How to Audit Your Website Content for a Redesign
Most websites need a redesign every 2-5 years to keep up with trends and provide a consistently great user experience. A key part of the redesign process is auditing content and assessing what to edit, rewrite, delete, and so on. In this post, we’ll explain what to do before you audit website content and how to handle the process step-by-step.
First, there are a few things you need to know for understanding the greater context.
Website Redesign vs. Content Strategy vs. Theme Skins
Because of different terminology, it’s easy for brands to get a little confused when preparing for a redesign.
Three key terms to be aware of are:
- Redesign – An overhaul of the design language used throughout a site, as well as rethinking the processes behind managing it.
- Content strategy – Where you formulate an organized structure for content that aims to meet stakeholders’ goals (this is our primary area of focus in this post).
- Theme skin – Where you apply a new visual appearance to existing content and page layouts.
Keeping Up with Trends
Like many areas of the digital ecosystem, changes in web design occur regularly. Major design shifts happen about seven years, and smaller shifts happen every few years. This timeline of the last few decades illustrates exactly what we’re talking about.
The “Click Here” Era (Mid 90s to 2000s)
Design and graphics were loud and in your face, like this.
White space (2000s)
The style was toned down where design became more subtle with plenty of space between images in the foreground and the background.
Minimalist (Mid 2000s onward)
Web design took a “less is more” approach (think Apple).
This incorporated design where visuals mimic “their real-world counterparts” (think Instagram’s old logo featuring a camera).
This focused on adjusting design to accommodate different screen sizes and correlated with the rise of mobile devices.
Parallax (2014 – 2018)
Design elements where the background moves slower than the foreground to create a 3D effect.
Material (2014 – today)
Focuses on touch experiences and natural motions.
New Technology and Opportunities for Engagement
The rise of Web 2.0 emphasizes simplicity, usability, and seamlessly exchanging information. New tech allows customers to find and share information with ease and can facilitate deeper customer relationships. Getting on board with it is vital for fully unlocking opportunities with customers and increasing engagement. That’s why it’s essential to take an innovative approach to web design and stay “on the offense” rather than letting your design become stale.
Keeping Up with User Preferences and Expectations
As connectivity grows, customers will expect better experiences. Outdated designs can diminish the customer experience and confidence. Modern designs can add perceived quality to the customer experience.
Why Should You Audit Website Content?
Content, which is information made available by a website or other medium, can make or break the user experience. And there are two main reasons why you would want to audit website content.
First, you need to know what content you have and where it’s located. Understanding “the lay of the land” gives you full transparency of your website content so you can see the big picture. This, in turn, helps you identify what actions you may want to take to optimize the content on your site.
Second, it’s important to understand how your content is performing. Assets like blog posts and landing pages, for example, play a vital role in lead generation and nurturing, while assets like case studies and testimonials help convert leads. If content underperforms, it will likely create leaks in your sales funnel and can hurt your bottom line.
In terms of benefits, here are the top five:
1. Improved Strategy
First, it helps in the future planning of your content to streamline development, management, and consumption. Auditing website content also helps you identify what content may be useful to repurpose and/or resurface.
Note that because content is so integral to your website and the user experience, it’s important to tackle it early in the redesign process. This is actually a common pain point we see for companies during a redesign. Often they’re asked to provide the content for their new or updated site. However, they haven’t started or completed this process, which inevitably creates friction.
2. It Helps Perform Content Inventory
For instance, you can:
- Identify duplicate content
- Identify and resolve inconsistent or outdated content
- Identify relationships and cross-link opportunities
- Identify groups, collections, and affiliations between content
- Identify broken links
3. You Can Get a Lay of the Land
Auditing your website content helps:
- Identify pain points in content management configuration
- Determine content parts of destination pages
- Create a more focused campaign path where you can track key components you’re interested in
4. You Can Better Understand Content Performance
Monitoring user analytics and flow creates a clear picture of effectiveness and pinpoints strengths and weaknesses.
5. It Can Improve Website Performance
You can, for example:
- Increase page load speed
- Track your site’s efficient
- Enhance the user experience
How to Audit Website Content Step-By-Step
For the rest of this post, we’ll discuss the nuts and bolts of the content auditing process and how to streamline it for the best results.
1. Inventory Your Website
Tools like Slickplan can help you do this with ease, and they have a free feature that allows you to auto generate a sitemap like this.
2. Review Google Analytics
This will show how your content has been performing and what interests your visitors the most. With Google Analytics, you can generate a report to identify what pages are performing well and which ones aren’t. In turn, you can determine which content to prioritize and/or repurpose as part of your website redesign project.
If, for example, a large percentage of visitors check out your case studies, this would indicate they’re valuable assets for nurturing leads and would be a primary type of content to focus on. However, if another form of content like overtly sales-oriented blog posts got very little traffic and engagement, it would be something to either edit or scrap.
3. Perform a Content Inventory
At this point, you’ll be ready to conduct an inventory of the content on the pages you plan to migrate or repurpose as part of your redesign. Here you need to decide what gets audited.
Some examples include:
- Page title
- Images, graphics, videos, documents, tools, etc.
- On page text
- Calls-to-action (CTAs)
- Meta titles
To help identify content during the inventory process, we suggest asking the following questions:
- Can an item exist independently and still make sense? If yes, then most likely it’s content.
- Example: An article can stand on its own but can also be imported as other page content, i.e. related posts and recent posts.
- Does an individual item belong to a collection?
- Example: A team member profile page that belongs to the larger collection of team members.
- Does an item have unique information?
- Example: The difference between design elements (hero banner) vs. page content (images, graphics, or videos).
- Example: Company contact info in the footer may not change, which means it won’t be unique from page to page. Is company contact information considered content in itself? No, but contact information is an attribute of the footer content, which may include various pieces of information.
- Does an item have a group or affiliation?
- Example: A staff member that belongs to a “founders” group as well as a “management” group (taxonomies, categories, and tags).
4. Get Guideposts on Content Direction
Here are the two times during the project where you’ll get the most direction on content:
- Discovery/strategy phase. This provides a sense of the direction of the redesign from deliverables like a new sitemap and wireframes. These deliverables can help you better determine which content to prioritize for updating or rewriting.
- Design phase. This overview of what was concepted on a wireframe will translate into how the page actually looks and feels. Some of the design templates may be custom designs, where you’ll need to provide specific content. Once your designs are approved, that’s when you can dive into updating/rewriting/writing new content as you prepare for the build-out of your content.
Working with a Professional Partner
Auditing website content can, admittedly, be difficult. And for companies with minimal experience, the process can seem overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to work with a professional partner that specializes in website redesign services.
At 3.7 Designs, for example, we offer Growth Driven Design where we do a quick redesign and launch it. Then, after we generate data, we iterate the content on your site as part of a retainer which enables us to help you prioritize, collaborate on, and launch content. This can include copywriting and copyediting services.
As part of our website project, we offer content strategy and inventorying services, as well as guidance in preparation for the build-out phase. During the build-out phase prep meeting, we review custom design templates and determine how it fits in with the content that’s needed for a page to get the best results.
To learn more about how we can help audit your website content, reach out to us today.
2 – 5 years is the normal frequency for website redesigns, and content is one of the core elements to focus on. Following the process outlined above should help you analyze and assess your content and make the appropriate changes to get the maximum impact of your redesign.
If you’re looking more more redesign planning resources, read our article on planning a website redesign and our website redesign checklist.