What is Web Governance? 7 Key Principles To Set Your Team Up For Success.







Team Fratzke



In today’s digital age, a company’s website serves as the primary and most reliable source of information for its audiences. To ensure quality on a website, organizations need to have a sound web governance system in place. Web governance outlines the activities and resources required to manage a website, defines governance principles, and ensures quality, consistency, accessibility, and compliance. 

One key pillar of a well-designed web governance system is the commitment to regular reviews and updates, which ensures that your website remains relevant and effective in the ever-changing digital landscape. This is an important practice, and we wrote this article to inspire you to take charge of your web governance strategy

In this article, we’ll discuss the seven fundamental web governance principles, why web governance is crucial for every organization, the core components, and the difference between web governance principles and rules.

Article Summary:

  • A well-designed web governance system involves regular reviews and updates to keep the website relevant and effective.
  • Web governance is crucial for every organization because a website is the primary source of information for audiences, and robust processes ensure consistency, stability, and scalability.
  • Web governance establishes decision-making authority, sets goals, assigns roles, and ensures accountability for an organization's digital presence.

What is Web Governance?

Web governance manages a website by outlining required activities and resources, defining governance principles, and ensuring quality, consistency, accessibility, and compliance. It includes:

Web governance is unique for each organization’s website; however, one aspect that is the same for all websites is that in order to activate business growth, there needs to be a clear, defined web governance model that is rooted in web governance principles. 

Before we get into web governance principles, let’s get clear about why web governance is so crucial for every organization (including yours!).

What is Web Governance?
What is Web Governance?

Why Web Governance is Crucial for Every Organization

A lot of work and business is done online today and your organization's website plays a crucial role as it becomes your audience's primary source of information. Implementing a comprehensive web governance system not only protects your brand but also empowers you to ensure consistency, stability, and scalability. This is why web governance is not just necessary but a strategic advantage for every organization.

Web governance can be leveraged to:

  • establish decision-making authority 
  • Sets goals 
  • Assign roles 
  • Ensure accountability for an organization's digital presence. 

It functions as an insurance policy by creating a strategy that clearly defines the roles and responsibilities of everyone involved in updating, archiving, and maintaining the website. The benefits of using web governance principles include preserving the site's integrity and functionality and reducing the risk of errors. 

Compliance with standards and regulations is crucial to web governance as it ensures that your website meets the necessary legal and industry requirements, establishing your website’s credibility and trustworthiness

Does your team have a website governance plan?
Does Your Team Have a Plan?

By having a set of rules and practices in place, digital teams can manage websites and other digital assets in a controlled and orderly way. It's important to note that every website has some form of web governance in place and it’s best to have a clearly defined model to optimize website management

Another benefit of a web governance strategy is that it can make it easier to manage your web presence. It provides structure to projects such as website redesigns and expansions or when work on the site needs to be done internally or externally via an agency. Governance sets the standards and processes to ensure that as digital teams and web content grow, clearly defined roles and responsibilities keep everyone moving forward.

Core Web Governance Components

All successful web governance strategies are built upon four pillars of activity, each of which consists of different subtasks.

  1. Development refers to the process of building and creating various features of a website. This involves designing, coding, testing, and implementing features that enhance the website's functionality and user experience.
  2. Maintenance refers to activities that ensure that your website functions smoothly and efficiently. These tasks aim to prevent potential problems and promptly resolve existing issues.
  3. Infrastructure refers to maintaining and managing various technological resources such as hosting accounts, content management systems, servers, and other related components.
  4. Leadership involves the supervision necessary to plan, organize, and direct the successful implementation of these activities
Core Web Governance Components
Core Web Governance Components

Web Governance Resources

Organizations can use the following resources to facilitate the activities outlined above.

  1. People - For the web team to perform the mentioned activities, it is crucial to identify the roles and responsibilities of each member, whether they are employees, freelancers, agencies, or consultants. The web team is responsible for various tasks such as content creation and management, user experience design, analytics, and performance monitoring. Each team member plays a vital role in ensuring the successful implementation of the web governance strategy.
  2. Tools - For any products or services necessary to perform certain activities. Tools can include software or platforms.
  3. Budget - The costs assigned to obtain the required products, services, and personnel.
  4. Processes - The involved parties must follow specific procedures to ensure the successful execution of the activity time and time again.

The use of all four of these resources is optional for achieving success. Depending on your organization's situation and priorities, you may eliminate one or more of these resources. For instance, if you are facing budget constraints and cannot hire additional team members, you could instead focus on implementing automated tools to optimize your website. Take an audit of the resources that you have and then put them to work. 

Web Governance Resources
Web Governance Resources

Difference between Web Governance Principles and Rules

Principles and rules are two distinct concepts often used interchangeably in discussions about web governance. Understanding this difference is essential to avoid confusion and misunderstandings. Let’s take a look at the difference.

Principles are the driving force behind web governance. They are both internal motivators for your organization as well as the guiding lights that illuminate the path to effective web management. Understanding this critical aspect of organization web governance will help you navigate the digital landscape clearly and confidently.

A rule is an external motivator that forces you to comply with what someone else thinks is right or good, often through threat or punishment.

There has been a lot of debate in the accounting world regarding principles versus rules. Supporters of the principle-based approach argue that it offers advantages such as:

  • Guidance provided by principles can be applied to various circumstances encountered in everyday practice.
  • Modern businesses experience rapid changes, and principles must be flexible enough to adapt quickly.
  • Principles serve as a barrier against developing a mechanistic decision-making approach that involves simply checking off boxes.
  • The principles are intended to provide guidance and promote accountability in using professional judgment.
Improve Your Web Governance Today
Improve Your Web Governance Today

We advise our clients to establish clear principles before setting web governance rules for specific tasks or procedures as it is essential for creating a strong foundation for web governance. Then, you can bring in the rules, which should serve as guidance on these principles. Only set web governance rules with a clear understanding of the underlying principles.

7 Web Governance Principles to Adopt in Your Business

To develop, improve, and manage your business, we recommend that all organizations implement the following fundamental governance principles for building a good web governance strategy.

1: For a Website to Drive Business Growth, Users Must Have Confidence In It

Principle #1: For a Website to Drive Business Growth, Users Must Have Confidence In It
Principle #1: For a Website to Drive Business Growth, Users Must Have Confidence In It

People spend more time online than ever, which means intense competition among websites. To gain users' trust, your website must fulfill their needs and expectations and also have a good online reputation. If users feel that they cannot trust the content on your website, it will not be able to help your business grow. 

For websites, users start to feel trust through positive experiences. Slow loading times and frequent downtime are common signs of substandard website quality and performance, which can lead to a poor user experience. The majority of websites load within just a few seconds, so if a website is taking any longer than that , users may choose to leave your site (also known as “bouncing”) and look for an alternative. 

Also, broken links in your content can impact users' confidence in your website. When users click on a link, they expect to be taken to something relevant or valuable; however, if  they receive a 404 error message, it can also diminish their trust in your website.

2: A Clear Business Plan is Crucial for Any Website to Succeed

Principle #2: Clear Business Plan is Crucial for Any Website to Succeed
Principle #2: Clear Business Plan is Crucial for Any Website to Succeed

A well-defined business plan is imperative for a website's success. It will enable you to outline your expectations for success. Once you clearly understand what you want to achieve, managing the website and measuring its effectiveness will become much more feasible. Another bonus to having a website business plan is that it will guide everyone involved in the website's development, such as content creators, designers, and developers.

A business plan can be briefly defined as part of a website's mission statement. A mission statement guides the website's goals by defining its digital audience and what it aims to achieve. The mission statement should provide a reason for all the content created on the site, ensuring everyone involved in creating, managing, and maintaining the content is on the same page.

3: All Websites Require a System for Accountability and Monitoring

Principle #3: All Websites Require a System for Accountability and Monitoring
Principle #3: All Websites Require a System for Accountability and Monitoring

It doesn't matter how skilled you are at writing; you still require someone to review your work and assist you in improving it. Any ambitious organization needs a "central managing editor" who can create an online content strategy and override lower-level decisions if they are not in line with the institution's objectives.

We can take this idea further with this truth:not just content creators require an editor. Everyone who works on the website, whether they blog, work on SEO, or design, needs someone to oversee their work. Even managers require a central manager.To ensure accountability and a clear understanding of roles, it is essential to map out your website governance structure and define each role. 

It's important to note that web management and web governance are different, but having a defined structure in place can help achieve the website's objectives. At the top of the hierarchy, a single manager or committee should ensure that all website objectives are met.

In order to effectively manage the website, central managers or committees rely on reporting and internal communications to ensure all objectives are met. This means that information must be available via reports or platforms and regularly analyzed to make decisions about improving the website. 

4: Importance of Complying with the Most Current Standards and Regulations

Principle #4: Importance of Complying with the Most Current Standards and Regulations
Principle #4: Importance of Complying with the Most Current Standards and Regulations

This web governance principle applies to regulations specific to various industries or international standards such as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG). Shockingly, only a tiny percentage of websites are designed to be accessible to individuals with disabilities, despite approximately 15% of the world's population having some form of disability.

Numerous countries worldwide have introduced legal regulations that mandate certain types of websites to be accessible. For example, in the US, there are legislations such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Section 508, while in Europe, there is the EU Web Accessibility Directive. In Canada, the Accessibility for Ontarians Act (AODA) has been established. 

Besides legal compliance, there are numerous reasons why improving web accessibility is crucial.. Complying with standards and regulations is a win for everyone involved: members of your audience who need different accessibility points are included and you get an increased audience with an enhanced and trustworthy website. 

5: Web Governance is a Continuous Process

Principle #5: Web Governance is a Continuous Process
Principle #5: Web Governance is a Continuous Process

As with most aspects of business, web governance should be an ongoing process rather than just a yearly cleanup or a redesign. Principles, procedures, and policies should remain constant, but governance should remain active and updated.

Let’s look at it this way: if a city is experiencing crime issues, more is needed for the mayor to simply hire more police officers and then forget about the problem. The mayor should monitor the crime levels to assess the effectiveness of the increased police force. Similarly, your website should be constantly monitored to ensure its optimal performance.

6: Training Requirement to Establish Effective Web Governance

Principle 6: Training Requirement to Establish Effective Web Governance
Principle 6: Training Requirement to Establish Effective Web Governance

This principle builds upon the previous one. As governance is a continuous process, investing in ongoing training to improve outcomes is essential. Everyone involved in managing the website should comprehend the website's guiding principles and feel confident and empowered to work on them effectively to optimize your website.

7: CMS is Not the Same as Web Governance

A content management system (CMS) is a valuable tool for managing your website, but it cannot enforce policies, measure effectiveness, or steer your website in the right direction. We recommend using a CMS for organization, but a clear web governance model is crucial for a trusted website. 

Principle #7: CMS is Not the Same as Web Governance
Principle #7: CMS is Not the Same as Web Governance

Improve Your Web Governance Today

We advise our clients to establish web governance with the policies, procedures, and guidelines to determine how their websites are managed and maintained. These guidelines ensure the websites meets all legal, regulatory, and ethical standards while delivering positive user experiences. By understanding the principles of web governance, website owners can ensure that their site is secure, accessible, and up-to-date, leading to greater user engagement and business growth.



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The Takeaway

At Fratzke Consulting, we have a team of experts who can help you establish a comprehensive web governance plan for your organization. With our extensive knowledge and experience in web governance, we can guide you through the process of creating a strategy that ensures quality, consistency, accessibility, and compliance on your website.

Contact us today to learn how we can help you establish a comprehensive web governance plan.

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