The Basics

If you're just getting started learning about content inventories, these timeless articles provide excellent overviews and guidance.

The content inventory

Rahel Bailie, Intentional Design, Inc.
February 2, 2011

The content inventory is a form of gap analysis that allows you to envision the future state of your content. Whether you can get a list of web pages from the CMS or you perform a manual inventory, the Excel spreadsheet will be your best friend.

Bailie’s article walks you through the minimum basic columns to include and optional elements such as:

  • CMS components
  • SEO information
  • Template

See also her article on the content audit using theRAITES evaluation criteria.

Doing a Content Inventory (Or, A Mind-Numbingly Detailed Odyssey Through Your Web Site)

Jeffrey Veen, Adaptive Path
June 18, 2002

The source of one of the most often quoted phrases about content inventories. Still applicable today, Jeffrey Veen’s directions on how to manually inventory a website starts with the home page. By clicking through each link, you navigate through the site as a user would making the inventory process just as educational as the resulting spreadsheet. Veen’s recommendations on what to include are often found in the header rows of content inventory templates.

The Rolling Content Inventory

Lou Rosenfeld,
June 16, 2006

"Content inventory is an process, not a deliverable." Websites are not static and when you are dealing with hundreds of thousands of content pieces, a top-down content inventory isn’t always possible. Rosenfeld suggests moving away from a snapshot approach and instead conducting inventories on an ongoing basis, making them part of one’s job not something done at the start of a project.

Taking a Content Inventory

Donna Maurer, Maadmob
January 28, 2006

Donna Maurer emphasizes the advantages of manually conducting a content inventory at the beginning of an IA project. If your project includes any kind of content migration to a website, CMS or intranet, you will need an inventory to direct that change. Even without migration, the initial inventory helps you identify content relationships and patterns and better prepares you for content analysis.

Doing a content audit or inventory

Scott Baldwin, nForm
January 26, 2010

Quantitative data collection made less tedious: Baldwin provides a detailed list of tips on the actual execution of content inventories in Excel as well as a few technical details you might overlook. Use software tools to gather the list of website URLS while you use the time saved to audit. He also offers definitions of inventories and audits as well as how to combine the two.

Taking a Content Inventory

January 01, 2002

Proving that good advice is timeless, another classic article on the value and process of conducting a thorough content inventory.

"Quality inventories must be accurate, consistent, and thorough. If you take inventory with attention to detail and completeness, the end result becomes a solid basis for future architecture and migration work. If sections are missing or mishandled, the entire inventory loses credibility’and this isn't the sort of task that you want to re-do."

Building the Mother of All Content Inventories

Sue Davis
July 10, 2012

Sub-titled I (heart) Spreadsheets, this post on Waltzing Matilda, the blog from the European Commission webteam, succinctly outlines the importance of the content inventory, what to record, and how to turn an inventory into a "content tracker." 



Leveraging the Inventory

Once you've mastered the basics of creating a content inventory, you're ready to go pro. Use these resources to learn how to mine your inventory for insights.

Rethinking the Content Inventory: Exploration

David Hobbs, hobbsontech
September 10, 2010

The first in a two-part series about using inventories to plan for a website migration by one of the acknowledged experts on the topic. This article encourages thinking about the inventory process as an excuse to explore your site and gather insight.

Part two, Rethinking the Content Inventory: Sources of Data suggests dimensions you may want to measure and track along with your content data, such as view, origin, intent, and usage.

Content Inventories, Audits, and Analyses: All part of benchmarking

Rahel Bailie, Intentional Design
August 9, 2012

Content benchmarking refers to assessing content performance against a set of standards, whether external, such as competitor content, or internal. In this article Rahel Bailie discusses how a content inventory is the starting point for a benchmarking exercise. Citing the City of Vancouver website overhaul project, she explains how the benchmarks the team set in the process of doing the content inventory, audit, and analysis enabled them to demonstrate the effectiveness of their approach.

Best quote: "Not doing an inventory is like starting to bake when you don't know what ingredients you have in the house."

The Content Inventory is Your Friend

Kristina Halvorson, BrainTraffic
March 2, 2009

A concise post on the various uses of content inventories--from the start of a project, when it's used to inform strategy, schedule, and scope; to the information architecture phase, where it ensures accurate content requirements; during the content development phase, where it provides a structure to track content creation; and ongoing, as a method of keeping up with your ever-evolving web presence.

Content Inventory Now

Scott Pierce
March 6, 2013

In this guest post for the Content Insight blog, Scott Pierce declares "death to the guesstimate!" and offers advice from his own experience using content inventories in the project scoping process. Pierce asserts that "The best time to do an inventory is during an estimate. The worst time to do a content inventory... is never." Content inventories done early allow you to demonstrate value, spot quick wins, start telling the content story to your team and stakeholders, and get specific about what will come next in the project.

Everything Old Is New Again: How to Turn Your Content Inventory Into an Idea Cache

Vanessa Martinez, kapost
January 4, 2012

From the world of content marketing comes this helpful article on how to "mine, contextualize, and discover" the data in a content inventory to help generate fresh content ideas for your organization.

The Long Happy Life of a Content Inventory

Paula Land, Strategic Content
January 8, 2012

Many large-scale web projects involve replatforming and can span many months. The content inventory can play a role throughout the lifetime of a project, from original scoping and evaluation, to analysis, to tracking. At different stages of the project, more information is added to the inventory and it becomes an ever-richer source of insight into the content and the people and processes that support it. It also becomes an integral part of migration planning and tracking, helping ensure that the final product is accurate and complete.

Rethinking the Content Inventory: Site Inventories

David Hobbs
August 24, 2011

Move beyond the definition of a content inventory’an exhaustive list of pages’and think bigger picture. Organize your inventory by section or sub-site and add information from other sources, such as template information and traffic data to achieve a broader analysis and rollout plan.

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