SERP real estate. From an SEO standpoint, this is reality.

3. You can’t see the trees

You can see the whole forest from where you’re standing, and that’s great, but are you missing the diversity and distinctiveness of the trees?

This is easier to show than tell. Let’s take a look at big box retailer, Target. True Competitor returns the following top three:

No big surprises here, and no one should be shocked that this list includes not only brick-and-mortar competitors, but online retail juggernauts like Amazon. Let’s take a deeper look, though (the following are competitors #8, #7, and #22 in our current data):

Target isn’t just up against the whole-forest, big box retailers — they also have to contend with niche competition. Their competitors in the video game space include not only brick-and-mortar retailers like GameStop, but competitor-partners like Sony and Nintendo (which both sell hardware and software directly online).

Not every grove of trees is going to have the same needs and growing conditions. Your competitive landscape could have dozens of ecosystems, and each of them requires unique research and likely a unique strategy.

4. You’re stuck in one tree

On the other hand, you could be stuck in just one tree. Let’s take Ford Motor Company as an example. Savvy marketers at Ford know they’re not just up against legacy automakers like Chevrolet and Toyota, but up-and-coming competitors like Tesla and Rivian.

That niche is incredibly important, but let’s take a look at what the SERPs are telling us:

These are Ford’s #1, #2, and #5 competitors, and they aren’t automakers — they’re automotive content producers. Does this mean that Chevy and Tesla aren’t Ford’s competitors? Of course not. It means that those automakers are infrequently appearing in SERPs alongside Ford. Ford is competing with mentions of their own products (makes and models) in leading online publications.

5. We’re just plain wrong

Hey, it happens — I’m not here to claim that we’re perfect. SERP-based competitive analysis has a couple of limitations. First, as discussed, SERP analysis doesn’t always reflect the brick-and-mortar world. From an SEO perspective, that’s fine (if they’re not ranking, we’re not competing with them for search share), but there are other essential pieces to the puzzle.

Second, our SERP-based analysis is based on national results and does not reflect regional or hyperlocal competition. Some regional businesses do have national competitors, and that’s worth knowing, but localized perspectives are important as well.

Maybe it’s a good thing…

What if a tool like True Competitor only returned information that you already knew? I guess you could pat yourself on the back and move on with life, but what did you learn? To me, the entire point of SERP-based competitive analysis is to challenge your expectations and your point of view. If the results don’t match what you expect, that mismatch represents opportunity.

More likely than not, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong (unless you’ve let vanity and personal history get the best of you) — it means that you’re missing a perspective or a niche that could be important. If you can see that missing perspective as money left on the table, then you’ve got a good chance to pick it up and walk away with a bit more in your pocket.

The Competitive Analysis Suite is now available to all Moz Pro customers, and we’d love to hear your feedback via the ‘Make a Suggestion’ button in the app.

Sign up for a free trial to access the Competitive Research Suite!

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