A proper website redesign or content management system’s restructuring project starts with a comprehensive content audit. Creating an inventory requires profound understanding, especially about the target audience and the expected outcome. Before you start working on your content inventory, it is important to understand the following factors.
Understand Your Audience
What is the purpose of your cataloging activity? Who is going to use the information you are gathering and how will it influence decisions based on the data like number of pages, images, videos, interactive features like forms and logins, among others. Will the content inventory be followed by a comprehensive content audit to convince your company’s management that indeed the content meets the business needs or the website is in dire need of a complete overhaul? If this is the case, then you need to pay more attention to the content’s scope especially the structuring on how content pieces relate with each other.
What Is the Objective?
Understanding the inventorying objective is very important. Are you an information architect trying to understand the overall content structure, grouping and classification, number of interaction models or templates? Do you have content buried in fourth-level pages that can only be navigated through a text link? If this is the case, you sure will want to start by viewing the file organized into a sitemap showing navigational models and your site’s hierarchy and search for discrepancies and patterns.
On the other hand, if you are a content strategist, is inventorying meant to prepare you for a content audit? Other than the website’s structure, you sure will want to assess various types of content, their numbers and types. Do you find the website rich with marketing copy but very little informational content? You sure will want to understand the publishing process; who creates, uploads and manages content and if there is need for migration. Base your decisions on the messaging, consistency, clarity and other qualitative content aspects.
For site managers, they may just want to understand the website’s performance, find out if there are any orphaned pages, duplicate or outdated content or some broken links. If you are preparing for content migration, you need to carefully identify what needs to be migrated and what shouldn’t. You sure will want to map the inventory against SEO guidelines and Google analytics.
What Is Your Timeline?
What is the long-term plan for the content inventory data? For migration, you may need at least one year based on the content size. During this period, what changes do you expect from the content? Do you really have to carry out a page-by-page audit or a general catalogue will be just fine? Most of these decisions will also be determined by the type of website. E-commerce sites change more often, and the databases drive the content and therefore there is no need to capture all the URLs because they are likely to change and your scoping efforts will be skewed if you choose to count each product page as an independent page to migrate and create.
Understanding your goals will go a long way in ensuring that you capture the right kind of information and enable you use the information appropriately. Cataloging is just a step to the right direction, but it is important that you invest more time analyzing the data, which can be done with the help of DYNO Mapper content inventory tools.