To plan your content audit, focus on the extent to which each website or application is still fulfilling its purpose.
Define your purpose
Websites can change over time or get overtaken by similar websites under the same policy. The audit will help you discover whether your website is still doing what it was intended to do.
Questions to ask:
- Has the original purpose changed?
- If the purpose has changed, is it confusing for people visiting the site to find what they need?
- If people are no longer coming to that website, should it be retired?
Articulate a goal
You might be doing the audit because of external factors, such as a machinery-of-government change. If so, some tasks will have a higher priority than others.
In this case you might be thinking about:
- tweaking the information architecture
- retiring a website or websites
- trying to understand what content you have overall so that you can work out how much to delete, archive, update or improve
Decide on audit scope and type
To decide on the scope and type of your content audit, you'll need to consider:
- the budget
- the resources you will need
- the available time frame
- the actions you want to take after the audit
3 types of content audit
- full audit — all content items on your website including pages and other items like downloadable files or videos
- partial audit (for example, the past 6 months of content, or content about a certain topic)
- sample audit — examples of content from across the website
A sample audit is the best option if your website has large amounts of content and you have limited time and resources.
There is no magic number for sampling. Choose enough content to represent the broader picture of your website. Include a balance of content types, user groups and ideally enough content to show emerging patterns. Start by auditing pages with high-traffic, high-profile sections, or pages that haven’t been updated recently.
You can scale back an audit, but still be methodical in your approach. If you are short of time and resources, the most useful method is to audit a sample of your website.
Think about timings
Generally, content auditing and analysis is time-consuming. However, it will save time in the long term to know what content you have and how best to manage and improve it.
The time frame for your content audit will depend on the type of audit, as well as your budget and resources. Full audits across big digital estates can take 6 months or longer. Sample audits on a smaller website can be done in a week.
If you choose to reduce the scope of the audit, you can strategically choose areas to focus on.
A few quick wins will help you to build momentum and motivation. You might focus on:
- news items you published 4 years ago that you can retire easily
- broken links that you can fix
- working with content owners and approvers who you have good relationships with — and who may give quick approval for content to be retired
Changes with the highest impact
To make high-impact changes you might focus on auditing content that has:
- the highest number of page views and the poorest readability
- more than a certain number of page views (for example, all pages that had over 1000 views in the past 12 months)
- been published in the last year