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Review Current Site and Processes

At the beginning of every web project (e.g. changing the branding, moving into the WCMS or creating a new site) it is useful to perform an audit of your current site and processes. It is helpful to understand your business needs—what is your site is needed or used for—before beginning your project. The audit of your current situation can help you identify trends in your information, evaluate your current situation, identify opportunities to refresh your content and/or reorganize how it is presented online, and ensure that your site continues to meet the needs of your audience. This would be done as part of the research phase in the site definition and planning stage of your website project.

Review Your Current Site – Perform a Content Audit

 When doing your content audit, consider the following questions.

  1. How large is your site?
    • How many pages and sections does it have (Large >150 pages, Medium = 50–150 pages, Small <50 pages)?
    • Does it need to be done in smaller pieces? For larger sites you’ll want to consider a phased roll out or using a subsection for a small pilot.
  2. Can your content be streamlined?
    • Are two pages better if they are merged into one?
    • Can a long page benefit from being made into shorter ones (e.g. “recent papers” and “recent presentations” pages could be a single page if both short)?
    • What content can be removed/deleted because it is out of date and no longer relevant?
    • If you are doing a site reorganization project, reconsider what content belongs together and whether any can be deleted. Top tasks should drive a website reorganization project.
  3. What are your content goals?
    • Do you have “dynamic” content (e.g. updated regularly)?
    • Do you have content you want to profile on the home page (e.g. news, announcements, etc.)?
  4. What is the nature of your content?
    • How many different types of pages do you have (e.g. news items, press releases, events, general information, faculty profiles, staff lists, etc.)?
    • Do pages or sections of the site follow a standard format (e.g. faculty profiles), or is every webpage different?
    • What information is updated most frequently (e.g. staff directory, meeting minutes, agendas, forms, etc.)?
    • Do you have information that is updated and/or expires frequently (e.g. news, announcements, etc.)?
    • What types of content do you post online (e.g. text only, PDF files, Word files, images, video, RSS feeds, etc.)?
    • Do you use online forms to gather information? Is it stored in a database? Is this something you’ll continue to need?

Review Your Web Content Development Process – Perform a Process Audit

Depending on the size of your website, you may have one, a few or many people involved in the web content development process. In addition to identifying which people actually post the information online, it is important to identify who is accountable for the information on the website.

You may not be able to clearly articulate your web content business process (many units don’t have a clearly defined one). As a result, there may be many things you have not considered before about your website and managing the content on it. Developing a website management strategy will help you to articulate your web content business process.

When doing your web content development process audit, consider the following questions.

  1. How do things work currently? How many are involved in the process? To which sections will they need access? What role do they play?
    • Who writes the content? Who is responsible for writing/creating and maintaining the information? Are these responsibilities delegated or is this the person who owns the information?
    • Who approves the content?
    • Who posts the content online? Is this person given the information in its final format to post, do they edit it, or are they the actual creators and owners of the content?
    • How many people are involved in the process? To which sections will they need access?
    • Do multiple people need to update the same sections? If so, who?
    • Do you have multiple people updating different sections? If so, who?
    • Who is accountable for the accuracy of the information in each section of the site? Who is it?
    • Who “owns” the business process reflected by the information?
  2. Are specific reviews and approvals required for your content before it is published? If so, how do you currently do this process? For which sections are these needed and who will be involved?
    • Who signs off on it before it is published?
    • Who “owns” the content? Is it the same person who writes the content, or is the writing delegated to another?
  3. Who is authorized to create new pages on the site? Can anyone make or publish pages or is that centralized?
    • Who is authorized to create new top-level sections on the site? Lower-level sections?
    • Who is authorized to make changes to the home page?
    • Can anyone make new pages or is that centralized? Should people be allowed to create new sections or sub sections?
  4. How long does it typically take to add new content or change existing content (from request to completion)? Is timeliness or reviews/approvals more important?
  5. Should all web content editors be able to: upload files, post images, create new pages, edit html, format text?  Should all pages in the site follow a standard structure? In a section? Of a certain type of information?
  6. Is auto expiration or archiving needed?
  7. Should publishing be centralized or distributed (e.g. one, few or many publishers)? Should pages be reviewed and approved in the WCMS before publishing? Should notifications be sent by email in addition to the system notification?
  8. Do you have content on your website that is also in PAWS?
  9. Do you have any databases integrated with your website? Do you use online forms to gather information?
  10. Do you pull in any RSS feeds?

Answers to these questions will be necessary to identify how groups and permissions (access and roles) will need to be set up in the WCMS. Permissions can be assigned at many levels including groups, folders, and pages. Access and permissions will need to be documented for each section and page in the site map. In addition, if workflows will be required they will also need to be mapped to the various sections/pages and individuals involved in the review and approval process.

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