James Royal-Lawson

Web management

The state of Swedish websites 2012

Each year Web Service Award surveys Swedish web responsibles and web managers their opinion about the quality of their web sites and working environment as well as how they are intending to develop them.

Picture of a stage with a large projector screen in the background and audience in the foreground

570 Swedish web managers were surveyed during January of this year for the 2012 trend report including representatives from companies, public services, councils, and other organisations.

The proportion of each type of organisation (and indeed size) is not representative of Sweden as a whole. Large companies and organisations are hugely over-represented (76% of those surveyed, whilst only 0.56% of the total in Sweden), and smaller companies are massively under-represented (24% of survey, but 76% in Sweden as a whole). So some care has to be taken with the figures.

This survey gives us an insight into what web managers think and how they feel about the world of web they work with. It’s not a survey of the visitors of websites, neither is it a survey of management or, ultimately, decision makers.

The report (in Swedish) is a whopping 98 pages. There’s a huge amount of data in there. I’m just going to write about a few points which I feel deserve highlighting.

The year of mobile development

Almost half of respondents said that they will be increasing their digital investments in 2012 compared to 2011. It would appear that a good chunk of that money is going to go into developing mobile solutions. 42% said that they are planning to produce a mobile ready version of their website, and 21% said they were planning a mobile app during 2012.

Graph showing that 61% have no mobile solution at all

61% said that they didn’t currently have any form of mobile solution (neither app of mobile ready website), so if the web responsibles surveyed manage to achieve what they’ve planned then next year this figure should drop through the floor! 2012 is looking like the year of mobile development.

Lack of resources internally

Despite a constantly increasing amount of investment in digital channels, there hasn’t been a corresponding increase in internal resources that take care of them.

I find it quite shocking that despite the importance of websites for organisations, and the money invested in (re)developing them, a staggering 50% of respondents only work half-time with their sites. Only 23% at most are dedicated web managers working full time with their sites. Only 32% say that they have enough resources to manage their website’s content.

graph showing 36% work up to 25% with their websites

Given that almost half of the organisations surveyed are large organisations with over 500 employees (44%), the low number of dedicated web responsibles cannot be explained solely by a corresponding percentage of SME sites where it is would be more expected that a person has multiple roles.

With the time and knowledge needed to order from and work with external agencies, analyse and reflect upon visitor statistics and KPIs, take on board usability testing results, deciding what to A/B test and tweak on your website, chase content owners, meet and work with internal stake holders – amongst many other things – it’s no wonder that so many websites under deliver, or need to be (at often great cost) totally rebuilt every few years,

EpiServer dominates

Amongst the sites in the survey, EpiServer dominates overwhelmingly as the CMS of choice for the larger organisations (over 50 employees) with 50% using the Swedish platform to server up their websites.

graph showing 43% of all surveyed have EpiServer

It’s a different picture amongst the smaller organisations surveyed (less than 50 employees). Here we see EpiServer’s being used as the publishing tool for 22% of surveyed websites. 36% responded with “other”, which presumably includes an array of CMS tools created by smaller companies.

I’m surprised that WordPress didn’t feature higher amongst smaller companies. My experience is that it’s pretty much the default CMS choice for this size of company, but only 1% across the entire survey irrespective of organisation size (which is presumably just 5 respondents) said that WordPress powered their website.

Positive trends

Generally speaking most stats in the report point to positive developments with websites and how they are managed. One of the exceptions is the lack of (dedicated) resources to run, maintain and develop the web and digital presence of an organisation.

We’re learning and moving forward as web managers and web professionals, but It’s still early days, and I think many of the answers show that.

James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

Template: Go/No-go decision for website content

When managing a website for a company or organisation one of the many discussion points between you and content owners is whether their content should be published or not. I’ve produced a Go/No-go website content template to help guide you in that decision making process.

Publishing new content

You’ve done the ground-work. You know your digital strategy, content strategy, SEO strategy. You’ve pinned down your business goals and worked out the ways in which your visitors are going to convert.

After all that time, effort and investment, the last thing you need is a piece of content hitting you broadside from a content or product owner that lacks the thought and consideration as to how publishing it will positively add to your website and help it meet its goals.

The Idea Stage

This template is designed to be used at the idea stage. The actual content, and where it fits into the website, is irrelevant at this point (and deserves a go/no-go template of its own!).

By getting the content owner to consider each point on the template and provide details, you help them meet a standard set of requirements. It puts in place an open and clear way of showing your organisation what you, the manager of the website, requires of each (new) page.

template for helping with content publishing decisions

Available as SVG and as PDF

The template poses the following questions for you and the content owner to consider:

  • What is the page about?
  • Keyword phrases
  • Goal of the page
  • How is the goal to be measured?
  • Who will visit?
  • Why will they visit?
  • Content responsible


Download the free template via these links as a scalable vector graphic or as PDF

Good luck, and make sure you let me know if (and how) this template helps you. More templates will be published during the year – keep an eye out for them!

James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

EU Cookie law in Sweden

Slowly but surely we’re getting a picture of what is expected of website owners (and indeed application providers) in respect of the Swedish response to the EU directive on online-privacy.

The Cookie Law

a bin that looks like Cookie Monster eating a cookie

Photo by Timm Schneider

Most of us are calling it The Cookie Law, but it’s broader than that. The Swedish Electronic Communications Act covers (amongst other things) the storage and reading of information on a terminal device and how you must obtain consent from the user prior to reading or writing such information.

A terminal device isn’t just a desktop or a laptop computer – it could also be, for example, a mobile phone, tablet, internet TV, or even a game console.

For the majority of websites, the data the law refers to is in the form of HTTP cookies, but it also includes Flash cookies, Silverlight cookies, HTML5 web storage, and other similar types of data transferred back and forth across the internet.

Some cookies are excluded from the law. These are cookies (or other such information) that are essential for the provision of the service you are accessing.

The most straight forward example is that of a shopping cart on an e-commerce site. You’ll have to come to your own conclusion about what is essential and what isn’t on your website.

What’s the response so far?

At the time of writing, most websites are either saying nothing or following the previous law from 2003, SFS 2003:389, which required website owners to declare that they used cookies.

A relatively small number of sites have taken steps to comply to the new law. The ways in which they have tried to comply varies from token gestures through to large consent banners covering the prime real-estate of the website.

screenshot of showing a large cookie opt in banner

Screenshot of featuring an opt-in banner

An onslaught from PTS?

PTS have a fair bit of information on their website to assist website owners. There’s no need to panic, the PTS isn’t going to jump on websites and close them down. Their normal routine, if they receive a complaint, would be to communicate in writing with the website owner, containing some advice and the chance to correct the situation.

During the 8 year lifetime of the previous Cookie law, only a handful of websites were warned, and no website was prosecuted. I expect it will be a similar situation this time round too.

The Swedish trade organisation, IAB Sweden, has produced guidelines as to how to comply to the law. It was stated during the preparation of the new law that best practice should be developed by website owners, the IAB’s recommendation is an expression of such best practice.

The IAB recommendation

What IAB recommend, and a recommendation I endorse for Swedish websites, is that the browser settings can be used to imply consent – but, that consent can only be inferred if the use of cookies is described and explained in a way that is easily understood.

All cookies, including third party cookies, should be explained. Information should also be given explaining how the user can withdraw the consent (by disabling cookies in their browser).

icon to indicate the use of cookies

The “We use cookies” icon produced by IAB

IAB have produced an icon that can be used to clearly signal that your site uses cookies. They’ve also produced a website, minacookies, that helps explain to users what cookies are as well as providing a home to their recommendations and guidelines.

Audit, be transparent, explain

So, if you are a Swedish company or organisation, targeting a Swedish audience, then you pretty much know what to do – audit your cookies, be transparent, and explain the choices.

You should also do your best to tidy up and remove any scripts and features that you don’t need. (This is not only good housekeeping, but it also helps improve performance and speed of your website.)

It’s even a good chance to check the effectiveness of certain website features? Put measurements in place and assess them (if you don’t already). That Facebook like-box might not actually be worthwhile after all…

Targeting countries outside of Sweden

Sounds simple so far? Well, what complicates matters is that each EU country is putting in place their own interpretation of the EU directive. Some countries are going to have much stricter interpretations of it than Sweden.

European law firm Field Fisher Waterhouse has produced a really useful table giving a country by country implementation status and a synopsis of the legal requirements.

If you are actively targeting people in other EU countries, then you will almost certainly need to comply with the relevant cookie laws in those countries.

Visits from non-targeted countries?

Visits from people in countries that you are not actively targeting are, in my opinion, a bit of a grey-zone.

Technically, you are transmitting and storing data on the user’s computer if you are using cookies – but having a website that specifically complies to all the laws in all other EU countries is going to be awkward at best, impossible at worst.

There’s no guarantee of a one-size-fits-all solution being possible, with the possible exception of the hardcore implementation – no use of cookies on your website.

Nordic and Baltic countries

For Swedish companies, one positive thing to note is that most of the countries neighbouring Sweden – namely Denmark, Finland, Estonia, have implemented the law in a way that is no more strict than the Swedish law. The exceptions to this are Latvia and Lithuania, where a strict prior opt-in (not implied by browser settings) appears to be required.

a map of of Scandinavia and The Baltics showing which countries require strict opt-in

Red require strict opt-in, Green via browsers settings.

Norway is not an EU country and is therefore not required to implement the EU directive. That said, Norway often implements them anyway – but at the moment, no formal proposal has been made, and no change of law has been implemented.

Business with integrity

Suffice to say, the Swedish cookie law isn’t out to get normal, honest, websites. It’s there to catch the abusers; the less honest. So those of us running businesses with a fair dose of integrity have nothing to worry about.

Of course, the content of this blog post is just my opinion, you should obtain specific legal advice for your own company.

It would be great to hear in the comments section below what your company has decided to do to be compliant…

James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

The Beantin Index

Last week I launched The Beantin Index, a site where Swedish websites are graded and ranked!

After a number of months of planning and preparation (as a side-project) The Index has, at last, seen the light of day.

Screenshot of The Beantin Index, Swedish websites graded and ranked

There are plenty of awards handed out to Swedish websites every year, but I felt as if something was missing. I wanted something where I could compare sites; quantify how good they are based on a set of critera.

To create a score that gives an indication of how well a website is managed, how well it complies with various standards and recommendations, and how good it is to use..

The Beantin Index fills that gap.

It’s only the beginning, but I’m intending to add new sites to The Index as often as I can mange. The review process itself takes a couple of hours, then it takes an hour or two to write up, prepare, and publish the final result.

Want your site rated?

If you’d like your website rated, please get in touch. If you’re a little bit afraid of hanging out your dirty laundry in public, then don’t worry – I can do private ratings (for a small fee), then once you’ve made some improvements I can re-assess the site (for free) and add it to The Beantin Index.

I hope you find The Beantin Index both interesting and useful.

James Royal-Lawson+ is a digital strategist and web manager based in Stockholm Sweden.

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