How to conduct a website content audit for your nonprofit
I like to think of a website not like a building that has a set construction end-date, but like a garden that continues to grow and requires constant attention. Often websites don’t get this level of attention of course, which leads to the periodic need to redesign or rebuild. If you reach this point in your organization, think of it as an opportunity to refresh stale or inaccurate content on your site, or simply to document in one place the content you have. The best way to handle this is to perform a website content audit.
Having a good understanding of your current content can be very informative in terms of what you already have in place, what you need to revise and what you need to develop.
Here are six tips to help conduct a website content audit for your nonprofit:
Create a spreadsheet
One of the first steps in performing a content audit is to document all the content you currently have. A good starting point is to create a spreadsheet wherein you list all the sections and pages on your site in rows. To reflect your site’s information architecture hierarchy, you can number your pages and their subpages accordingly:
You can collect more detail about each page by adding columns to the spreadsheet to hold relevant information. Examples of detail columns might be Page Title, Current URL, New URL, Keep, Remove, Update, Whose Responsibility.
Ready to get started? Here’s a Website Content Audit Template that you can customize and complete.
If you don’t have an accurate sitemap, there are tools available online that can crawl through your site and create one for you, and also identify broken links (this is the time to correct those!).
Once you have all your content catalogued, document who in your organization is responsible for it. Often the various sections of the site contain content that is generated by various departments or stakeholders. This would be a great opportunity to remind them which content is theirs to maintain, and ensure that it’s up to date. Your spreadsheet can reflect this with the columns Keep, Remove, and Update next to each page. Simply type ‘yes’ in the appropriate column. Be especially mindful of content that was generated for time-sensitive campaigns.
Catalogue your content
After creating a spreadsheet to store information about your content and documenting who is responsible for it, it’s time to gather some. Getting information about existing content can be time consuming, since those responsible for the content probably have other responsibilities as well. You could consider creating an online system where content authors can go and submit the data themselves, or even share the spreadsheet itself with internal stakeholders and let them fill in their sections on their own time. This can sometimes delay the project, however, since some stakeholders may make this task a lower priority than others.
If this is a concern for your nonprofit, assign someone specific to the task of populating your spreadsheet and have this person connect with each stakeholder personally so that the project maintains momentum.
While you’re speaking with internal stakeholders, discuss their current goals. If things have changed since the content was last reviewed, ensure that your updates support their goals and align with the organization’s overall strategic objectives and communications objectives.
Review your analytics
To help determine what content should stay, go, change, or move, consult your visitor stats. You may learn that certain pages have become wildly popular with your audience, and that they warrant a more prominent placement in your architecture. Conversely, if your analytics show that a section is not generating the desired interest, since the content authors will be reviewing content anyway, make them aware of this so they can give that content special attention.
Revisit your nonprofit’s objectives and personality
As I mentioned earlier, it may be that when a certain page or section was created, the goals of your organization and internal stakeholders were different. For example, perhaps your nonprofit’s writing tone has become more focused on its members and staff. Perhaps your organization has a new or updated identity and brand guidelines. Notify your stakeholders of such changes so that they can incorporate them into any new or revised content and maintain the appropriate tone.
One of the best things about a website is that it can be updated so easily. If these updates are not monitored, however, they can create a mess of undocumented content that can become difficult to manage in the long run. Performing a content audit is a great way to stay on top of your content and see the big picture of how your nonprofit presents itself on the Web.