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Content Inventory – when is enough

Peter wrote an entry on his blog wondering whether a content inventory is worth the effort. I initially said yes, but it got me thinking.

How do we draw the line between listing out everything and getting a good overview. What would have happened if I were working on a 20,000 page site. At 500 pages per day, would it have been worth spending 40 days just to list out all of the pages? I suspect not.

Maybe this is complicated by the fact that I’m not only designing the new site (so need to know all of the content types), but implementing a new content management system. To do this well, I need to know what content we had at the beginning, and what we have done with it (moved, deleted, rewritten).

What do you think? Where is the line?

2 Responses to “Content Inventory – when is enough”

  1. PeterV Says:

    I agree: there is a line to be drawn. There is always a tradeof between time spent on an activity and the usefulness of it. Sure you could spend another week refining your labels, but you may rather spend that time on user testing your search results page. I think IA’s have to take the generalist view, while having in depth knowledge in a few key areas. Someone from IBM described the knowledge of people they would hire as a T shape: very deep in a few areas, and very wide in many other areas.

    If IA’s focus only on the deep knowledge they have, and ignore the many other aspects of designing a website, they risk falling in the same trap as the usability profession: extreme specialisation leads to a narrow vision of the world and thus to extinction or worse, irrelevance. Websites are complex, evolving systems with lots of interdependencies. Seeing and dealing with those is the IA’s job. Who else is going to do it?

  2. James Robertson Says:

    Hmm, good question.

    As you say though: what choice do you have?

    All the pages will need to be migrated into the new CMS (or discarded). So sooner or later, you will have to work through all the content…