Content Audits for Responsive Websites

Mar 20, 2014

by Misty Weaver

Refreshing Your Legacy 

There’s more than one element to consider in ensuring that content designed for the desktop will work on any screen. Responsive design is an evolving discipline. As Lyza Danger Gardner points out in her A List Apart column, we haven’t fully agreed on the terms of art or use yet. But we do know that it's not just a matter of shrinking images and font size. You also want the experience to transfer. You want to know that no matter what channel or device people use to interface with your brand, they will hear your message and accomplish their tasks.

If your new design doesn’t show the priority of key messaging, calls to action, or deeper levels of navigation, you may be sacrificing a useful experience for a smaller one.  That’s why a content audit is critical to building a responsive design that fits your content, messages, users. and tasks. As Sara Wachter-Boettcher demonstrates in Content Knowledge is Power, “what you don’t know will hurt you.”  The audit helps ensure you’re designing for the content that matters most. 

In teaching content strategy, I lead students through a series of content audits. This year, the students’ projects demonstrated how understanding the content inventory, both in technical and qualitative measures, helps identify when a site’s small-screen design isn’t supporting the objectives of the content.

For examples, their audits helped determine

  • Patterns for information architecture
  • Prioritization of body content
  • Standards for metadata

Which informed recommendations for

  • Content templates
  • Internal workflow
  • Display of elements

If you’re contemplating a redesign or refresh for a responsive design, it’s the perfect time to start a content inventory and audit. In fact, an audit of key areas can provide valuable information about the high-traffic pages of any website, new or old. The first step is having an up to date inventory, then choosing evaluative criteria that bring focus to your content’s key messages, tasks for users, priority order, calls to action, and/or metadata.

Customize your audit categories in a way that fits your business objectives, knowledge of users, as well as your time and resources. If you’ve started your audit with a CAT inventory, you can add in your own columns that reflect your criteria, and tag pages with your evaluation metrics. With a strong inventory, you can better scope this type of audit, and split up work or come back and start another level of analysis.

CAT, the Content Analysis Tool, can help you with initial data gathering. It allows search and bulk tagging so you can audit from the dashboard. Your inventory is stored on the cloud so you don’t have to export and its job comparison feature makes it easier to track changes in content over time.  Try it out with a demo, trial or start an inventory

Category: Content Audit Tips

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