Websites are living things. They differ from printed publications in that they are never packaged up and never complete. The purpose and objectives of an organsiation need to adapt to the changing needs of their audience and these changes have an impact on the content that is developed and delivered over time.
The problem is that content is often added with little consideration of how the content is arranged within the structure or even if the structure needs to change to adapt to these additions. Organisations rarely plan for the review or removal of unnecessary or outdated content and so, as more and more content is added, these websites become bloated with thousands of pages, media items and out of date content impeding navigation through the site and preventing nonprofit orgaisations from delivering on their goals.
Maybe you need a content audit
A content audit is a qualitative assessment of a website’s content and is usually preceded by an inventory that catalogs each page on the site using a simple spreadsheet which gathers the data about all the pages and files on the site. A detailed content review provides a broad view of what content exists on the current site and it will help your team determine what information you have, whether it’s relevant, current, and good or bad.
Audits uncover trends and reveal patterns
By delving into your content and analytics you can gain some insight into what users think of your site. Analytics can help direct us by giving an idea about which sections and content they’ve been accessing. In addition, we can see what’s being avoided.
By uncovering these trends, we can start asking questions. Which content is being used? What needs to go? What patterns are developing? Are there types of language or content-types that should be removed or integrated more?
When patterns like this are revealed, we’re able to get a better idea of how we can create a user experience that works by reviewing content as a whole.
Decide what you have and what needs to go
Displaying too much information may confuse users and make relevant information harder to find. Allow users to remain focused on the desired task by excluding information that is not relevant to their current task or your site goals. Refer back to your user needs, the tasks that brought them to the website and your own website goals. Remove any content that is irrelevant.
Look for any content that is replicated elsewhere in the website. Can this be removed or assimilated into a single page. Do different audiences have the same information needs? Can these be assimilated into a single page or series of pages?
Is there anything missing?
Content reviews should be conducted within the context of a clear understanding of your audience and the reason they have come to your site.
When reviewing content ask yourself if you are providing content that answers the questions that brought them to the site. Could additional content make it easier them to complete these tasks? What additional content might help us to meet our own online goals.
Measuring content against the needs of your audience and the tasks they want to complete can often lead to a realisation that there is missing information that is preventing people from progressing through a site.
How good is the content?
When considering whether content needs to be revised remember to think about the end user. Does the content use jargon or organisational terms that external readers may not understand? Has the content become outdated? Is it necessary? What purpose does it serve and how does it fit with business goals?
A review of this type will likely have two parts. An assessment of individual content pages and a broader assessment looking at the content as a whole.
Particularly on larger sites the content is likely to be owned by different individuals who have the knowledge and experience of the content and the services and audiences they relate to. These individuals are best placed to review the content, however there also needs to be someone to assess the content as a whole to ensure that there is consistency across the site and that broader and aims and objectives of the site are being met.
Reviewing the content without this type of broad over reaching asssessment will mean that you will be unable to determine how content across the site connects and whether tasks
Is it useful?
- Does the content meet user needs, goals, and interests?
- Does the content meet business goals?
- For how long will the content be useful? When should it expire? Has its usefulness already expired?
Is the content timely and relevant?
Is it accurate?
- Is the content correct?
- Is the content understandable to customers?
- Is the content organized logically & coherently?
- Does the content contain factual errors, typos, or grammatical errors?
- Do images, video, and audio meet technical standards, so they are clear?
Is is complete?
- Does the content include all of the information visitors need or might want complete a task?
- Does the content include too much or too little information?
Is it engaging?
- Do people like your content? Use Google Analytics to find out how long visitors are staying on information pages?
- Do we clearly highlight our outcomes and achievements?
- Are we clearly and powerfully presenting the problems that the organisation is seeking to address?
- Are we clearly communicating how they can get involved, take action or respond as we want them to?
- Do we give clear reasons for them to do so?
- Could visual content be used to improve understanding and engagement?
- Are headings engaging? Are they easy to share with Twitter?
- Does the opening paragraph communicate the breadth of the page? This will make more engaging pages and make it easier to share on Facebook.
Is it effective?
- Is information presented in a simple, natural and logical order?
- Is the content easy to scan or read?
- Is the content in a usable format, including headings, bulleted lists, tables, white space, or similar techniques, as appropriate to the content?
- Does the content follow search engine optimization (SEO) guidelines—such as using keywords—without sacrificing quality in other areas?
- Are there opportunities to add internal links within content to related information?