When we redesign an existing website, the first step is a thorough content audit. The premise is, you have to know what content you have in order to make good decisions about what to do with it. Some content may be migrated to the new site as is. Some will need to be revised. Some can be eliminated. New content may need to be written to fill gaps.
Let’s be honest, though: Content audits are a pain. They are labor-intensive and can be time-consuming, especially for very large sites. (For ideas for auditing large sites without losing your mind or blowing your schedule, see this post from Brain Traffic’s blog: http://blog.braintraffic.com/2012/04/auditing-big-sites-doesn%E2%80%99t-have-to-be-taxing/.)
Staring down a content audit spreadsheet, clients sometimes ask, “Do we really have to do this?”
Dear clients, Yes. We really need to audit your content. To convince you, I’ve put together a list of reasons, collected from various projects over the years.
You need to audit your content because:
- Not even you know what’s on your site.
- There’s a page on your website that refers to something that happened in 2006 as though it’s in the future.
- There are files that are not linked anywhere in your navigation but are showing up in search.
- There are three versions of one page, living in different areas of the site, all out of date.
- There are way too many PDFs. You need to identify them so you can get rid of them or repurpose them as HTML content.
- There’s a “dummy” page on your site that was never supposed to be published. It contains a picture of a cartoon character. It has been up for five years. (True story.)
- There are broken links pointing to content that no longer exists.
- Some of your content doesn’t have an “owner.” You need to identify it and assign responsibility.
In short, your site reminds me of the reality show Hoarders. If the site were a house, we’d soon be uncovering the mouse skeletons.
So, take a deep breath, and audit that content. Your website will be better off.
Photo credit: Killer House by Tim Arkham, Flickr Commons