A website "spring cleaning" forces you to re-evaluate old content and low-performing pages and use website analytics like page views to decide which content needs to be deactivated, revitalized or combined with other pages.
It's important to keep the following in mind when evaluating website content:
- Old content: Does your homepage still have an 11-month old PDF report of your city's budget?
- Confusing content: Is the July 4th parade event page 9 months old, or is it 3 months early?
- No longer relevant content: Do you still have a picture of a councilmember who retired over 3 years ago?
- Broken content: Are the links redirecting to the state DMV page updated to reflect its new website URL?
These types of content can lead to low-performing pages, which is a clear indicator that it's time to do something about them.
How to Identify Low-Performing Pages
If you're looking to determine how your website is performing, research is key. It not only helps you understand what's working and what's not, but it also helps you determine the types of content to put on your site and where. To help you create a better user experience on your website, consider leveraging the following tools:
- Web analytics: Understand which pages are high-performing and which are low-performing. Use Google Analytics or a similar tool to measure performance.
- Surveys: Garner internal and external feedback to figure out where to put your content; for example, you could conduct research with your citizens to understand what type of information is important to them.
- Heat mapping: See where people are clicking, scrolling and going to on a page.
- User testing: Know where users are looking on the website (through eye tracking).
Once you've determined which pages are performing poorly, it's time to get started on cleaning.
Does the 2015 Halloween parade page still need to be live? How about the 2003 microsite about the new city hall project? If the content is old and no longer relevant or required by law, it’s time to take it down. Before doing so, be sure to archive the content in case you ever receive a public records request for this content in the future.
If you have a low-performing but necessary page, consider rewriting the content using plain language, headers and bullets. A great method to follow is the inverted pyramid style of writing, used by journalists. Write the main point first with a short and clear statement, then add in supporting content with headers and bullets to break up the text and make it easier to read, and include any history or legalese at the bottom of the page, if it’s required.
Sometimes, it doesn't make sense to completely remove content from a low-performing page because the content is still relevant. Instead, combine this content with another similar page that has higher traffic, and then retire the low-performing page. When combining content, use the inverted pyramid to provide structure to the page and make it easy for readers to quickly scan through.
While a website spring cleaning is necessary to maintain fresh content, it's equally important to remember that your website is never "done". You'll need to continue to maintain the website, look at old content and analyze pages for performance. Use website analytics as a guide to help you determine what content to keep or update, what needs to be retired, and what should be combined with other pages.
Looking for more ways to keep your website content relevant while maintaining historical context and complying with the law? Download our latest whitepaper, 7 Rules to Improve and Protect Your Digital Assets, to learn:
- How to develop a content strategy that balances your website's past and present
- Tips for evaluating website vital signs to determine what content should stay or go
- Laws your agency is subject to and why you're required to archive digital content
- How to future-proof your website and protect your digital assets