What is website governance?
Website governance is, perhaps unsurprisingly, the plan you have (or let’s be honest, don’t have) to govern your website. A publication schedule is not a governance plan. An editorial calendar is not a governance plan. A maintenance schedule is not a governance plan. A true governance plan encompasses all of those things and includes much more.
Getting Above the Fray
In a larger organization, you have several departments and all of them have their own interest and believe their contribution to the mission is the most vital. Of course, that also means they all think their stuff should be on the home page, above the fold, front and center. And often what happens is each department head fights for their department (as they should) and a massive compromise is reached. We’ll put everything on the home page above the fold.
That way no one gets mad!
Except the users…
The first piece of a website governance plan is a website mission statement.
Your website mission statement documents and says who is the website is for, what it is there to do, and what goals you are trying to achieve through it. And it can’t be a general thing either, it needs to be precise, it needs to include prioritization, it needs to be specific.
- Who are our users (and what are they trying to do?)
- What are our organizational goals (and how does the website support them?)
- Where are the intersections between users’ and organization’s goals (and how do we get people to these intersections?)
That statement then becomes a platform from which you can impartially review and evaluate your decisions. Those elements that most closely align with the highest priority objectives for both the organization and the users get first consideration and prime placement. Other objectives and goals are categorized and displayed accordingly.
The second piece of a website governance plan is having a dedicated website manager.
The Wall Street Journal, the New York Times don’t have fights over whose story gets to be on the front page. They have a managing editor, they have someone that says this is the most important story and that is responsible and is held accountable. A ship has a captain, a plane a pilot, an army a general. The key is to have someone that makes that decision and owns them.
Of course that person is backed up and supported by management because their intentions and objectives are known. They’re written right there in the Website Mission Statement.
7 Critical Elements for Website Governance
In addition to these two critical elements, most website governance plans will include some of the following elements:
1. Content review and publication guidelines and schedule
- Who is responsible for providing content?
- When is the content due?
- Who is responsible for reviewing/editing content?
- Who is responsible for laying out content?
- Optimizing for search?
- Reporting on performance?
2. User Roles and Permissions
- What user roles exists and what permissions do they have?
- Who (by person or role) can create new users? New roles?
- What is the protocol for adding a new user or role type?
3. Website Integrations
- What tools integrate with the website?
- Who is responsible for maintaining each of them?
- What is the protocol for adding a new function or integration?
4. Website Maintenance
- Where is the site hosted?
- Who is responsible for maintaining it?
- How often is it backed up?
- Where are backups stored?
- Where is/how do you access the staging or development environments?
5. Website Security
- Is the server appropriately hardened?
- What are user password requirements?
- Is two factor authentication enable? Required?
- How often is the website tested?
6. Website Performance & Optimization
- What is the site’s target load time?
- How often is load time checked?
- Are images optimized? (Are users trained to optimize images?)
- Where possible are scripts minified?
- Are our hosting resources appropriate for our traffic and engagement?
7. Website Compliance
- Are we in line with ADA website compliance?
- Are we in line with website 508 compliance?
- Are we in line with WCAG 2.0 website compliance?
- Is the team trained to keep the site compliant?
- How often is website compliance tested?
Want to make sure your website doesn’t devolve into a cramped and unintuitive mess? Even a one sheet website governance plan can do wonders, and possibly even extend the life of your website by years – saving you a lot of headaches, user frustration, and money. Need a hand? Let us know.
Considering a Website Redesign?
Not only can we build it to be clean, intuitive, and easy to use… but we can help you create an appropriate governance plan to keep that way.
See what we can do for you.