Who owns the support website?

Many thanks to Tina Yarovsky for suggesting this topic.

We’ve designed many support websites, and with every project comes the question of ownership of the website. Who makes decisions about it? Whose budget applies? Who has approval privileges on changes, and who has veto power?

Fortunately, in the past few years the industry has settled into a divided, but logical and workable division of responsibilities:

  • The marketing organization owns the corporate website, including the look and feel and the design elements. It usually maintains a style guide that applies to all areas of the site, including the support area.
  • The support organization owns the support website (minus the design rules). This means that decisions about functionality and layout are made within the support team, but the look and feel adheres to the rules defined by the marketing team (and usually requires specific approval by someone on the marketing team)

If you are thinking of redesigning your support website, include a marketing representative on the team (and contact us!)

To be sure, the situation is often a little more complex.

  • Support functionality is often accessible from the product itself, especially for SaaS. This means that the engineering organization is now added to the mix (and, more importantly, product functionality in the form of product metrics is added to the standard set of support functionality). Here again, the support organization owns support content–although co-ownership can be more fraught as product information and support information need to coexist.
  • The marketing organization often claims ownership of online communities (forums, blogs, etc.) for branding reasons, but rarely has the infrastructure required to moderate online forums. It usually works best if the marketing organization owns (or contributes to) blog content, while the support organization owns forum moderation.

It takes a village, so organize the village. A support website council with cross-functional representation is usually a good idea.

How do you manage your support website?

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