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What is web governance and why you need it

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    Len Dierickx

Web governance might seem like a relatively new term, but it has been around for quite some time now. As this is nothing tangible or calculative, most website owners or managers believe that it is either not being done or is simply not necessary. Both beliefs are wrong. For just about any website to succeed, individuals affiliated with it must understand what web governance is and why it is so crucial.

It is not fun, and yet it might be the primary factor behind your website sinking or sailing. Web governance refers to the processes and policies put in place to aid in the management and maintenance of the website.

By the time you are done reading this article, we believe you will have a firm grip on the many intricacies of web governance and the reasons behind its strong necessity.

What Is Web Governance? #

To understand what web governance truly is, the first step is to know its many components. There is no particular set of methodologies that every website owner has to follow to govern their sites. Different people might feel the need to pursue different pathways.

In general, web governance consists of processes, policies, and procedures. The key idea behind this is to establish a website regulatory process to set specific guidelines depending on the ideologies of the organization owning the website. If you already happen to own a business website and are constantly strategizing your digital marketing efforts, know that web governance is already in place.

Yes, you might not be calling it that, but you already are involved in this. Some other names for web governance include digital governance or website management. Hence, you might as well start learning all about web governance so that you can streamline your business processes, even more, leading to increased productivity in the long run.

What Are the Most Common Components of a Website? #

Every website is built on certain ideas, notions, constraints, and standards. The designer and the developer (at times both are represented by the same person known as a full-stack developer) take their time and make a comprehensive plan before going ahead and initiating the development. Make no mistake: a website not only requires a high quantity of quality content, but it also requires extensive work in the background, or away from the website altogether.

The programmer takes care of the coding part and effectively builds the website from scratch. Ranging from the dynamic functionalities of the site to the various design and alignment aspects, the coder deals with them all and brings it down to a discernible structure. Yet this is not all. The code and the content are simply not enough.

A multitude of legal compliances must also be considered before expecting anything worth writing home about from the article. These compliances may include the overall accessibility of the website, the GDPR or general data protection regulation factor, and more.

Who Publishes the Website and When Is It Done? #

Once all the data to be uploaded is prepared and accumulated, the hard part is over. Now it is up to the developer to integrate the information and data into the website. This depends on either the preference of the client for whom the site is being made or for the owner’s personal or commercial use.

A point to remember here is that no significant set of skills is required for a website to be published on the web. A dedicated developer is not necessary, although having one can certainly be productive.

Companies decide on the publishing time based on their deadlines or needs. Owners can delay as long as they want but should never rush when dealing with unfinished content. Doing this can be lethal for the website as any number of people visiting it might leave a strongly negative review. You will witness a drastic decrease in the traffic, and if the incompletions are still kept unattended, the traffic might eventually become non-existent. Timing is key and is a crucial aspect of website governance.

How Is a Website and Its Content Published? #

Let us begin with how a website and its contents are published onto the Internet. As mentioned above, there is no rule as to who will be carrying out the act itself but, in general, it is the developer who tends to load the website with the content. Every publisher requires three things to publish content on a website and eventually go on to upload the website itself onto the web: Internet connection, web development software, and a web server for hosting the site.

Among these, the web development tool is arguably the most important as this is where the site is created in the first place. Dreamweaver is a great application for professional web designing. WordPress is a world-renowned content management system or CMS, where developers can drag and drop any component they want and integrate them into the website.

An Internet connection is required to carry out these tasks and go on to upload the freshly built website to a web server. Large-scale websites can use a single server on their own, while relatively smaller sites can take their places among other similar sites in shared servers.

There is no cost associated with publishing content on a website, apart from perhaps the cost of the Internet. No physical materials are needed so money is saved on, say, paper and ink. On top of that, any content published on the web has a significantly higher chance of attracting more traffic (read visitors) than doing the same in the form of a book or journal.

Think of the hundreds of thousands of people maintaining their websites every day. This in itself is a classic example of web governance. Thus, every company is doing web governance. The question is not if, but how good you are at it.

Why Do We Need Web Governance? #

Now that we have a fair idea of what web governance is, let us take a look at why it is needed in the first place. One of the key reasons for web governance not getting the hype it deserves is down to the fact that most people have limited ideas on it. Even recurring implementers are often completely unaware of web governance despite using it every day. The following sections describe the primary motivations behind opting for web governance.

Keeps You Organized #

Make no mistake: Web governance is different from web management. The latter is the clear act of maintaining a website by sustaining its standards. However, the former is the implementation of a system following which the management is done.

It is more like a rule book where the rules are the acts of management. Having a clear set of guidelines for all your website managers will reduce inconsistencies significantly.

Remember, your website represents your brand. Any blemish on it will directly impact your business—something which can be avoided if a comprehensive plan is made and carried out. Anything ambiguous or misleading on your website will directly hamper the reputation and image of your brand, and of course, the site itself.

Unless a definite and precise web governance system is in place, you will need to face a lot of meetings and time-wasting quarrels just to get things in order. This reduces efficiency considerably.

Setting definitive standards, policies, and guidelines will enable the web development team to act without guessing. All independent web development aspects need to align at the very end. If not, know that something went wrong or was out of proportion during the development stage.

Imagine a scenario where you have tasked your designer to create some lavish headers and footers for a page you will be publishing on your website. If the parameters and dimensions implemented by the designer do not match with the programmer who will be assembling all the content and uploading it, chances are, the entire work will fall apart. Having web governance methodologies integrated into the system, such mishaps hardly ever occur.

Raises the Efficiency #

In simple terms, the more organized you get, the higher levels of efficiency you get to hit. Once you lay the foundations of web governance, it will help the website to evolve gradually over time. Think of a country or a province that has just achieved independence. The newly integrated laws take time to bring visible changes in the country, but will surely be discernible as time goes by. Web governance acts in the same way.

Furthermore, the fact that a plan is implemented, the right people get to work in the right departments. A programmer would not necessarily have to resort to writing content under such circumstances. Individuals can play to their strengths—raising efficiency in the process.

Every step being taken is done by the person best at it. There will always be someone at every end to deal with problems related to their departments. This high level of resource can only be done with efficiency if web governance is established on the website.

Additionally, if all the departments and teams follow a specific plan, they can communicate with each other and develop the best version of their products. The sales and marketing teams can collaborate with the legal team and deal with any legal issues associated with the products, or the website itself.

The IT professionals can get direct guidelines on how to design the products with the highest demand in the market. In short, all the teams can combine with ease and extract the best results as long as web governance is in place.

Understand What You Have #

To establish a set of rules and guidelines for anything, you would need a comprehensive idea of what it truly is. Web governance acts in the same way. To integrate its methodologies into your website, you need to learn everything there is to know about the site. The best way to do that is to go for an audit, followed by constant monitoring.

Many website owners resort to website audits when things start to go wrong. A website can stop yielding expected results even after keeping everything constant, and there can be plenty of reasons behind it. To figure that out, a web audit is required.

Professional auditors like Sitefig start the process by thoroughly examining and scrutinizing all the characteristics and functionalities of the site. This is done to identify the key elements (or the lack thereof) that are contributing to its diminished performance levels. Auditing not only locates the issues but also how they can be resolved and avoided in the future.

Some of the most common (and crucial) pieces of information that owners can gather after the completion of audits include where the errors are occurring, where the updates are required to be implemented, which links need repairing, where invalid data is hiding, spelling errors, and a whole lot more. Expert auditors spend a considerable amount of time monitoring the website to dig out all the inconsistencies and make reports accordingly.

These auditors also keep their eyes on compliance issues like GDPR, accessibility, and content. Unless GDPR is followed, not only does a website lose its claim to be considered a standard, but it also fails miserably in the battle of ranks against competitors. This causes a snowball effect and the website quickly loses its credibility among the visitors and sets on a path toward failure.

Accessibility is hampered massively, and even though you might have the most lightweight site out there, no one will be visiting. As for the content within, the higher the quality, the more traffic is generated. Auditors check the quality of the content as well and make their judgments based on it.

Build Standards and Policies Using Web Governance #

Not only does the positive outcome of web governance take time to be visible, but the act of implementation itself also requires a handsome amount of time. Experts need to figure out important aspects like what cookies they have, their usage, the content available, the ease of access, and much more.

Fundamental policies need to be applied to each website regardless of their types and applications. An example would be allowing traffic from every corner of the world. After that, specific policies are required to take the site to the next level.

For instance, a blogging site might have rules regarding underage content but a winery would have nothing like that. These policies should be extremely strict and should only be altered under dire circumstances.

These should also be very clear, straightforward, and logical so that developers and end-users do not find them perplexing or baffling. An example of a potential policy would be to mandate the use of calls to action on every page of the website.

On top of all that, standards are established to guarantee that the quality, voice, and style of your website are consistent. There are several working hands on your website, and they may all have individual methods or ideas for accomplishing things.

This pushes designers and copywriters to work towards a single goal, or standard in this regard. When there are a lot of individuals involved with your website, it can be challenging to keep standards up. The mix of policies and standards contributes to the success of your website.

Update Regularly and Keep Track of Changes #

As you are well aware by now, web governance is a continuous process. It is not something that you focus on once a year during restructuring or cleanup. Make no mistake: we are not suggesting you bring changes to your active policies and standards. It is the governance aspects that need to be updated regularly, and the changes kept track of.

Let us take a real-life scenario as an example. Imagine a city going through troubled times due to increased crime rates. The local police get deployed. Does this mean the end of it? Certainly not. These individuals need to be monitored constantly and allocated based on the needs of specific locations. More soldiers might be required to dissolve the situation.

Specialized units might need to be deployed in darker regions during the night. All these are issues that require active control. Web governance is exactly that. Once you deploy your policies and standards, you need to keep monitoring the situation and make informed decisions throughout.

Web Governance Protects Your Assets #

A website is an asset, but that is not all. The associated brand image, goodwill, reputation, client base, etc., are all assets of your company. That is because none of these can be ignored without killing the business off completely. Web governance ensures that none of these is ignored by any means. Let us take a brief look at some of the benefits of web governance in this regard.

Brand Damage #

Web governance negates the damage caused to the brand due to inefficient practices by the website managers. Having a set of rules and guidelines will not only keep the operations streamlined, but will also ensure that the clients do not take a negative view of the company. Large engineering organizations are heavily affected whenever their brand image is damaged. That is because clients tend to steer clear of companies that are not represented well on open markets.

Any service that you take from, say, an engineer needs to be precise and spot on. Potential customers can only know about this from their brand image, thus making it extremely crucial to sustain high standards in this aspect.

The European Union (EU) is ramping up on existing GDPR cases, and rightfully so. Imagine an engineering organization that does not comply with GDPR guidelines. What are the chances of you going ahead and using their services? All you would know is the company does not keep your data safe, which is enough for the deal to fall through. Such is the importance of abiding by GDPR rules these days.


The importance of SEO (search engine optimization) can never be overstated. For potential visitors and clients to access a website, it needs to be ranked high enough on the search engine results page (SERP). SEO ensures just that by improving anything and everything on the website and bringing them up to the standards of modern search engines.

Accessibility and User Experience #

Recent guidelines in popular search engines show that it is not just the components but also the overall user experience that plays a significant part in the ranking of the website. A user will tend not to spend time or return to a website if the experience was not something to write home about. Web governance efforts must focus on these factors for the website to reach the desired levels of excellence.

Reduced Cost and Time to Deliver #

Web governance is a system, not a particular task. If comprehensively followed, it not only reduces the overall costs but also contributes to faster deliveries. When each person working on the website follows a fixed set of guidelines, costs are reduced as no wrong decisions are made throughout. This, in turn, reduces the time of delivery as final outputs are obtained faster due to proper plans being followed.

Overview #

Whether you are aware or not, web governance is essential for the success of a website. You may not think you are following any guidelines, but in reality, you are, as shown earlier in this article. All you need to do is enhance those actions and convert them to hard and fast rules that all the website managers can abide by.

Seek the help of professionals like Sitefig and determine the steps that you can take to establish complete web governance in your personal or business website.