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Assessing Your Existing Content

How many times have you visited a website and noticed the content was outdated? Most likely, your immediate reaction is to leave that site—never to return again—because it’s irrelevant to your wants and needs. UB’s Digital Communications Transformation (DCT) initiative seeks to eliminate this kind of reaction to UB webpages by making sure content is current and has a purpose. So how do you get there? The answer: auditing what’s already on your website and evaluating it to make sure it’s working toward your goals.

The Content Audit: One of Your Most Important Steps

Carefully and thoughtfully analyzing the content on your current website is among the most important steps in the DCT process. Knowing what is or is not working on your website—and what content simply doesn’t need to be there—will help you gauge the scale of your new website project. In addition, you’ll learn how to streamline your messages and content, leveraging them to their fullest potential.

Think of a content audit as the website version of “cleaning out your closet.” It’s a process for choosing what to keep, what to update and what has to go.

  • By navigating this process with your department, you’ll build consensus on what changes should be made to your content, with clear reasons for why these changes are needed.
  • You’ll gain an understanding of what content should be incorporated into your revamped website.

You may ask, why is it important to analyze your existing website’s content? Remember, if visitors to your site don’t find relevant information, or see that it hasn’t been updated in some time, they form a negative view of your site and your organization. The consequences are far-ranging, from losing prospective students or faculty and staff members, to missing out on a golden opportunity to attract funding for research.

From Research to Results

The analysis will take time, but it helps ensure that the content of your new website reflects the core messages your department is trying to convey. You don’t want to simply import everything from your existing website to your new one.

Performing a content audit and analysis isn’t for everyone. That’s why it’s important to employ the services of department members who both have the skills and understand the value of steps to be taken as you navigate the process.

A content audit may seem daunting, but your department and the people who visit your site will benefit from the results.

Creating Content with Purpose

The content audit gives your department an opportunity to review other materials you may want to incorporate into your new website. Some examples might include a student-made video on what it means to be a major in your department, or a brochure developed by a faculty member that best describes who the department serves, or your overarching purpose as educators.

The information gathered during content audit and analysis will help establish an orderly, logical transition to your revamped site by eliminating unnecessary content and strengthening what already works.

It also will ensure that content on your new website will have a clear purpose—that every word is helping your department achieve the desired objectives through the revamped site.

These are just some of the important questions you’ll be asked to consider:

  • Is there a clear description of the webpage’s purpose? If not, this should be a red flag.
  • Is your page useful and relevant? Does it support your business strategy and your visitors’ needs?
  • Is there information that can be merged with another page?
  • Is it written for your users?
  • Are the site’s graphics, photos or videos of good quality, and do they communicate the right message?

Time Well Spent

Unfortunately, there isn’t a program that can complete a content audit and analysis for you. The process takes time and attention to detail. The end result is definitely worth the time spent, however.

Your diligence in doing a content audit will go a long way toward helping your department effectively and efficiently reach the users you’re targeting. More importantly, it will ensure that they continue to visit your new website, building a mutually beneficial relationship.

Next Step:

Related Online Training

Content Audit Template

Download this helpful Content Audit Template available in Excel format. If you choose to perform the audit in a different format, refer to the "What to Document" section.

Content Audit Samples

Tips

  • Take the "Writing for the Web" training prior to your content audit
  • Have multiple people take a pass at the audit (maybe a person who understands customer needs, or someone who has an eye for messaging and writing for the Web)

Helpful Handout

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