Should Your Company Website Be Left to the IT Department?

Recently, we were asked to take a look at a website for a large corporation based in New York. There was a point during our test of the user journey when we had gone through several different screens, feeling more confused by the moment, and were beginning to dislike the company (from the point of view of a website visitor, of course — we’d love them as clients). With a sense of excitement we clicked on a button which, we felt, might actually give us the information we sought.

It took us to a screen we had been on about three clicks previously.

As we continued to explore, we found a small number of links, outdated code, missing alt tags, and strange internal linking practices. We were surprised. This is a large company, they’re savvy, they have the budget to take good care of their website.

They can’t understand why their website has such poor results. Of course, we can easily tell them why it has poor results. We just didn’t get why they had such a poor website. It looks good at first glance, but that’s just the graphics. Scratch the surface even slightly and you find something that needs a lot of work.

We discovered that the website was in the hands of the IT department. We know their IT department. These are sharp guys. One of the guys there has done some tech work for us in the past. Because we know him, we also know his view of optimizing a site for search engines, the work we do:

“I know what SEO is. You are the ones who sit at home and spam people.”

He also feels that people who take care of the GUI (the part that people interact with) are lightweights.

We disagree with him on both these points.

I’m not saying that IT departments never contain people who know about SEO or user experience for their websites.  I’m saying that you can’t assume, just because all of us work with computers, that the experts who look after the servers or network the machines or build your database are also experts on websites.

There’s a tendency to assume that all computer jobs are about the same. Not so. Don’t have the IT department take care of the website unless they happen to be experts on websites.

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