Web Governance: What It Is and Why You Need It | Compliant

Managing and maintaining a business takes a lot of work. It usually starts with a business plan and a mission, which stays true to the business goals. This also requires strategic direction — otherwise, you’re sailing blind in open water.

The same principles apply in the digital world of e-commerce and digital communications. Yes, the infrastructure is certainly different in many ways, but the same strategies are used.  

Web governance involves various policies and procedures to improve web communications as well as web accessibility.

What Is Web Governance?

Web governance (also referred to as website governance or digital governance) involves the process of managing and maintaining a web presence in an organized way. A large part of web governance is website management.

Web governance policies also involve best practices for content strategy, website maintenance regulations, and compliance measures for web accessibility. In effect, web governance ensures your web pages and web content are held to certain standards.

These standards can be internal, such as brand guidelines, a style guide, or various business strategies, or external, such as compliance standards or web accessibility guidelines.

Most businesses already have governance models in place, even if they don’t refer to it as web governance. This could involve various web teams that are charged with overseeing various elements that relate to information architecture, which focus on the organizing, structuring, and curating (e.g., content editor) of web content.

Here are some common examples of web governance policies:

  • Before publishing new content, it is reviewed for accuracy and clarity and how well it aligns to organizational tone and compliance standards.
  • All web pages contain links to privacy policies, informing users how their personal information is collected and used (if it applies).
  • Websites are adequately maintained for optimal user experience (e.g., checking for broken links, form accessibility, etc.).

Say you’re writing a blog post for an organizational blog; web governance procedures include:

  • A checklist of the elements involved such as:
  • The template used
  • How to edit
  • The approved graphics allowed
  • Sending the working document to a web content coordinator for review,
  • Adding input (if necessary)
  • Reaching a consensus on the quality of the information provided
  • Publishing the blog

Why Is Web Governance Important?

Web governance is a lot like managing a brick-and-mortar storefront; if it isn’t maintained properly, business goes downhill. First and foremost, web governance helps improve the user experience. But, that involves organization, such as planning and having the proper structures in place.

An ill-maintained website will drive visitors (and potential customers) away. If something is broken, you fix it, whether it’s in a physical or digital storefront. Web governance helps put policies and procedures in place that help maintain quality and improve the overall user experience. So, it affects the bottom line.

But, web governance procedures and policies are also important for maintaining web accessibility. Accessibility is crucial for allowing equal access for those with disabilities. The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) paved the way for prohibiting discrimination against those with disabilities in the public square.

Title III of the ADA deals with accessibility in areas of public accommodations; informational websites can be included in this. Physical businesses should provide accessibility for those with physical disabilities (e.g., wheelchair accessible); the same is true in the digital environment.  

The Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) provide standards for organizations as it relates to accessible design on the web; web governance ensures these regulations are maintained.


One of the most important aspects of website governance is security. Physical businesses have safeguards in place to protect assets; websites should be no different. This applies to business information as well as personal customer or user information.

One aspect of web governance is security governance — you control and direct your organization's approach to security. This involves the measures and safeguards that are put into place and the policies for handling secure information.  

This involves utilizing secure servers or taking extra precautions when it comes to data storage. Web governance puts security protocols in place to prevent data breaches and protocols from managing them if they happen.


Web governance would fall flat if it didn’t have a management team in place as the authority in website matters. This is why most organizations employ website management teams.

This team provides recommendations in line with strategic goals, oversight in policies and procedures, workflows, and more.

Some main responsibilities may include:

  • Setting organizational web strategies in place (for websites and social media).
  • Establishing procedures for new pages and new sites, as well as web redesign.
  • Monitoring overall performance and conformance to policies.

The team can consist of stakeholders from various levels of the organization. While it is true that content management systems (CMS) can be a governance tool, true web governance still requires personnel oversight.


Privacy is another important element for web governance. User data is often collected to improve the user experience or for enhancing marketing purposes.  

Having a privacy policy in place is one aspect of web governance. It communicates to users for what purposes their data is being collected and how it is collected. It typically provides a way to give consent or permission (e.g., cookies).

Accountability and Transparency

Web governance procedures and policies should also promote accountability and transparency. Of course, having security and privacy policies in place certainly helps promote those ideas.

At the bottom of these principles is the effort to gain consumer trust. When a consumer or user knows that certain policies are in place to protect their interests, the door of trust is swung wide open.

What Does Web Governance Entail?

As mentioned, web governance includes all the policies, procedures, and processes that organize and guide your website. Typically, a good web governance strategy is built on four pillars: Development, maintenance, leadership, and infrastructure.

To support these pillars, organizations must have the right people, tools to carry it out, budgets to maintain them, and processes to execute the plans successfully.


Development involves the building up of the actual website and all its features. Underneath this is the business plan and guiding principles. The business plan will define what success looks like and the scope of the website. This could be thought of as a mission statement or plan.

Also, it provides direction for all involved in the process, from technical development to deployment. A web management team is usually at the helm coordinating this effort.


Maintenance refers to the tasks involved that keep the website operating smoothly and efficiently. This involves web developers, information architects, usability specialists, and more.

Accessibility is a large part of this. Ensuring that the website and web applications align with and conform to accessibility standards is key for usability.  

For example, site navigation must be optimized to fit normal modes of operation (e.g., using a mouse) and for keyboard navigation. Google Analytics is another great tool for checking performance metrics.


Again, leadership must ensure web governance policies and procedures are being followed. This supervisory role can involve multiple people (e.g., web management team) strategizing, organizing, and implementing web governance strategies.

Leadership also involves the process of ensuring all employees involved understand the organizational vision for web governance and are properly trained to carry out the policies and procedures that relate to web governance.


Infrastructure involves the upkeep of content management systems, servers, and web hosting accounts. In effect, infrastructure will make or break the efficiency and performance of a website. It has implications for user experience, for better or worse.

The infrastructure must help ensure the website is available for users, responsive for users, and reliable for users.


Web governance involves the process of both maintaining and managing a website. Web governance involves the policies and procedures put into place to help regulate, organize, and maintain an organization's web presence.

Web governance relies both on internal standards, like brand guidelines, and external standards, such as web accessibility guidelines. It involves proper development, maintenance, leadership, and infrastructure to run smoothly.

Having the right web governance procedures and policies provides consistency, scalability, and stability in the digital environment. It can help improve the overall user experience and help boost the bottom line.