Content Usability Score

Performing site audits for content usability can be a painful experience. But, they are a necessary evil in the process of creating a new site for a client, that currently has an existing site. Without one of them, how would you be able to evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the current site? Getting to know this can influence site design, user experience, conversion strategies and basically anything else important you want to point your finger at for the next site build.

When creating a new site the content approach of “we will just migrate all of our current content to the new site,” is lazy and really is kind of a waste of everyone’s time. This is because the only thing their client is really getting is their website re-skinned, and they aren’t maximizing the benefit they could be getting with a redesign. When the content is just migrated straight over and is left unchanged that really limits any type of unique functionality, conversion strategies or awesome design wow factors that can take place on your new site.

Now, I’m not against migrating content. I am against it as being the end-all-be-all solution for a new site’s content strategy. I think having a base of content to work with can be a very helpful starting point to work with. This content should be thought about and expanded upon.

The reason that you should be getting a new website is because you are trying to solve a business problem and want to use a website as a tool. Just updating your website because it looks dated sounds nice on paper, but it will not be as helpful to a business in the long run, and the process will still be labor intensive for designers and developers. So, if people are going to work hard on a project, let’s make it worth something.

But, how can you take something that is somewhat subjective such as the value of content, and make it into something that can be compared quantitatively? I have found that giving the individual pages a content usability score can help to open up a discussion and can allow for quick evaluation of the site’s content. I have found that scoring a page on these six items can help to give a quick evaluation of a page’s content and usability.

  • Does the page contain important content?
    The intent of this question is designed to open up the conversation of it this page is really needed?
  • Does the important content need to be re-written?
    This is used to evaluate the content of the page, and should lead to discuss on how it could be better.
  • Is there enough important content?
    Here the ultimate goal is to decide does this need to get dropped from the new site, become completely redone or become consolidated with something else?
  • Is there too much content?
    For pages that are extremely content heavy is there a way to get to what is trying to be communicated faster? Should this become multiple pages?
  • Are there enough visual assets to help explain the content?
    Basically this intended to create the talking point about how a graphic, picture or some sort of visual could add to the value of your content.
  • Does the page require any new functionality to be a better tool?
    The idea here is to get the wheels turning about if there was some unique functionality on this page would the messaging be more impactful?

Then of course I add in an, “other” category. Because there are just things out there you don’t know until you know. So this category is useful to document anything that may be unordinary, broken or just may not make sense in the page hierarchy.

These categories above are scored in three ways and their total is subtracted out of a hundred. Here are the three ways to score your content: In Good Standing (0), Needs Work (-5), Requires a Major Upgrade (-10).

The idea for the content usability score is to be able to provide a quick outlook on how a pages content usability is measuring up to other content through out the site. This thought process is meant to help identify the strengths and weakness of a site in an easy to understand comparable manner. I have these six category items built into a spreadsheet (I can’t believe I just wrote that), that you can download and do what ever you want with.

Excel Face

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