Name Your Small Business’s Web Design & Management Team

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Think "team" when you build your site—even if the entire team is you. When you start out, you might wear all the hats: developer, designer, IS professional and marketer. But you still need to know how to organize your project and your time, and, if you’ve got bigger plans for your e-commerce site, you’ll want a larger staff.

Before you begin, you need to assess prospective team members as well as the roles of each team member and how the roles interrelate. Some tasks are core (essential), others are optional. Two or more core positions can be assumed by the same person. Core (essential) positions are indicated with an asterisk (*).

Within each position is a breakdown of tasks. Here’s a checklist of minimum suggested qualifications for each member of your team:

Project Leader
A project leader has management and Web site experience, and good communication skills. This manager outlines the key steps and milestones for the project, supervises team members, coordinates tasks, and monitors schedules and budgets. The lead also filters and exchanges information with other groups in the company, and makes plans for the future.

HTML Lead
An HTML (Hypertext Markup Language) lead will be in charge of preparing the basic HTML code and links for all site pages, and will add tags for images, scripts, and forms. The HTML lead should know how to type HTML code "from scratch." To take advantage of shortcuts and customized macros, experienced HTML Leads prefer customizable non-WYSIWYG editors such as Allaire’s Homesite. Some groups may require that the HTML lead use a WYSIWYG ("What you see is what you get") editor such as Microsoft FrontPage so that non-expert team members can add or alter text and HTML tags.

Creative Director
The Creative Director is a graphic artist who understands the unique challenges of creating images for Web pages, including file types, file dimensions, and file size. The Creative Director will study the existing company image, and ensure that the company identity is replicated on the Web site. The Creative Director will also provide all user interface imagery.

Technical Lead
A Technical Lead has significant experience in "backend operations," and knowledge of one or more server programming languages, such as UNIX, SQL Server, ColdFusion, or LINUX. This lead will marry your existing business database (inventory, customer profiles, etc.) to a Web server and scripted Web pages. A Technical Lead also knows how to set up server- and client-side scripts, cookies (visitor tracking), search engines, and more.

Multimedia Technology Lead
The specialties of Multimedia Technology Leads vary: some know how to create web-ready animations and Macromedia Flash (a vector-based animation program); others how to add video and audio to a site; and some can produce "live" events on your site. Most multimedia add-ons require users to possess recent browser versions (versions 4.0x and up) or plug-ins, and can add significant load time to pages. You’ll want to decide if multimedia additions will sufficiently benefit your target audience to warrant any visitor inconvenience, and the extra expense and time for you. Then you can seek out the appropriate multimedia specialist.

Testers
Testers should be detail-oriented and deliberate, and can be observant non-professionals as well as technology experts. If you’re starting out, your friends and family can help you test your site. Testers check the functionality of every aspect of your Web site, from scripts to navigation cues. They read and critique the instructions and help guides. Often, test results are used to create "bug reports" that help the Project Lead focus attention to problem areas.

Marketer
The Web site marketer will extend the company’s marketing plans to the Web, and will need to be aware of rapidly changing practices and opportunities to attract visitors, and grow return visits. The marketer should be aware of web ad banner formats and other Web-relevant marketing tools.

Public Relations
The Web team’s public relations expert will extend company public relations policies to the site, and ensure that the media will have access to official company press releases and other documents.

Customer Service
The customer service expert will extend the company’s current customer service policies to the site, and address customer service issues unique to Web sites.

Accounting & Distribution Lead
If your Web site will offer online transactions, or sales of goods and services, you will need a team member who has experience in handling the integration of your electronic orders with your existing accounting and business infrastructure. This lead will also need to be aware of Web-specific legal and security issues.