Restructure Your Website with Informed Decisions

Choosing a family car can be complicated, especially when each family member has a strong opinion about what’s best.

What is Your Strategy To Restructure Your Website?

Mom wants a model with high gas mileage and a good safety record. As long as it’s not a van. Dad, a.k.a. the shuttle driver, prefers a roomy, easy-to-clean model that can handle their 2 kids, several of their friends, and 2 dogs. And he’s fine with a van. The daughter, a budding adventurer, thinks they should buy a high-clearance 4-wheel-drive with a roof rack and towing ability. The son wants to be connected wherever they travel so he’s pushing for a comfortable, multimedia automobile with wifi.

Who will make the final decision? In this family, the parents will decide. But right now, even they don’t agree. When no one has the final say, moving forward (in any direction) is difficult. Decision-making becomes frustrating. Common goals are ignored.

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As a result, the best long-term decisions aren’t always made. It’s not so different at mom’s association office, where the organization’s website has gone wayward.

Ignoring governance has serious consequences.

When no one has ownership of a mission-critical system or project—like restructuring your online presence—authority becomes diffused. Instead of 1 person making decisions based on a documented strategy and governance plan, a staff working group might meet monthly to make decisions. And we all know, ‘management by committee’ never works well in the long term.

Detrimental decisions are made when you don’t have a website strategy and governance plan in place. For example—and this may sound familiar—without a guiding governance plan, departments feel free to post whatever they think is important. The result? Your bloated website provides a confusing desktop user experience and an even worse mobile one.

Without an effective decision-making process based on a website governance plan, you’re unable to rebuff ‘great ideas’ from influential members or those higher up in the office food chain. I recently came upon a website where 1/3 of the home page was dedicated to rotating member, volunteer, and board member spotlights. The association used 1/3 of their prime real estate to please an audience of 3 people (and their mothers).

Enjoying the benefits of a governance plan.

Website governance is a byproduct of content strategy. Components of governance, such as workflow and decision-making policies, are worked out in advance during the content strategy development process.

With governance comes empowerment. Because your governance plan serves as the foundation for decisions about the website, you no longer have to fall for leadership whims like board member spotlights.

With governance also comes responsibility. Someone must have both the authority and accountability for website decisions, for example, the type of content that will be featured on the website or promoted via social media.

Providing a better user experience thanks to governance.

Website decisions shouldn’t be made on the whim of departmental agendas, anecdotal information, or assumptions, no matter how long held they are. Instead, website decisions should be based on user data and aligned with your content strategy.

Website analytics, like traffic reports, help you understand which content is actually being read and downloaded. With that information, you can determine the importance of specific content pieces. You’ll have the proof you need to make tough decisions, for example, which pieces of content it’s time to sunset because either they didn’t provide the assumed value or their value has diminished.

If you’re facing resistance from colleagues about streamlining your website, science has your back. Researchers have found that when people have too many choices, they’re less likely to make any choice. Your content strategy and website analytics will help you decide which content is truly relevant to your audience. Otherwise, your bloated website will stand in the way of members and visitors finding what they need.

Go to your website and look at any page—can you articulate the specific reason each content item is presented there with respect to your organization’s mission, vision, and business objectives? If not, it’s time to work on that or get some help.

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Flickr photo by John Lloyd

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