What is a Website Governance Policy (And Do I Need One)?

Written by Rachael Walker

Evaluating and creating dynamic content is a vital first step to establishing a relevancy for your municipality in citizens’ lives that is personal and meaningful. Such material, however, must be preserved and maintained using established policies and best practices to ensure long-term sustainability. As part of your website content strategy, be sure to produce—and adhere to—a website governance policy.

What is a Website Governance Policy?

Web governance policies are rules that guide the day-to-day work of your web team and ensure that they uphold the guidelines that you decide must govern your website’s maintenance. If there is a reason for managing processes in a specific manner relative to your digital presence, descrive it in a policy document.

Why Do You Need a Website Governance Policy?

How many websites have you visited where the user experience (UX) and user interface (UI) aren’t consistent throughout the pages? When have you not been able to find the content you seek? How many times have you struggled to navigate a convoluted organization structure where you get lost along your journey and simply give up? The reason behind these frustrations is the lack of website governance.

Without these structures in place, web teams are reacting to demands from stakeholders and never have the chance to think strategically. When this happens, you risk diluting the branded, strategic messaging and goals of your website. A governance plan provides a framework for website use that allows for website management to take place in a constructive and non-disruptive manner.

The three primary components of website governance include:

1. Policies

These are guidelines to which all areas of your website and any other online channel must adhere. These policies should be kept to a minimum and be clear and concise to eliminate confusion and to be effective. An example of a policy would be: All pages on the website must contain a call-to-action.

2. Standards

Standards are established to deliver consistency in voice, quality, and design. With ever-evolving websites and multiple stakeholders, quality and consistency can quickly be forgotten.

Stakeholders, copywriters, and designers all have different styles and skills. Governance standards make sure they all follow the same criteria for consistency across all your digital properties. An example would be requiring all images to be saved at a specified quality level before being posted to the website.

3. Process

These are all the steps which must be taken to ensure your the website adheres to policies and standards. For example, you might make a checklist of processes that go into each new page of content, such as optimizing URLs, Title tag, H1 tags, and meta descriptions.

The benefits of good website governance cannot be understated. It allows a web team to think strategically and aid in evolving the website through its lifecycle in a controlled way where new content and new sections are added to benefit the overall goal of your communications team and various departments. Maintaining a reliable and sustainable website governance framework safeguards the long-term success of your website.

To help you create and maintain quality digital content, use the following as a template to create a website content governance policy for your administration.

Website Content Governance Policy for City Name

  • New content must be submitted by 10 a.m. on Friday mornings to be reviewed, approved, and published by Wednesday at 5 p.m. Calendar events and news flashes are not subject to this policy, as guidelines for these items will be decided within each department.
  • Existing content must be reviewed annually for continued relevance and to be kept up-to-date.
  • Content receiving fewer than ten views per year must be removed and an alternative channel selected to make the information available.
  • All content should adhere to this style guide and this best practice document.
  • All new content creators and editors must receive content strategy training. Signed verification of completed training should be kept on file with their department manager.

Be sure your website content creators and editors understand not only these governance best practices but also how to build and maintain content that meets the latest requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Section 508 Refresh. Click below to find out if your current website is compliant with the latest requirements, or if you could be at risk of penalties.

Website ADA Accessibility Checklist WCAG 2.0 A AA