Web Policies and Procedures
What It Is
Policies and procedures provide a roadmap for your Web team to do its work. A policy is a rule to guide decision making, and a procedure is an established way of doing something. Policies answer why something is done; procedures answer how something is done. When documented and implemented properly, policies and procedures work together to guide your team’s daily activities.
Website policies concern two areas of Web work. One is your Web team’s day–to–day activities. The other is your website’s compliance with laws and regulations such as OMB policies for federal public websites.
Website Internal Policies
Internal website policies address such areas as review (editing and legal), linking, social media, domain registration, marketing and branding, and what to do to ensure continuity of operations during emergencies. If a rule is needed to govern why something is done on your website, you’ll need a documented policy for it.
Website Compliance Policies
Website compliance policies are policies mandated for your website. The mandate may come from any law, regulation, Executive Order, policy, or other directive. We’ve compiled a list of Federal Laws and Regulations every federal Web manager needs to be aware of.
Website procedures cover such areas as content management, communications, style guides, and analytics. If guidance is needed to tell people how to do something that is a part of their regular duties, you’ll need a documented procedure for it.
Why It's Important
Policies and procedures are an essential part of your Web governance documents and how you manage your site.
When staff have questions about why or how something is done a certain way for your website, your policies and procedures document should be their first source of information.
Documenting your website’s policies and procedures can create a sense of order and continuity, too. Staff change positions, are re–assigned, retire, or join the team—but your policies and procedures can remain as long–standing guidance. Of course, policies and procedures need to change as tools and technologies evolve, so it’s important to re–visit them from time to time.
How to Implement
Implementing policies and procedures is a two-phase process.
First, you’ll need to document your policies and procedures. Assign staff to document the specific policies and procedures they’re most familiar with. This will promote ownership of the documentation and engage team members in the process.
Second, you’ll need to enforce your policies and procedures. After all, policies and procedures that aren’t followed are no good to you or your Web team. Enforcement can happen formally and informally. Formally, conduct training with team members and content contributors. For example, if managing content through its entire lifecycle has been especially challenging for your team, lead a training session on your policies and procedures regarding your content management procedures, from creation to removal from the site. Informally, encourage staff to remind each other (and those outside the team) about your policies and procedures. In all cases point back to your documentation, to be clear and avoid disputes.
Recognize that implementation of your Web policies and procedures is an ongoing process. New staff arrive, current staff move on, tools change, old ideas are tested and dropped, new ideas are tested and approved. Be flexible as you move forward to find and define the why and the how of your Web team’s work. In the end, you and your Web team can only benefit from the policies and procedures portion of your Web governance documents.
Examples of General Policies and Procedures
- See Policies and Procedures section in the HowTo.gov Website Governance document (PDF, 2.1 MB, 65 pages, March 2012)
- HUD Departmental Web Policies and Web Management Structure (PDF, 117 KB, 12 pages, December 2011)
- NSF Web Policies
- DOE Web Site Policies
- EPA Web Policies, Orders, and Memoranda
Examples of Procedures
Examples of Social Media Policies
- NARA Social Media Strategy
- HUD social media policy (PDF, 199 KB, 18 pages, June 2010)
- EPA social media policy (PDF, 68 KB, 6 pages, June 2011)
- DOI Social Media Policy
- USGS Easy Guidelines for Employee Use of Social Media (PDF, 153 KB, 1 page, December 2010)
Examples of Style Guides
- U.S. DOE Style Guide
- HUD Web Publication Procedures and Style Guide (PDF, 233 KB, 24 pages, December 2011)
- HHS Web Style Guide
- Social Media Governance
Policies governing www.unep.org
(PDF, 1,022 KB, 65 pages, February 2012)
- Website standards and guidelines (Public Sector Commission, Government of Western Australia)
- Vanderbilt Web Standards (from Vanderbilt University)
Outline for Web Polices*
(PDF, 56 KB, 3 pages, August 2010)
Outline for Web Publication Standards and Procedures*
(PDF, 54 KB, 4 pages, August 2010)
Outline for Web Operating Procedures*
(PDF, 37 KB, 1 page, August 2010)
*These outlines were produced by DigitalGov University instructor Candi Harrison for use in DGU's Delivering Great Customer Service: Essentials for Government Web Managers.