Effective Web Sites: Automate and Enforce Web Governance With CMS / ECM
What else than content maintenance functionality should the content editor interface provide to ensure overall site effectiveness?
An effective Web site has two user interfaces, one for site visitors and one for content editors. Many companies spend enormous time and budget to maximize the visitors' experiences but neglect the content editor interface. However, the editor interface contributes as well to site effectiveness. To maximize overall site effectiveness, the content editor interface should not only provide content maintenance functionality but also automate and enforce web governance policies and processes. If Web governance compliance is not part of the editor interface, compliance monitoring results in additional workload, which decreases overall site effectiveness. During Web site development or site redesigns, Web teams focus mainly on increasing site visitors' experiences. At many companies, Web site design is the result of a collaborative process including stakeholders from marketing, corporate communication, business, HR and IT.
The Web site is largely discussed and in the best case prototyped to get final validation prior development. The content editor interface however, is in most cases not part of this collaborative process. It is up to Web developers to implement it using their creativity. In most cases, this approach leads to an editor interface, which may just meet the basic objective – to facilitate content maintenance.
But an effective content editor interface should also automate and enforce Web governance to ensure for example site, navigation and page consistency across sites and during life-cycle.
Web governance defines the rules for content editors, business owners, developers, administrators and designers to operate, maintain and evolve Web sites and / or Intranets from a content, design and technology perspective. Web content management (WCM) or enterprise content management (ECM) are very effective solutions to automate and enforce Web governance. Companies that target to enforce Web governance through WCM or ECM need to design effective editor interfaces to automate and enforce Web governance policies and processes as much as possible.
Web governance can be divided into categories such as design, navigation, linking, interactions, legal issue, etc .. The design and navigation categories can be automated and enforced to a large extent like for example the following governance policies.
Web Governance Category – Design
Use only defined corporate colors to ensure high contrast for online reading
Editor Interface Feature
Provide contextual corporate color palette with the appropriate choices depending of the usage (for body text, backgrounds, page titles, etc).
Automatic due to listed choices.
Each image needs to have an ALT text description, to ensure compliance with disability act section 508.
Editor Interface Feature
Provide online image library that are legally checked for copyright / ownership issues. For each image, which is used, the page owner needs to add an ALT text.
If no ALT text is added, then the page cannot be published (eg page owner is prompted to add an ALT text). If image is not part of library, page owner needs to upload image, which is then first validated by the legal department .
Verification of ALT text availability and legal aspects.
Web Governance Category – Navigation
Each Web page needs to have a page title, which:
– clearly describes page content
– is less than six words
– is consistently placed.
Editor Interface Feature
Mandatory field for page title. If page title is not available or longer than six words, prompt editor to correct it. Placement of page title is fixed.
Verification of page title availability and length.
Companies that have already defined Web governance but not yet automated or enforced with their WCM / ECM should do it with the next major redesign. Be aware that enforcing governance may result in initial high workload for page owners to comply with Web governance (adding page titles, ALT texts, etc., on multiple up to hundreds pages).
Companies that have not yet defined Web governance should define it to ensure that their Web site (s) and / or Intranets evolve as effective as possible. Define it step-by-step, start with strategic categories, which have an impact on site visitors' experiences (Web governance categories: navigation, design, linking and content). Implement them in the next redesign and continue to define the remaining governance categories.
Companies that have Web site design standards or guidelines may be able to leverage them as Web governance policies. The Web team needs to ensure that the standards are up-to-date and
- have corporate wide buy-in (eg not only from corporate communication or marketing),
- are aligned with the corporate Web strategy (eg one common look & feel for all sites versus branding sites with different look & feel) and
- Reflect the company organization (eg centralized versus decentralized).
In a second step, add processes, define ownerships and enforcement to complete Web governance. For information about how to define and deploy effective Web site design standards, please refer to the Best Practice Guide: Defining Web site Design Standards .