It’s spring in Indiana, which means we’re all stuck inside waiting for the sun to come out. While you’re here, consider cleaning up your website. Like most spring cleaning, you can do it in 20 minutes or two days. You can scrub the crevices and baseboards of your site, or just wipe down the stuff your guests can see. You can purge old files, or just hide them in a folder. You get the idea.
The best thing about the web is that it’s editable: with routine effort, you can keep the information on your site relevant, orderly, and up-to-date. Regular site maintenance is a chore, but someone’s got to do it. Follow these spring cleaning tips to keep your website from collecting dust.
- Check for broken links. We use a free program called Xenu to crawl sites and look for broken links. It’s like a Roomba for the web. You can download the Xenu tool here (PC only). Another option is to check for broken links manually: click every link on your site to see what’s broken, or enlist an intern to do it.
- Check faculty and staff directories. Have people switched jobs or departments? Is your administrative assistant from five years ago now the dean? These are the first errors people in your unit will point out—but not always. Check to make sure everyone is listed accurately.
- Archive or delete past events. Make some room on your events calendar by archiving or deleting the pages of events that have already happened. Note: it’s okay to highlight past events and important speakers, but remove dates and times to eliminate confusion for users.
- Update your academic bulletin links. The academic bulletin is updated every year or two, depending on the school. If your website links to the academic bulletin for course descriptions, degree requirements, and other program details, make sure those links are for the current academic year.
- Search your site for “2017.” A lot of your outdated information will live in your events feed, but it hides in other places, too. Here’s a trick to find outdated information on your site that may appear on a standard page. Do a site search for “2017,” and review the results for any dates that are no longer relevant (application deadlines, event itineraries, and so on).
Do a full content audit. A content audit is an inventory of the pages, information, tasks, links, and images on your site. If you like spreadsheets, you’ll love content audits, because the whole thing goes down in hundreds of tiny organized cells.
Start by using a site crawling tool (we use Screaming Frog SEO Spider) to round up every indexable page URL on your site. Use this list as the foundation for your content audit: how much of your content is poorly written, too long, too short, or completely irrelevant? Are your pages missing metadata? Do you have duplicate content or placeholder language? Make detailed notes that could lead to action items later.
Keep, edit, delete, or combine. Once you’ve audited your site, you can start to find patterns and relationships across pages and sections.
Perhaps you don’t need a page of meeting minutes that date back to 1999, for example. Maybe you can combine your five separate faculty directories into one. Keeping your content lean but relevant is the goal.