All web managers have received THAT phone call. The call from a senior administrator reporting a problem on the website that needs to be addressed immediately. While some of these problems are minor, many are serious and carry both reputational and legal risk to the organization.
The primary reason this happens is that ongoing operational support for the web is an afterthought. There are no processes or procedures in place to ensure the operational integrity of the website. This is why the creation of a web operations plan is extremely valuable.
The goal of every website should be to improve over time, and creating a web operations plan that focuses on quality assurance and efficient operations will help maintain the quality of the site and help meet business goals.
Here are some elements that should be considered for a comprehensive web operations plan:
A Systematic Quality Assurance Process
A systematic quality assurance process should be in place to check the operational integrity of the site. This will include checking for broken links, spelling and grammar errors, search engine optimization (SEO) best practices, and adherence to web accessibility standards.
A Process to Monitor Compliance
Implement a process to monitor compliance on organizational web policies, web standards, and editorial style guides.
Receive Immediate Downtime Notifications
A process that immediately notifies you if your site goes down or is defaced should be established.
Identify and Remove Outdated Content
A set of processes and procedures to manage content including the removal of redundant, outdated, and trivial (ROT) content is vital. Organizations should embrace the concept of the content lifecycle and systematically review all content on a regular basis. Remember that content does not provide value forever.
Manage Daily Web Operations
Implement a system that manages daily web operations and requests for ongoing web support. Web teams typically rely on email and phone calls, both of which are inefficient and difficult to manage with a larger team. A centralized system that includes workflow, internal and external communication tools, and resource tracking will improve communication, improve efficiency, and provide valuable data on how resources are allocated to support the website.
Evaluate the Efficiency of Web Operations
A process is needed to continually evaluate the efficiency of your web operations. Factors to consider include how quickly and accurately content is published, the overall quality and stability of the site, proper documentation of all processes and procedures, and backup and redundancy of both staff and technical infrastructure. This should also include a comprehensive set of reports that track the quality of the site over time.
Budget for Web Resources
A web budget should include resources needed for ongoing operations, and any long-term support needed for future projects or features.
Given the importance of the web, the approach to maintaining a quality website needs to be proactive rather than reactive. Learning about problems on your site from users (or your superiors) is a sure sign you are still in reactionary mode. Creating and following a web operations plan will mitigate risks and give you peace of mind, not to mention making THAT phone call a thing of the past.
To learn more about web operations and how to implement an operational plan for your website, download the web guide “From Project to Process: Operational Thinking for Website Success.”