If you are embarking on this adventure for the first (or even the second!) time you may have asked yourself this question and not quite known the answer.
As with many products, the task of building a good Web site is typically done by a team of people who each has a specific area of expertise.
As the entrepreneur and business owner, you want to focus your time on managing the team and making sure the final product is going to be a hit for driving revenue and leads.
Here's who you'll want to have on your team when embarking on a your Web site project:
Marketing or Account Manager
This is your "big picture" thinker and advisor. The person who should know all the bells and whistles you could have but should faithfully advise you against them. This person should help you plan your Web site to serve your needs for the long term. On smaller projects, this role might also be served by your Project Manager (see below).
Your Project Manager will interact with the rest of the team (and possibly you) on a day to day basis, as the driving force pushing everyone through each step of the process to completion. This person is also responsible for making sure deadlines are met and the project stays on budget.
The role of the Information Architect (lovingly called an "IA") is to make sure your Web site makes sense. Does it have the right pages? Are they in the right sections? Is your terminology consistent? Are the navigational techniques consistent? Sometimes "usability" also falls into this role – making sure that each page and the site as a whole is easy to navigate and use. On smaller projects the IA role is often played by the Account Manager or Project Manager.
The graphic designer decides what your Web site actually looks like. What colors and fonts will it use? Where will the elements be placed on the page? Make sure you are working with a designer who has a good deal of Web site design experience. Designing for the Web is a specific skill and is not the same as designing for print.
If you need someone to spruce up or "webify" your text or write it from scratch the copywriter is your friend! Copywriters should be able to write within your style or tone and should understand SEO so that your text will be optimized from the start.
This is a vital role for most Web sites. HTML is the fundamental language of the Web and all Web sites have some amount of HTML code included. If you don't need a programmer (see below) you will certainly need at least an HTML coder. This person takes your flat design file and converts it into text, images and interactive HTML code so that it can operate as we expect Web sites to operate.
This is the person who will click on every link of your site to make sure they all work, and submit your forms in various ways to ensure everything works and shows the user appropriate error messages when something goes wrong. For smaller projects the HTML coder and/or Project Manager will usually do the testing.
Now that you know the role each person plays, you're ready to go out and hire the right team for your project! Note that for smaller projects often you may find a Designer or a Programmer who is the "project leader" and will wear several hats. This can work splendidly, especially if your site is a simple 5-pager, but be careful not to go too far – at the end of the day you want a site that doesn't just work, but works for you.
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