4 Steps to Building a Website Governance Plan

4 Steps to Building a Website Governance Plan

The web is constantly changing, and so are your business goals. So, why is it that a surprising amount of businesses think that once they initially build a website, that’s it? The bottom line is, a successful website is a dynamic entity that requires both maintenance and continuous improvement in order to be effective.

Maintenance and continuous improvement is best achieved with a strategic plan and proper controls in place. This is where the term “website governance” comes into play. Website governance is how an organization structures their policies and procedures to maintain and manage their website. It might not sound important but having these standards in place from the beginning can save you a lot of confusion, mistakes, and failure down the road.

Here are some of the benefits of having a website governance structure in place:

  • An overarching structure aligns goals and expectations
  • Working towards one larger enterprise goal will empower employees
  • Designating who is responsible for what provides an accountability and clarity in tasks
  • Fresh, targeted content updated regularly
  • Establish a standard level of quality for operations and online experience
  • Consistency in voice, quality, and customer service
  • Improved SEO by creating targeted content with better keyword management
  • Faster response to operational issues on your website

4 Steps to Build a Website Governance Plan

The purpose of a website governance plan is not to include everything involved in running a website, it is designed to facilitate control and consistency by clearly defining goals, resources, and roles.

There are 4 key steps involved in the creation and implementation of a new website, no matter what size or how complex it is. Each of these stages factor in a unique set of people, processes, tools, and budget – and they all need to be run by a project manager or delegated to a team member with the experience to coordinate. Here is what you need to outline in a website governance plan:

  1. Identify Your Goal
    At the head of the web governance structure, a leader or central committee is responsible for establishing goals and how to achieve them. They are accountable for the direction of the plan and getting buy-in from senior management.
  2. Define Required Roles and Responsibilities
    The actual development of a website requires a team to undertake the planning, design, content, code, testing, and overall evolution of the site. A governance plan will keep that team working in alignment with the business goals by assigning clear roles to tasks and projects so nothing falls through the cracks.
  3. Establish Policies and Standards
    Once you have your resources in place, you need to establish what policies and standards will help you maximize your investment. In this step, you need to document roles for content, design, development, and anything else to ensure consistencies in the website.
  4. Monitor, Manage, and Maintain Your Website
    Once your website is built, your team is responsible for monitoring day-to-day performance, managing updates, and performing maintenance. This is a key component of continuous improvement and making sure you make the most out of your website investment.

It’s important to note that the scope and frequency of these steps depends on the scale of your website. A small company with a standard website is going to be a lot less complex that a large eCommerce website and both of their governance plans will reflect that. At the end of the day, you still follow the same structure to guarantee quality and consistency of your operations.

Take Control of Your Website Performance

Maintaining a website involves the effort and cooperation of many skilled people from different teams. Errors and operational issues are unavoidable when it comes to a website, but you can minimize the damage with a structure in place that responds quickly to these issues. Think of it this way: if your web developer quit tomorrow, would you have the right documentation in place for someone else to take over without a hiccup?

If done right, implementing a website governance plan will lead you on the path to efficiency, where your employees all work towards a common goal that guarantees a consistent customer experience and continuously improving website performance.

If you aren’t sure how to get started, download a customizable planning template like this one from the American Marketing Association. If you would prefer to have someone guide you, get in touch with one of our digital marketing experts. We can provide advice on navigating the waters of governance and help you to create your own custom plan.