A common mistake organisations make when thinking about their website is handing it over to the marketing team, or to the sales team, or to the IT department. On the face of it, this makes sense, because the website is a marketing tool, is a selling tool, and is hosted on the internet, so is also a piece of technology. What most organisations forget is that a website is a publication, and as with any publication, it’s a delivery mechanism for content. It needs a website editor.
Think of your favourite magazine. If you have one near you now, flick to the section that lists who put the magazine together. You’ll see the marketing team, the sales team and the designers and printers that worked on it. Yet, the biggest name right at the top of the list will be the editor. This is the person responsible for managing the production of the magazine, maintaining the style, commissioning and writing the content, making decisions about editorial, advertorial, topics and tone. They work with the people who compile the nuts and bolts of the magazine to bring it together into a full-blooded publication.
The same, arguably, hasn’t quite happened to websites in quite the way it should. A website is a living, breathing online magazine that either showcases your talents as a company, or delivers information such as news and opinion on a refreshingly daily basis. It’s organic, it’s urgent and vibrant, yet so often it’s treated as an afterthought, or as a low priority. Get it right and you’re flying. Get it wrong and you’ll have a mess of a project that may be expensive to fix and difficult to maintain. This is where a strong editor comes in.
Website by committee doesn’t work
In my experience, website by committee doesn’t work. This is largely because it’s subjective – it’s made up of different platforms, with different fonts, designs, navigation choices, editorial structure, and so on. A magazine is put together by a team of talented individuals, but ownership belongs to the editor. The same can be said of a website. An editor takes ownership of the website and makes the decisions based on input from a team of talented individuals. Somehow, the very idea that a website is a ‘publication’ has been lost over time, or was never there to begin with! Yet, it’s a valid part of your company branding – as important as the brochures you print, the products you assemble, and the messages you deliver.
With an experienced editor at the helm, your website can be a vital cog in your engine – one that evolves and adapts to the changing media landscape, and one that helps each of your teams, from marketing and sales through to development and administration, stay on brand.
The art of being an editor isn’t dying. It has simply become a forgotten, yet requisite skill, and it has happened because websites were never intended to be ‘publications’ in the first place. As websites have arguably exceeded all expectations, it’s time to reconsider what you want your site to be, and then think about hiring a good editor. Perhaps then, your marketing, sales and IT teams can get on with doing their own jobs instead of looking after the website!