Throughout my career, I’ve generally understood the value of doing (or having) a content audit as an input into a website redesign. A content audit is an assessment of a website’s content from both a quantitative perspective (i.e., “How much content is there?”) and a qualitative one (i.e., “Is the content any good?”). But what’s not often discussed or understood about content audits are the significant benefits they yield beyond the basic assessment of content quantity and quality.

On a recent project I worked on, the content audit was crucial to facilitating strategic conversations about design direction. These conversations would have been much more difficult without having completed the content audit. We used the audit in several ways, each instrumental in guiding the effort:

  1. Reveal the true scale of the website’s content (there was less than we thought).
  2. Clarify and refine the project scope (it took on a different focus than we had expected).
  3. Facilitate strategic discussions about design objectives and direction (which were different from what our stakeholders had imagined).
  4. Establish a common language for the team to use throughout the project (which was more complicated than we had anticipated).

I’ll use this project as a framework to highlight how to effectively approach and use content audits in the context of a website redesign project.

The Project

The task was daunting: to reinvigorate and make newly relevant a dusty old employee intranet that had been an unregulated content dumping ground for almost ten years. Ongoing neglect had wreaked havoc, and the website’s users had simply stopped using it.

The problems were clear:

  • Employees couldn’t find the information they needed.
  • The information they did find was out of date or irrelevant.
  • Content was categorized, structured, and displayed inconsistently.
  • Employees went elsewhere to get what they needed.

The Process

A content audit typically starts with a page-by-page cataloging (or “inventory”) of a website’s content. This can be a painstaking and time-consuming process depending upon how much content is on the website. Many designers I’ve worked with grudgingly admit the value of this activity, but it’s deprioritized because it’s perceived as requiring a large time investment relative to its value. And in many ways this perception is right. An inventory of a website’s content on a spreadsheet is just raw data. It doesn’t tell you much about the content other than what’s there. The hard work and, ultimately, the payoff rest firmly on finding the nuggets of wisdom embedded in the raw data.

We can do that by using the content audit as a platform for facilitating often-difficult conversations with stakeholders about the purpose of the site, the priorities of users, and the operational constraints and opportunities.

There are many ways to break down and analyze a website’s content to facilitate these discussions and inform design decisions. What follows are the areas that I’ve found to be most effective in the context of a website redesign:

Identify and document content volume and types

At the start of any redesign, there are often wild exaggerations of how much content has to be dealt with. These opinions tend to feed anxieties and overwhelm, and are often why the prospect of completing content audits are too quickly dismissed. Having data on how much content is actually there gives everyone on the team a real number to objectively consider and plan around.

Volume

On the intranet project, we realized immediately that the numbers were grossly overestimated. The site was big, but not as big as everyone thought it was. Over 60% of the “pages” were, in fact, PDF or Microsoft Office files, many of which were duplicative of existing HTML pages. This revelation helped clarify the scope of what we were dealing with.

Once we’d sorted and tallied the content of the website, the next step was to use it to facilitate discussions about the future plans for content:

  • Is all of this content still relevant? What business, customer, or employee need does it support?
  • What new content must be created in the coming months? What’s driving those needs?
  • What drove decisions about file types and/or variations in format that exist? Do these decisions still hold?
Identify and document the current content structure

There’s always some sort of structure, even on poorly designed websites. Creating visual illustrations of these structures and their organizing principles often reveals problems or oddities that can help inform the direction of the design solution.

Structure

On the intranet project, we discovered that the organization of content was ill-conceived and not accommodating of operational realities. For example, there were nine content areas, however, over 50% of the content was in just one of those areas. This lopsided distribution created too many layers of navigation and contributed to poor content discovery and recall.

Once you have a visual depiction of how the current content is structured and organized, you can use this to facilitate the following discussions:

  • Why was content organized in this fashion? What drove some of these early decisions?
  • What information has been difficult to classify and organize within this framework?
  • What are the most important content types relative to business objectives?
  • What have people told you about how the content is currently organized?
Assess whether the content is being used

Having a content inventory (including production URLs) gives you a map and reference point for site analytics. While these reports can sometimes be misinterpreted, they do give high-level insight into how the current site is or isn’t being used, and what content is sought most often.

Traffic

On the intranet project, we used these reports to enhance findings from user interviews. For example, users did not express a desire to understand organizational hierarchy or reporting structures, yet views and downloads of organizational charts were high. These are important realizations for design.

This data can be used to have frank discussions about what is and isn’t needed on the site.

  • What content is rarely used? Is there something definitive that can be deduced from this?
  • What does the popularity of certain content say about how people are using this site? Can that content be extended and improved upon to give them even more?
  • How can the design be structured to facilitate access to known important information?
  • Are there ways of revealing the relevance of content that’s not currently being used?
Document inconsistent content presentation

A common problem with neglected or poorly managed sites is the level of inconsistency in content design and presentation. Taking screenshots of a wide-range of pages and presentation types during your audit is a great way to capture inconsistencies and identify opportunities for consolidation.

On the intranet project, we showed a large array screenshots and then illustrated how the content structure could be normalized at the presentation level, eliminating inconsistencies and unnecessary variations. We did this by identifying common content attributes even though the content displays were wildly different.

Spending the time to capture and annotate screenshots early on is essential for productive discussions about operational realities and future design direction. Use these artifacts to answer:

  • Is there a reason similar content is presented differently? Sometimes this is for legitimate business reasons, such as aligning with offline collateral.
  • Where have efforts to consolidate gone awry? What’s driving these inconsistencies beyond just lack of awareness?

The Results

In the intranet project, this process uncovered many insights that led directly to design decisions, most notably:

An acute awareness of priorities

Knowing what content is on the site and why, and what is actually being used, is essential to understanding priorities. The audit facilitated conversations and shaped questions about content usefulness and utility that otherwise would not have been as fruitful or revealing.

Business and operational constraints

Business and operational constraints are often revealed through the auditing process. In this project, there were clearly operational constraints that would limit what we could propose with any design solution. For example, while the stakeholders liked the concept of a fresh, news-oriented homepage, they simply didn’t have the bandwidth to support regular updates. Assessments and follow-up discussions revealed these constraints more clearly than would have been the case had we not undertaken the audit. And these discussions shaped how we approached the design, ensuring that whatever we recommended didn’t conflict with operational realities.

A common language

Audits can reveal organization-specific language and terminology that is unfamiliar to those outside of the organization. In this project, the content was cryptic in many ways, so the audit helped us decode the content and establish a shared understanding of concepts. As a result, design reviews were less abstract, and aligned more closely with how the internal teams thought and talked about content. Additionally, we were able to reuse existing content in our prototypes to reveal structural decisions and, where necessary, write representative copy to serve as a guidepost for future content development efforts.

A true sense of scale

The site was definitely big, but not in the way everyone or we thought it was. We gained a more nuanced view of the content, coming to understand that we weren’t talking about a 10,000-page site. This substantially changed how we thought about the design and the number of page and content-type design variations we actually needed to accommodate. This realization also brought a healthy level of objectivity to the conversations and removed a lot of anxieties driven (mostly) by uncertainties.


If approached correctly, content audits are an exceptionally powerful tool. Beyond the basic assessment of a website’s content quantity and quality, they help designers understand an information space, facilitate strategic conversations, and uncover substantive insights that directly influence design direction and strategy. In short, we increase our likelihood of redesign success by approaching audits with these broader goals in mind.

Add new comment

Comments

Granted, that prospect has to be similar to Blake Rutherford where the player is in a place of comfortable organizational depth.118 average, and besides a mostly new bullpen from when they started the year, why the White Sox have only won one game since Moncada’s call-up.Smith is attempting just under eight three pointers a game, an amount smaller than only one other player in the league, you guessed it, Steph Curry.
[url=http://hospital.newerawebtech.com/home.asp?p_id=2014-air-max-mens]2014 air max mens[/url]
[url=http://www.ebanobrasil.com/running.php?p_id=air-max-2017-2007]air max 2017 2007[/url]

He’s coming in on short notice into a notoriously complicated offense.Their best finish was 4th in the nation back in 2007; they finished 5th in 2005 as well.
Gonzalez made the defensive and decisive play of the game when he threw a 97.

, Jon Edwards, Tyson Ross, Robbie Erlin, Alexi Amarista and Cory Spangenberg– things can only get better when any of those players come back.Those numbers demonstrate that Austin has the potential to put up solid statistics??as an everyday player.season??and try to figure out what happened and where does this team go from here.
[url=http://www.doctorsaab.asia/sell.asp?p_id=nike-airmax-2011]nike airmax 2011[/url]
[url=http://www.facturatodo.com/home.asp?p_id=all-black-air-max-95-sneakers]all black air max 95 sneakers[/url]

The QB competition seems to be neck and neck, and both guys appear to have comparable talent/upside.Iowa HawkeyesIowa has pretty much done exactly what you would’ve thought they’d do this season.
Perhaps he saw the Dennis Rodman’s, Antonio McDyess’s, and Tracy McGrady’s of the .

al sports, Fultz is looking more and more like another Philly project poised to gradually implode from the inside out.For a player like Gerrit Cole or Michael Fulmer, Frazier alone will not be good enough to complete the trade.However, before Castro hit the DL, the Yankees’ offense was a little bit better.
[url=http://www.saade-agricole.com/web/news.asp?p_id=paul-rodriguez-kids]paul rodriguez kids[/url]
[url=http://www.vitazfood.com/news.asp?p_id=air-force-1-mid-nike]air force 1 mid nike[/url]

At worst, at 33 years old, his playing career might have ended Thursday night.ges baffled Purdue, and as long as they’re not getting stagnant, and keeping the pressure up, they’ll, at least, make Iowa State work their tails off to get buckets.
It’s never fun to give a lending hand to your biggest competition in the conference.

Lillard took his chance to remove any doubt anyone had that he was a franchise player.Last season, the players seemed to quit trying around the All-Star break in rebellion against coach Brian Shaw.“Numbers-wise, you never know what to expect,” Hinch said in that same interview.
[url=http://www.watsun.com.pk/sell.asp?p_id=adidas-eqt-mens-Green]adidas eqt mens Green[/url]
[url=http://www.kapplab.com/shop.asp?p_id=adidas-sandals-online]adidas sandals online[/url]

Farrell’s foot would be true this time, and the lead extended to 12-0.Artie Burns, making his first NFL start, took a shallow angle covering the slant.
Other former Twins, including Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins, and Michael Cuddyer hold this title.

With his lone blemish being a solo shot he allowed to Mariners All-Star second baseman Robinson Cano in the sixth.His shooting off the catch is the most relevant number here as the Wolves will primarily run an offe.Bogaerts is an excellent base runner, despite having average speed for a SS (27.
[url=http://www.mrmattmurphy.com/v2/atav.asp?p_id=2014-kyrie-irving-shoes]2014 kyrie irving shoes[/url]
[url=http://ansariflash.avocetdata.net/home.asp?p_id=nike-kd-10-kids-2017]nike kd 10 kids 2017[/url]

The Kings fought back with a try from their star man from last week, Luzuko Vulindlu, and narrowed the scores before Godlen Masimla dove over to give them a 14-12 lead.Keep in mind Jeffery posted 1,421 receiving yards and 7 TDs in 2013, and followed that up with 1,133 yards and 10 TDs in 2014.
The Tigers will probably be projected to finish last in the AL Central next season.

During the offseason, the Chicago White Sox traded away several veteran players or let them walk in .ed enough unneeded attention this year that there might be enough merit for Lakers management to fire him in the offseason.As far too often last season the starting unit would dominate games only to watch the bench unit come in and sacrifice big leads.
[url=http://pramayenterprises.com/swe.asp?p_id=nike-zoom-hyperrev]nike zoom hyperrev[/url]
[url=http://pramayenterprises.com/swe.asp?p_id=nike-pg-2-kids-for-sale]nike pg 2 kids for sale[/url]

It’ll be a big swan song for the senior trio of Reggie Johnson, Quinton Chievous, and Brian Darden, who have been the cornerstone of this team.The ones they have brought in are not enough to build a team around because of their limited future with the club.
The 32-year-old right-hander, an 11-year major league veteran, has a 4.

However, Salvador Perez has normally won that vote in recent years.He made seven straight threes before finally missing.Congratulations, David, for being selected in the 1st round, #20 to the New York Mets.
[url=http://pramayenterprises.com/swe.asp?p_id=all-red-retro-11]all red retro 11[/url]
[url=http://pramayenterprises.com/swe.asp?p_id=michael-jordan-sweatshirt]michael jordan sweatshirt[/url]

The admirable defense of the Eagles was not enough to stop some slick passing from their opponents a.Unfortunately, his short stint with the Gophers did not last long.
Hicks is having his best season in his young career.

With their magic number to clinch a playoff spot sitting at four, the assumption should be that the Yankees will be in the Wild Card game.But the Twins will have to pitch well against these teams to give the offense a chance to do some damage.oing some color commentary for Channel 4 in San Diego and eventually Fox Sports San Diego.
[url=http://www.4designlearn.com/home.asp?p_id=jordan-westbrook-1]jordan westbrook 1[/url]
[url=http://www.4designlearn.com/home.asp?p_id=lebron-release-dates]lebron release dates[/url]

pit the two best teams in the conference, and maybe even the league, against each other.Reviewed for goaltender interference, the call remained a good goal adding to Colorado’s lead.
Toronto Blue Jays Need To Trade For Sonny Gray - The Runner Sports.