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  • Laura Stringer

CMS roles & responsibilities

A content management system (CMS) can be a significant investment of time and dollars. The key benefits are that it puts content editing in the hands of the people who are experts in that content, and that developers can work more efficiently to create one set of functionality. Those benefits only materialize when the right resources are in place. In this CMS Foundations series, we’ll explain the most important elements and activities to help you get the most from your CMS.

Modern websites can get pretty big and complicated. Especially if you’re using a CMS with custom templates, multiple designs, and content from all over the organization. When it comes to roles and responsibilities, there are plenty of hats to go around! Let’s look at who does what.

Governance Roles

Every complicated organization and platform needs some degree of support and oversight. These are the roles responsible for that governance.

Executive Sponsor: In very large organizations, often nothing gets done without high level backing. The Executive Sponsor is your website’s seat at the table. They are responsible for aligning the website’s vision with the organization’s overall vision. They communicate about the site with the highest levels of the organization, and ensure that it gets the resourcing and visibility it needs.

Governance Team: This group can perform many functions, depending on need. In general, they will:

  • Establish the overall vision and strategy for the site, in collaboration with the Executive Sponsor

  • Participate in budgeting and planning

  • Identify website projects such as design refreshes or feature enhancements

  • Review and approve proposals for any project that would cause significant changes to the website, and ensure appropriate reviews throughout and after projects

  • Determine KPIs and monitor performance

  • Enforce compliance with governance policies and standards

  • Point of escalation for major decisions affecting the site

  • In organizations with more than one large website, the Governance Team should also coordinate with the Governance Teams of the other sites

The Governance Team consists of members from all major stakeholder groups, including Marketing, Communications, Brand, Legal, IT, and any business area contributing content.

Site Owner: The Site Owner is accountable for the overall quality and success of the website. Responsibilities include coordinating content management, technical deployments, and identifying improvement opportunities. The Site Owner sits on the Governance Team and acts as a day-to-day manager and steward of the website. For multi-country sites, a Site Owner from each country may form a team.

Content Creation & Maintenance Roles

Content Owner: Content Owners create, source, and review content within their area of expertise. Some Content Owners develop original content, others curate and repurpose existing content. Most do both as needed. A Content Owner may hold responsibility for an entire website, or just certain sections, or even just particular documents.

Content Editor: Often called an Author, a Content Editor handles the day-to-day publishing and updating of content on a site. Editors manipulate content containers within CMS templates to create pages, add or modify content, and input metadata such as “page title”. While Content Owners and Editors are frequently the same people, I like to make the distinction, especially for large CMS websites. That’s because content management systems can be tricky to use. There are likely fewer people with the right access, training, and experience to make quality edits than there are people who provide or create content. For example, there may be a whole department of product managers feeding content to a single Content Editor for posting on the site.

Site Creation Roles

No one can put content on the website until the website exists. A whole lot of creative, UX, and technology work goes into a great site before anyone even creates the first page!

Web Designer: Designers take all the UX design, brand standards, and business requirements, and put together a look and feel for the site that meets everyone’s needs.

User Experience (UX) Architect or Designer: A UX Architect or Designer (these roles are often performed by the same person, although there is a distinction) determines what website visitors will need to accomplish, and defines the best way to enable those tasks.

Information Architect: This person analyzes all the content and functionality on the site. They then determine the best way to organize and present that content.

Developer: Responsible for the functionality of the website. This includes front-end interface development, creation and maintenance of CMS components, and back-end functionality. For all but very small websites, multiple developers work together to bring the designs to life.

Infrastructure Owner: Implements and maintains the technology platforms. CMS software, network hardware, and everything in between. This role is generally responsible for ensuring the website is always available and responding quickly. These folks are the unsung heroes of every website. I highly encourage you to go bring them gift cards for massages and fancy dinners out as soon as you finish reading this article.

Business Roles

There is a bevy of functional roles providing input or support to the site. They may include:

  • Analytics Owner

  • Digital Marketing/Promotion (such as paid search or social media promotion)

  • Legal

  • Finance

  • Customer Service Representatives, Field Sales, and any other customer-facing employees

So Many Roles and Responsibilities

This is a pretty long list. You may be thinking it’s entirely overkill. But keep in mind that you don’t need a different person for every role: especially in smaller organizations, one person likely wears many hats.

Finally, remember that every organization and every website is different. This list is a good starter, but you should always consider your own organization’s structure, needs, and yes, politics, when defining roles and responsibilities for your website.


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