Few online businesses can survive without help of some kind. Unless you are a major brand you will outsource your web hosting as well as any databases used to drive your website. You probably also hired the services of a web designer or a web developer to write specific code to make particular functions work well. There are few organisations that can do everything they need online entirely in-house.
But, for a moment, look at those in-house teams. Where do they sit? In most big businesses the web is seen as an IT function. True, there are plenty of people in marketing doing “web stuff”, but the people in charge of a company’s web presence usually come under the auspices of IT.
In smaller companies, a web department usually has to do everything involved with online; they are perceived as the in-house experts in everything from the technical side to email and social media. For the very small business it is usually the same person who does the IT who does the marketing and who also makes the tea.
So who should you turn to for help? The whole web industry is focused on design. You want a new website? Go to a designer, is the seemingly obvious starting place.
But are web visitors looking for great design on websites, businesses that might win awards for looking good? Or are they seeking out the information they need, the content that will engage them and provide them with just what they want?
You know the answer, of course; people prefer content over design. That does not mean design is not important, it just means that it has lower priority than what the design will deliver. True, the content and design should go hand in hand, but by focusing on design businesses often relegate the more important content production to an also-ran.
Consider for a moment what the number one online activity might be? It isn’t watching video, in spite of the billions of hours worth of YouTube watched each month. It isn’t downloading stuff of all kinds from illegal music to porn or software.
The number one online activity is…READING. We read more than ever before and each day billions of words are added to the web.
So, given that reading is the most common online activity, what kind of person do you really need to produce your website? An IT specialist? A designer? Nope. They’ll help, for sure, but the key person you need is a writer. Writing is the number one skill required to produce a great website these days. Hence if you don’t have an in-house writer, you need one. If you don’t have a team, hire a freelance writer. And if you have to do everything yourself go on a creative writing course.
The people helping big brands to produce their sites nowadays in-house are writers and content specialists. The days of the IT department being in charge are actually beginning to fade, even though it still dominates. The rise of the writer as the linchpin of a company’s web presence is significant. If you want to boost your web presence either employ a writer or hire a freelance.
Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who studies the way people use the online world, in particular how people engage with businesses. He uses this knowledge to help companies improve their online connections to their customers and potential customers and offers consultancy, workshops, masterclasses and webinars. He also speaks regularly at conferences and business events. Graham is an award-winning writer and the author of 32 books, several of which are about various aspects of the Internet. For more information connect with me on Google+