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If you have responsibility for your organisation's website you’ll understand the importance of keeping it bang up to date. Here are some tips on motivating busy colleagues to provide the information you need to keep the website from going out of date.
For each page on your website, agree how often it will need to be reviewed and assign an owner (make sure they know about this and have agreed to it). Some content may need to be updated weekly or daily (e.g. the homepage, news or events lists) whilst other content can go for longer. Don’t leave more than 12 months between reviews: terminology can change quickly in the voluntary sector and external links break more often than you might expect.
Keep the schedule of review dates in a Content Management System (CMS), database or spreadsheet.
The length of time agreed for each content type should be part of the content strategy (one year for press release, six months for events, whatever the organisation decides). This will be key to keeping the website up to date.
Make sure all content owners are happy with the amount of content they own and the time of year that they need to update it. Some may like to do a bit each month, whilst others prefer to do it all at the same time.
As the review date approaches, ask the relevant colleague to review the content. Depending on the situation, you might be asking them to amend a Word version of the page, amend the page using a CMS or just email you some facts. Be clear on what you need them to do. They may have forgotten how the process works or have unrealistic ideas about how long it will take or what your role is.
If the colleague did not review their content, approach them again. Try a different means of getting in touch. If your first approach was in person then put it in writing this time. If you first went to them by email, follow up by phone.
Offer a couple of reasons why this work is important, e.g.
Keep a non-judgemental, helpful, practical attitude. It’s likely that the colleague would like to do the work but is busy. Ask them to ring / meet you for a chat if they are going to struggle to review the page.
At this point, the content may be dangerously out of date and you may need to consider removing it from the site whilst you continue your mission to get it updated.
It is worth asking the colleague what the barriers are, and coming up with some creative solutions such as:
Do your colleagues know how to use the CMS? Do they know how to embed an external link or a video? Do they feel comfortable uploading images? Do they know the style guide and know how to upload a document?
Organise CMS training and writing for the web training for new colleagues and refresher for existing colleagues. Why not run lunch time drop-in session at set dates to encourage them to keep their skills sharp.
Creating a blog with CMS tips will save running time to their desk as you can refer them to the blog when they have a query that have already been asked about. Use colleagues that excel in CMS editing to become champion of their team or their floor, so others can learn from them.
Another way to motivate colleagues to keep your website up to date is a weekly newsletter with highlights on the new content, a page that has had lots of views and is a good model, the website of the week to get inspired with more good examples.
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