Creating dynamic content is an important piece of the puzzle when it comes to establishing relevance for your utility organization’s website. To ensure long-term sustainability this content should be preserved using an established governance policy.
A Site Governance Policy, what is It?
A website governance policy or strategy is a set of guidelines that provide your website’s content curators with guidance in relation to maintaining your website’s content long after your website goes live.
Why would you implement a Governance Policy for your utility website?
Have you recently visited a website where you became frustrated that the interface or content wasn’t consistent throughout the pages of the site? Did it leave you feeling confused, or even worse – feeling lost and unable to complete the task you came to the site for? How many times have you struggled to complete your task through a convoluted structure where you get lost along the way and simply give up? These frustrations are all usually due to a lack of a thoughtful and well written governance policy for the website.
Without the proper structure in place, content curators along with other members of the teams that maintain websites are often reacting to different requests and demands from other stakeholders within the organization and never get to think strategically. When this happens, the brand becomes diluting the brand and reputation of not only your website, but your entire organization. A governance policy will provide framework for your utility’s website to use that enables content and site management to take place in a constructive and thoughtful manner rather than feeling like content is being posted with a triage-style mentality.
Each governance policy for a utility website should include three primary components:
Your governance policies consist of a list of guidelines to which all sections of your website and other online channels (i.e., social media) must adhere to. To be effective, the policies should be clear and concise to ensure there is no confusion.
An example policy may be: To prevent confusion for site visitors that utilize screen readers no emojis are permitted for use within any content area.
Standards ensure that consistency is delivered across the voice and tone as well as quality and design. With multiple stakeholders and your utility organization’s website being a living and breathing, ever evolving tool for your customers, consistency can quickly be forgotten.
Each of your stakeholders along with the different content curators (whether they be designers, copywriters, or engineers) have a different set of skills and styles to how they curate content. The governance standards will ensure they all follow the same criteria for your website as well as any other digital assets (i.e., social media).
An example standard may be: All forms must be fillable web forms and no PDF forms are to be used unless a notary is required.
The process will detail individual steps that should be taken to ensure the website adheres to your governance policy.
A well written website governance plan will allow your cooperative or utility district to think strategically as your website evolves through its lifecycle. On average, a strong governance policy can extend the lifecycle of the website by up to 2 years.
A Note on Accessibility
In addition to ensuring that each member of your web team has a strong understanding of your governance best practices, we also suggest that each content contributor understands the accessibility requirements that your utility website should adhere to.
As a final note, the most important part of your policy’s implementation is having an executive sponsor. This ensures that all stakeholders understand the policy is not just a “nice-to-have” but rather a tool that is implemented as a policy from your leadership team with an expectation that each content curator can feel comfortable letting stakeholders know the governance policies they are bound by.