Have you ever seen the TV Series “Hoarders”? Here is the show’s description:
Each hour-long episode profiles two people on the verge of a personal crisis, all caused by the fact that they are unable to part with even the tiniest possessions, and the cumulative effect becomes a mountain of junk and garbage overtaking their home or apartment.
Now substitute “people” with companies, “tiniest possessions” with outdated web content, and “home or apartment” with website and you’ve outlined a common problem we see regularly:
…companies on the verge of a [user experience] crisis all caused by the fact that they are unable to part with outdated web content, and the cumulative effect becomes a mountain of junk and garbage overtaking their website.
Maybe “junk and garbage” is too strong, but if this sounds familiar it may be time for a content audit.
Consider this your intervention.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Consolidating and refreshing content can be challenging, particularly in large organizations such as healthcare systems with many content authors and subject matter experts across service lines. Generally, before content makes it to the live site it’s undergone multiple rounds of revisions and approvals, creating a certain emotional investment for the content owner. Understandably, this makes it hard to expunge content. It’s the Justification of Effort bias. But audits, while sometimes painful, are necessary. Years of content creation (without audits) can result in a website flooded with outdated material and written in an inconsistent voice by different authors leaving users confused, frustrated or overwhelmed.
Follow these tips to begin tackling the ‘content hoarding’ issue and embark on the audit and migration process:
First, look for these signs that you have a “problem”
- Content hasn’t been updated in over a year (and in some cases may date back years, even decades)
- You realize that it will be costly to bring your content problem under control
- No one is willing to delete outdated content
- Losing content is perceived as losing power
- You have no defined content strategy
- There is no governance in place to manage the content
8 Keys to fix the problem
- Acknowledge you have a content problem
- Get an accurate audit of your content including images, video, forms, redirects, and technical considerations such as interactive forms/widgets, tables, Flash-based content, etc.
- Conduct a web analytics and SEO review to ensure that high-traffic or search optimized pages are scrutinized
- Just as hoarders have to decide what to keep, donate, and/or toss – review your content to determine whether to delete, rewrite, or create new content
- Make sure that all pages in the old site are tracked with a status to ensure that no pages go unaccounted
- Be merciless with your content purging – don’t be afraid of the red pen
- Define a governance process and hold your organization to it
- Get your stakeholders invested in the content management process
At Paragon, we understand that while the content audit is a crucial first step to streamlining and optimizing your website, the most powerful change occurs when there is buy-in across all levels of the organization. We have found that research data goes a long way in helping gain buy-in for content consolidation efforts – whether quantitative data via usability tests and web analytics such as traffic reports and analyzing user click patterns, or more qualitative findings like customer journey maps to uncover meaningful engagement opportunities. Research-based findings can help content owners remove their own biases and look at the experience from the viewpoint of their most important asset: their users.
Are you ready to take out the red pen and start the content audit? Let us know if you can use some help.