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Every Website Needs a Champion

Author: Lois Nilsen

The most important person to ensure the success of an agency website may never log into the website. We call that person the Strategic Website Owner, but Website Champion may be a clearer title.

The best Website Manager in the world can only do so much without a Website Champion. Like a vine without a support, a website that does not have senior leadership stewardship will become a sprawling mess.

The Tale of Two Websites

Jeff and Mary are Website Managers for two large agency websites. Their supervisors each take a different approach to their strategic ownership of the website.

Keeping the Website Updated

Jeff asks the Subject Matter Experts in his agency to update their portion of the website, or to give him the information to make updates. Those SMEs are busy and the website is not high priority for them. They consider Jeff a nuisance and just ignore him. He complains to his supervisor, who sympathizes with the problem. The website provides outdated information to the public, and it gets worse over time.

Mary has no issue getting the cooperation of SMEs. Her supervisor has worked with senior leadership to make sure all management understands the strategic importance to having an updated website. Every SME who has information on the website has a VIP goal to keep that content up to date.

Keeping the Website Organized

A new major initiative in Jeff’s agency needs some web content. Jeff obtains a fact sheet about the initiative and creates some draft webpages, placing them in an appropriate section of the website. But the supervisor won’t approve it unless the material is “on top” and “not buried.” Jeff does what his boss wants. A year later, this initiative has lost its importance, the links to it are taken off the home page. Since the pages are not in any menu, they are difficult to find. They add clutter and bloat to the website.

The major initiatives at Mary’s agency get placed appropriately in the site map from the beginning. Her supervisor supports and trusts her about maintaining the website organization. Mary creates short URLs (redirects) to allow for easy sharing, and adds a block or banner to the home page to make the material easily findable while it’s still a hot topic. When it is no longer hot, the information is still findable because it has an appropriate placement on the website.

The Role of the Strategic Website Owner is to Champion the Website!

The Strategic Website Owner is often the Communications Director/Public Information Officer of the agency, or someone who works closely with them. He/she:

  •  Ensures the business priorities of the agency are reflected in the website.
  •  Asks the Website Manager to demonstrate that website visitor needs are known and are being met.
  •  Supports the Website Manager in maintaining an organized website.
  •  Has the back of the Website Manager, who must work across the entire agency to ensure the website has timely information.
  •  Ensures anyone who has a significant role on the website has VIP goals that reflect these responsibilities. This includes subject matter experts who have significant content on the site.

See more about staffing a successful website, including the role of the Website Manager.

The partnership between the Strategic Website Owner and Website Manager is key to a website’s success, and ultimately to the communication goals of an agency. Be a Website Champion!

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