Does a Web Team Belong under Marketing or IT?

(Does a Web Team belong under marketing or IT? This is probably not a new thought, and I probably stole it from somewhere long ago, but I can’t remember sources. It is relevant because the question has come up recently for me and some colleagues.)

Since the inception of the popular Web, the ubiquity of business Web sites, and the ever increasing number of in-house “Web site guys/gals” in most business, the question has been asked:

Does the Web team belong in the Marketing department or the IT department?

There is also another truth that has been evident since the rise of the popular web.

Most Web sites suck… bad…

These two coincidental factors lead me to the answer to the question.

The answer: NEITHER

The Web team belongs neither under Marketing nor IT. It belongs in it’s own department.

The skills that are necessary to conceive, build, launch, and maintain a great Web presence for a business are broad and deep. So broad and deep, in fact, that they lean on each other department in the business. Off the top of my head, the skills necessary for a Web team encompass (in no particular order):

  • Business Development
  • Marketing
  • Programming Languages
  • Graphic Design
  • Systems Administration
  • Business Intelligence
  • Project Management
  • Content Strategy
  • Content Development
  • Editorial
  • Content Management
  • Information Architecture

Basically, the Web team (depending on the site’s scope and purpose) has to know something about every other area of the business, and has to know it in such a way that it can glue it all together intelligibly, and present it to your user-base (customers!) such that they can understand it.

Most Web sites fail at this. Because they are stuck either under IT or Marketing.

The Web team needs to be its own team, reporting to the same folks the marketing team and IT teams report to. It needs to be a coordinate team. It needs to work together seamlessly, at a directoral level, with every other major team in the business.

Alternatively, a business should outsource this task to a skilled consultancy who knows how to learn your business (ALL OF IT), digest it, glue the pieces together, and present it intelligibly to your customers.

That’s my opinion anyway.







3 responses to “Does a Web Team Belong under Marketing or IT?”

  1. @jonathanwindham Avatar

    Most small and medium sized companies should not allow the web to have its own department. Unless of course their business is the web, then the whole company would be the web department broken into standard functions. This is because the amount of overhead such as budgeting, management experience, and embedded company knowledge is overwhelming to a Director of Web. A web director must perform their normal duties which are likely changing faster than any other department in the company as well as the department duties. Of course, I say this and this is only true because most companies waste inordinate amounts of time and energy trying to "manage" the company instead of guiding the business. My vote is for the outsourced web agency first for a company that really doesn't "get" the web and opt next for a "Chief Marketing Technologist" in a company that supports C-Level officers as seen here.… Of course, just my thoughts as well.

  2. Jonathan Berglund Avatar
    Jonathan Berglund

    Interesting thoughts, Matt. The approach we’ve taken at our org has been to layer things. IT provides the technology, Creative the design, and Marketing the content. The challenge for us has been determining who owns the website – who is ultimately responsible for its vision, strategy, successes, and failures.

    1. Matt Heerema Avatar

      Jonathan, exactly. This is the job of a Web director who runs a Web department and is a peer to your Marketing director.

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