Is Your Web Site a Digital File Cabinet?

The end of the fiscal year is drawing near and it is also to good time to begin a review of your web content to ensure it is still engaging for your target audience. Over the years, the technology industry developed more diverse online tools to help create interactive web content. However, good web content management still requires a human element to review, revise and update government websites to prevent them from becoming a “digital filing cabinet.” Merriam Webster defines a file cabinet as a place to house documents, which is the opposite goal of an interactive web site. There are several tips that content managers may use to effectively manage their organization’s web presence.

The web site review process may include collaborations with your organization web team and public affairs staff to make updates that will meet audience expectations. One way to ensure your web site contains fresh materials is by creating a quarterly web scrub schedule to weed out obsolete content. Moreover, providing opportunities to foster a two-way conversation with leadership regarding their vision for the agency’s web content will help to create a strategic communications plan for the team to implement. Also, the web update process will become a smooth transition when the web content manager leverages her role as a “trusted adviser” to ensure that all internal stakeholders can contribute to online updates.

Also, take the time to check your web links and remove materials that are more than 10 years old. The goal is to avoid creating a “digital file cabinet. ” Avoid the tendency to archive your old web content and develop a plan to remove out dated materials. This may also include informing stakeholders of recent web updates to continue to manage their expectations of online available resources. In addition, take time each month to check your web site links to ensure they still work. Remove non-working links and encourage your staff to share their ideas to add content enhancements throughout the year via weekly web review meetings.

Some older government web sites also contain a host of data that has not been revised regularly and is several decades old. A common barrier to providing pithy, leading edge content updates is the perception that some government web sites need to “house all historical records” of anything ever published online. However, the consummate web professional will leverage their annual communications strategy along with leadership buy-in to ensure that the agency can maintain a strong, interactive web presence that will exceed the customers’ expectations.

Tracey Batacan is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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