As customer obsession and remote workplaces simultaneously become the new normal, it’s essential teams leverage software that facilitates both of those changes.
It’s no longer efficient to work within organizational silos – instead, software should encourage collaboration and parallel work between multiple teams.
WebOps platforms do just that, by providing opportunities for developers, marketers, and other business stakeholders to work on their web properties seamlessly, eliminating bottlenecks and encouraging a customer-centric approach.
In this piece, we’ll hear from three experts on WebOps Platforms to explore the category itself, its future, historical issues with web development, and how to best select, implement, and leverage your WebOps platform.
WebOps platforms, also referred to as agile content management systems, facilitate DevOps functionalities and best practices in the context of website development and content management. In other words, these platforms offer a developer side, enabling dev teams to manage staging and other pre-production environments, as well as a non-developer side, which provides a no-code or low-code interface for use by marketers and content teams.
This allows cross-functional teams to work in parallel, as opposed to in a strictly linear fashion that will inevitably cause bottlenecks. These platforms host a variety of features to enable that collaboration, like role-based permissions, content management, and website hosting.
Since WebOps platforms enable developers, marketers, and creators to work more in sync, role-based access is a significant function. Administrators are able to differentiate between task types and delegate them to a specific persona. Ultimately, this provides clear ownership, simplifies task allocation and streamlines activities.
The growth of WebOps on G2
WebOps platforms – and other similar tools – have seen significant growth on G2.com in recent years. In just the last year (between September 17, 2019 and September 17, 2020), there were more than 600 new reviews for products within the WebOps category, surging from 1,256 total reviews to 1,867.
WebOps vs. a Headless CMS
WebOps platforms are often mixed up with Headless CMS software. While they are similar, a Headless CMS is a back-end only content management system. In these tools, the front-end delivery layer of a website is removed, and developers can use any front-end tool they want to present the content they’ve created.
WebOps vs. DevOps Platforms
DevOps Platforms are meant to bridge the gap between development teams and operations teams. These tools give those teams the automation capabilities needed to perform and manage continuous delivery – a development approach aimed at creating, testing, and releasing software in a quick and agile way.
The primary difference between WebOps (Website Operations) and DevOps is that WebOps caters to a broader range of personas. While DevOps are typically used by developers and software operations teams, WebOps platforms bring together developers, designers, product managers, marketers, and more.
Historical issues with web development and how software combats this
Prior to the emergence of WebOps, teams ran into the same issues. Below, what these issues were and how WebOps platforms and other similar tools help to combat them.
Lack of resources
Not having a fully stacked web development team will slow things down, especially if cross-functional teams (marketers, content teams, GTM teams, etc.) aren’t able to build their own landing pages, content hubs, and more.
Generally, websites are owned by the in-house web development team – a sensible system that, with a fully stocked team, will work rather seamlessly.
That said, more often than not, there is more work to be done than developers to do it, and with marketing teams and other business stakeholders unable to manage their own web properties (like product landing pages or blogs), they’re forced to rely on their development counterparts for minor updates and menial tasks.
Not only does this slow down the content creation process, but it also takes time away from developers that could be spent focusing on more complex and holistic projects.
WebOps platforms, and similar agile content management systems, combat this in giving marketing teams, and other relevant team members, autonomy to own their web properties and work on them, in collaboration with the development team.
Lack of collaboration
With traditional development, there’s no shared environment in which marketers, designers, developers, and creators can collaborate. Traditional software and tools catered almost exclusively to a technical persona.
This, for a variety of reasons, can be limiting. Mostly, though, while creating an exceptional website is the goal of the developers, metrics and goals around that website (ie: traffic, conversions, form submissions, etc.) are often owned by marketers. For marketers to be successful in that vain, there’s a need for collaboration between the two teams.
Today, the content lifecycle – from creation through publishing and beyond – involves a variety of different users. The end-to-end process of pushing out a new webpage involves developers, copywriters, designers, digital marketers – and more.
Matthew went on to add, "This, in turn, improves collaboration, removes friction from the content lifecycle, and accelerates ROI from investments into content and ROX from investments into digital experiences.”
This increased level of collaboration isn’t only going to increase efficiency. Equally as important, it’s a more customer-centric approach than the alternative.
WebOps users, who are driving results with their websites aren’t just focusing on the back-end or the front-end, marketing workflows or developer workflows. Instead, they’re focusing on their users – the people their websites serve and the experiences their websites deliver.
By incorporating multiple teams – and their various levels of knowledge on your customers – into the content creation and development process, you’re ensuring the focus is not just on content, but context as well.
Tedious workloads and repetitive tasks
WebOps, and other similar tools that offer no or low-code functions, may help to automate many of the tedious and repetitive tasks commonly associated with website development and maintenance.
The benefit in having the right WebOps platform is that it will accelerate the time-to-value for teams. With clear ownership on processes, it means that devs will be able to focus on creative work – building new sites and apps, in whatever technology is right for that project, instead of worrying about servers, containers, and being restricted to a single CMS or programming language.
For marketers, designers, and other business stakeholders, it means spending more time on the work that will affect the end user experience, and being able to see all the changes taking place across the team, or across a fleet of websites.
Christian refers to this as “an iceberg of work” where what the end-user sees floats above the surface, but there’s a ton of effort lurking below. Organizations are spending more and more of their team’s efforts on this invisible work, which is where the right WebOps platform can be transformative for your business.
How to implement the right software to streamline your development
Between software selection and implementation, your team will devote significant time and financial resources. Consider the following tips from WebOps experts to ensure you’re putting in place processes that will set you up for success.
When investing in a new software tool, it’s essential that your team does its due diligence prior to making a final decision. This is especially true when it comes to WebOps platforms, as they’re involved and touch multiple teams within an organization.
As you’re looking to select a tool that will fit your organization’s unique needs, consider the following advice from our panel of WebOps experts:
"Teams should ensure that the WebOps platform they choose is flexible and future-proof. Specifically, it should adapt to the way their teams work, rather than forcing them into workflows (and even technology choices) that the platform dictates.
Matthew from Contentstack says, "A CMS purchase or replacement always begins with a need. This might be a business need – such as the desire to improve omni-channel digital marketing – or a technical need – such as concerns around platform security or escalating infrastructure cost.
Matthew continues, "There won’t be a campaign if developers don’t use the platform to build the site, app, or experience and designers make it slick and beautiful. Similarly, there won’t be a campaign if a marketing user can’t fix spelling mistakes (or launch new parts of the campaign) in a timely manner.
"Only by working together can organizations set themselves up for success. A PoC (proof of concept) is a purchaser’s not-so-secret weapon. As you compare solutions, make vendors show you in practice how to solve a real problem you have today. Collect feedback from technical and business users alike as they experience the contending platforms first hand."
Christy from Pantheon's take on it is: "A WebOps platform should enable all members of the web team to automate routine tasks and focus on the work that matters. Developers should be able to work creatively, building, and testing new features while iterating on high-impact functionality. Marketers and business leads should be able to gather information about customers and use that information to reach new audiences and create experiences that delight users."
If you pull out a theme from the above, let it be this: there is likely not a one-size-fits-all solution.
Your organization is unique, as is its existing problems and requirements for a new software tool. As a buyer, you can leverage software reviews to learn how specific products work for different types of organizations, taking into account the reviewers industry, role, and company size.
A software implementation is a long and tedious process, yet its success (or lack thereof) will likely determine your time to value with that software. With WebOps platforms touching multiple teams across the business, it becomes even more important that stakeholders are aligned and working together to ensure a smooth and efficient implementation.
To set yourself up for success, there are two key steps to take between purchasing your WebOps platform and beginning implementation.
As a first step, assemble your core WebOps team. This will likely be a mix of developers, marketers, and agencies depending on the size of your organization. It could be an internal resource, if the expertise exists, or you can enlist the help of a third party that specializes in the product or software you’ve chosen.
Since you’ve already gone through the purchasing process, you likely have an idea of who should be in this group. That said, take the time to consider if there’s a need for more people, or a need to cut it down by selecting just one representative per team. Too many cooks in the kitchen can be just as hindering as a lack of resources.
When you have this team defined, the next step is to align on what success looks like for the organization and how they will measure it.
Christy from Pantheon says, “It is a simple, agile and repeatable process that involves communicating goals, aligning teams, facilitating collaboration and increasing productivity with an effective CMS and a WebOps platform."
When your team is assembled and has their primary goals put together, you can start thinking about the tool itself and the features it will provide to your organization. Since one of the key values of a WebOps platform is the ability to streamline the creation of new sites and apps, consider performing an audit of all existing websites and apps.
Leveraging your new software tool
A software tool can have five stars across the board, but if your team isn’t using it properly, you won’t see the results. We asked our panel of experts for tips on how to best leverage your new WebOps platform, and here’s what they had to say:
Christian from Platform.sh:
"Move towards fearless, process-driven deployment. Using the flexible environments and built-in testing capabilities of the best WebOps platforms, teams don’t have to “lock down” during busy seasons and critical times."
"Once you remove the shackles of slow, manual product upgrade cycles, eliminate infrastructure cost & complexity, and minimize training requirements – you make it a whole lot easier to participate in the content lifecycle, you improve the return on the investment into content and you deliver tangible business results."
"We try to leave our egos and hubris at the door so we can take risks, make some mistakes, and learn. We apply Champion Challenger testing to our own campaign efforts and apply at least 10% of our marketing budget for experiments to continually test, learn and improve our marketing productivity.
"We aim to first build a successful campaign, and then let's beat it. This means we are constantly reviewing the data and tracking everything possible in order to learn, grow and stay ahead of the curve."
The future of WebOps
Like all truly great software categories, WebOps platforms will continue to grow and evolve in order to fit the unique needs of their audience. And if the remote workspace becomes even more common, the increased level of collaboration will be even more mission-critical.
As more organizations start to recognize that their customers and their users are the reason they exist, they'll continuously work to improve how they interact with them on the internet. The consensus between our experts was that five years from now, WebOps platforms will continue to grow and facilitate a more customer-focused experience.
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Claire is a Senior Marketing Manager at Blueprint and a former growth marketing team manager at G2. Born and raised in the Chicago area, her brief stint in Ohio (University of Dayton) gave her a new appreciation for deep-dish pizza, but left her well-versed in Cincinnati-style chili and "cities" with a population fewer than 400,000. While not writing, Claire can be found practicing calligraphy, seeking out the best dive bars in Chicago, and planning her next trip. (she/her/hers)
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