Auditing the Site

During the Audit stage, you will look at your entire website. Every. Single. Page.

This is often the stage where we hear: “Do we HAVE to?”

Yes. You have to.

By doing a deep dive into your site, understanding what’s already there and how it’s been organized, you will gain a complete picture of what you’re working with, and how to move it forward. There is no automated tool, no shortcut that will accomplish this. It just takes time. But it’s worth it.

Looking at the Site

The best place to start is with an inventory of your site content.

Digital Communications will export a full list of all your site’s pages into an Excel document, which will have the page title, links, content type, publishing status (draft/published), and other data.

We will add another column for status, which will be filled in during the audit.

Some other helpful columns:

  • Navigation: is the page currently included in the navigation? Where does it live?
  • Summary: what’s on the page?
  • Notes: anything else you can think of about the page.

The main focus for this exercise is the page content type. These are the parts of your site that make up the architecture, and contain the main content that the user sees.

However you decide to sort the list (by section, alphabetically, chronologically — it doesn’t matter) start at the top, and click on the link to go to the page, and read what’s there.


When evaluating each page, there are a few questions that should be answered:

  1. Is the content up to date and accurate?
  2. Is it unique? Do we say the same thing elsewhere on our site, or is it elsewhere within the ACF that we can link to instead?
  3. Is it plain language, meaning it’s written in a way that the public can easily understand, in accordance with the Plain Writing Act Visit disclaimer page ?
  4. Does it have all the assets it needs (pictures, etc.)?
  5. Is it complete, or would the information work better if combined with other pieces of content?


Once you’ve asked these questions, each page can be given a status:

  • Update — the page is complete and stands alone, but may need superficial updates
  • Recraft — the page needs significant updates or changes
  • Consolidate — there is good content on the page, but that should be extracted and used elsewhere
  • Scrap — the page is duplicative, out of date, or otherwise ready to be archived/deleted.

There is technically a fifth status — Leave, for when a page is just fine and can be moved wholesale. This status is rare, as there’s almost always some way to improve a page.

Since multiple people will be performing the same evaluation, it’s also helpful to have ? for “needs attention”

You’ll end up with a complete list of your pages, with each one looking something like this:

Page Title

Current Navigation


Current Audience for Content


Content Summary


Sample Page



Information Seekers


A list of ACF programs

Needs to be updated — last update from 2012

Sample Page 2





Another ACF Page

The content is organized by subject, should be by audience

Once you’ve finished the audit, you should have a good sense of what is on your site, what’s missing, and how it’s all organized.