Web Redesign: The Foundation of Site Architecture

By: Amy Hissrich

Wrangling your current content and planning it for the future lays the groundwork for a website redesign.

Content audits have a bad reputation. How often do you dive deep and study the structure of your website? For many of us, this project tends to be relegated to the rainy day task list that gets overshadowed by the important day-to-day production work. The web redesign process is a good time to take out those content matrixes gathering dust and make sure they're updated and utilized as the useful framework they are for getting input into new navigation structures for a new website.

Content matrixes can come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, from a page-by-page detailed catalogue to a collection of representative samples of each content type. The key to a useful content matrix is taking stock of what types of content you have, the topics and keywords of that content, the content owner, if the content is ROT (redundant, outdated, or trivial), and, perhaps most importantly, the current site's architecture.

Yes, cataloging website content can be a detailed and tedious process, but with each entry you're learning more about your site's current structure, looking for patterns, groupings, and hierarchies to understand how each group of content can be made more accessible to your visitors.

For our content matrix, I use a modified version of Adaptive Path's Content Inventory and take a hybrid approach to the depth of indexing, where we've cataloged each standalone landing page and unique type of content page but then used only a representative sample of articles from each publication such as Associations Now or our e-newsletters. The content matrix serves as a base and point of departure for the remainder of our website redesign project. It is used for insights as we move into card sorting and development of navigation systems and then constructing page templates and metadata structures.

Amy Hissrich is director of web strategy for ASAE & The Center. Email: [email protected]