A website governance structure or framework defines the rules and procedures that help guide the operation of a website. How is your website looking?
As your municipal website grows and scales, management starts to become a serious issue. What was initially a few hundred pages grows into thousands as more writers, content managers, web developers, and SEOs all add to the size and complexity of your website.
But at what cost?
Poorly governed websites can quickly undo all the hard work they’ve done to get to this stage. Many issues may arise: Incongruent pages with mismatched brand voices, orphaned pages that aren’t accessible other than by typing in the exact address, and pages that haven’t received any traffic for over twelve months…
The list goes on and on.
So how do you avoid these pitfalls? Quite simply a set of policies, standards, and processes for everyone who contributes to your website. Town Web has created this easy-to-follow guide so you can create your own website governance policy to quickly solve web-related problems before they get out of hand.
Often used interchangeably, a website governance structure or framework defines the rules and procedures that help guide the operation of a website.
Your framework can be broken down into three key groups:
Policies - Policies apply to your entire site and are strict rules all contributors must adhere to.
Website governance policy example: All web pages must contain at least 500 words of copy.
Standards - Standards define quality levels that must be followed to ensure your website stays consistent.
Website governance standard example: All images must be sourced from our own depository or royalty-free stock image sites.
Processes - Processes refer to the exact course of action that should be used to complete a web task properly.
Website governance process example: Ensuring that the URL, H tags, meta title, and description are all optimized before a page is published on your website.
The simple answer is yes. If your municipal website publishes new pages or even if you have an existing website with inconsistencies in voice, design, or quality, you will undoubtedly benefit from proper website governance.
Consider the following:
If your answer was no to any of the above then you need to follow these simple steps to create a website governance structure of your own.
You can use this simple example to apply to your own website and expand on the policies, standards, and processes within.
As your municipal website expands so will your governance structure so your policies, standards, and processes need to be fluid as you add new sections and contributors to your site.
Identifying an individual or team to take accountability for your municipal website and the pages within it are essential if you want to effectively govern your website.
If you run a small municipal website, it’s possible for one person to apply and moderate your website policies. This focal point will be knowledgeable in web-related tasks and have at least an understanding of all operations on your municipal site.
Rather than a team, they will take on the role of Chief Web Officer taking on responsibility for all of the website's operations.
As your municipal site grows the need for more than one staff member will quickly become apparent. Your WMT typically consists of people that actively affect the site and its stakeholders including:
Your WMT should be assessing your municipal website regularly against your business goals and your overall business plan to ensure all of the required policies, standards, and processes are being carried out within your website governance structure.
Now that you’ve got an understanding of how to create your website structure and who should be responsible, let’s take a look at the core areas you’ll need to focus on when creating your own.
Your business plan and the KPIs within should form the head of your structure, with all other standards, policies, and processes working towards these primary goals.
Do you have clear KPIs for your municipal website, like traffic and users?
For instance, our work with Colts Neck Township involved creating a modern website that was intuitive, enhanced citizen access to various digital tools, had a mobile-friendly version, and had a better engagement rate than the older one.
As such, we designed the town’s online platform with engagement rate as an important metric to keep in mind and made sure that it was as responsive across all mobile devices.
Website accessibility should be paramount to everything you do. With giant organizations being sued for lack of accessibility it’s really not a risk worth taking.
Great content is one of the best ways to grow a municipal website to reach a larger audience. Ensuring that your content is consistent in tone and quality is key to a great user experience.
If you have external contractors or consultants working on your site they need to be made of the website governance structure and someone needs to be responsible for hiring and reviewing their work.
This area focuses on how your site performs in terms of speed and functionality and the traffic it receives.
Have you ever landed on a web page and then been directed to another page on the same site with absolutely no similarity? No, well there’s a reason for that, pages with mismatched design and branding will often cause visitors to lose trust in your site and leave.
Have a look at our website redesign case study featuring the City of Glen Cove. As a local government website, they needed a website that was easy to navigate, echoed elements of the city itself, and could regularly be updated.
The world of the web moves incredibly quickly and today’s best tool quickly falls by the wayside as new technology supersedes it. We’re all guilty of not wanting to learn new things but new technology can often save you time and money and heritage tools can quickly lead to security issues.
Your online presence doesn’t stop with just your website. Social Media is a powerful tool for attracting tourists to your town and many of the governance principles apply here too.
Now you’ve assessed all the areas that affect your municipal website and you can start to create your own policies, standards, and processes to ensure your website growth is controlled and monitored.
At Town Web, we’ve helped hundreds of municipalities grow their online presence with stunning, ADA-compliant websites built with the right foundations. Get in touch to see how we can transform your municipality with a website designed and developed with all of the aspects we’ve discussed today.