Content audits can be a big fat pain in the bum or a wonderful chance to engage your colleagues, clean up, refine and make your website more useful. Here are our tips for getting it right.
If you are preparing to migrate old content to a new website, or just need to take a good look at what your current content is really saying, a web content audit, where every page is editorially assessed, is the first step of the process. While an outsider’s assessment can be useful, ideally this task should be first tackled by the people who know the content best: your time-poor, very busy colleagues who will need a bit of guidance.
Mobilise the troops: Web content belongs to everyone in your organisation and getting key people to take ownership of certain sections is part of your success. Identify content champions and invite them to a group briefing where they are taken through your preferred process and given the chance to ask questions, finesse the process and flag any obstacles. This also gives you a chance to sell the benefits that a good clean up can bring and articulate your thinking.
Demonstrate a review: Working to a checklist that gets shared with the group, demonstrate what auditing a section actually looks like. Create a list of questions they need to answer. Is the information up-to-date or out dated? What is each page’s key purpose and does the content reflect that? Is the copy written to be accessible? Could the content be merged with another page/section? Is there any information missing? You should tailor the questions to meet your overall purpose and the objectives of your audit which should also be reflected in your web content strategy.
Invest in web writing training: Running a tailored web writing session that focuses on your organisation’s content is a fast way to get everyone on the same page. They will also pick up important content assessment skills which will help them make better decisions about their audit. One of the great things about these sessions is that they bring people together who typically would be chipping away at their own sections of the site without consulting each other. This creates an opportunity for dialogue, shared problem solving and content continuity.
Keep checking in: Content auditing can be pretty intense and even a little mundane. And if your website is like many current websites, it can be a bit of a Pandora’s Box. The bad stuff will leap out first (‘yes, we need to keep this section but this needs to be added, so we need to speak to A, B and C who will then have to liaise with D, E and F.’ And so on.) But if you hang in there and persevere, hope emerges too. As the person running the audit, your role is to help people spot their options and make the best decisions for the greater good of the site – and your target audience.