Post a new topic
    2 Replies Latest reply on Feb 20, 2009 1:48 PM by modernbusines

    Models for Building Your Small Business Web Team for Success

    modernbusines Adventurer
      The following is an article I have recently written on my blog at
      and I thought it might be of particular interest to those who are planning on starting a business, and building up their small business web team for effectiveness. For more articles like this, be sure to stop by http://www.modernbusinesslif
      Building Your Small Business Team for Success

      It may come as a shock to people that I have referred to a small business web "team" in the title of this article. Some small business owners may find themselves asking the question, "Isn't a web team what large corporations with big budgets have... not small businesses?". Well, the answer to that question is 'yes', and 'no'.

      Large corporations do typically have departments that handle many different roles with regard to websites development and promotion. These roles may include employees from the IT department, development team, and the marketing department. However, while this seems like a robust, expensive, and potentially complex setup... these roles can be distilled down to a few key players and affordable web services, making the "web team" an entirely viable and effective option for your small business.

      The Web Team Roles

      The days of a single developer designing, building, marketing, and maintaining a small business website are long gone. This is not to say however that the "single developer wearing many hats" solution is not still implemented, rather that you can actually have a far higher ROI by employing experts in the various stages of the website development lifecycle. A typical Enterprise Web Team Solution may include the following:

      A Web Designer - Responsible for keeping up with current design trends and creating appropriate "top shelf" designs based on the needs of the company
      A Web Developer - Responsible for taking the design that the Web Designer created, and coding it in various languages to make it functional for web use
      A Content Writer - Collects the desired content, and re-writes it in a web friendly and SEO optimized format The SEO / SEM - The Search Engine Optimization team member required to evaluate the competition and provide SEO feedback, keywords, page titles, etc.
      A Marketing Manager - Responsible for overseeing the entire process, ensuring that branding is adhered to, and providing overall direction
      An IT Networking Department - Handles the hosting of the website, domain management, and environment requirements

      It is possible for one or more of these roles to be assumed by the same person, and it is necessary for these team members to collaborate with each other. However, it is also possible for a small business to streamline this process in an affordable manner to create an efficient and effective web team, while still representing all of the various roles and responsibilities mentioned above.

      Why Seperate the Roles?

      At this point, you may be saying, "There are many developers who feel that they can single handedly wear all of the different hats in the list above. Why not hire them and just let them do it all?" The answer is encapsulated in the saying, "A Jack of all trades, a master of none". As this phrase suggests, there are many developers that are proficient in all of these areas, but (especially in the increasingly important field of SEA and Online Marketing) "proficient" does not always yield the best results. There are, however, certain roles which can be logically combined without losing effectiveness. These areas are where your greatest gains are for collapsing the Enterprise Structure to an affordable, effective, small business solution. In the following section, I will go into some "Small Business Web Team" configurations/models which can be used to yield exceptional results.

      The Streamlined Approach Model

      The streamlined approach is the one that involves the least amount of player in the "Web Team" as possible. While this approach may seem to be the easiest to manage, it does not always yield the best results. This approach is likely the fastest to market, but it is more than likely that you will spend an excessive amount of time and money on revisions long after the site has gone live in order to obtain any lasting value. Many who take this approach end up getting frustrated down the line, and scrapping the site for a re-design/development and taking the loss on the initial investment.

      In the "Streamlined Approach", an online template service takes the role of the web designer. Business owners basically pick out a configurable template, and purchase it for use on their website. This process bypasses the need for a web designer. Such online template providers include and .

      Using this approach also puts the responsibility of the content gathering and organizing on the business owner. While they will likely be responsible for this process regardless of the method chosen, using this method they actually deliver the content to the web developer for integration in it's rawest form. This can make for a difficult and dull reading experience of the end user, as well as an entirely ineffective approach to SEO. The business owner also oversees the entire process, acting as a marketing manager... which can be fine unless the business owner is very naive when it comes to brand representation and internet interaction.

      The developer in this configuration wears many hats. They are responsible for the development of the website, the SEO, and the Networking liaison role. While development of the site is far less robust due to the purchase of the template, custom modifications to the template may cause issues and require an excessive amount of time on the developer's behalf. This results in costing you more money. The developer will typically be the liaison to a hosting company, such as and handle uploading the files, etc. The real hole in this configuration is that of SEO. While developers many times understand the basics of SEO, the highest returns are often gained through the use of a 3rd party specializing in SEO. Repurposing a developer for this task may be crippling you in the long run. Additionally, you will not be forming a relationship with an expert company that will assume the role of Search Engine Marketing expert moving forward.

      The Optimized Approach Model

      The "Optimized Approach" is the one likely to yield the highest returns in the most efficient manner. It employs experts in the various categories, but also groups these categories together logically. While this approach may cost a bit more up front, it saves you re-working in the long term, and yields the best ROI due to gains resulting from an effective search engine strategy.

      This approach combines the role of Designer and Developer into one. There are many talented people out there who can assume both these roles very effectively, and yield a great result. The "Optimized Approach" also includes a "Copywriter". This is one area where many people skimp, but what is overlooked is that this is also one of the areas that can hurt you the most if overlooked. The web copywriter understands how users read copy on the web. They specialize in taking the information that you give them, and formatting it into an effective, web ready state that will ensure that it is palatable and actionable for the end users. The web copywriter will many times have to co-ordinate with the Search Engine Optimization company or developer, as these two areas do play off of each other for effectiveness. Many times, Search Engine Optimization companies also have Web Copywriters on board for this very reason. In this case, the SEO/SEM/and Copywriter can be condensed into one contact or company who excels in this field. When picking such a company, ensure that they are someone who you feel comfortable working with in the long term. Once the website has gone live, you will need a Search Engine Marketing firm to help continue to develop your online strategy and drive users to your site. Forming a relationship with a company during the development stage will save you time after the site has gone live.

      The last roles to fill in the "Optimized Approach" include the Marketing/Brand Manager, and the IT Network department. As mentioned previously, the IT Network department role can be assumed by an online hosting company and facilitated by the developer. It is common to expect such a relationship between the two. The business owner will be assuming the role of Marketing/Brand manger in this model, however it is advisable to seek help on this role if you, as a business owner, do not feel comfortable assuming this role.

      The Oursourced Approach Model

      <dl><dt> </dt></dl>

      The "Outsourced Approach" essentially boils down to having a large web development company or firm assume all of these roles. There are development companies who have departments allocated to all of these different roles. In this circumstance, the responsibilities will be divided between experts, but the price for such a service will not be cheap. Some companies tout all of these services, but at the end of the day have a single developer performing all of these roles. Do your research if you decide to go this route. Ensure that there is a division of responsibilities, that the company is sizable, and that they have a good track record. Call up some of their previous clients and gauge their satisfaction (if they do not list previous clients on their website... or do not have a website, steer clear). This approach can yield the same stellar results as the "Optimized" approach, but it will likely cost more. Additionally, many times in these situations you are not forming personal relationships. Sometimes that intimacy between you and the team personally, can result in a better and more customized solution.

      Closing Thoughts

      It is important to note that piecing together your web team, as opposed to a unified outsourcing approach, does have it's advantages. Your team may end up being much more effective when you put them together on your own. The reason for this is that you can personally seek out the best people in the various specific areas, and put them on your team. This is in a way, like a sports draft. You will be looking for the talent to bet suit the required positions, and you will strive to compile your team with these players. Alternately, when you go with a fully outsourced approach, it is somewhat like an "all or nothing" deal. You have not evaluated each member on a personal level, rather you are evaluating the company as a whole. It is somewhat of a "black box", and depending on what configuration of employees are assigned to your project, can yield different results from customer to customer. This is not to say that there are not web developing companies who can deliver exceptional results all under one roof, because there most certainly are. Rather, it is just important that you have done your due diligence in researching that firm's previous customers, and evaluate the price of the outsourced solution against piecing together your own web team from individual components specializing in the various area of expertise.

      Regardless of the model that you choose, make sure that you understand both the short term and long term implications of your decision. A successful website results from not only a successful initial launch, but also many iterations and sustained attention. Build your team and website/strategy with the end goal in mind. In other words, don't shy away from a solution that will cost you a few thousand dollars in 2 months of development when it can yield 10 times that in new customers or clients over the course of the year. A website, like any other business utility, is an investment. But, as opposed to a liability, if developed properly through an effective "Small Business Web Team", this asset can become a "giving tree" that will not soon seize to produce.