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Published on February 2nd, 2011 | by Rahel Bailie

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The content inventory

Before you can envision the future state, you need to know the current state and determine the gap. The first step in that process is to inventory the content. Be clear – at this time, the Excel spreadsheet is a content strategist’s best friend.  If your client has a way to scrape their CMS for content, you can get a content dump. If they don’t have a CMS, or their IT department isn’t particularly cooperative, you may have to do this manually.

In the spreadsheet, you’ll need to include the minimum of the basics:

  • No. – Numbers that would correspond to a wireframe (home page is 0.0, the main menu items are x.x, and so on)
  • URL – To track page location; particularly helpful when you sort the columns and need to find that needle in a haystack
  • Page Title – What the page is called
  • Parent Section – Which site section the page is from
  • Page Description – Description of the page contents (which may or may not match the URL, browser title, or page title)

Optional elements can be things like:

  • Components – To capture the building blocks within a CMS, such as addresses, contact information, or product descriptions that get integrated into a larger body of content
  • Browser Title – What the page is called in the browser tab
  • SEO Information – meta description and keywords
  • Template –  the name of the existing template in the CMS

And so on. The idea is to have as much information as you can get your hands on about the existing state of the content. Note that this is for web content that lives in a content repository that feeds the website; if you’re talking product content that is created in a component content management system or product information system, then it makes more sense to get that information directly from that system.

content inventory template


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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,



3 Responses to The content inventory

  1. We just released a free tool to generate SharePoint Content Inventories at http://SPContentInventory.codeplex.com

    The tool generates an excel sheet with a complete content inventory including all sites, libraries and lists.

  2. Rebeca says:

    Rahel, I met you at the IA Meetup at Falconetti’s a couple months ago, back before I even knew what a content inventory was. Now I’m actually doing one and I remembered that you had talked about posting this template on your site. I’ll be using this today. Thanks for posting it!

    PS I’m in Victoria and looking forward to your talk at the Island Women in Technology event.

  3. rahelab says:

    Rebeca, I’m delighted that you found something of value on my site, and glad that I’ll know someone at the event on Vancouver Island!

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