The Key to Solving the Puzzle of Web Governance, Featuring Robert Jacoby, MIM 2012


UMD iSchool News

Robert JacobyMeet Robert Jacoby, Web Governance Expert for the United Nations, poet, novelist, author of the “website governance” entry on Wikipedia, and developer (as a student!) of a widely used free, online website governance modeling tool. Jacoby is an out-of-the-box thinker who is helping organizations world-wide solve the puzzle of website governance.

Website governance is an organization's structure of staff and systems to maintain and manage a website. According to Jacoby, this can be like putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle. You have to put all the pieces together in the right way to see the entire picture: business goals, content, system administration, audience, marketing, social media, user experience, design, software, analytics, data architecture, legal risks, accessibility, staff support and training, and more.

Jacoby, 2012 alumnus of the University of Maryland (UMD) College of Information Studies, Master of Information Management program, began to understand the challenge and complexity of website governance as a student – and set out to solve the problem. Jacoby reflects that the breadth of experiences at UMD, with both students and teachers, provided him with opportunities he had not foreseen. The college encourages applied learning and, using self-directed coursework time, Jacoby created the Website Governance Modeling Tool.

The Website Governance Modeling Tool is a free, downloadable resource that guides organizations through identifying and understanding all of their website governance puzzle pieces. The tool shows users how to analyze, map, explain, and manage these pieces for a successful website – including understanding the impact of one element upon another. The model is flexible and is designed to spark thought, with prompts and explanations to accommodate both beginners and advanced users.

As Web Governance Expert for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Jacoby’s model allows him to provide the best user experience possible for website visitors – ensuring quality, consistency, accessibility, searchability, and more. He shares that although his model helps in understanding and organizing the web governance pieces, it can still be a challenge for members of different teams to understand how one work area (like content or design) might impact other work areas (like information architecture or workflows). Jacoby recommends the old fashioned non-digital approach to this challenge – to sit down in person, have a conversation, and work through the pieces together.

To learn about Jacoby's poetry and fiction, visit his Goodread's Author's page.

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