Content Audits: Building a Strong Foundation for your Website Redesign

  • by Ryan Phillips
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At SW Creatives, we often compare the design process to building a house. Before you build, you have to plan. The start of any well-laid plan includes surveying the land and getting a sense of what you have to work with. The same goes for a website. Before any commitments are made to content or design, a content audit needs to be conducted.

A content audit is nothing more than than taking inventory of your website, listing each web page or piece of content you are responsible for. This first step is critical and can be surprisingly revelatory. You may even spot relationships or redundancies you never noticed before. In fact, while I was creating a sample content audit for this post, I noticed a section of our website we need to update! Ultimately, you will gain a better understanding of your website’s content.

A content audit is usually done in a spreadsheet because they are ideal for managing lots of information. A basic content should include the following:

  • Page ID: This is a numbering system that displays the hierarchy or relationship between the pages of your website (starting with 0.0 for the home page)
  • Page Name: The page title or name of page as it appears in the navigation
  • URL: Display the page link so anyone can refer back to the source easily
  • Content Description: Basic description or brief reminder of what each page contains.
Page ID Page Name URL Content Description
0.0 Home Page www.swcreatives.com Introductory page. Contains feature projects, white paper, recent blog posts and newsletter article, and search function.
1.0 Who We Are http://swcreatives.com/dc-design-firm General info about company. Includes associations, certifications, vision, mission and philosophy statements. Sidebar includes contact link and twitter feed.
1.1 Meet the Team http://swcreatives.com/dc-design-firm/team List of team members (each links to longer article)
1.2 Giving Back http://swcreatives.com/dc-design-firm/giving-back Message from Shala on SWC's role in service, including Compassion Int'l and Nonprofit Roundtable. Sidebar includes contact link and Compassion Int'l ad.
2.0 What We Do http://swcreatives.com/services List of company services, includes white paper. Sidebar includes newsletter articles and signup form.

Ideally, a content audit should not only include a listing of all your content but also an analysis for accuracy, consistency, and relevance. When conducting a more complex audit that includes this qualitative analysis, you may also include:

  • Content Owner: Who wrote the content? Noting who owns the page content identifies whether content is internal or external, and ultimately who has the authority to edit or control it.
  • Content Type: Is this a basic page, news story, article, resource, FAQ, or something else?
  • Content Format: Is the content comprised of basic text, audio, video, or images?
  • Primary Purpose: What is the content for? Is it to inform, collect data, sign up members, rsvp for events, get donations, or something else?
  • Primary Audience: Who is the content for? This helps make sure the tone and voice of your content is appropriate and consistent.
  • Content Quality: Is the content worthwhile or up-to-date? You may want to mark these “ROT” which stands for Redundant, Outdated, or Trivial. These items are good candidates for elimination or a major overhaul.

This list isn’t definitive. Don’t be afraid to add other categories or labels that may be useful to your organization. The point of the content audit is to help you.

I won’t sugarcoat it. Conducting a content audit is tedious and time consuming. But the process is worth it and pays in spades. Your team will be able to return to the content audit again and again throughout the design process and managing your website’s content will be easier. Everyone involved in the design process will gain the insight needed to make informed design decisions and lay the foundation to a successful website.

What are you waiting for? Download our sample content audit spreadsheet to help you on your way!

Content Audit Spreadsheet Content Audit Spreadsheet (3 KB)