Need to kick-start how you analyze and manage your website governance? A new modeling tool puts the power in your hands to process through your Web work and strategies.
The tool has its origins in the Website Governance Functional Model, introduced last Fall in my two CMSWire articles (see “Is Your Website Governance Functional?” and “6 Concepts for the Future of Website Governance, Including a New Functional Model”).
This Spring I completed my capstone project for the Master of Information Management degree from the iSchool at the University of Maryland (College Park). My work focused on development and analysis of the Website Governance Modeling Tool, designed to help Web managers and their stakeholders conceptualize and assess their organization’s website governance. It does this with a simple, interactive display of common Web work areas within a comprehensive website governance framework.
What do Web Managers Want?
My research revealed that Web managers are faced with levels of challenges on many fronts.
They need to know all the Web work areas within their scope of concern and influence for their organization’s website. It would help if they could see (and understand) -- in one display -- each Web work area, what might be involved in each one, and how work areas relate to one another. This would help them think about organization of work, staff, and projects.
Web managers also need to explain their work to others (across, down, up and outside), so any tool should convey information intuitively. Finally, because organizations differ in website governance strategies, work areas, and resources, Web professionals need a customizable tool, one that they can easily make their own, and one that can change with their changing.
With this in mind I developed three different versions of the tool for user testing.
Testing, Testing, One, Two, Three
Results of user testing were encouraging, with people generally preferring the version that contained prompts for action that they could make their own through modifications.
One user noted that "having the ability to further decompose these boxes would be a really useful tool, kind of like a work breakdown structure that’s done in project management."
Another said, “The fact that this tool doesn’t dictate which way you go with that [forcing the user to use the tool in only one way] is very positive. It allows for the culture of the organization to come through.”
How Does It Help?
The Website Governance Modeling Tool provides space and structure for you to illustrate your website governance. Think of it as a pre-populated drawing board, a place where you can process through your Web work areas and strategies.
Each work area and strategy is in an expandable, movable, writable box, with more named work areas to the side. Prompts in each box will spark your thoughts, but do fill in your own. The strength of the tool comes from making it fully yours as you analyze, map, explain and manage:
The modeling tool helps you think about your website in a new way. It lets you see all the pieces, all at once -- and what’s in them and what’s around them. You’ll have detail where you want it and an overview where you need it because you make it your own.
The tool lets you map and model what you’ve got. Or what you need. Need another block for community development? Or training? Just add them. Not going to build a community right now? Move that box off to the side. Add, drop, link up, line up. Your website is a living, changing thing; the modeling tool lets you build a roadmap for it.
As the saying goes: you understand it when you can explain it. And the modeling tool is ready to help. Get the boxes where you want them -- content-wise and placement-wise -- print the page, and you’re done. Your version of the tool will help you explain to anyone inside or outside your organization what you’re doing and why you’re doing it.
You can’t manage what you can’t see. So get things out in the open. Fill in as much detail as you need and like. Make links to important documents on internal drives. Add names and contact info. Key in reminders or important project dates. Create new models for different strategies, or show them overlapping. Do what you need to do to manage your website.
Where Do We Go from Here?
The Website Governance Modeling Tool isn’t “done.” I don’t know if it ever can be!
It’s designed to help you process through and manage your website governance strategies and work areas the way you see them. Because it represents your organization’s Web presence, it should help everyone see and understand -- on one page -- your organization’s website governance, with all its building blocks.
As such, it’s a changeable blueprint that can help you structure, and re-structure, website governance issues of importance to you and your team, to meet your changing needs. In that sense, it will always be “in development,” just like your website. Just like the Web.
Ultimately, the tool is intended to help make the complex understandable, and even fun to work with. I’m eager to learn how you adopt it, and adapt it. If you’d like to learn more, download the tool for yourself, or get involved with further development, visit www.website-governance.com.