Blog & Insights

Blog posts and articles

AI and web design. Yes, AI is going to eat your website.

The ideal website is one with perfect findability. It has no navigation, no search and no sitemap. Users get exactly what they want first time. That's what AI will do - and in the process eat your web design for lunch. (January 2024)

n AI image of a robot finding a needle in a haystack

Download a list of the most important skills for a small government web team.

Small web teams thrive with "Specialist Generalists". Everyone on a small web team needs a good general competence in core web disciplines - content, design, code, analytics, etc. But everyone also needs specialisms in a few key areas. (December 2023)

The inside of an old general store with an anachronistic laptop on a box with a screen that says

A good web team can do 5 things really well. Now it's time to choose. Sept 2023

Many senior managers have no idea what their web teams actually do - and we web professionals have to take some of the blame.

As such, I now describe a web team's activity based on 5 levels of delivery - from the ultra-basic to advanced, hi-falutin' digital awesomeness.

And senior managers need to choose which to aim for.

An illustration of the 5 levels of web delivery as explained in this article against a background illustration of an antique ladder

Your website is not an art project. It's a machine for doing things. May 2023

A good machine earns its living. It hums with activity as people use it to do things. It even looks nice because skilled machinists know how to craft elegant form from function.

Many public websites don't earn a living. Far from it. They are more 'art project' than 'machine'.

Don't make me tap the sign ... but a radical change of mindset is needed!

An internet meme from The Simpsons. A sign on a bus says: Your website is not an art project. It's a machine for doing things. The bus driver says don't make me tap the sign!

Use the Ozone Model to fix holes in your web team's digital capacity. Apr 2023

The scale of demands placed on web teams *never* seems to slow down! To help cope, I've started using the 'Ozone Model' to isolate possible holes in my capacity to deliver.

The Ozone (O3) Model assesses digital capacity across 3 levels: Online, Operations and Organisation. By measuring key inputs and outputs, it can expose holes in your resourcing.

An example of results from the Ozone Model, showing Online graded as Green, Operations as Amber and Organisation as Red

To create digital services in Plain English, 'the State' must delete itself. Feb 2023

"Apply to the State for permission to enter the State." What nonsense is this? Yes, it makes complete sense in official speak - but is profoundly confusing to normal people.

Is this 'State' an institution? A geographic area? An entity with agency and interests? We need to stop using 'the State' in government content.

There are better terms for everything we need to say.

A painting of Louis XIV with the face being erased

GA4 is looming as a 'Great Filter' - and many web teams won't make it through Feb 2023

Anyway, let's be honest with ourselves. Most institutions never used data from Google Analytics in a meaningful way anyhow. So why bother with GA4? It's a huge and unnecessary operational burden.

A drawing of a guillotine against the backdrop of an email about GA4

No, your website does not belong to the Communications Team. It's much too important for that. Jan 2023

I have created and worked on many government sites (local, regional, national). The majority of content they contain is of no interest to their communications teams and gets almost none of their attention.

A motorway sign leading to a town called Boring

Why web managers don't care about traffic Jan 2022

It's a common misunderstanding. We (mostly) don't care about traffic. That is for the Marketing or Communications teams to worry about. Our focus is delivery.

A retro TV set

The philosophy of website governance Jan 2022

Consider the complexity of managing a modern website. Consider all the moving parts, critical dependencies and competing demands. Why do we do it? Answer ... stability.

Statue of a philosopher

Prioritising content on under-funded web teams (part 2) Jan 2022

Finding big problems on your website is easy. But finding those you can actually fix is much harder—especially on an under-funded web team. Learn 3 ways to focus your team's energy.

Screengrab from an analysis spreadsheet

Zeno's paradox - or why your website will never be right! Dec 2021

Stop worrying. Your website will never be right! 5th century BC Greek philosopher, Zeno of Elea, knew that all along. No matter how hard you try, you will NEVER be able to catch up with your users.

Child on a tortoise

How to set up Content Groups in Google Analytics - Video Tutorials Nov 2021

Video Part 1. Identify the content you want to track.
Video Part 2. Set up your Content Groups and export the data into Excel.

Screen grab of YouTube

Prioritising content on under-funded web teams (part 1) Sept 2021

Most websites have so much content, it's hard to know what to focus on to get best bang-per-buck.

Use topics as a new 'Standard Content Set' to rank what is of most interest to users. Prioritise those - and ignore everything else.

Topics as a Standard Content Set

Use Content Groups to discover what users are interested in May 2021

Hard to configure. Easy to get wrong.

But used correctly, Content Groups in Google Analytics are an incredibly powerful way to track engagement at a topic-level using 'Visits' – so you can finally drop misleading insights caused by 'Page Views'.

Brexit pages within Economics and Politics sections

A web of shop keepers - web management explained Feb 2021

The bigger your shop, the more shelf stackers, stock takes and checkouts you need. The bigger your website, the more UX designers, content creators and production software you need.

Sounds easy - right?!

A shopkeeper

Web governance - Ask 10 people to define it & get 11 answers Jan 2021

Web governance. Such a flexible and malleable term. Just like the old joke, if you ask 10 different people to describe it, you will get 11 different answers.

  • "It's how we set strategy"
  • "It's how we make decisions"
  • "It's how we manage operations"
  • "It's how we do ... you know ... stuff"
Raised hands

The impact of cookie consent management on web analytics Dec 2020

Laws that require you ask users for cookie consent are becoming more widespread.

The fear is that users will simply reject cookies wholesale - thus severely impacting your ability to deploy web analytics and other features.

This need not be the case. Recent lessons show how you can add consent management and retain high acceptance rates.

Cookie consent management

Make content that is easy to Find, Read, Understand and Action May 2020

It's nice for a website to look nice. But it's not that important.

What's important is whether your users can find, read and understand the information and services you offer, and can complete actions with ease, e.g. online forms.

That's it. Everything else is secondary.

Find, Read, Understand, Action!

Do something radical to your website after COVID-19. Make it better! Apr 2020

I'm predicting that COVID-19 will be followed by a clamour of expensive website redesigns in an attempt to solve problems that have been exposed by the crisis.

Here's my advice: don't do it.

Tell your bosses you're going to do something much more radical instead - tell them you're going to make your website better!

A protest march

More articles about web design, content & management

Why digital government in Ireland is failing - & how to fix it  Jan 2020

Underachievement is designed into digital government in Ireland. It's not a bug, it's a feature. The symptoms are manifest. Endless 'redesigns' instead of meaningful action.

How to grow a web team as your website expands  May 2018

Watch my new videos about Junior in Mom-n-Pop's Diner as he learns how to transform his web team, online processes and digital tools to cope with a massive growth in online activity.

Why web governance fails  May 2018

The scale of demands placed on web teams far outstrips their ability to deliver. There is simply too much to do and not enough to do it with.

Stop redesigning your website. Start improving it!  May 2018

Underachievement is designed into many websites. Endless 'redesigns' instead of meaningful action. The cause is an absence of essential digital skills and resources.

Why your website (almost) never needs FAQs  April 2018

FAQs are almost always the last place users choose to find information on a website - not the first. That's why you need to stop using them.

Drinking from the digital firehose  Dec 2017

Digital management is opening up to scrutiny as never before as more and more tools gather insights about operations. ut there is a real danger that the quality of decision making will decline as data volumes increase.

Web content in the age of anxiety  Nov 2017

Anxiety is one of the key hidden drivers behind the web. Our anxiety (fear of legal challenges, negative media coverage, etc) can make our content cagey, vague and stand-offish.

Digital governance for digital transformation  Oct 2016

Those who are best at online in future will be those who are best at digital governance. The reason is that they will be the ones who can react most quickly to new circumstances, at the lowest cost and in a predictable way.

Stop being a digital atheist  March 2016

Lots of organisations *claim* to want better online operations, but really they're just going through the motions. No-one actually believes in it all. Converting your peers to Digital Governance can be done. The first step is to get the High Priests of senior management back onside.

Are poor site auditing systems killing the market?  Dec. 2015

Recently I spoke with Lawrence from Sitemorse about the incredible variety of tools now available to support online management - but also about the relative lack of sophistication of many. Could the providers of such auditing and monitoring systems be in danger of killing the start of the market?

4 MEGAtrends in Web Governance you need to know  Nov. 2014

Web Governance is finally catching-up with online needs, primarily as the result of 4 Megatrends. Underlying these Megatrends is a realization that if the trajectory of ever improving online experience is to be maintained, a better approach to governance is needed. And not just for aesthetic reasons. The real motivator is competitive advantage.

5 ways to Local government & Web Governance business case  Nov. 2014

Local government is hard! Not only are budgets always under pressure, but you have to cater for a huge array of topics and accommodate diverse internal stakeholders. This new guide describes 5 practical ways an updated Web Governance Framework can help your local authority be more successful online.

Why weaponizing web tools improves decisions  April 2013, updated Jul 2015

One impact of the ongoing arms race in web technology is the diversity of tools now available to assist with online management. Not only does this includes dumb systems like CMS and newer "smart" technology that can both automate operations and act as decision aids.

An Infographic of Web Governance  Dec 2013

Learn how Web Governance works how the concept of Website Scale can helps you plan a better system in this new infrographic.

3-step journey to Web Governance stability  Nov 2013

Progress in Web Governance occurs in 3 steps: Discover, Organise & Optimise. Use the new Web Governance Roadmap to work out the distance you have covered on your digital management journey - and what remains to be done.

Web Governance vendor interview: Sitemorse  Aug 2013

Recently I chatted with Lawrence Shaw (CEO at Sitemorse) about all things Web Governance. As a leading innovator in digital technology, I discovered him to be a treasure trove of insight - particularly regarding the effects of the EU cookie directive on online management.

Web Governance vendor interview: Siteimprove  June 2013

Back in 2004 I was appointed Webmaster for a leading site and needed a bit of help to get things under control. Enter Siteimprove from Copenhagen who had exactly the tool I needed. A few weeks ago I caught-up with Torben Rytt (CEO of Siteimprove's US operation) whose insight into current governance pressures & trends is second to none.

Web Governance vendor interview: TerminalFour  May 2013

Way back in 1997 TerminalFour CEO Piero Tintori speculated that content would soon become one of the biggest challenges of online business. He has yet to be disproved. Last week, he took some time to chat with me about current trends and challenges in Web Governance.

Roles & Responsibilities on a Web Team  Jan 2013

On a Web Team where everyone knows what they should (& should not) be doing, nobody has to worry about stepping on a colleague's toes. Find out how to achieve the industrial peace that clearly defined Roles & Responsibilities can bring.

A new Web Governance Framework. Psst... It actually works!  Nov 2012

The first step in changing Web Governance is often the hardest. Nevertheless, change must happen eventually. The framework outlined here provides a starting point for this conversation.

Planning a new system of Web Governance? Start with 'Website Scale'  Oct 2012

If you have to create a new system of Web Governance for your own site, there is no need to start from scratch! Simply work out the Scale of your site and build from there. There's lots of patterns to work from. Find out how!

How to build a successful Web Team  Aug 2012

Hire good people and they will generally find clever & innovative ways to get maximum bang for your buck. Yet for all their hard work, more thought often goes into buying some new technology than into creating a good team. This can't go on!

3-steps to healthcheck your Web Governance  July 2012

Sick with worry about your Web Governance? Popping pills to get some sleep at night? Time to get over it! Use this 3-Step Healthcheck to diagnose whether your Governance is fit for purpose - or in need of urgent treatment.

The 3 elements of Web Governance: Scale, Activity & Resource  June 2012

The elements of Web Governance are the same on all sites (the same primary activities, the same pillar resources) - it is merely their granularity & sophistication that change. The concept of Website Scale helps you plan for these differences.

Frustrated housewives seek satisfaction online ... why FAQs (sometimes) work  June 2011

In a busy household with several small children running around, it can be very difficult to take the 'time out' necessary to explore a website - especially one that requires new learning and figuring out. FAQs can help - but only sometimes.

Intranet Content and Information Architecture  Jan 2008

What strikes me is not the differences between most intranets, but the similarities. In contrast to Jakob Neilsen, I find that the commonality of content from one intranet to another is remarkably constant. This feature appears on the iQ Content blog.)

Web archiving - Save your site for your children's children  Nov 2007

A website archive prevents the loss of your hard-won online experience. It also preserves your site as a working model for the rest of eternity!

Desiderata for world-weary webmasters  Oct 2007

Webmasters! Feel like nobody cares?! Don't give up! The famous motivational poem 'Desiderata' has been rewritten to give you a new sense of purpose and belief.

Content Features and Formats  Sept 2007

Discover the wide mix of content features and formats you can deploy on your website. A key challenge is to choose the right formats for the list of features you are creating.

Educate Your Stakeholders!  May 2007

An important goal for Website Managers is to equip decision-makers with the knowledge they need to make informed choices about online development. This feature appears in the May 2007 issue of

» Read all my articles on ALA
» Read Educate Your Stakeholders!

Executive expectations vs. Website reality  April 2007

There is an old saying in the consulting business. "We can give you 3 things: A high quality deliverable. High speed turnaround. Low cost. Now, choose any 2."

The Web and the Law  Feb 2007

Do you know the legal constraints of the web? If not, you better find out before someone else's lawyers do! Remember "Ignorance is no defence!"

The four pillars of intranet content  Jan 2007

Guess what? The content on most intranets is supported by four pillars: Work, HR, Corporate and Social Content

Types of website content  Aug. 2006

There are just three types of website content: content that 'persuades', content that 'sells' and content that 'reassures'.

How to write a documented site standard  July 2006

A well written corporate Website Manual or Standard can act as a powerful aid for guiding the activities of site management.

How to plan manpower on a web team  June 2006

How many people? What skills? Here are some guidelines to consider when planning the manpower requirements of a web team. (This feature appears on Read all my articles on ALA

» Read How to plan manpower on a web team
» In Nederlands: Een goed webteam is precies groot genoeg

Your corporate web standard is your constitution  May 2006

A Website Standard is a document that details the approach of an organisation to the management of its sites. In some ways, it is like a 'constitution', because it lists all the conventions by which online activity must be regulated.

Why you need Web Governance!  Apr. 2006

Without Governance there is no-one to say what is or is not allowed on a site, and no standards to which Developers can refer. Ultimately, this means no control and no direction.

Change how you control web change control  Mar. 2006

The responsibilities of site maintenance extend beyond issues of immediate operations - they are also concerned with developments that affect future integrity.

How to manage your website's hosting  Jan. 2006

The objective of Infrastructure Performance Monitoring is to ensure procedures are in place for the supervision of site hosting.

Quality Assurance - for a life free of broken links!  Dec. 2005

Even if all site procedures are strictly adhered to, errors can still arise that reduce the standard of the online experience. The problem is that unless someone is checking for such errors, they may go unnoticed until a customer complains.

Website maintenance 101  Nov. 2005

Website Maintenance encompasses all the activities needed to guarantee the operational integrity of a site. Yet, whenever these activities do not occur, the results can be embarrassingly visible.

The web design industry's best mag Etre One of the most respected online publications Stylegala

Read Educate Your Stakeholders!  May 2007

An important goal for Website Managers is to equip decision-makers with the knowledge they need to make informed choices about online development.

How to plan manpower on a web team  June 2006

How many people? What skills? Here are some guidelines to consider when planning the manpower requirements of a web team.