The importance of website governance

The ultimate purpose of website governance is to manage a website in a controlled and orderly way by ensuring appropriate structures are in place.

Unfortunately, many websites don’t have these structures in place; it’s these websites that risk slipping into decline through a lack of overall strategic thinking.

What exactly is website governance?

Many web teams don’t seem to understand the difference between website governance and website management. Website management is all the tasks which go into running a website, such as adding new content or updating pages. Website governance is all of the policies and procedures which say how management should be done. It’s the gatekeeper of the website. It’s the strategic arm of running a good and well thought-out website that is successful in achieving its goals.

What does a website governance plan achieve?

How many websites have you visited where the UX/UI don’t seem to match up throughout the site? When have you not been able to find the content you’re looking for? What about a convoluted structure where you got lost along your journey through the site? The reason behind this is the lack of website governance.

Without these structures in place, web teams are reacting to demands from stakeholders and never have the chance to think strategically. When this happens, the key strategic messaging and goals of a website can quickly be lost. A governance plan provides the framework for website use that allows for website management to take place in a constructive and non-disruptive.

The three main areas of website governance

1. Policies

These are guidelines which all areas of your website and any other online channel must adhere to. These policies should be kept to a minimum and be clear and concise to eliminate confusion and to be effective. An example of a policy is: all pages on the website must contain a call to action.

2. Standards

Standards are established to deliver consistency in voice, quality and design. With ever evolving websites and multiple stakeholders, quality and consistency can quickly get out of control.

Stakeholders, copywriters and designers all have different styles and skills; governance standards make sure they all work towards the same set of standards set out to keep consistency across all your digital estate. For example, all images need to be a certain quality before being used on the site.

3. Process

These are all the steps which must be taken to make sure that the website is in accordance to policies and standards. For example, you might make a checklist of processes that go into each new page of content, such as optimising URLs, Title and H1 Tags, and meta descriptions.

Why you need it

The benefits of good website governance are tenfold. It allows the web team to think strategically and aid in evolving the site through its lifecycle in a controlled way where new content and new sections are added to benefit the overall goal of the site. Having a good web governance framework in place ensures long term success of your website.

Dylan Pearson is a digital consultant at Investis. For help creating your website governance, please contact us.

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