Monday, March 13, 2023

Your website is ready to launch, you’ve done all the hard work and now it goes live. Congratulations! You’ve gone through a very exciting, yet sometimes challenging process of a website redesign. You’re excited to see users visit your brand-new site and it seems like you’re all done. Or are you? Website governance is critical to the ongoing success of your shiny new website. Let's look at what governance is and why establishing a governance plan is important for your website’s success.

What is a governance plan?

A governance plan is a document that describes all the overarching and high-level information about your website. This includes things such as:

  • site ownership and responsibilities
  • user roles and permissions
  • target audiences
  • core principles
  • site goals objectives
  • branding and messaging requirements
  • quality control responsibilities
  • analytics and reporting
  • content update and review schedules
  • accessibility goals

Having a plan that describes the ongoing governance of your website helps guide you and your team to maintaining a performant website throughout its entire lifecycle. We have included a template of a governance plan for your use here

Websites are never done

The fact is that websites are never really done. Just launching your website (while an enormous accomplishment) is only the beginning. Your site content starts going out of date the moment it is written, and will need constant attention in the ensuing days, months, and years. Goals may change, or may be refined as you get a better understanding about how your site is performing.  A governance plan allows you to refine your goals and primary site objectives as things change. Having a plan gives you not only a guide but also credibility in being able to clearly articulate and understand your site objectives and the direction your site is headed in reaching its target audience.

How to get started

Getting started with a governance plan will allow you to understand your site's objectives and goals. Here’s how to get started:

  1. Determine content owners
    Determining who will update and own your website content is critical for keeping your content updated, fresh, and timely. Websites that have dormant content are seldom effective. Whether you have one or several content owners, it is important to document their responsibilities and expectations so that as your site begins it's post-launch lifecycle, the appropriate content owners understand their roles and responsibilities. We have included an example of a plan on the Iowa web community site.
  2. Map out a schedule of regular updates
    Through the months, semesters, or years, it is inventible that the content on your website will change. How often will you update your content? Per semester or per month? Mapping out regular intervals to scan your content and update it will help to keep your content timely and accurate to your users.  In higher-ed, make sure you note which pages (and which sections of content) have semester-related dates and information. Also be aware of course or curricula-centered content, as these typically benefit from a review schedule tied to the academic calendar.
  3. Analyze performance data
    Looking at various key data points can be helpful in seeing if your site is effective in reaching the goals that you have determined. Once you have determined a schedule to regularly look at data, you can use it to benchmark against previous data points in order to understand how your site content performs over time.

Having a governance plan for your website is a crucial step in being able to manage the site post-launch. It allows you to keep your content timely, accurate and will help see if you are reaching your website goals.