Who Owns Your Company’s Website—Marketing or IT?

Christy Hogan Hutchinson Creative, Marketing Strategy & Planning, Planning

Most web governance structures place marketing and IT at odds.

In many organizations we work with, IT has full control of the website—everything from the user experience, tech stack specification and implementation, and digital road map to the data that feeds it all. And Marketing is relegated to the role of being allowed to “paint” what IT provides. In these organizations, we often hear complaints that IT, “doesn’t understand,” and that Marketing is always saying, “no.”

And just as often, Marketing owns the website. Driven by wanting to launch timely promotions or content or engage their audience segments in new and interesting ways, Marketing can sometimes, even with the best of intentions, leave IT in the unfortunate position of trying to build a user experience that either the available data or tech stack doesn’t support. In these organizations, we often hear complaints that Marketing, “doesn’t understand,” and that IT is always saying, “no.”

Neither of these scenarios is ideal and each leaves frustration on all sides.

As an experience design and strategy firm with expertise on both sides of the issue, we have more often than not found ourselves being the bridge or conduit between IT and Marketing. We become the great arbitrator—helping marketing understand what experiences are possible within limitations of the company’s current tech infrastructure, and helping IT understand the competitive value of pushing technology to deliver exceptional user experiences. While we’re happy to fill this role—and have made a great number of clients happy by doing so— we believe there is a better way.

Start by asking the right questions.

Stop asking who owns your company’s website and start asking what impact can improving your company’s digital presence have on the business. Imagine building and presenting a business case around what impact your company’s digital presence can have on the bottom line. And really, it’s the business that owns the website, not IT or Marketing. It’s time to push beyond a traditional IT vs. Marketing mentality in order to thrive in this ever-evolving digital environment.

It’s time for a dedicated innovation team to “own” the digital experience.

Whether it’s beginning to sound like a cliché or not, digital disruption is radically impacting every industry. This disruption is being fueled by digital transformation. It just might change the goal from getting it done, to making it better.

Often innovation/R&D teams own the future-facing product or service development, but it’s not a stretch to have this group, or a similar group structure, own the future-facing customer experience. We believe this would not only solve the “age-old question” of ownership, but also better position your company to be prepared for the future.

So how do you make this switch?

It starts with building a business case and showing examples of how digital disruption can better position the company and provide a tangible ROI. The ultimate “ask” should be for a business charter—and funding—to lead a dedicated multi-disciplined team with success measures around deepening the relationship between your company and your customers and driving business metrics.   

Finally, here’s one stat to help you get started: according to Harvard Business School1, leading digital companies generate better gross margins (55%), better earnings and better net income than organizations in the bottom quarter of digital adopters (37% gross margins). How’s that for ROI?


1 https://www.cio.com/article/3149977/digital-transformation/8-top-digital-transformation-stories-of-2016.html


Magnani is an experience design and strategy firm that crafts transformational digital experiences to delight users and deliver sustainable competitive market advantages for our clients.


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