Podcast Episodes

Episode 7: Know Your Content (w/ Paula Ladenburg Land)

May 17, 2022 | 34:36 | Paula Land

Corey and Deane talk about Blend CEO Karla Santi’s recent selection as Small Business Person of the Year for South Dakota.

Then, Paula Ladenburg Land, author of The Content Inventory and Audit Handbook and principal at Strategic Content LLC, joins the podcast to talk about content inventories and content audits, including what separates the two, when and how to worry about auditing, and her first ever content inventory, which arrived as a spreadsheet on one-and-a-half inches of printed paper.

The Web Project Guide (webproject.guide) podcast is sponsored by Blend Interactive, a web strategy, design, and development firm dedicated to guiding teams through complicated web and content problems, from content strategy and design to CMS implementation and support.

Read Chapter 7: Know Your Content.

Show Notes:

Transcript

Corey: (00:11)
Hello, this is the Web Project Guide Podcast, and this is episode seven, Know Your Content. I'm Corey Vilhauer, director of strategy at Blend Interactive, and coauthor of The Web Project Guide. Later on we'll talk to Paula Land, author of the Content Inventory and Audit Handbook, and founder and principal consultant at Strategic Content. But first I'm joined by the other Web Project Guide coauthor, Senior Director of Content Management Research at Optimizely. Hi Deane.

Deane: (00:37)
Corey, I feel like I just saw you.

Corey: (00:39)
You did, roughly two days ago.

Deane: (00:42)
I know. We're recording this on a Friday, and I don't get to see Corey enough any more. I used to see him too much, and now I hardly ever see him.

Corey: (00:47)
Never.

Deane: (00:49)
We were at an event together. Corey, tell the nice people about the event.

Corey: (00:53)
Well the event was for Karla Santi, who's the CEO and one of the founders at Blend Interactive, and she was named the small business owner of the year for South Dakota. I don't know what the exact actual award is.

Deane: (01:07)
Small business person, I think? I don't know, [inaudible 00:01:08].

Corey: (01:08)
Small business person of the year, yeah. For South Dakota.

Deane: (01:10)
I went both to congratulate Karla, and because Karla has always been great at events, and so I knew the food was going to be spectacular, and I was not disappointed. It was amazing.

Deane: (01:20)
So Karla and Joe and I founded Blend in 2005, and I'm always very, very careful not to say that I ran Blend, because if truth be told, I was kind of an impediment to running Blend, more than anything. I founded Blend, I owned Blend, and I worked there, and I made Karla's life very difficult, but she transcended and triumphed over me, and is now small business person of the year of South Dakota. So good job, Karla, for surviving the Deane Barker years.

Corey: (01:50)
Yeah, it's very good. None of this has anything to do with what our topic is today, Dean.

Deane: (01:54)
No, none. But we saw each other, which is fun.

Corey: (01:56)
Yeah, great. Okay, well I'm going to segue into that topic, and this is how I do it.

Deane: (01:59)
Hit me.

Corey: (02:00)
First of all, I was going to say, I called you the coauthor again, which is correct, I said it the right way. But I was going to call you something else. I might start a new thing where I call you a co-something.

Deane: (02:09)
Okay.

Corey: (02:09)
At the beginning of every episode. But I'm not sure what it is.

Deane: (02:13)
Don't tell me what it is, and then it'll be like Bill Hader doing Stefon on Weekend Update, and John Mulaney would rewrite the cue cards and not tell him what it was going to be, and that's what you broke all the time.

Corey: (02:26)
Yeah. And you know that it will have to be positive, because I'm calling you a co-something, so I'm insinuating myself in whatever else I say as well.

Deane: (02:33)
True, okay. What are we talking about today, buddy?

Corey: (02:36)
Anyway, we're going to talk to Paula Land. Paula Land is author of The Content Inventory and Audit Handbook, and founder and principal consultant at Strategic Content, where she's done work at Costco, REI, NetApp. She was also the creator of Content Insight, who developed a tool that we used to call the content analysis tool. Which is no more, but it was a very cool thing that she did.

Deane: (02:58)
And in no way do I want to marginalize Paula as a fully rendered human being, but if you're talking to Paula Land, you can really only be talking about one thing.

Corey: (03:09)
And that's content inventories.

Deane: (03:10)
Content inventories, because she has begun to specialize in this very niche area, along with, there's some other people in the field. David Hobbes does quite a bit in this space. But there are people who concentrate on this kind of content inventory space and know what content you have out there. And what I plan to talk to Paula about is, I think it's weird that we even have to have a specialization in content inventories. Because in this world of content automation and content management systems, shouldn't the least we can do is know what content's on a website at any given time?

Corey: (03:45)
Yeah. It feels a little bit like a specialization in logging in, or a specialization on starting up your computer.

Deane: (03:50)
So I feel like we should be beyond the point where we have to do big content inventories, but the fact is, we do. Corey, you and I both know from our years in consulting that the one thing nobody knows is what the hell they have on the website, and what it's all there for. And so you always have to have this phase of a new project where you sit down and have this come-to-Jesus meeting where you figure out what's all that on your website.

Corey: (04:15)
We'll get to that, but first, this episode of the Web Project Guide Podcast is brought to you by Blend Interactive, the previously mentioned Blend Interactive, a web strategy design and development firm dedicated to building great websites. Blend's been guiding teams through complicated web and content projects for nearly 17 years, and we're always looking for our next big project, so visit us at BlendInteractive.com.

Corey: (04:42)
All right, let's welcome our guest, Paula Land. Hi Paula, how are you?

Paula: (04:44)
Hey Corey, hi Deane, I'm good, thanks. Thanks for having me.

Deane: (04:47)
What I find interesting about this is, when we had to do the chapter on content inventories, it was literally just the one person. You, Paula, right?

Paula: (04:57)
Yeah, it's not a topic that there is a lot written about. And I don't think it's because it's not important, but I'm not sure why there isn't more out there about it. As I'm working on the second edition of the book, I'm kind of trying to refresh myself and see what's happened, or what's been written, since the first edition came out. I'm actually kind of surprised how little there is out there about inventories and audits.

Corey: (05:21)
What I want to know is, I don't want to say you're pigeonholed, but you've become very known for this interesting aspect of digital projects. Can you give us a little background about ... I hate to say that you've become known as the content audit lady, but how did this happen? How did you get into this particular field?

Paula: (05:42)
I think, if I'm tracing way back, I began my career as an editor in publishing, and I think this is such a natural outgrowth of being the kind of person, and having that sort of orientation and skillset that is looking at something that exists, and finding what's wrong with it. I think in a way, it's very similar to that editorial process. Evaluating, understanding, what is this, why was this created, who was it created for, is it actually fulfilling that purpose? So when I made the transition from print publishing, working on books, to digital, I just kind of brought, I think, that sort of mindset with me.

Paula: (06:37)
So, became an opportunity that, when I started working in consulting, when I start working at Razorfish, the first thing I was asked to do was to take an inventory that had been created and sort of be the content strategist on that project, and work with that inventory. Even at that time, I actually didn't know what a content inventory was. My manager plopped onto my desk about an inch and a half thick printout of a spreadsheet that someone had decided needed to be printed, and plopped it on my desk and said, "Here's the inventory." I remember looking at this going, "I don't even know what this is." So I'm paging through this spreadsheet and figuring it out, and so that's kind of how it all began.

Paula: (07:22)
Then, I think having detail orientation, trying to find patterns and solve problems and stuff, all kind of feeds into that. So that's sort of the origin story of ...

Deane: (07:35)
Of the content inventory lady?

Paula: (07:37)
Yeah.

Corey: (07:38)
It's like a superhero. You should have a logo or something.

Paula: (07:43)
I'm trying to imagine what that would be, yeah.

Corey: (07:45)
So Paula, your book is the Content Inventory and Audit Handbook. You're working on a second edition.

Paula: (07:49)
Yes.

Corey: (07:50)
Deane, you have now called her the content inventory lady and the content audit lady. I think for people who are in that position that you were in when you first started, what is your definition that separates, this is a content inventory, this is a content audit, and is there really even a difference in some places? Maybe it's just a spectrum of work.

Paula: (08:09)
It is true that people kind of conflate these two things, and of course, kind of can't do one without the other. Well certainly it's hard to do an audit without doing an inventory. You can certainly do an inventory first, but it is definitely the sort of quantitative versus qualitative. But the thing is, what I'm finding more and more, and especially, I teach classes in doing it, there's some gray area there. Because there's a lot you can learn even just from the data. So doing an inventory, there are things you can start to evaluate just from that spreadsheet, or that Excel file, or that report. But I still think it's the objective versus the subjective, or the quantitative versus the qualitative. The audit is when you start applying human analysis to that, and bringing in the context.

Deane: (09:01)
I often think people do inventories and audits just, I want to use the word perfunctory, and I hope I'm using it right, as just an obligatory thing that they feel like they need to do. And they get a bunch of data from it, but they've never sat and figured out what questions they want to ask.

Paula: (09:18)
Right.

Deane: (09:18)
I feel like any conversation about big data is like this. I've read a bunch of books on big data and data science, and they're all about getting the data and analyzing the data, but nobody bothers to say, what questions do you want to learn from this? So you're awash in ... What is it, oceans of whatever and not a drop to drink.

Paula: (09:37)
Yeah. I think if someone asks you to do an inventory and an audit, the first question is, why? What are you planning to do with this? Because if you don't have a plan for what you're going to with what you learn from this, then why spend the time to do it? Because you will do something like an inventory and audit, that then sits as a spreadsheet somewhere on a drive, and nobody ever does anything with it. And six months later you go, "Well probably we should just redo that, because things have changed," so we just start from scratch again.

Deane: (10:12)
Tell me a situation where doing an inventory and audit is not valuable. I guess one answer would be when you're not going to use it.

Paula: (10:20)
Well yeah, I was just going to say, kind of just what I said. If you don't actually have a plan to make any use of it then don't waste your time. But I would wonder ... I could actually see a scenario where you could do, as I said, an inventory, without going on to do an audit, because if an inventory answers enough of your questions ...

Paula: (10:41)
Say you're doing a migration, and you're not planning to do anything to that content in between system A and system B. What you may be able to get enough out of your inventory to know, if you can derive content types, if you can derive the site structure and stuff from the report that you get, or from the CMS. The kinds of things you need to know, "We're going to migrate this content type of this content type," we don't need to know much more about that in these systems.

Paula: (11:12)
That's way oversimplifying it ... Even to some extent, you can scope down on migration from that. If you say, "We know we're only going to take the press releases from the last two years," so just lop off that stuff. Or, "This section of the site is no longer relevant," or something. From your own knowledge of the site, or by looking at dates or whatever.

Deane: (11:34)
We've worked with some customers when I was at Blend, and I was in services, we worked with some customers that declined to do an inventory or audit because they decided that their new website was going to bear absolutely no ... I call that the scorched earth philosophy. They weren't planning on looking back, and so is there a relevance to even doing an inventory and audit in that case? If they are going to completely wipe the decks and start over.

Paula: (12:00)
If they are intending to just rewrite every piece of content and redesign every template and every page type, I guess. At that point, is it even the same project?

Deane: (12:14)
Right. The only thing it shares is a domain name, really.

Paula: (12:18)
Right, yeah. The one thing that I think people may not realize that you can get out of the process of doing an audit is, where the holes are, where the weak links are, in your processes. Workflows, your guidelines, your standards, your training of your staff to create and manage content well. So going into, that might be an argument for still doing at least some analysis of ... There's a reason. What's the reason they're just abandoning everything that they created and started over? Was it because it's poor content? Well you might want to solve the reason that you have poor content before you stand up a whole new website. So is there something to learn at least at a high level, of how you got to that point?

Deane: (13:11)
Like a postmortem, right?

Paula: (13:12)
Exactly, yeah. And the other thing is, really, there's nothing worth saving? You invested money and resources and people in creating that. Are you willing to just walk away from that investment? Would there be any value in improving some of that, keeping some of it and improving it, versus starting from scratch? And it could be that the answer is no.

Corey: (13:38)
Yeah. We at Blend have probably run into a handful of projects over the past several years where the intention was to get rid of most of their content, and almost every single situation, as we get moving through the process, we thankfully have done some kind of content inventory. We've done a content inventory because we just need to know what content types we need on the site. We need to know what we're working with to be able to design and develop something later on. Every single time, they come back and say, "Actually we're going to probably migrate most of this content, because we have underestimated the amount of time it's going to take to write the content."

Paula: (14:15)
Yeah, exactly.

Corey: (14:16)
"We realize now we want to change all these different things." In that sense it was almost kind of nice to have separated the idea of content inventory and a content audit, because they don't have to happen at the same time. You can sort of separate those out, and then when you get to the point where you have more time, now it's time to review all this content. Don't let it hold up the entire web project to do so.

Corey: (14:39)
I kind of want to ask, on that sort of vein, this idea of the time it takes to ... If you're part of an internal team, the time it takes to handle your own content audit, to make sure that you are keeping up with different things. What are some of the recommendations that you would have, or the processes that you've put in place, or seen organizations put in place, to sort of tackle a large, sometimes, often, manual, multi-person sort of site audit?

Paula: (15:07)
It sounds like you're getting at sort of rolling audits, or ...

Corey: (15:10)
That's right, yep.

Paula: (15:11)
Yeah. Because ideally you're not doing a massive page by page site audit every year, or every quarter, or whatever. So it really does make sense to sort of ... You may have to do that once, but then ideally what you're doing is, which of this content do we need to review most frequently? This comes up in the chapter in your book as well, that there's content that's evergreen, or that doesn't update frequently enough, because you talk about the velocity of updates to content. If content doesn't get updated more frequently than a year or two years, whatever, then don't audit it every year. Other than the context in which it appears, if that changes at all, or if what links to it, or what it links to or whatever. I think there's still some benefit of seeing that sort of bigger picture.

Paula: (16:08)
Ideally the analogy to make, I guess, is sort of, and it's not my analogy, but it's weeding a garden or something. You don't want to have to spend a ton of time doing the backbreaking work of pulling out all of those weeds and getting it cleaned up, and then just let it go until it's that much of a mess again. Instead, you go out every Saturday and you pull a few weekends.

Corey: (16:33)
This is going to be a very general question, but are content inventories and audits a symbol of our failure at governance? Because at any given time, shouldn't we know what's out there? We have CMSs, we have content management systems; the idea that we have to all stop and do this big heroic thing to figure out what content we're putting on the website, how did we get to that point?

Paula: (16:55)
Yeah. That's a very good point, and I have to say, I am seeing and doing a lot more work right now on the topic of governance. And it is kind of like I was saying before, how did you get to the point where your content has been this kind of a mess? Where was your governance lacking? Where were your processes and your workflows and your tools and training and all that kind of stuff? And can you address that? Because ideally, yeah, you are creating high quality and well managed content on a regular basis.

Paula: (17:27)
The problem, I think, is that it's easier to create content than to go back and do anything with it once it's out there. Depending on what your business is and everything, the train's moving, you're creating new stuff all the time, and that's where your people's efforts and time are focused, is more on the new stuff. So it is a challenge to go back, and things change. Your business changes, your audience changes. So hopefully what you're going back to look at is not just completely ungoverned, but you still need to go back and look at it.

Paula: (18:05)
I think in terms of what you can do, and this kind of gets to the rolling audits and stuff too, are there sort of flags you can set to say, "Review this content every few months," or whatever. And I mean literally have somebody get the workflow notification, "Go back and review this and just approve it," and do it that way. Versus having it be a big, "We're going to audit everything."

Deane: (18:29)
My big thing these days have been on incrementalism, the idea that we do these big bang efforts and stuff, and we don't ... You used a gardening analogy, which is lost on me because I kill every plant that I come in contact with. You talked about just going out every weekend and pulling the weeds out of the garden. Our business is focused on the big bang, the digital transformation, to use a horribly overused phrase, and digital transformation is just such a silly phrase. It really should be digital evolution or digital progression. And I think it shouldn't be content inventory, it should be content maintenance, content pruning.

Paula: (19:07)
Agreed. Yeah. I'm there with you on that.

Deane: (19:13)
So now if anybody's listening to this podcast because they wanted to learn about content inventories, I've just insulted them.

Deane: (19:18)
I remember a case study that I read once about an intranet, which I always thought was hilarious, is that every piece of content on an intranet had a review date, where it's to be next reviewed by. And if the review date passed, then at the top of the content ... Every content had an owner and a review date. If the review date passed without it being reset, a banner appeared that says, "This content might be out of date," et cetera, et cetera. Then if it was like 30 days past, the content would no longer display, and instead would display a content card for the content owner, and said, "Bob has not reviewed this content. Please call him at this number and ask him ..."

Paula: (20:00)
Oh wow.

Deane: (20:00)
I thought that was hilarious. You can only get away with that on an intranet, and it's incredibly passive-aggressive, but I'm sure it was quite effective.

Paula: (20:07)
Yeah. Kind of what I was saying, can you, in your CMS, put a review-by date? It's complicated, because there are different, as you were saying, different kinds of content needs review more frequently or whatever, but if that's what it takes to sort of ... Maybe that's a little bit too much, but some dashboard or some report gets run monthly, or whatever cadence makes sense, that says, "Here's the content that needs to be re-reviewed, and there's the person who owns that who should go into ..." Whether it's a spreadsheet or the CMS or whatever, and just say, "Yep, still good," or, "You're right, we need to update this."

Deane: (20:42)
I like the idea of having this built in and having this report. And I think you've alluded to this a few times, the second part of that is providing the ability to have any sort of attention. Because you don't want to just drop this into somebody's job description, it has to be that sort of, the culture of audit requires you to look at this website like we would look at a house. And we always use the house analogy, the house analogy is the easiest one for a website.

Paula: (21:09)
Right.

Deane: (21:10)
If you don't have somebody making sure that the furnace is staying up-to-date, and making sure that there aren't cracks in the driveway and stuff like that, a website is as much of an investment as that.

Paula: (21:20)
It is, right.

Deane: (21:20)
And you need to have people ... You have to give them the ability to do that. We make a lot of recommendations, "If you're going to build this brand new website and your web team is two people, you might probably want to find a third to come in and ..." Or you're going to have to try to convince all those different departments to be like, "You're responsible for this part of your audit. You're responsible for keeping up on this." Which is, again, very difficult to push through.

Paula: (21:44)
Yeah. And I think you need to treat your content as a business asset. Because it is, you've invested in it. You've paid people to create it. It is serving your business in some way or other, presumably. If it's not then you audit it and get it out of there. But having that same ... Product companies particularly, obviously, are very focused on the quality of their product, or their service. You need to have that same sort of mindset to say, the content that supports that product and service is just as important, and we need to have that same sort of commitment to quality and maintenance of that as we do to what we're actually selling to people.

Deane: (22:25)
I've always loved the idea of what I call a judgment day audit. In theology judgment day is when you'll be confronted with all your sins and have to answer for them. And I found the most fun, morbidly fun, type of content in inventory and audit is where you just get a bunch of people in a conference room and spend an entire morning clicking around the website. And those are always hilarious, because invariably you'll click on a link, and there will be dead silence, and somebody will be like, "What the hell is this?" And then somebody else will be like, "This is that thing that Bob wanted three years ago that we spent all that money on." They're like, "I have never seen this before in my life." That phrase, "I have never seen this before in my life," is the most common one you will here. That's why I call it judgment day audit, where you just call everyone to account for their sins. Those

Corey: (23:12)
One fun thing to do is, also, in the search bar, grab a random year from the past, like 2003, and enter that in and see how many pieces come up that have, "This is an invite for the 2003 end of year event." That doesn't probably need to be there any more.

Deane: (23:27)
Here's our internet announcement about the parking lot being resurfaced 23 years ago.

Paula: (23:32)
That's definitely a sort of fun and engaging way, if you're going, in the scenario that you guys work in, where you're coming in as consultants to do those things. Even to say, "How many pages do you think are on your website?" Just go around the room and somebody will say, "I think probably a few hundred," and someone's like, "It's probably more like 500 or 600." You actually have 4,000 or something. If you don't know that you have all those, then you're clearly not tending all of those. So if you're coming in as a consultant and surprising people, and pointing out that, yeah, you still do that announcement about the parking lot resurface, it definitely can be a big revelation to people. I think those examples are kind of extreme, but it's not that uncommon. I've certainly found really similar situations going in and auditing content. It is quite common for people to say, "We'd forgotten that was out there," or, "We don't know who to even ask."

Corey: (24:38)
Paula, tell us about the book. I always want to say you're redoing the book, but that's not necessarily ... Maybe it is. When you do a second edition, is it a redo?

Paula: (24:47)
What I started to do with it ... So the book actually came out, it's kind of shocking for me to realize, in 2014, so it's eight years. But what's interesting is that, in some ways, very little has changed. I mean in terms of just what it is, and the why you do it and all that. And there's not even a lot ... As I said, I've kind of done a little bit of a literature review to see what else has been written about inventories and audits. There really is not that much being written. But I don't think that doesn't mean they're being done.

Paula: (25:20)
One of the things I'm trying to do is add more of that sort of context, and more lessons learned, and try to bring in a bit more success stories, horror stories, tips and tricks. In the eight years since it was done, I've done more audits, I've seen what's changing, just in terms of how content is managed and presented and so on. So it's a bit of a mix, I think, in terms of new to old or whatever. It's probably going to be 75% of basically what was there before, but I'm trying to add some more of the best practices and tips and tricks I've learned, and what I'm able to get from the community.

Deane: (26:09)
You never know what you know until you have to write it down.

Paula: (26:09)
Yeah. And I wish I could just speak it, because it's so much easier to just have these conversations than to sit and type it all out. But I think a lot o f the stuff that we've talked about today has become even more obviously important to me, and that is stuff like understanding the why's and the questions that you're trying to answer, and the scoping audits, and what do you need to look at and how much of it. Again, all around this sort of, what's your end goal, what are you going to do with this?

Corey: (26:43)
All right, well the book is the Content Inventory and Audit Handbook. Paula, thanks for joining us.

Paula: (26:48)
Thanks for having me. I thought it would be good to talk to you guys on my favorite topic.

Deane: (26:51)
Good to see you again, Paula.

Corey: (26:52)
Awesome.

Paula: (26:53)
All right, bye.

Corey: (27:01)
All right, we are back. We just talked to Paula Land. Deane, I have a question for you. I did not prepare you for this, but I'm honestly curious about it. Why did you choose the content inventory chapter as the first chapter of the book that you were going to write?

Deane: (27:17)
Funny story, I wrote the introduction first, and then I asked you ... You? I asked somebody, it was either you or Karen [inaudible 00:27:26].

Corey: (27:27)
I think it was Karen McGrane actually.

Deane: (27:28)
Asked somebody, I said, "Pick a chapter," I just wanted to make sure this was viable, and I said, "Pick a chapter and I'll write that chapter." And I remember where I was. I remember where I was when I wrote the content inventory chapter. I had flown into Berlin and taken the train to Frankfurt, and I had gone to a content strategy event in Darmstadt, which is right outside Frankfurt, and I was the only non-German speaker at a German content strategy event. But I did speak there. It was related to the university course that I teach in Austria. After that, that was on a Saturday, it was content strategy camp on a Saturday, and I had an extra day. At the time I owned a Porsche, and so I took the train further south to Stuttgart, and I went to the Porsche museum in Stuttgart, and I wrote that chapter in the lobby of my hotel in Stuttgart, Germany. That's where that happened.

Deane: (28:18)
I kept very careful track ... I was trying to figure out the workload for the book, and I kept very careful track of how long it took, and the rough draft took four hours of writing to get the rough draft of that chapter in. So it was the second, outside of the introduction it was probably the second chapter I wrote. And weirdly it was written in your part of the book. It was like your content strategy part, and I wrote that.

Corey: (28:44)
Yeah. That was one of the chapters that, I think you kind of handed that over, and you handed over the first chapter, potentially. Then I turned the first chapter into four chapters, as only I can do, and then I think I also added about 1,000-plus words to the inventory chapter. The idea of writing this in four hours was no longer really viable once two people showed up as part of that.

Corey: (29:08)
Content inventory, it's like you said before the break, it's a thing that everybody should do, and everybody has probably done in some sense, but maybe not formal. Everybody has gone through a look at the site and said, "Here's what I think we have," but it's that sort of formal construction of a deliverable that makes it a lot more important.

Deane: (29:30)
I think it's funny too that throughout this podcast we've been talking about the pseudopsychological aspects of this, and you would think, content inventory, that has to be the least most interpretive, or emotionally laden, part of it. Nope, starts all the way back there. Because you start talking to people about what content was on the website, and why it was there, and what was the purpose, and the fact is, the social engineering aspects of this business and this job and this project start immediately. It is essentially an exercise in social engineering.

Deane: (30:00)
And hey, interesting story, this morning I went to an alumni council meeting at my alma mater. I'm a May alumni council of Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. And they took us on a tour of the new residence hall that they're building. The tour was given by the construction manager, and he was from a big construction company. I had a nice conversation with him, and he said he really doesn't know that much about construction. He said his job is all people engineering and coordination. So there are people that know about construction, and he's very glad that they're on the project, but his job is, schedule management and people management, and keeping all of the oars rowing in the right direction. This just goes back to the overwhelming part of these projects that we work on, as it is fundamentally human and social engineering.

Corey: (30:48)
I think, we didn't talk about this specifically with Paula, but it reminds me that the idea of doing something like a cent inventory, or a content audit, which feels like a one-person, one-task sort of idea. The best audits, the best inventories, the best attention you can give to that, is to actually have a bunch of people helping you with that. It doesn't have to be ... It's too big of a job for one person to do. So it's important for me to do the inventory at the start of a project, because I need to know what's on the site. But if it's a site that you own, or that your organization runs, there shouldn't be one person who's just like, this is all they do. You kind of have to dole it out and make sure that you are managing all of these different people who are going to provide insight and opinions about all these different pages on the site.

Deane: (31:34)
Then, once you clean your house from top to bottom, you always say to yourself, okay, now I'm just not going to let it get messy again. I'm going to clean it up as I go. That's how I always feel like after everybody does content inventory. I'm like, okay, now we're going to keep track of our stuff from this point forward. We're never going to get to the point where we have to do this all over again. I think that's a pipe dream. I think we all lose track, and stuff gets added. Wouldn't it be great if you were in such a place with governance and digital quality management that you always knew what was on the website and what the purpose was, and nothing fell through the cracks. I don't think we'll ever get there.

Corey: (32:06)
No. I just imagined the idea ... We have a dog, she's one and a half years old, it's been raining here in Sioux Falls. She will come into the house and she will go to every spot where there's white carpet, and she will walk over that at that point with muddy paws. And I imagine there's probably a metaphor there. There's some middle management person who wanders in and starts messing up all of the pages because you let him into it for a bit, and they've touched all the things they shouldn't touch, and now your inventory's broken.

Deane: (32:38)
So the two experts on inventories are Paula Land and your dog.

Corey: (32:41)
That's right.

Corey: (32:43)
Perfect, that's our show. Thanks to our guest, Paula Land, author of the Content Inventory and Audit Handbook. She's working on a second edition, so we hope you reach out to her with any additional information and ideas. We'll make sure that her contact info is in the show notes. The Web Project Guide is a product of Blend Interactive, a web strategy design and development shop that builds websites and guides teams through complicated web and content problems, from content strategy and design to CMS implementation and support. We are dedicated to making great things for the web, and this podcast is one of those things.

Corey: (33:14)
A fun fact about the Web Project Guide is that it started in earnest many years ago with this specific chapter on content inventory, as Deane said. Now it's an actual physical book that we would love if you checked out. You can order the book at WebProject.guide, or you can order it internationally on Amazon.

Corey: (33:31)
This is episode seven of the Web Project Guide, which also corresponds with chapter seven of the book, Know Your Content. So if you want to check out this chapter, or the book as a whole, it is also available for free. Visit WebProject.guide/Inventory for even more resources on this topic. And if you like this topic, we suggest checking out last month's episode on understanding site outcomes with our friend, David Gammel.

Corey: (33:53)
If you're listening to this on Spotify or Apple Music or whatever podcast app you use, make sure you help us out by giving us a five-star review. It does two things. It feeds or insatiable egos, but more than that, it actually gives a little bit more visibility to the podcast as a whole. We would really appreciate that.

Corey: (34:12)
With that, make sure you stick around and listen next month, where we'll be talking about gathering data and analytics, and what you can do with all of that information as part of your web project. And until then, go do amazing things.

Deane: (34:22)
Good luck.