For over a decade I have owned and operated a small but very successful vBulletin based forum called The Dented Helmet which focuses on helping Star Wars fans build their own Boba Fett Costume. In Nov of 2009 I was offered the opportunity to take the reigns of the site that spawned the Dented Helmet – The Replica Prop Forum (more commonly referred to as the RPF). In taking ownership of the RPF, I realized that I was taking on something much larger and more complex (and more costly) than the small site I had previously managed. With that in mind, and with future aspirations to bring some of the experience and success I had helped The Dented Helmet achieve, I formed Movie Prop Sites, LLC, a web operations management company dedicated to managing and promoting sites focused on props, costumes, and memorabilia from movies, television shows, video games, and other media.
I’d love to tell you the the concept of web operations management was my brainchild but it is not. In fact, I didn’t even really have a name for what I did for quite some time other than to say “I run a website,” which is a bit unfair, since what Movie Prop Sites does is a lot more than that. While web management has been around as long as there has been a web to manage, the concepts that I follow of web operations management is best defined by and includes 4 components:
The website is the front door. It needs to be taken seriously. It needs to be managed by a high level strategic manager. Decisions must not be pushed down to a low level in the organization.
Standards are lacking. One might find a style guide, maybe. You might have coding standards and policies like “no pop-ups”. But real governance and operational policies need to be defined as part of healthy WOM.
Certain functions ought to be centralized — a Web team can’t write all the content. Certain functions should not centralized. This is a range which must be tuned to the organization’s temperament and culture. This role is effectively product management.
This is really about measurement, and keeping in touch with two sets of people: people working on the site and external users. The two groups need to talk to each other all the time. A healthy, communicative community must be developed and needs of these communities need to be fed into the strategic decision making process.
I love this 4 step model as it is something one doesn’t often see implement in “hobby” sites like the movie prop and costume sites I frequent. This is not to say those running many hobby sites aren’t doing a good job, but the truth is, they are often just “running” the site and hoping it will grow. They aren’t taking a systematic and methodical approach to making their site all it can be. Even worse, I often find that prop and costume sites have two people behind them, the person who has a passion for the subject and is the real champion of the site and then a mostly silent partner who has the technical know-how to make the site function. The problem is that the technical person often helps as a favor and when life gets in the way, the site gets pushed to the back burner because having the site run is all that truly matters. The result of an absentee landlord on the technical side of often a stagnant site that slowly loses ground to more progressive sites until it simply is a ghost town.
This is where a web operations management company like Movie Prop Sites can help. We have the technical know-how, we are focused on emerging technologies, and best of all, we have a deep passion for the subject matter! We aren’t interested in making your site run. We want to make your community THRIVE! We are learning more each day and every new experience only serves to make us better at what we do.
While this really isn’t meant to be an infomercial for my company, if you own a movie prop or costume site that isn’t all that you feel it could be, I’d be very interested in hearing from you and seeing where we might be able to help your community. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org