“Why are you telling everyone how to do your job!? Won’t that mean they won’t hire you?”
That’s possible. But the folks that I know and work with are, for the most part, scientists, nature centers, and people working to broaden inclusion in STEM. So, I want them to succeed. I want them to succeed even if they don’t give me money.
The purpose of my Unsolicited Advice Column is to help you assess if you need someone external to help with your website re-design, or if you can do it yourself. And it also makes the process of what I do more transparent, so you know what to expect if you hire me.
Getting ready to launch a new website is a great time to sit down and think about how your content is organized. I can do this for you, or you can do it yourself! Here’s how.
Start with a content inventory—what’s there, and where is it? Using a site map, or site map generating tools, will give you a detailed spreadsheet showing all your web pages, file names, and links.
Once you have your content inventoried, it’s time to step back and think about content analysis. In other words, how is your content organized? It’s not just the words, it’s how your ideas and themes are organized, that makes a website compelling and useful.
Here’s some items you’ll want to think about as you look at your existing website:
- Currency—What information is out of date and needs to be removed, or marked as archival?
- Co-location and Consistency–Are items with similar content or items about the same topic grouped together? Whenever possible, content structures in similar content areas should be consistent.
- Differentiation–Are dissimilar items or items about different subject areas in different content areas?
- Completeness–All content mentioned or linked to should exist. (No broken links or “under construction” labels.)
- Information scent–Are labels appropriately descriptive of content? Will visitors to your site know they are on the proper path to finding the information they are looking for? Each page needs a meaningful title that can stand-alone and tell the reader about the page.
- Multiple access paths–Because users think about content in different ways, they should be able to take multiple paths to get to specific content. Users should be able to access the content they want through the browsing hierarchy, by using search, and sometimes via links in the content.
- Audience-relevance–Do you need to organize some content to allow different audience segments to easily find what’s relevant to them?
That’s a lot of prep work, but there’s a reason for it. Once you know what exists, you can use that analysis to develop a content strategy. This will define:
- Key themes and messages (big ideas and themes)
- Content purpose (why is your content on the web?)
- Content gap analysis (what content is missing?)
- Metadata and Keywords for search engine optimization
By making sure that all your content reflects your key theme, and determining what keywords should go on each of your pages, you can make your pages cleaner, more useful to users, and drive more traffic to the site.
This info modified in part from: