When I doing a redesign of a web site sometimes it's interesting to see what existing content we could reuse to save time and money.

Usually I try to write down all the pages in a list and then map the existing pages to the new site map but I'm curious how you make an site inventory, what you look at and how you document it.

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    I don't understand the question. Isn't the definition of a site inventory a list of its pages? What do you expect people to answer here? – Rahul Jan 12 '12 at 13:03
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    - All right. I've seen reports that list everything from meta tags to internal and external page links inside blog posts, related content lists or links to downloadable pdfs etc etc. The reports have been visualised in flow charts, mindmaps, lists etc. It really looks impressive but I curious to know why and when to use what. – Tony Bolero Jan 12 '12 at 14:37
  • Wouldn't it depend on what whoever's requesting the site inventory needs? If they want meta tags, I assume they'd ask for them when they say "please give me a site inventory that includes all the meta tags on each page". I don't think there's such a thing as a "standardised" way to make a site inventory, if that's what you mean. – Rahul Jan 12 '12 at 15:35
  • Yes, it might. I'm not looking for a standardised way. I want to hear about how you use it in case I've missed out something. – Tony Bolero Jan 12 '12 at 19:27

I'd (rather laboriously) go through the site page-by-page and log it all down in a spreadsheet, such as the example I've attached:inventory

Give each page a reference number based on the hierarchy in the site, list the usual details (title, URL) and a brief summary of the content. I've also started listing out all the features found on the page (text, imagery, flash files etc) as that will help you when you're mapping old content to new pages / determining how to handle mobile versions etc.

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    I could have added a similar screen shot. To add get used to using the indent cell format that can then automate the ref numbering using scripts. It takes a long process but almost always pays dividends in the end. – Adam Fellowes Jan 12 '12 at 13:23
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    My template is very simmilar to Jon's excellent example, going through each page indvidually and creating a record for that content.It may also be worth making a record of the template used for each piece of content (if applicable). I also will note the major keywords that encapsulate that content, should we be deriving a new content taxonomy etc. Not the most exciting of tasks so be prepared to stick on some headphones and grind it out :-) – Chris Myhill Jan 12 '12 at 14:31
  • Great. Is it possible to get a copy of your template...? – Tony Bolero Jan 12 '12 at 14:40

The first thing I do with site inventories to do a quick scope assessment survey of the site - just note down the basic hierarchy and count of pages, don't worry about the finer details. This sometimes reveals surprising assumptions - one Wine Sellers website turned out to have less than one hundred products, something which got missed in the briefing. All their competitors had many hundreds going on thousands of products.

Another tip when doing site inventories is to request server access logs, and use those to determine priorities for attention.

These can also turn up long lost sections of content, where there once were links in the site but which have since been removed, and where despite no links in the site you might still be getting lots of traffic courtesy of google or other third party links.

I also use a home-brew Filemaker database for logging my site inventories instead of Excel. Not only can I view the web pages directly alongside the data records, this lets me script extra functionality such as one-click scripts to import a page's title, summary, meta-tags; storing of screen caps of interesting pages; and relational data structures for tracking page templates/types/modules/patterns.

filemaker site inventory

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