PAS 124: 2011 debuts to improve corporate website performance

Press release - 24 March 2011

A new, end-to-end code of practice to help managers deal with today’s increasingly complex corporate websites was launched today.

PAS 124 is the 2nd edition of a code of practice for “Defining, implementing and managing website policies and standards.” It contains everything senior marketers, web masters and web editors need to know about deploying both their own brand and editorial standards, and addressing compliance with external regulations (like accessibility and other legal standards), and creating a robust governance framework to make standards stick within their organisation.

PAS 124 was commissioned by Magus, the world leader in website compliance monitoring and produced by the British Standards Institution (BSI). It was developed in conjunction with a panel of experts representing a wide range of industry expertise: Cabinet Office, LBi, Olswang LPP, SDL Tridion, Shell International B.V. and Unilever PLC, and subject to wider review.

PAS 124 has been substantially updated for 2011 to incorporate the latest thinking on website governance and to tackle today’s issues. “The website governance challenge is growing exponentially, particularly for large companies,” said Simon Lande, Magus’ CEO. “Websites today are multi-everything: multi-channel, multi-sourced, multi-editor, multi-country, as well as being localised, personalised and dynamically targeted. The PAS provides a clear process framework to help organisations deploy website policies and standards efficiently without over-burdening them with needless bureaucracy.”

Magus undertook some research on behalf of KWD Webranking in January 2011 to analyse over 900 corporate websites, representing the largest US and European companies by market capitalisation. The results showed that:

  • Nearly 20% of websites had five or more compliance errors per page.
  • 84% of websites failed to meet basic WCAG accessibility compliance standards (a legal requirement in many countries)
  • 67% of websites failed to implement core search engine optimisation (SEO) criteria, which would have a negative impact on page ranking.

PAS 124 is designed to eradicate basic, preventable errors like these through the improved deployment of website policies and standards and the establishment of effective website governance.

It’s aimed at any organisation with a complex or enterprise-scale web presence, and is invaluable for any organisation in the process of launching a website or tackling an immediate website governance initiative, such as:

  • Planning or developing website policies and standards
  • Aligning existing website policies and standards with industry best practice
  • Improving existing website governance structure and process.

Effective website policies and standards deliver tangible results, and should be a central pillar of any company’s website governance programme. Key benefits of adopting the PAS 124 approach include:

  • Brand protection and reinforcement
  • Optimised user experience
  • Risk management
  • Reduction in development and maintenance costs
  • Faster time to market

PAS124: 2011 builds on the groundbreaking work begun in 2008 by Magus and the BSI, when the first version of the PAS was launched.

According to Mike Low, Standards Director at BSI, “The updated PAS 124 demonstrates the demand from the web industry for a robust standard and the need for the framework to evolve. With website governance growing ever more complex, so the need for a rigorous and practical code of practice becomes increasingly important. PAS 124:2011 is the answer.

Lande concluded, “The PAS framework is the definitive code of practice for all companies wishing to create and maintain a world-class web presence. It should be used by marketers and senior website managers everywhere to improve their company’s performance on the web”

PAS 124 Steering group comments

Simon Saville, VP Web Communications, Shell International B.V.: 
“For companies, such as Shell, which have a multi-site, multi-editor and multi-lingual web presence, having the appropriate processes in place to ensure adherence to website policies and standards is essential, both to ensure consistency in the way our brand is presented online, and to maximise the return on our web investment. The framework set out in PAS 124 will help organisations achieve these goals”.

Syra Morley, Global Website Manager, Unilever PLC: 
“Managing website standards in the dynamic world of the web presents managers with a common set of challenges. PAS 124 is written by the people whose job it is to face and overcome these challenges on a daily basis, and therefore it provides real-world advice which will get website policies and standards working for every type of organisation.”

David Pullinger, Head of Government on the Web, Cabinet Office, Head of Digital Policy, COI: 
“The Cabinet Office sets stringent targets for the quality, performance and equal access of all government websites. The effective deployment of website policies and standards is key to achieving these goals. PAS 124 provides a practical roadmap to help every company improve online governance and deliver a better user experience to the widest-possible audience.”

Mark Deal, Head of Development, LBi: 
“Investment in website policies and standards translates into clear commercial opportunity by saving companies time and money and strengthening the impact of their online brands. PAS 124 provides an excellent frame of reference for any organisation implementing enterprise websites.”

Rob Cools, Marketing Director, SDL, Web Content Management Division: 
“Companies with international websites need to consider the impact of regional differences, and ensure that their local websites meet local audience needs. PAS 124 addresses these issues and helps companies find the right balance between central and local control – a key issue for all global organisations.”

Ashley Hurst, Senior Associate, Olswang LLP: 
“Today’s web managers need to be aware of an increasing array of online standards, including local, national and international regulations and legislation. Failure to meet compliance obligations leaves companies open to legal liability and costs. PAS 124 will help managers keep on top of their responsibilities and mitigate risk.”