Web Governance

When just starting as a web professional, I was excited to design ‘cool’ websites. But as I’ve matured in my field, I’ve noticed the growing important relationship that the web and business play together. This is even made more clear with the emphasis on ROI and strategy lately.

Considering the web and your web presence as a business tool, there must be policies and guidelines in place to ensure proper use of the tool.  This is even more important in large organizations like a college or university.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think policies should be implemented to become a hinderance, but to ensure proper and maximum usage of the business tool which is the web.

Thus the need for Web Governance.  WelchmanPierpoint provides the following definition of Web Governance:

Web Governance is the authoritative administrative structures that set policy and standards for Web product management.  It includes:

  • the implementation of a Web Governance Framework;
  • the establishment of Web Policy;
  • and the codification, implementation, and enforcement of Web Standards.

For definitions on Web Governance Framework, Web Policy, and Web Standards, visit their website.

I would make sure that in any web governance or policy document, close detail is paid to the realm of social media and the management of that.

Our two-year college is about to begin a major web project in the next month.  An important outcome of the project are strategic documents, one of which is a web governance model.  Our college has yet to indentify any policies and/or guidelines, let alone a Web Governance Framework.  This has negatively impacted our institution’s ability to be innovative online.

When developing a Web Governance Framework, WelchmanPierpoint offers some invaluable advice:

Often organizations will default to the Web team as the group responsible for policies and standards; after all, they are the experts on Web technologies and best practices.  However, having only “Web people” seated on the governing bodies means you may loose the perspective from the lines of business.

Business stakeholders have a vested interest in how the Web impacts “the bottom line,” and therefore should have a seat at the table when defining Web policies and standards. Without representation from the lines of business the governance framework will lack legitimacy.

Does you institution have an effective Web Governance Framework?  What are your thoughts on this topic?

  • http://www.welchmanpierpoint.com Lisa Welchman


    Thanks for referencing our Web Governance definition here. I really like the “real-world” context that you provide. I’m building up a head of ideas to write a blog post on the special Web Management concerns in higher education. So, please keep us all posted about your organization’s progress.

    Take care


  • http://sm4good.com/ Timo Luege

    The United Nations Joint Inspection Body recently spoke to web professional in 40 UN agencies to identify what the most common problems related to web governance and web strategy. The result is an impressive document that can be used by many non-profit organizations, NGOs, International Organizations and even government ministries and agencies to address similar problems in their own organization. Check it out:


  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angela-Fraser/566717596 Angela Fraser

    We are in the process of developing our Web Governance document (I work for a Municipal Government body). There is still a lot to go and we have already gone live with our new website. Do you think this type of document should be developed before going live? Especially since decisions need to be made as to who is responsible for certain aspects of website governance such as auditing, quality assurance, and implementing tools to ensure we are getting our ROI. Any thoughts on this? 

  • http://www.mikemccready.ca/blog/ Mike McCready

    Hi Angela, 

    One of the difficulties that I’ve noticed is that if a clear web governance framework is not in place before launch (or shortly after) the organization will default to it’s old ways. That is assuming the web team is responsible for all things web, when in actuality it should be a collaborative effort.  Equally important, if not more, is the development of a web strategy document. Identifying audiences, goals, metrics, etc.  Is this something your organization has also done?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Angela-Fraser/566717596 Angela Fraser

    We are working on the web strategy now too, so both the governance and strategy are being finalized after the fact.