This post was originally published October 2013 and has since been updated for accuracy and freshness.

Where would an employee go with questions about completing a specific task on your website? If you don’t have an immediate answer, chances are your employees don’t either. Putting a clear, easy-to-follow set of policies and procedures in place is just as essential to good web governance as establishing roles and responsibilities or setting up a usable framework.

Policies and procedures are the ‘why’ and ‘how’

For starters, we should look at what we mean by “policies” and “procedures.” In basic terms, web governance policies address why you should or shouldn’t do web tasks in a specific way and include the rules that guide the decision-making process. Procedures describe how specific web tasks are done, so you can be sure you have a uniform and high-quality approach to your website.

Policies and procedures are important because they establish the frame for how your web team works. If an employee has a question about how a task on your website is done, policies and procedure should be the first place to look.

What are web governance policies?

Web governance policies are rules that guide the day-to-day work of your web team and ensure that you adhere to any laws governing your websites. Policies can cover accessibility compliance, privacy compliance, adherence to other rules, laws and standards, social media usage, content review, and much more.

Examples of Web Governance Policies:

● When publishing new content to the company website, the content should be reviewed for alignment with the corporate tone-of-voice guidelines
● All pages on the website must contain a link to our privacy policy
● When linking to or attaching documents to web pages, ensure that the uploaded document is in PDF file format
● All content on the website should, at a minimum, be available in English, as this is our corporate language

What are web governance procedures?

Web governance procedures are guidelines that tell you exactly how to do a specific task to ensure uniformity across your web presence. If you have a web task you want done in the same way every time it’s done, make a procedure for it. Procedures include usage of web analytics, organization of articles, styling, and so on.

Examples of Web Governance Procedures:

• Upon uploading a new picture to the media library, you must click on the 'crop' tab and make sure that cropped versions exist for thumbnails, highlights, and sidebars
• When writing a blog post for the corporate blog you must include all the elements described in the document “How to Write for the Company Blog”
• Send the document to the marketing manager for review
• Send the reviewed document to the UK and DK marketing managers for translation
• Search statistics must be analyzed on the first Monday of every month in accordance with the document “Internal Search Maintenance”

Getting Started with Policies and Procedures

If you don’t already have a formal set of policies and procedures in place, getting them set up will take some work, but will be well worth the effort. In implementing web governance for your organization, it’s a great idea to include all members of the web team when forming policies and procedures. They probably already follow some unwritten rules of their own, so start out by writing these down. In this way, you'll already have a lot of the work done and your employees will feel ownership in the policies and procedures.

To make your policies and procedures work, you'll have to make sure they’re abided by. A nice way of doing this is to have training sessions where employees get to work with the procedures and can ask questions if needed. A more informal way could be encouraging employees to remind each other of the policies and procedures once in a while.