What is a Web Coordinator?
By Karl Wilkins
In February 2005 the then Information Systems Policy Board (ISPB) adopted the Maine State Web Standards. The Web Standards have two primary goals – to raise the quality and consistency in agency websites, promoting one Maine.gov portal; and increase the efficiency of website development and management. To help achieve these goals the document goes on to require that agencies, “… designate one or two individuals who will serve as the coordinators of all website activities for the agency, including ensuring that all state web standards and policies are met.”
Agencies are required to use standard agency design templates provided by InforME and to use them in accordance with the Maine.gov style guide. This helps with consistency in design as agencies bring more and more of their sites into the new template design. It’s the agency web coordinator’s responsibility to make sure that web developers are using the templates.
Agencies must develop a website management plan that identifies roles and responsibilities, site monitoring and evaluation, content maintenance, oversight, user feedback and other aspects of site management. It’s the web coordinator’s responsibility to develop and monitor this plan in a collaborative manner with the agency web team of developers, content providers and agency managers.
It’s the web coordinator’s responsibility to also ensure compliance with all state web standards and policies. The primary policy relating to websites is the State of Maine Website Accessibility Policy which states that information and services on state government websites will be accessible to all, including those with disabilities. That’s no small task.
Everyone who works on agency websites, or who has an ftp account to the server, must be listed in the webmaster directory database. This directory serves as the vehicle for communication from the Office of the CIO and InforME. The web coordinator must make sure the agency listings in the directory are up to date.
Some agencies contract for various web services with InforME and/or outside vendors. To be able to meet the responsibilities described above, the web coordinator must be directly involved in these processes.
So, what is a web coordinator? An agency web coordinator is a facilitator that promotes communication, standards compliance, training, and server security; a project manager that manages the conversion of entire websites to a new agency standard template, performs other site maintenance and evaluation activities, and possibly oversees contracts. A web coordinator is also a planner, a researcher and one that must stay current with the fast-changing technologies of the web. An agency web coordinator does all of this in addition to their “regular” job.
From the beginning, Maine’s web presence has been built by dedicated people doing web work as well as their official jobs. In the early days the state’s less formal approach to the development of its web presence is understandable. When there were no rules, no mass of content to maintain and keep current it was reasonable to expect staff of pitch in and contribute as they could. However, the environment is much changed now. The standards, policies and technology are so much more complex that it is time to revisit how the State approaches its web presence and the staff it asks to create it. One of the questions that are begging for an answer is: Is the web coordinator an agency position that works with IT or an IT position that works with an agency?
Whatever the answer, and until we have it, the important thing is that the web coordinator is given the resources and recognition to do the job. A web presence is no longer a luxury in this day and age. It’s a vital business tool, critical to meeting the needs of increasingly technology-savvy customers.
Maine State Web Standards http://www.maine.gov/oit/standards/webstandards.htm
State of Maine Website Accessibility Policy http://www.maine.gov/oit/accessibility/policy/webpolicy.htm