This topic of web governance is probably more important for your boss than it is for you, the web developer. However, the decision makers in an organization are the ones who elicit most of the influence when it comes time to yielding the mighty stroke of the pen, or signing off on a new contract. But web governance is less about contracts and third-party development firms than the initial decisions that need to be made about how the website is designed and organized around the product or services the organization provides.
If you're customer is happy and you know it, clap your hands!
If your customers and visitors are happy with your organization's web presence then you can stop reading now, but if your web satisfaction surveys rank with less than stellar performance outcomes, then you might need to take a look at the overall governance of your web presence.
First, let's answer a few questions that relate to how your organization's website is perceived by its visitors and how it is managed from within. Answer these questions and then total up how many of your answers are "Yes" and how many are "No". The results of this short self-test depend on the individual questions.
- Do your visitors have trouble finding the information they are searching for on your website?
- Does your website provide a lot of information, some of it trivial, some outdated, and some redundant?
- Does your website have many sub or micro sites that offer similar or conflicting information that leaves the visitor confused?
- Does your website receive complaints from visitors who are having trouble with access and responsiveness issues?
- Does your organization have the "put it up" mentality, where everything must be on the website?
- Is searching for relevant information on your website like finding a "needle in the haystack" where critical data is often buried under vast amounts of insignificant information?
- Does your organization support web communications as part of most job descriptions for content owners, where web work is on a priority list and not a side duty or afterthought?
- Does your organization currently employ web content managers who organize and maintain web content in a streamlined and efficient manner?
- Does your organization have one single policy and structure for its web presence governed by a specific set of strategies, guidelines, procedures and ethics?
If you answered "Yes" to questions 1 through 6, or "No" to questions 7 through 9, then your organization might need a website governance review.
Web governance: Is it just another management phrase?
One of the greatest hurdles with implementing a new project is getting by-in from the people who will be most affected by the change. All levels of management need to be on the same page with adoption, spreading the news, and maintaining the change, especially if the organization is going from a non-governance level of management to any form of web governance.
In my next segment on Web Governance, I will review several models that are in use today by organizations for their online and web presence.
Ryan has performed in a broad range of technology support roles for electric-generation utilities, including nuclear power plants, and for the telecommunications industry. He has worked in web development for the restaurant industry and the Federal government.