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Your college website is the front door for students, faculty, donors and community members. But many college website teams are working with little time, tight budgets and conflicting priorities. Maintaining that front door – and all the rooms inside – can bring a steady stream of challenges.

–         Your intern is eager to help, but doesn’t know how to use the content management system

–         Ron from Donor Relations is angry his gala isn’t on the homepage

–         Your website coordinator took a medical leave and now there’s a constant backlog

–         Your continuing ed team created a website without consulting you or your brand guidelines

Over time, these small issues can snowball into larger problems. Your intern might introduce accessibility errors. Your backlog may lead to outdated plugins and security risks. That rogue website might start stealing your search traffic.

A website governance policy can’t shield you from all the dramas of higher ed. But it can help.

What is website governance?  

Website governance refers to the policies and procedures used to create and maintain your site. Effective governance is key to the long-term success of your website. It can streamline operations, mitigate risk and extend the life of your web design.

A website governance policy establishes clarity (and leadership buy-in) for:

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Workflows
  • Standards

In building 60+ higher education websites over the past five years, we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Website governance is not an area where one policy fits all. A website governance policy should be custom fit to your unique team, culture and bandwidth. It should work with where you are, and help you grow

Signs you need a website governance policy

  • Outdated content
  • Broken links
  • Unclear roles and responsibilities
  • Inconsistent tone of voice
  • Frequent bottlenecks
  • Poor user experience

The right web governance models for your team

To better understand our clients’ needs, we start by asking questions such as:

–         Who supports your website maintenance? What are their roles?

–         Do you have an onboarding process for new team members?

–         What permission levels do you use within your content management system?

–         What maintenance tasks does your team perform most often?

–         What are the biggest challenges faced by your team?

These questions often uncover some quick wins. Adjusting permission levels, for example, can reduce risk. Adding a ticketing system can streamline update requests.

We also hold in-depth discovery sessions. These meetings help us get a deep understanding of our clients’ digital ecosystem, team dynamics and goals.

We often find that stakeholder needs and expectations differ. Knowing these differences upfront makes the process go smoother. It also uncovers insights we would not have gained otherwise.

Make it official with policies and procedures

After discovery, we hold a working session to draft a website governance policy. This policy often covers topics such as:

–         Goals and objectives (both for the college and the website)

–         Roles and responsibilities

–         Training and development

–         Content management procedures

–         Performance monitoring

–         Legal compliance

–         Accessibility

–         Data protection and privacy policy

–         Feedback mechanisms

Website governance inspiration

If you’re drafting a governance policy, look at others for inspiration. Google “college website governance policy” to reveal hundreds of real-life examples.

Some focus on college goals and brand style guides. Others include website content guidelines for homepage features and faculty bios. You’ll see best practices for accessibility and search engine optimization.

Why are these policies on public-facing web pages? Because easy access to governance materials is paramount to success. Save your plan to a shared drive, or send it via email, and you might struggle with adoption. Keeping your website governance policy on your website makes it easy to access and update as needed.

Governing your website over time

A website governance policy is not a once-and-done thing. It works best when it’s reviewed and updated often. Add review expectations into the policy itself. Note when the policy was last updated, and by whom. This transparency will help keep you accountable and build trust with stakeholders.

Love the idea of a website governance policy, but struggle to get started? We’ve got your back. Partner with Paskill to create, adopt and maintain website governance policies that actually work for you and your institution. We’ll help you draft the perfect website governance policy, paired with resources to help you grow a community of practice within your institution. Contact us to get started.

About the Author

One Roberts Avenue
Glenside, PA 19038

215-572-7938
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