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Effective management of your web standards yields tangible results: it builds the brand, cuts costs, and optimises web operations.
Yet, most companies struggle to retain order online, and the penalties for poor management are high: damage to brand and reputation, loss of revenue, operating inefficiencies and risk of litigation.
Here are 10 tips for managing your brand online, with the effective application of standards:
Brand standards online are more than just fonts and colour. A website is an immersive experience of your brand, and your standards should cover everything which contributes to that experience. Online brand standards should also incorporate code standards, content presentation, usability, SEO, and legal issues such as accessibility and data protection.
Establish governance procedures. It is important to establish responsibilities, and there needs to be a central body, which will monitor, support, and if necessary, enforce standards.
Communicate with your web editors. Ensure you have effective mechanisms for communicating with your editors. It can also be helpful to encourage them to communicate more amongst themselves to share ideas and discuss common issues.
Define your standards clearly. Try to avoid ambiguity when you document your standards. It is much better to give people clear rules which are easy to follow than vague principles and preferences. This way, standards compliance can be measured and quantified. Ensure your standards are defined and documented by someone who understands the web environment.
Explain the benefits of following standards. Used effectively, your standards can also act as a coaching tool for your web editors.
Standardise code wherever possible. This will give you more control over your website quality, and save time and money by preventing similar code being developed over and over again. If you use a global ECMS this will be done automatically, but even if you don’t you can still provide templates and code snippets.
Keep your standards guidelines resources up to date. Any change in your web standards needs to be reflected in all the places your editors look to for guidance. Sounds obvious, but frequently overlooked.
Measure web standards compliance regularly. You need to establish some mechanism for monitoring whether standards are being followed, and communicating issues with the web editors. Given the sheer scale of this task it is advisable to automate the process.
Make sure the main “.com” site accurately follows your web guidelines. There’s nothing more confusing for your web editors than your flagship website not following standards.
Take standards contraventions seriously wherever they are. Your web editors will find it easier to copy peer websites than read guidelines; so unchecked standards contraventions have a nasty habit of propagating themselves right across your web presence.
Written by Magus CEO Simon Lande. Magus is a UK company that helps leading organisations, including Shell, Unilever and SABMiller, stay on-brand, on-line by tracking and managing corporate web standards compliance on their global web presence with its ActiveStandards application.