Implement these suggestions to enter into your WebOps role smoothly
Congratulations! You’ve been hired as your company's new website operations manager, but you might be wondering what exactly your role is. While some companies use an agency relationship to fill this job, they are increasingly hiring employees in-house to assist with this vital source of content and commerce.
As a website operations manager, you are responsible for your company’s websites and WebOps (aka DevOps for websites). Tasks involve creating and editing content, installing security updates, addressing any bugs or website-related concerns, monitoring and optimizing web performance, translating content into other languages, and eliminating technical debt if you are inheriting an older website.
Your website is one of the most forward-facing marketing efforts for your company; therefore, your role as website operations manager is critical for the customer experience and retention. A site’s overall functionality is based on the ease of navigation for the end-user and on how fast the website loads on a computer or mobile device. The 2019 Retailer Website Performance Evaluation report found that 90% of the shoppers polled left an e-commerce site if it didn’t load quickly enough to meet their expectations. Don’t let that happen to you!
Your role also serves as the point person for any website-focused projects, and you will manage the task queue for your team — which is typically made up of front-end (user interface) developers, back-end (server and database) developers, and designers. Much of the management is often done through a scrum process — an iterative and incremental management framework that encourages teamwork and flexibility.
A better way to market
Website operations managers work in tandem with marketing operations teams to capture and measure data points on the website. A site that is properly managed and maintained will produce much better data than a site where updates are infrequent and unfocused.
Businesses value their websites because these efforts offer them a way to tell their brand and product story. According to a 2018 survey by Clutch, websites (at 78%) are the second most popular digital marketing choice among businesses — trailing only social media (with 83%).
Because the website is a great resource for marketing, the marketing department might make requests of you in order to assist with customer acquisition and retention. The most common requests will be for more frequent content updates or additions. According to the 2019 Digital Marketing Survey released by Powderkeg, only 5.3% of respondents said they update their website daily, while 36.8% update weekly, 47.4% update monthly, and 10.5% make yearly updates.
The marketing department might also ask for tracking scripts to be added to the website to follow user behavior, track page views, and monitor conversion rates. Or they might need assistance with updating email templates within marketing automation software. Your role as website operations manager ensures those requests make it into the development queue and that the results function as needed.
Website operations manager best practices
Enter into your new role smoothly and confidently with these suggestions:
1. Be a skilled project manager
Don’t just act as a website operations manager; rather, come prepared with project management skills and a playbook that works. Ideally, you're a certified ScrumMaster, or at least familiar with the process. If you walk into this role without a clear vision for how you plan to run meetings and manage tasks, you will likely struggle to complete work in a timely and effective manner.
If you feel like you are lacking in project management skills, reach out to a project manager on your product team or elsewhere within the company. A project manager should be able to provide you with the insights and tools necessary for success.
2. Have strong communication skills
This role requires collaboration with your team and the organization as a whole. You will answer website-related questions from marketing, sales, human resources, finance, customer success, and IT/security. Requests often come from employees without a technical background, which requires you to act in the role of an intermediary. This requires solid communication skills.
According to a 2019 employee communication and engagement study, 80% of the workforce in the United States reports feeling stressed because of ineffective communication in the business space. This is a 30% jump in only one year, so your role can be instrumental in bridging communication between other departments and your team. Assess the requests, and translate as needed into tasks for your team to complete.
If you find that you are struggling to communicate within your organization, make an appointment with the head of human resources. He or she should be able to offer guidance on effective communication strategies.
3. Learn the company website structure
As soon as possible, obtain a map of the information architecture for the websites for which you are responsible. Your lead developer and designer should have this available, and it will help you to better understand how the site was constructed. Ask him or her for any ideas for improvement — in layout, navigation, and user experience.
This is your time to learn the site navigation and understand how design and user interface changes will impact the site as a whole before you begin to develop a plan for changes and additions. If there is a style guide, obtain that, as well, or work to develop one with your team.
4. Develop needed technical and creative skills
The website manager role requires that you possess specific technical skills. You should feel comfortable editing content within the content management system and be knowledgeable on the most popular website integrations.
You also need the ability and desire to further your education as technology and digital trends rapidly change. According to the World Economic Forum, a minimum of 133 million new roles will be generated by 2022 as technology continues to progress. Programming and application development skills will be in strong demand, as well as those skills that computers fail at — creative thinking, problem-solving, and negotiating.
There are hundreds of training programs online that can get you current on the software needed for your website. If your company has software subscriptions to programs you are unfamiliar with, reach out to the account manager and request training. These professionals are invested in your success and should be helpful in answering any questions you have. You can also reach out to experienced co-workers or designated product admins at your company for internal training.
Congratulations on this new role! Learn as much as you can about the website structure as soon as you onboard, and communicate as effectively as possible with all team members and departments. With technology developing at a fast rate, you will find that you are continually evolving your skillset and knowledge, which allows for continued growth and success.