I spend a lot of time talking to my colleagues about the democratization of creativity.

But, what does that mean (exactly)? Democracy, from the Greek dêmos kratos, literally refers to “people power,” or providing the means to the masses to do what they want, where they want, and when they want.

As a one-time of student of government and international relations, I used to debate with my classmates whether democracy was always (and inherently) the preferred form of government.

Arguments in favor included the formation of a “marketplace of ideas,” and the notion that such marketplaces drive innovation and improvement among the societies that practice it.

The arguments against? You might be surprised that they were somewhat similar. Democracies can be woefully inefficient, stagnant in their ability to execute, and ultimately put power in the hands of questionable groups and individuals. Side note: Benevolent dictatorships usually emerged (by consensus, naturally) as the preferred form of government.

But, so what of website optimization?

Historically, website optimization was a centralized practice—the domain of a few, the privileged (more accurately, the burdened) who wrote code and made changes to the production website to get such code into place.

For some organizations, however, such constraints seemed a blessing in disguise: They offered control, order, predictability, and a simple (if not cumbersome) workflow for success.

And the notion of democratizing, or removing, these constraints can seem a scary proposition—putting the power to change the website into the hands of, well, more than a privileged few.

Democracy Isn’t Anarchy

Still, countless organizations have navigated the challenges of democratization, and those considering it can count a few best practices from their forebears:

Use of Role-based Action Controls: Role-based access controls assign different privileges to different business users. Typically, such roles might include:
• Reporting access only
• Reporting access, plus campaign setup
• Reporting access, plus campaign setup and deployment

Workflow Tags: Campaigns have names (e.g., “New Visitors Navigation Test”), but they should also utilize tags that indicate where, in the company’s own unique workflow, that campaign is. For example, if a campaign has been configured, but is awaiting your manager’s approval before being deployed, you can tag it with “Waiting for {Name}’s Review” to streamline the process further.

An Orderly Transition to Democracy

As a student of government, you become fond of reading political cartoons. One in particular still resonates with me today. It showed soldiers boarding a cargo jet and was captioned, “We Must Be Going to War. We Don’t Have Enough Firepower for Peacekeeping.”

It’s a reminder that the transition toward democracy, be it in government or website optimization, isn’t always easy. Recognize, though, that it doesn’t need to be difficult.

By putting in place a few simple rules, detailing roles and responsibilities, as well as a way to manage review processes, you’ll be primed for a smooth transition. As a reward, you’ll enjoy an optimization program that truly advances your business, rather than one that’s held back by it.