Tackling ongoing maintenance of the new school web branches

A key part of my role is to develop quality assurance and content governance processes for our web estate. I’ve recently tackled a small but important part of this by creating a governance model for our three shiny new school web presences.

What is content governance?

Content governance is a less glamorous element of content strategy but one of the most essential!

  • It defines how the content will be quality assured and maintained
  • It clarifies who does what and makes the best use of resources available
  • It helps set up content for success so it continues to meets real user needs and institutional objectives
  • It helps to ensure content continues to get better over time

What happens if you don’t do it? 

Often this is when the ROT sets in – redundant, obsolete, and trivial content.

Content gets forgotten about it and becomes out of date. No one knows who is responsible for what. It takes up lots of staff time trying to figure out how changes get made. New content gets created on top of old content. Users can’t find what they need. Welcome to the content quagmire!

In steps content governance, with the ultimate aim of making everyone’s lives easier. Done well everyone knows what they need to do, how to do it and when. Users benefit as they continue to get quality content that answers their tasks and questions. It can also help protect the University from legal action.

Moving on to the realities of doing it…

It’s a bit scary (but not as scary as you might think)

The main thing is to talk to people, usually from across different teams. In this case it involved working with Marketing, Recruitment, Admissions and Outreach (MRAO) and of course colleagues in the three new schools. 

Based on previous conversations I’d had with the schools, I drafted a document to use as a conversation starter for an initial meeting. It sounds basic but writing something down as a starting point helped to both shape my thinking for the new process while also steering the conversation towards getting everyone on the same page.

It was a bit tricky at times as it’s a new process but it was worth putting the effort into. We’ve now got an approved process which we’ll review in summer 2023 after we’ve done the first round of annual reviews.

What does the process look like?

Some key things included in the governance process are:

  • Clear responsibilities for each team from fact checking to CMS training
  • A governance grid that outlines who is looking after each section/page between Communications, MRAO and the schools
  • Lead contacts in each school as a first point of contact for any queries
  • Guidance on how often content should be reviewed
  • We also expanded our CMS training toolbox with some new mandatory training for school CMS users which includes tips on images, accessibility and content design

Here is the new process in detail: Schools web branches – web content quality assurance and governance plan (wiki.york.ac.uk).

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