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How to motivate colleagues to keep your website up to date

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 Here are some tips on motivating busy colleagues to provide the information you need to keep the website from going out of date.

Things you'll need

  • A way of recording your review schedule.
  • Tenacity.
  • Creative thinking.

Decide when content will need reviewing and who owns it

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.


Ask nicely

As the review date approaches, ask the relevant colleague to review the content. Your CMS might be able to send out automatic reminders to save you making the initial approach. Depending on the situation, you might be asking people 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.


Ask nicely, again

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.

  • Explain that the public and funders are reading old information (send stats to show how often the page is accessed).
  • Show how this work helps meet objectives in the business plan.

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.


Think creatively

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:

  • Replace the content with links to relevant external sites.
  • Interview the colleague and write up what they say.
  • Try and update the content yourself and the colleague signs it off.
  • Help the colleague make a case to their manager to free up resource to get the content updated.
  • Is this person actually the right person for the job? If they are quite senior, can one of their team do the work?
  • Pay an external expert, or get a volunteer to do it as a project.
  • Does this content even need to exist? Does the fact it isn’t getting updated reflect that it’s no longer a priority?
  • Book a meeting room, invite your colleague, bring laptops and do the work there and then. If they see it as a meeting they may find it easier to block out the time in their diary. 
  • Go and sit in different departments in the office at agreed times. Tell content owners you'll be there to answer questions and help them. Maybe having you on hand will encourage them (or make them feel guilty enough to do the work!)

Train and support your colleagues

If your colleagues update their text without it going via your web team, do they 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.


Look at the bigger picture

If you spend a lot of time chasing people to update content, see if you can identify the organisational barriers. Is the website not considered a priority? Do senior decision-makers not know how resource-intensive it can be to keep content relevant? Are people rewarded for other work over web work? Is web not part of people's job descriptions or objectives?  Changing the way the organisation works is not going to be easy so see if you can find a champion at senior level. Also, find out how web editors from other organisations are solving this problem. Meet them where possible, or follow them on social media. Constantly refresh your content strategy and ensure you have buy-in from the people who matter.

Further information

Read 'Content strategy for the web' by Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach for a great introduction to the problems and solutions in managing a website.


Page last edited Jul 25, 2017 History

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