Why web managers (mostly) don't care about traffic

An antique TV set

It's a common misunderstanding. Web managers often have trouble explaining it to colleagues.

You see, we (mostly) don't care about traffic.*

That's for Marketing or Communications teams to worry about.

Our focus is delivery.

Delivery über alles!

A web team's number 1 responsibility is maintaining a stable online presence.

We do this by ensuring the site meets minimum standards (UX, content, loading, accessibility, etc) and is supported by effective operations (publishing, QA, analytics, etc).

Think of us like the production team in a TV studio.

We do everything we can to make sure things go smoothly - the cameras are in place, the lighting is on, the scenery is up, the scripts are proofed, the teleprompter is loaded.

Yet, we mostly don't care if anyone is watching.

That's not our concern - our job is delivery.

Business-as-usual is enough

Modern websites are so large and complex, that simply keeping the show-on-the-road is a huge undertaking.

Any sensible web team will have its own strategy to steer activity. For example:

  • UX: Improve the readability standard for the top 5 content topics to grade 6 by end of year.
  • Resourcing: Hire x2 full-time content designers by mid-year.

This web strategy is agnostic on marketing or communications priorities. It is only concerned with optimising delivery for users and the business.

Confusion about web strategy

Did you know many websites (far, far more that you might think) operate in the complete absence of marketing or communications goals?

It's true.

They may have vague aspirations about being "world class", but they are totally silent on actions, resources or outcomes.

Annoyingly, web teams are often asked to fill-in and to produce goals/targets for sites like this. That exposes the confusion about web strategy.

Goals for what? Targets for what?

At its core, web strategy is about delivery.

Traffic, reach and engagement? Communications, marketing and business goals?

Yes, they are important and they can be included.

But first someone needs to decide what they are - and that is not the web team's job (or at least not their job alone).*

* In practice, web teams are usually highly involved in developing communications goals for web and are very interested in traffic. But that is only because web is such a dominant channel. No-one expects the print department to set marketing goals - they focus only on high quality printing.

The philosophy of website governance

Statue of a philosopher


That's why we do it.

Just consider the incredible complexity involved in managing a modern website.

Consider the array of activities, people, skills, teams, tools, technologies, processes and procedures. Consider the ever changing needs, moving parts, critical dependencies, growing volumes, evolving drivers and competing demands.

The reality is that in the absence of a system of governance, things soon fall apart. The examples are endless.

So the purpose of website governance is to deliver stability.

Stability means a web team doesn't have to waste time on fights about ownership, unclear priorities, dodgy processes, etc.

Instead, you have everything you need configured in the right way.

You can just get on with things—and focus your effort on pursuing online goals.

A utopia? You bet it is!

Learn more about it in my Website Management and Governance Masterclass.

(Yes, I love philosophy and ways it can connect with digital.)

(Image credit: Dove on J-J Rousseau's hand. Knoten2010 on Flickr.)