After my last post, a reader asked for more information and instruction on creating a content inventory. What a great idea for a follow-up post! Maintaining an up-to-date listing of all content on your site will help your web team make decisions about adding new content and removing or updating outdated content to keep your web site fresh and entice users to come back. Also, content inventories are essential for any web site redesign to ensure the new site structure accommodates all types of content you’re looking to include. So, how do you make one?
- Start with a blank Excel spreadsheet using the following column headers. Over time, you can add columns and information to your inventory as needed – things like “Notes”, “Date updated”, “Due date”, etc. – but these columns represent the basic information you’ll need to get started.
- Page ID – Use a numbering system here for reference and to indicate hierarchy of each page.
- Title – This is the title of each page as represented in the navigation.
- URL – Include a link to each page for quick access.
- Owner – Identifty the person in your organization responsible for creation and maintenance.
- Populate the spreadsheet with your sitemap, starting with the highest level pages first, then working your way down to the detailed pages that may not be accessible from the navigation. I typically start on the homepage and then click all of the links in the navigation, documenting each as I go. Then, I’ll revisit each page, adding in rows for pages that are linked from there. Now, depending on the size of your web site, this may be a really tedious process but doing it manually is the most accurate approach. Also, even though the process may take a while, it’s a great way to take stock of all the information on your site. Take the opportunity to identify content that needs to be taken down or updated. There are a few site crawler tools that can generate a list of links on your site (GSiteCrawler is one we’ve used) but they are quite clunky and you’ll still need to organize the links in a hierarchical order once you have the list. These tools are helpful to extract links for each page, especially for sites with large news or press sections, to ensure that all content is represented on your inventory.
- Keep your list updated! Once you’ve completed your inventory, keep a copy on a shared drive so authors can update it as they add new content. It’s also a great tool to reference when developing an editorial calendar and, as I mentioned, is crucial for a redesign.
Below is an example of a content inventory for convio.com where we’ve completed a few lines. Hopefully these guidelines will have you on your way to developing an inventory of your own. Feel free to post questions or ideas in the comments.
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