#42WeekHitchhikersGuide – In this week’s blog I would like to talk about roles and responsibilities in typical website projects. (Haha yes, I said typical – how funny is that?!).

Week:  2 of 42, 40 left

This week’s best line from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series:  “Many were increasingly of the opinion that they’d all made a big mistake in coming down from the trees in the first place. And some said that even the trees had been a bad move, and that no one should ever have left the oceans.”

Brilliant! I picked my “Everybody is a genius” picture last week already, before realising that this week’s quote from the books would be so appropriate. Trees + Oceans & Fish. 🙂

I have been on very small projects where the few people that were involved did pretty much everything. Sadly in environments like that, you’re setting yourself up to fail. No one person can be great at everything. There will always be a compromise. On much larger projects then, where the resource allocation is correct, I struggle keeping my opinions and advice to myself. Yup – I’m that person. A bit of a “know it all” and I don’t mean it bad at all. I really want to help, but to those around me, WHO KNOW WHAT THEY’RE DOING, it must be painful.

So without further ado, find my research on the different roles on website projects.


These are the generic roles I picked up for website projects. I’ve also included some SharePoint specific roles. Thanks Wikipedia for the generic descriptions. Please take the time to look at the resources I listed further down, the article by Room 34 also lists Key relationships and deliverables which are pretty cool. I don’t necessarily agree with the exact role definitions in all the articles, but it does help to compare notes. Interesting fact that not one of the articles I looked at, included Change Management, Business Analysis or Training. Hmmmm.

Forgive me if I’ve left out any roles – if I was the type of person that thinks of everything – I’d be an Information Architect. 🙂
Please comment on the post or the social media share and I will gladly add other roles.

Information Architect (IA):

Information Architecture is the structural design of shared information environments; the art and science of organizing and labelling websites, intranets, online communities and software to support usability and findability; and an emerging community of practice focused on bringing principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape. Typically, it involves a model or concept of information that is used and applied to activities which require explicit details of complex information systems. These activities include library systems and database development.

My thoughts:  This person really does need to know everything. Not in depth but a very good overview of how everything should fit into each other. Apart from Change Management – not having these people on board is by far my top reason for failing projects.

User Experience (UX) Designer:

User experience design (UX, UXD, UED or XD) is the process of enhancing user satisfaction with a product by improving the usability, accessibility, and pleasure provided in the interaction with the product. User experience design encompasses traditional human–computer interaction (HCI) design, and extends it by addressing all aspects of a product or service as perceived by users.

My thoughts:  See my previous post where I visually explained the difference between UI, UX & CX.

Web Developer:

For larger organizations and businesses, web development teams can consist of hundreds of people (web developers) and follow standard methods like Agile methodologies while developing websites. Smaller organizations may only require a single permanent or contracting developer, or secondary assignment to related job positions such as a graphic designer and/or information systems technician. Web development may be a collaborative effort between departments rather than the domain of a designated department. There are 3 kind of web developer specialization; Front-End Developer, Back-End Developer, and Full Stack Developer.

My thoughts:  Also refer to Site Owner / Super User below. They focus on developing (configuring) functionality for End Users.

User Interface (UI) Designer:

User interface design (UI) or user interface engineering is the design of user interfaces for machines and software, such as computers, home appliances, mobile devices, and other electronic devices, with the focus on maximizing usability and the user experience. The goal of user interface design is to make the user’s interaction as simple and efficient as possible, in terms of accomplishing user goals (user-centered design).

My thoughts:  See my previous post where I visually explained the difference between UI, UX & CX.

Web Content Specialist:

When the World Wide Web began, web developers either developed online content themselves, or modified existing documents and coded them into hypertext markup language (HTML). In time, the field of website development came to encompass many technologies, so it became difficult for website developers to maintain so many different skills. Content developers are specialized website developers who have content generation skills such as graphic design, multimedia development, professional writing, and documentation. They can integrate content into new or existing websites without using information technology skills such as script language programming and database programming.

My thoughts:  Also refer to End User below, I am not saying the roles are the same, but both focus on adding content, not building the functionality.

Quality Assurance (QA) Tester

In software testing the ISTQB defines acceptance as: formal testing with respect to user needs, requirements, and business processes conducted to determine whether a system satisfies the acceptance criteria and to enable the user, customers or other authorized entity to determine whether or not to accept the system. Acceptance testing is also known as user acceptance testing (UAT), end-user testing, operational acceptance testing (OAT) or field (acceptance) testing.

My thoughts:  These guys perform a very important role. You can also select users from the company user base to perform this testing, but then the responsibility of the actual Test Packs would sit with someone else. I prefer using the BA for these Test Packs.

Server Administrator:

The Server Administrator’s role is to design, install, administer, and optimize company servers and related components to achieve high performance of the various business functions supported by the servers as necessary. This includes ensuring the availability of client/server applications, configuring all new implementations, and developing processes and procedures for ongoing management of the server environment. Where applicable, the Server Administrator will assist in overseeing the physical security, integrity, and safety of the data center/server farm.

My thoughts:  Also see Farm and Site Collection Administrator below. Of course Office 365 & Azure has a big impact on the responsibilities of these roles.

Project Manager (PM):

A project manager is a professional in the field of project management. Project managers have the responsibility of the planning, procurement and execution of a project, in any domain of engineering. Project managers are first point of contact for any issues or discrepancies arising from within the heads of various departments in an organization before the problem escalates to higher authorities. Project management is the responsibility of a project manager. This individual seldom participates directly in the activities that produce the end result, but rather strives to maintain the progress, mutual interaction and tasks of various parties in such a way that reduces the risk of overall failure, maximizes benefits, and minimizes costs.

My thoughts:  Important role as the PM also becomes a catalyst between all the other creative, working parts.

Change Management Specialist

Change management (CM) refers to any approach to transitioning individuals, teams, and organizations using methods intended to re-direct the use of resources, business process, budget allocations, or other modes of operation that significantly reshape a company or organization. Organizational change management (OCM) considers the full organization and what needs to change. Organizational change management principles and practices include CM as a tool for change focused solely on the individual.

My thoughts:  Project management typically involves the implementation of a product or service, change management focuses on the change impact thereof on the people.


Training is teaching, or developing in oneself or others, any skills and knowledge that relate to specific useful competencies. Training has specific goals of improving one’s capability, capacity, productivity and performance. 


Evangelism is the preaching of the <fill in own words> or the practice of giving information about a particular doctrine or set of beliefs to others with the intention of converting others to the <fill in own words>.

My thoughts:  You shouldn’t be paying someone to be an evangelist. These are the people who already use the system and LOVE it. Whenever they open their mouth – it’s about the system and how cool it is. Site Owners / Super Users make great evangelists.

Business Analyst (BA):

A business analyst is someone who analyzes an organization or business domain (real or hypothetical) and documents its business or processes or systems, assessing the business model or its integration with technology.

My thoughts:  For years they said Business Analysts should be system agnostic and don’t need knowledge of the particular system. I don’t agree. Especially in SharePoint this wastes a lot of time. A BA with excellent knowledge of SharePoint is worth their weight in gold.

Help desk / Support:

A help desk is a resource intended to provide the customer or end user with information and support related to a company’s or institution’s products and services. The purpose of a help desk is usually to troubleshoot problems or provide guidance about products such as computers, electronic equipment, food, apparel, or software.

My thoughts:  Sorry to say it, but most people working in help desk environments should not be working with people, and hate every moment of their job. Make wise decisions when employing support staff. Trainers make great support staff and it’s a great cross-function (but yes, most trainers would not want to do support).

Site Collection / Farm Administrator:

My thoughts:  Similar to server administrator above depending on scale (multiple site collections in one farm – responsibility could be split).

Site Owner / Super User:

My thoughts:  Will manage the team collaboration, document management and social features of Microsoft SharePoint sites. They are also responsible for building new apps on the sites, sub sites and possibly manage permissions. Also refer to Web Developer and Evangelists above.

End User:

My thoughts:  There’s always some confusion here. Microsoft talks about End Users as I would about Super Users. For me End Users only consume and contribute to content. They navigate, search, find content, add documents and list items. Also refer to Web Content Specialist above, I am not saying the roles are the same, but both focus on adding content, not building the functionality.

Talking about End Users, Central Desktop produced this interesting Infographic on the 9 types of collaborators:


Found some nice articles and blogs to assist with these definitions. Thanks peeps!!

Now, as part of my blog challenge I would like to feature someone every week. Whether it be advice, tips & tricks or a code snippet they’d like to share. This week’s Babel Fish is brought to you by Kate Elphick.

“Context is critical in design, language, content and functionality. Where is the USER’S head-space? UI, UX and CX is not a one size fits all. What will give the users what they need, make it easy and let them feel good?” – Kate Elphick

Till next week. Know where your towel is and always be thankful for the fish 🙂

Disclaimer: I learn new things every day. I change my opinion every day. I am far from an expert on any of the topics I blog on. I invite your comments, additions, corrections and greater insights. If you get value from my musings, please tell me & give me feedback. Like and share my posts if you feel more people can obtain value from this. After all – the WWW has supplied us with a free education system that should be used.