The Holy Grail of Higher Ed Web Governance

March 17, 2011

Posted in Governance, Higher Ed, Leadership, Strategy, and Web Industry.

Every website has a consistent look and feel, one that clearly identifies itself as part of the institution. The overarching themes and messages come through loud and clear, never varying. Every sentence has a common voice. Everything is completely up to date. And the site goals get measured and improved based on real KPIs.

Knights Castle | Flickr - Photo Sharing!-1.jpg

Wait, what?

Let’s be clear – nobody in higher ed has this right, not completely. But many of us recognize how poorly our organizations manage the web (and often their entire brands). Why is this so hard? How do we get there? Can we even achieve this?

Like Mark Greenfield, Karine Joly, Michael Powers, and many others, governance is becoming a key focus.

At AgencyND, we’ve launched tons of new things in the past few years. The map, calendar, mobile website, CMS, and other things have been wonderful successes. But there are deeper issues we haven’t tackled.

Governance isn’t sexy, and it’s not going to shine in a portfolio. But it can translate to serious efficiencies and cost savings. It can mean better marketing campaign performance, improved yield rates, or increased donations. Those are our real goals, right?

Can we get there? After a Twitter conversation inspired by a Kerry Hicks blog post, my answer is yes. Is it easy, quick, or guaranteed? No. Can you take specific steps right away? Yes.

I’ll write more on this in future posts, but for now let me say this: there are thousands of higher ed institutions and dozens of different structures, organizational models, and ways to implement web management. Content, design, and technology all overlap and require contributions from stakeholders who are not, and never will be, web professionals.

Governance does not have a single right answer that works the same everywhere. We should be careful not to measure ourselves against an ideal that cannot be; success will come in small steps so that we may not even recognize the finish line when we get there.