The Substance, Structure & Style of Web Governance

Why am I so good at making simple things complicated? I think it's because I get so caught up in the detail that I forget how confusing it can appear to a new comer.

Take my mum for instance.

Over the course of a recent car journey she quizzed me (again) about what it is exactly I do. She thought it was 'web design'. I then set about explaining (again) what Web Governance is and how it relates to activities like web design.

As we talked, I manage to shoe-horn everything into a simplified, non-technical trinity of Substance, Structure & Style. And it seemed to work (or she is a great actress).

Thinking about it afterwards, I reckoned it was worth codifying as I am sure there are lots more people who are just as confused about Web Governance as my mum.

So here it is. The Web Governance trinity.


The substance of Web Governance comprises everything you need to do in order to manage a website (i.e. activities such as leadership, design, testing, etc.) - and - everything you need to allow those to happen (i.e. resources such as people, tools, budget, etc.).

While the granularity of these activities & resources may vary from site to site, the substance remains absolutely constant.

Read more about the activities & resources that comprise Web Governance.
(Download a detailed chart showing all the activities of Web Governance. PDF 1Mb)


The activities & resources above are then organised into structures (such as roles & responsibilities, teams, processes, etc.) based on the scale of your site.

Structures may vary but there are common patterns for sites of a similar scale, no matter what industry they are in.

Explore common patterns of Web Governance on sites of different scales.


The style you choose to enforce governance depends on things such as the scale of your operation, corporate culture, dispersal of responsibility, executive support, etc.

A light touch approach works well where there is coherence around online objectives. A stricter approach works well where there are many stakeholders and competition for resources.

Learn more about why Web Governance is finally getting the attention it deserves.

So, where to start...

There are a lot of balls to juggle, so understanding how everything holds together is crucial.

The illustration below shows how to conceptualise the fundamental substance of Web Governance (the activities & resources) and indicates a mechanism for configuring these into workable structures, based on the model of Website Scale.

Ready to take the next step? Read how to start planning a new system of Web Governance.


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