Content Chimera: Content Decisions. Content Exploration. At Scale.
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Rethinking the Content Inventory: Exploration

Key Points

  • A good inventorying process will probably uncover questions that weren't anticipated at the beginning.
  • Be ready to *explore* your content, by iterating and adding new sources of information as your proceed.
  • Search for patterns within raw pages.
Related resource
Rethinking the Content Inventory | Use this report if you are inventorying your site(s)

Especially for large sites, one of the reasons to do a content inventory is to understand your content. Another way of looking at it is that you want to explore your content. Often a tool like Xenu Linksleuth or OmniOutliner is used to create an inventory, and then teams are left to manually prod at the content. This prodding can be done by working in a spreadsheet (for example, filtering columns or generating graphs by mime type) or by clicking around on the site.

But what if your inventory allowed true, meandering exploration through the partially-unknown world of your content?

What needs to be in place to allow content inventory exploration:

Why bother this exploration rather than just looking at a simple tool's output? The biggest reason: You don't even know the questions to ask about your content when you start, so structuring and thinking about the undertaking as an exploration allows you to start earlier and take your time. In addition, this deeper understanding of the complexity and exceptions allows you to better plan your undertaking, for example a content migration. For example, nominally you many think all the pages of a subsite are using a particular template, but it would be better to check that rather than being surprised during the migration.

As with the question of how much automation to undertake in the migration, of course there is also a tradeoff here: for huge sites, this sort of analysis can probably be quite useful. For small sites, it probably isn't worth it. In between is less clear. That said, at a minimum for large sites, you can use this type of information to inform many decisions such as information architecture design and migration planning. In migrations, you can explore what rules could be used in your migration.

Rethinking the Content Inventory Use this report if you are inventorying your site(s)