Self-Directed Content Assessment
No matter how old or how new your site is, you should always consider ways to make your content the best it can be. Your focus changes, your organization changes, and your site is uniquely able to reflect those changes and adaptations.
Content is a universal equalizer – it’s one of the challenges that every website owner tackles, no matter who they are!
Content assessment isn’t difficult
You can do this yourself and it’s a good place to start even if you’re going to hire out for content creation. It’s never a bad idea to intimately know your website content, and while it takes time, it’s very achievable.
For this, we’ll disregard blog posts and general news, and focus on the main content areas of your site. A web inventory is a helpful tool when you’re considering content.
- page title
- menu location
- Date of last update (if you can find it!)
- list of assets on the page (photos / pdfs / etc)
- Single sentence on what’s on the page
- Single sentence about why the page exists
- And a final column to tell you what to do with the content – leave as-is, update, or delete
What you’ll learn is what content you have, what to leave as-is, what to revise, what content you should merge or separate, and what content you can remove from the site entirely.
You’ll also have a chance to assess the tone and examine the writing on your site. It should have a consistent voice and it should be written to appeal to your target audience.
You can even make a copy of our sample spreadsheet if you want.
Now that you’ve looked through your site, you can use the spreadsheet whenever you need to do an assessment and to schedule updating the site one section at a time.
Add a designated event to your calendar to work on one section of your website each week. It need not be too tedious. Writing for the web favors short sentences, small paragraphs, and lots of headings!
A good reference is available at http://www.usability.gov/how-to-and-tools/methods/writing-for-the-web.html.
In addition, if you haven’t done it, this is an excellent time to work on content-relative SEO by making sure your pages are information-rich, title tags are filled out, and the content of your website is written clearly. (Be sure your website text isn’t overly repetitive – packing keywords on a page will not give you better SEO — only worse copy!)
Also, while you’re at it, check all your images for titles and be sure your ALT tags are filled out with accurate descriptions of the images, since this is how people with assistive devices will be encountering those images.
It’s worth the time it takes
Your website should convey the core messages of your organization and contain relevant information for your audience. If visitors don’t find appropriate information (or if the content on your site is static, old, or—worst of all— inaccurate) it harms your credibility and frustrates people who are looking to your site for information.
When you’re done, your site will be organized, you’ll have just the right information for your visitors.