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PracticeByte - Effective Web Sites: Implement at least Basic Governance

Analyst: Nicolas Bürki
What should be at least covered in Web governance?
Web governance should be defined prior site launch or at best prior site development. However, many companies operate Web sites without Web governance or define Web governance after site launch.
If Web governance is not defined, Web sites risk growing organically (again), decreasing site visitor experience and lowering return on investment (ROI).
Companies without Web governance should define at least the basic Web governance categories to secure current level of site visitor experience. In a second step, complete the remaining categories.
Web governance defines the rules for content editors, business owners, developers, administrators and designers to operate, maintain and evolve Web sites and/or Intranets.
Web governance relates to the definition of: "who can do what and how, and what happens if you do not comply". The definition of policies (what), processes (how), ownerships (who) and enforcement (if you don't comply) needs to be a collaborative corporate-wide consensus.
There are no generic best practices for Web governance, as it exists for example for Web site design.However, frameworks exist that guide companies through the process of agreeing on Web governance.
One proven approach to define Web governance is to split it into different sub topics (e.g. categories such as for navigation, design, content issues, etc.).
Frameworks provide then, for each of these categories multiple questions, which serve the Web team as a starting point to define their specific Web governance (e.g. Web governance framework provide totally about 200-300 questions, or 20-30 questions per category).
Defining Web governance generally spreads over six months to find consensus. Companies that do not have enough time to complete all aspects of Web governance (due to a started redesign or prior a new Web site launch) should agree at least on the following basic Web governance categories:
Governance Category Sample issues to address for Web sites


  • What is affected by design policies (e.g. navigation bar, page layouts versus home page, second site level or document level, etc.)?
  • Are there any design standards such as for colors, file size, browsers support, ALT Tags, etc.?
  • Who can change site navigation (e.g. adding entries in the navigation bar)?
  • Does a branding site need to link back to the corporate site (and vice-versa)?
  • How to determine where content goes (e.g. one place only, more than one place cross-linking)?
  • Who maintains links (e.g. linker, publisher, content owner)?
  • Is linking to external pages allowed (e.g. too any sites or limited)?
  • What are the content types (HTML, file types, applications)?
  • Who reviews, validates, approves, updates and retires content?
  • Who responds to which Web site interactions (e.g. generic request, product request, feedback, etc.)?
  • What is the timeframe to respond?


These categories cover the major aspects to ensure the targeted site visitor experience. Partially completing Web governance is a short-term solution. To effectively operate, maintain and evolve Web sites, the governance team should continue to address the following categories.


Governance Category Sample issues to address for Web sites
Site Measurement
  • What and how is measured (e.g. technical performance, demographics, business impact, etc.)?
  • How are the measurement reports communicated and leveraged?
  • Who pays for what?
  • Who is responsible for security, performance, etc.?
  • How is it monitored and ensured?
Secured Access
  • Are there any secured parts on the Web site (e.g. #levels, who defines and maintains access list)?