The foundation of any website redesign project or content management system migration effort, a content inventory is exactly what is sounds like: a quantitative analysis of the content of a web site. In its typical form, a content inventory is a list of files, traditionally managed in a spreadsheet, that is used as a starting point in the journey from as-is to to-be.
Throughout the course of a redesign or migration project, the content inventory accrues additional information. To the original list of files (URLs of pages, images, documents), the content strategist or content manager may begin to add additional columns of information to indicate content ownership within the organization, status of review, notes for migration, redirects and SEO-optimized URLs, and so forth. The spreadsheet is often organized by the structure of the site so that site navigational model can be derived. The inventory may also be used as the method by which content is tracked from one system to another. It may even double as the copy deck, if content is being rewritten and the site migration team is using the inventory to guide page rebuild. By the time the project is complete, the spreadsheet is often the most comprehensive repository of information about the content and structure of the site.
The reasons to create a content inventory include:
If a content inventory is so important to a redesign or migration project or the ongoing maintenance of a site, why are they so dreaded?
For one, they can be very time-consuming to create. And they can become out of date very quickly if a site is frequently updated. They are hard to maintain and, once customized, difficult to update.
For these reasons, Content Insight created CAT, the Content Analysis Tool. CAT will allow the content strategist or content manager to quickly create comprehensive site inventories that offer rich data about each page—the links in and out; the number and names of images, videos, and documents associated with each page; the metadata on each page. Even more critical to making the ongoing content analysis and management simpler is CAT's comparison feature. Run an inventory today, save the report, run it again later and see what's changed. Being able to quickly locate new, removed, or changed files makes it easier to keep the inventory up to date, allows for efficient quality assurance, and helps ensure that the content analyst has a comprehensive picture of the site at any given time. And understanding where you are makes it easier to plan to get to where you want to be.