Ready to conduct a content inventory and audit? Wondering just what that entails? An audit can feel like a gargantuan, intimidating chore. But using the right tools, the process of poring over your site page by page will be less tedious than you think.
Why audit my site?
Taking stock of your content is the best way to begin determining the success of your site. Aligning your site’s content with your audience and communication goals is imperative, particular now as more people explore UALR through our website. In that sense, your site could be the front door for current and future students, community partners and businesses, or fellow colleagues. Shouldn’t it be inviting, current, and informative? Also, shouldn’t we value our audiences’ time enough to give them clear navigation, scannable text, and well-written content?
An audit goes beyond just checking for inaccuracies, broken links, and other content missteps, although those are important facets in their own right. A complete content inventory and audit will take time, but it can be an ongoing process. The bigger your site, of course, the longer your audit might take.
How do I get started?
These instructions are for individual sites. If you maintain multiple websites, you’ll want to conduct a single site inventory/audit for each one.
Let’s begin with the foundation, your site inventory. An inventory is a list of all of your sites pages and posts, usually in spreadsheet form. There are a few ways to tackle this – you could go to your WordPress Dashboard and diligently copy/paste all of your Pages. Or you could use a tool such as xml-sitemaps.com that will generate a sitemap list for you (recommended if you have 20 pages or more, which is almost everyone).
If you plan to use XML Sitemap, a free service, here are the steps:
- Visit xml-sitemaps.com and enter your website’s url (http://ualr.edu/________)
- Click on the Start button (you don’t have to do anything with the other fields). The process will take a couple of minutes.
- Once the process is complete, you will be sent to a new page. Skip the part that says you have two steps left (you aren’t building an .xml file). You will want to scroll down to the “Download the Sitemap in Text Format” link, which is in the middle of that list of links. Save your .txt file somewhere handy, because you’ll need it soon.
Now you’ll need a content inventory/audit spreadsheet. Our department has created a Google Spreadsheet that can be copied or downloaded as an .xls or .csv file. (If you stay in Google Drive, don’t use the master document – make a copy for yourself and then share within your department as needed). Get yours now »
This is where the real work begins. Right now, we’re focusing on four big areas: Inventory, governance, evaluation, and next steps. Or, if you’d rather: What you have, who keeps up with it, how good it is, and what’s coming.
If you used XML Sitemap, you’ll want to copy that list of urls and paste them into this spreadsheet in the second column (labeled URL).
Using the links in the second column, you’ll go page by page, documenting the page title, what type of content lives there, who owns the content, how often it’s updated, and so on. The first two sections (inventory and governance) should be straight-forward. The second two (evaluation and next steps) will require a little more thought.
This is the point where you might take a crowdsourced approach for the final sections. If you want, go ahead and complete the first two sections for all of your pages. Once you identify the owner of the page (or assign a page an owner), enlist that person to help evaluate the content and decide next steps.
Some other tips:
- If you download the spreadsheet, you can add a new column called “Section” that you can use to see the organization of your site.
- Rearrange your urls by sections to better see your site’s hierarchy. You can also do this by copy/pasting your page list from WordPress into a spreadsheet, but you will get extra fields you might not want.
- Identify your most important pages and complete all four sections just for those pages.
- Block off enough time and resources (read: people power) for this project. Summer is a great time to assess and plan.