In this series, we're discussing just how to promote a more positive user experience and overall design through better website content organization.
Perhaps you are moving a site to a new CMS, or maybe you are conducting a simple website redesign. Any serious change to the website is a great opportunity to take stock and get rid of waste. Irrespective of the reason you are updating or migrating, it is important that you understand what you currently have, what you would like to retain, delete or modify. Migration isn’t as much of a hassle if your content audit is up to date.
Frequent audits will go a very long way in ensuring that you deliver what your site visitors are looking for. There is no specific time or set duration for conducting a content audit; it all depends on the size of the website, which is generally determined by the number of pages it contains. However, it’s important to note that whereas there are great tools available to you during this process, comprehensive and meaningful content audits are mostly time-consuming. The reason for doing them is that they are very useful for helping you recognize whether the site’s content follows set guidelines and specific template and editorial styles consistently. They lay the foundation for proper gap analysis between the content that you already have and what you would like to have. Finally, as we’ll be discussing today, audits also set the pace for content revision, deletion and migration.
The first part of the series covers the first step in the process: Inventory. You can check that post out here. In it, we introduce you to some of the tools and approaches you’ll need to get a full view of your website as it exists today. We also provide you with a free content audit template to get started.
The second part of the series talks about the second step in the process: Exploration. You can read that post here. In it, we show you how to identify any unfulfilled audience needs and desired content types not currently utilized on your website. Through the inventory phase, you were able to gain a good idea of what currently exists on your site. The exploration phase can help you to determine if you’re actually meeting your users’ needs.
In step three, or the “Clean” phase as defined by Anthony D. Paul, the goal is to get rid of things on the website that are redundant, expired, or broken and whittle down to just what needs to remain. The outcome of this phase are notes and simple updates to your content audit spreadsheet. You can find a template for that here. We’ll implement the changes later on in the process.
An Important Note on Redundancy in Web Design
The word ‘redundant’ has a slightly negative connotation. A lot of people equate redundancy to being unnecessary, but in web design this isn’t always the case.
Redundancy can be a great thing. We’ve used architectural analogies in our past blog posts because we feel they do a great job of portraying the need for thoughtful structure and strategy behind a website build or re-design. Using more elements than necessary can maintain system performance in the event that one or more elements fails. It’s better to have two locks than one. Think of how important it would be to have redundant power sources and pathways if you were design say, a hospital building. Redundancy is an important principle of website design as well.
Let’s take a closer look at where redundancy can be useful on your site:
Redundancy in Hosting
Uptime is probably the most critical aspect of a website. In fact, most web hosts have redundancy built in. Typically, the more you pay for hosting, the more likely your site will be supported by redundant systems. Your site might be housed on multiple servers with or without load balancing. The data center where your information is stored is likely supported by redundant power sources. It’s also a great idea to be making regular backups of your site experience an issue.
Caching can also be considered a redundant system. A cached page is essentially a duplicate of the page displayed after querying a database to minimize the stress of many website visits over a short period of time.
Redundancy in Communication
You’ve probably noticed, but redundant communication today is essential. Marketers and communicators know the benefits of using text, audio and video to communicate the same information. Photos, infographics and other visual elements also add to the mix. Different people learn in different ways, and the more methods you use, the more people you’ll likely reach with your message.
Redundancy in Navigation
We often build redundant navigational systems into a site. Often, we’ll set up a specific navigational system for people and another for search engines. We can organize information on a website into categories, hierarchies, and tags.
Think about all the ways you can navigate a website. What works for you might not work for others. This is why we use site maps, mega menus and breadcrumbs, among others. We also place navigation directly in content in the form of links. This all serves to help the visitor get to their desired destination faster, and with less confusion.
In the specific context of higher education, redundancy is extremely important and necessary when it comes to accessibility. We add alt text to images and titles and assign labels to forms.
To learn more about types of redundancy, check out this post from Vanseo Design.
Look for additional ways to communicate the same message and provide redundant systems of navigation to help visitors find their way. Smart redundancy can add a lot of value to the experience of a website, but it can be overdone. Redundant elements and systems usually come with a cost and it’s important to remember not to add anything that takes away from the site or introduces confusion. Eliminate unnecessary redundancy in your code to maximize your site performance.
Stay tuned for Part 4: Decide
In this next phase, we decide what’s most important through various sorting methods and interactive team activities to prioritize your site elements and accommodate various user journeys. We’ll finalize the content audit and discuss some of the other Discovery and audit deliverables.
Contact us today for a free consultation. We look forward to working with you.
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