Peer Perspective: Maintaining Website Consistency and Accountability with a Decentralized Team
At Siteimprove, we work with numerous talented web professionals across a variety of industries. In this series, we hope to inspire digital success through best practices from our customers, who are dominating the digital world with new, unique approaches to implementing web governance strategies at their organizations. In these blog posts, you can learn from your peers and apply new techniques to your own website.
For this installment, we’re delving into a niche industry with a very devoted viewership: K-12 education. According a survey by the National School Public Relations Association (NSPRA), “The backpack folder is no longer the primary source of information for parents. They want and prefer instant electronic information.”
In today’s world, who doesn’t? “There is a lot of international evidence saying the greatest impact on a child’s learning is the extent of parental engagement in their children’s education,” said Simon Shaw, former head of the British Educational Communications and Technology Agency (BECTA), in an interview on The Guardian’s Teacher Network blog. “Technology has transformed that three-way relationship between parents, schools, and learners.”
That relationship may now extend beyond a folder or flier in student backpacks, but with greater engagement comes greater expectations. Enter Birdville Independent School District, a school system of 21 elementary schools, seven middle schools, four high schools, and one career and technology campus, all located in Northeast Tarrant County, Texas. With over 24,300 students pre-k through 12, Birdville has a multitude of information to convey to an engaged audience with different goals and needs.
Their solution? A web governance strategy that provides accountability and peace of mind across a decentralized team of administrators, educators, and contributors. Under a decentralized team structure, how can content stay consistent and accurate? Turns out, it’s as easy as learning the ABC’s, or in this case, the 123’s.
1) Find a resource everyone can use
While information comes from multiple sources, it also gets uploaded and evaluated by multiple contributors. Birdville webmasters include teachers and librarians, who are juggling their webmaster duties on top of their primary education roles. For Birdville, the key to web governance was finding a tool that everyone could use to save time, but not sacrifice quality.
“If a parent is visiting the site, I know they won’t have that moment of wanting to see some data and it’s not there due to a broken link,” said Michelle DoPorto, District Webmaster. “I know they won’t see a misspelled word or something that just doesn’t look right.”
2) Implement the tool from the top-down
Finding the right web governance solution for your team can feel like a monumental task, but it doesn’t matter how great the tool is if no one uses it correctly. The easiest way to implement a consistent web governance strategy across a decentralized team? Lead by example.
“We hosted a brief webinar with all of our campus webmasters and at the next principals’ meeting, our communications officer informed them that Siteimprove was coming and was a tool that was going to be able to help us all manage our websites,” said DoPorto. “That was the first part. The next thing was to quickly identify who would be the key people to receive the appropriate reports.”
3) Encourage compliance with recognition
Not only did Birdville rely on key stakeholders to relay their message, they also created a reporting and enforcement structure for content accountability. Parents, teachers, and administration continued contributing to the website under the same content standards, but could quickly see a return on effort for paying extra attention to website quality.
“The reporting feature became a way to see who could get their broken links and misspellings the lowest the most quickly,” said DoPorto. “Then, we were able to report back to our content contributors and show they were doing a good job and let them know that we’re in broken links starting to see the numbers come down. They took it upon themselves to personally see if they could hit 100% accuracy or zero misspelled words and broken links.”
Even if your web team is spread across multiple locations, recognition can be a great method to boost team morale and unity. If each webmaster is striving for the gold standard in their personal content, it only increases the quality of website content overall.
So what does this mean for my decentralized team?
Birdville Independent School district has accomplished a seemingly impossible task – providing consistent, quality content to thousands of web visitors via decentralized content contributors. But their approach can be applied to your own decentralized team using the same principles:
- Find a tool that is easy to use
- Use leadership to endorse roll-out
- Create a culture of positive reinforcement
Whether you’re looking to jumpstart your web governance strategy at a school district, a government agency, or even a healthcare system, implementing a consistent web governance strategy not only helps give web visitors information they need to know, but correct information that reflects the same standards of your organization.
And that’s an A+ in our book.
Ready to get started? Download the Web Governance Checklist to get your web team on the path to success.