Staring down a new website overhaul can be both exhilarating and exhausting. You’re excited about new features, a new look, and a more refined presentation of your brand and products. But more than likely the content isn’t quite right, so where to start?
As difficult as it is to table all the fun design brainstorming, it’s far more cost-effective to prepare your content first. And the first step of that work is to take a content inventory of what's currently on your site and what you need for the new one.
What is a website content inventory?
At its core, a website content inventory is a list of all the available content assets on your website. This includes topic pages, product pages, blog posts, pdfs, landing pages, thank you pages, etc.
The inventory often leads directly to a content audit, when you gauge the performance of content pieces and make decisions about future content creation.
Why you should conduct a content inventory before diving into a web project
Think of your website as a home for your brand. You wouldn’t start building a new house (or shopping for a new one) without assessing what your current house is - and isn’t - providing.
Does the homepage make a clear case for your brand promise? Are your product pages designed to boost engagement? Are you showcasing services that you no longer offer?
How it can save a lot of money and time in design/redesign cycles
Planning ahead is always more efficient than planning behind. Imagine you’re building a home (again with the housing references).
You could hire a contractor and start putting up walls here, a window there, then realize a second story would be worthwhile. Or you could work with an architect to map out how you use your living space, what you want it to do for you, and break ground with a set of plans.
Even with a well-designed plan, there are things that come up that will modify the schedule and deliverables. But it’s always more expensive to work without a plan, and it takes longer.
How to conduct a website content inventory
Step 1: Define the goals for your new site
It’s no longer enough to have a website that simply showcases your brand, products, and services. Website goals need to be aligned with your top-level objectives so it can play a role in meeting them. Be SMART when setting your goals: Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Repeatable, and Time-bound.
Maybe your top-level objective is to increase leads for your products. Let’s dig in and define that more specifically:
- What products need increased leads?
- Increased by how much?
- What defines a “lead”? Signing up for more information? Starting an application? Requesting a quote?
- When do you need these leads? Is there a promotional period? By next quarter?
Given that, specific metrics (or KPIs) might look like:
- Increase email signups for "product x" information by 20% year over year
- Increase new users to "service y" content by 40% over previous period
Making a list of these goals really helps understand what your new site will need, outlines how you’ll report on the site’s performance, and focuses your website user’s journey to be most effective once you’ve finished the content inventory.
It’s tempting to dive into content inventory without first mapping goals. Having a clear vision can let you see your existing content with fresh eyes and will make for a more focused and frank audit.
Step 2: Inventory your website
There’s no hack to this. It’s simply a matter of sweeping methodically through your site and cataloging and annotating every page.
We’ve put together our own Content Inventory Tool to track technical stuff like URLs and page titles, but also details about the existing content: whether it needs to be refreshed, who it’s targeted to, what calls to action, and more.
Use the column headers in the Content Inventory Tool as guides for the information you’re looking to gather about each page. Feel free to customize the columns to your team’s best use.
The Content Inventory Tool is meant first as a catalog then to spur discussion on what content stays, what goes, and what needs improvement. At this point it starts pulling double duty as a Content Migration resource. More efficiency!
We love pretty websites, but that’s not a SMART goal
In our experience, putting content first makes sites look fantastic AND perform beautifully. Try the content inventory yourself or contact us to take you through it all.