Website Governance: Has Your Higher Ed Website Become Frankenstein’s Monster?
Stop the chaos and reach your goals with an effective website governance plan
Your institution of higher learning built an informative, engaging website that everyone is proud of. But that was a year ago. What are you doing to keep the site’s content fresh and relevant? If you don’t have a plan for website governance, you could be turning off prospective students instead of making appointments for campus visits.
Website governance is what keeps your website maintained and managed in an organized, logical way, and is designed to keep it in line with the standards it must follow, whether they are internal or compliance-imposed. It’s the way you ensure you provide the very best user experience for every single visitor — a unified, easy-to-navigate website that isn’t a pieced-together mess.
Processes, policies, and procedures all go into website governance. It’s the place to establish specific guidelines for content, files, and media on your website. Let’s talk about why website governance is not optional, and tips to develop and implement your own governance strategy.
Why website governance is important
You have probably visited websites with navigation problems. As you move from page to page, you find inconsistencies in both the user experience and user interface. After a short while, you probably leave the site, never to return.
The above scenario is caused by a lack of structure due to the absence of website governance. This led to reactive responses to stakeholder demands instead of a thought-out strategy that would reinforce your brand, strategic messaging, and overall website goals.
Without rules, individual departments may have a website that doesn’t meet graphic or messaging standards. Some sites are well-maintained, others are hardly navigable, and online tracking is nonexistent, which means you are risking your reputation.
The point of website governance is to enable all of the different functions of your website to perform successfully. This means defining roles and responsibilities, as well as technical systems. The result is operational certainty and stability, which leads to a consistent user experience, fresh and relevant content, and no more worry about administrative issues that take attention away from your ultimate objectives or misalignment with your institution’s overall strategy.
5 tips to develop your website governance plan
This isn’t a one-size-fits-all prospect. Your institution is unique, and your governance plan has to reflect your own needs and work with available resources. However, every website governance strategy solves ownership, authority, responsibility, and resourcing issues. Keep in mind that web governance evolves and should be reviewed on a regular basis.
To create your web governance plan, follow these steps:
1. What’s the scale of your website?
Determining the scale of your website will help you achieve the necessary balance between website activity and available resources. Take a look at:
Website traffic and engagement level statistics The amount of content your site hosts The number of technical tools you use Your site complexity – does it take a number of high-tech tools to keep it running?
2. Pick a leadership team
A well-organized and maintained website requires leadership for strategy, rules and budget, marketing, and technology.
Form a team of designated experts in each area who can take your website scale information to formulate goals and priorities. Establishing both governance and site goals can be helped with a website audit, which looks at current page performance and shows where you can make improvements in different areas, including increasing traffic and overall website performance.
3. Assign permissions and roles
It’s all about setting expectations for each member involved in keeping your website running. These roles will work under your leadership team and include content creators, developers, marketers, as well as the technical and administrative support staff who answers user questions.
You’ll want to clearly define responsibilities and carefully consider permissions to limit access to only those areas needed for each person to complete their tasks. This doesn’t show a lack of trust; it’s a way to avoid errors and security problems.
4. Develop a style guide and workflow for content
To prevent departments and subsites from doing their own thing, develop a style guide and enforce its use. Develop plans and policies along with the style guide to maintain consistent voice and messaging.
5. Monitor, modify, maintain
Not only is the world constantly changing, so is the web and your institution’s goals. Your web governance plan needs to be monitored on a regular schedule and adjusted as needed. Implement a monthly or quarterly leadership team meeting to review activity and resources to monitor things like content and SEO, security, and performance.
Daily site maintenance is also required to keep things running smoothly between reviews. Invest in tools that facilitate this process quickly and easily.
Website governance is essential to avoid confusion and chaos. Don’t undermine your college or university’s overall strategy with a poor web presence. Form a team with the right people, provide the structure and tools needed, and set a course for success.
KWALL for the ultimate higher-ed website
You can count on KWALL to support the development of your higher ed website, help you implement a CMS, and support you while you use it. We can also help you create a maintenance and support plan that works so you can manage content through a content management system (CMS).