Online shopping and ecommerce have become more important over the last two years. According to the Office for National Statistics, Internet sales accounted for 27.1% of all retail activity in the UK at the start of 2022.
During the first four months of the pandemic, more than 85,000 companies implemented new online stores or joined ecommerce platforms in the UK, based on research by Growth Intelligence. Consumers were pushed to ecommerce, which went up from 81% to 95% in Europe according to a 2020 survey by McKinsey.
All this activity led to more companies building and launching sites to interact with their customers. However, these digital experiences need to be kept up to date over time, which can be harder than getting started in the first place.
For instance, website updates involve both technical requirements and new content posting. Security updates, changes to site plug-ins and new digital services would all require developer and IT team support, while changing brand assets or adding more content might fall under the remit of the marketing team. However, all those changes will come in at the same time, making the process more complicated.
WebOps and Collaboration
The biggest challenge around managing web operations is the number of potential stakeholders involved. Aside from developers responsible for creating any code that runs those digital services on the site, there are the IT operations staff responsible for running the systems involved. There is the marketing team, responsible for the content and assets on the site, and there is the brand team that looks at the design and delivery side.
Each one of these roles will have a hand in the success of a site over time, and they will be responsible for business goals that the site is used for. However, much of the time, these teams will work in their own silos rather than together.
Website Operations – or WebOps – is about breaking down those boundaries that exist around website management. WebOps establishes joint processes and goals so that marketing, developers and IT operations staff work more effectively. It is based on the principles of DevOps and having more collaboration, rather than stakeholders working to their goals in separate silos. WebOps works by putting all website project work in context of that bigger business goal.
This can involve getting over some of the pre-conceptions that teams have of each other. For example, marketing departments today are driven by technology rather than solely by advertizing.
Rather than being solely about creative work like brand and positioning, marketing teams today have to build and track customer journeys, deploy personalization tools, and automate customer relationships. These activities rely on online interactions to track engagement and preferences, which then inform the unique next steps in a customer’s journey with the brand.
Similarly, content marketing activities involve deploying the right assets to customers depending on their browsing habits and preferences using automation.
On the IT and software sides, solving potential problems around customer actions demands creativity too. New launches for the business will rely on integrating software and creative assets into novel, innovative experiences that perform well and are available under stress.
Delivering these kinds of projects effectively involves planning ahead and understanding workload across the whole team, rather than looking at individuals or specific departments alone. All of these tasks involve processes and timelines, which can be shared and made more visible to everyone.
This visibility can make a big difference to WebOps teams, as it helps everyone understand their responsibilities and priorities in context. For instance, it can be all too easy to assume that tasks are simple, or can be accomplished in timeframes that are not realistic.
For example, marketing may assume that updating a website is the same as accepting an update to an application on their desktop, while IT operations teams may think brand refreshes are simply about new logos. The work required on both the IT and the marketing sides is often more involved and more complex than it is given credit for.
All sides in this have more in common than they might think. WebOps approaches can help define the goals that all the stakeholders have around website developments. This involves looking at the overall business goals that the organization has, and then how each team contributes to those aims.
For instance, IT teams will see how brand updates can make a difference to company performance and customer acquisition goals, while the marketing department will find out exactly how much work goes into updating all the sites that a company may operate for security.
Making it easier to serve content
This recognition of what really goes on across teams or departments is an essential building block for more collaboration. Once teams understand the pressures they are under as part of delivering an overall goal, it is easier to make changes so that everyone pulls in the same direction. This makes work around website projects easier for everyone.
Similarly, you can break down some of the silos that exist around how sites are implemented and maintained. Rather than relying on developers to manage content updates, you can decouple your content management system (CMS) from the web front-end systems. This means that marketing teams can launch new content and iterate on their campaigns as soon as they’re ready. That agility is what drives results, as it allows marketers to quickly respond to market opportunities and serve customers with experiences that resonate.
Using headless content management systems alongside your website platform like Drupal or WordPress means that marketers can implement their updates faster, rather than having to break into developer workflows to get changes made. This can also make it easier for them to review the effect that those content changes might have, rather than relying on back and forth between different teams, which slows down the whole process.
The aim for WebOps
WebOps is about removing the barriers between teams that exist around website development. Rather than compartmentalising teams and their goals, WebOps ensures everyone involved understands what their work builds towards. It presents a unified approach to how websites are managed across technical, brand and experience parameters.
This understanding is essential to keep up with the demands that customers have for a better digital experience.
Company websites are the digital front door for more businesses than ever before, so simplifying the process to host, update and manage those sites is essential. With WebOps, all companies can improve their internal processes and deliver results faster.
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