Reduce Redundant, Outdated and Trivial Content

Government of Canada websites should deliver easy-to-find, clear, accurate, up-to-date information to their visitors. To make government information easy to find and use, government departments need to be aware of the information published online and ensure quality information is delivered, evaluated and reviewed regularly.

The key steps in managing an effective content lifecycle are outlined below.

The benefits of removing Web content that has become redundant, outdated or trivial (ROT) include:

  • Increased ease of finding and using Web content
  • A better experience for visitors
  • Decreased website maintenance costs
  • Enhanced ability to deliver services online
The four steps to reducing redundant, outdated and trivial web content: complete a content inventory; evaluate and assess content; archive content online or offline; re-write, re-organize, re-publish content.

Step 1: Complete a Content Inventory

Departments need to know what information they have online in order to keep it current and useful. Every page needs a content owner and a review cycle. Creating a content inventory - a list of all the pages on your site – is the first step towards ensuring that you know exactly what information is housed on your site.

During this step you are not assessing or evaluating content for ROT, just listing what you currently have on your site.

Activity:
Crawl site
Purpose:
Identify all pages on a website

Step 2: Evaluate and Assess Content

Does content need to be removed simply because it is dated? Is the information relevant to your programs?

After making these decisions (which will vary depending on your users’ needs, website’s goals and organization’s mandate), determine a set of agreed-upon assessment criteria. Next, review each section or page listed in the content inventory in order to:

  • evaluate its content and quality, and
  • determine whether it is still useful or has become redundant, outdated and/or trivial.

Program managers must approve changes since there may be legitimate reasons to keep old content.

Activity:
Review each section or page
Purpose:
Evaluate page value, assess content

Step 3: Archive Content Online or Offline

There are two ways to archive Web content – keep it online but indicate that it is no longer being maintained or remove it from the site and archive it in an offline corporate repository.

Working with your organization’s information management and recordkeeping units, identify the potential impacts of maintaining archived content online as well as the potential impacts of removing content from the Web for offline archiving.

In cases where you want to keep content online that is no longer being maintained or updated, clearly denote its archive status.

Timely and consistent processes ensure the proper management of information and prevent future growth of redundant, outdated or trivial content.

Activity:
Archive content online or offline
Purpose:
Remove pages that no longer have a purpose and ensure that pages archived online are clearly labelled as such

Step 4: Re-write, Re-organize, Re-publish Content

If you are not archiving the content, you may need to rewrite, reorganize and/or republish content to ensure it is effective and compliant to the Standard on Web Accessibility and the Standard on Web Usability.

Content that is out-of-date, but not archived, needs to be rewritten and updated. Effective, usable web content is written in plain language.

Once you have updated all the information, determine why this information is important to the audience. What message is most important? What are your organization's goals in posting this information? In short, what's the point?

While keeping the "point" in mind, look for ways to merge similar information. You may also want to consult with your information architect to determine whether this content needs to move to a different place on your website to increase the potential for visitors to find it.

Activity:
Rewrite, reorganize and/or republish content
Purpose:
Ensure Web content is written in plain language and is usable, easy to find and compliant to the Government of Canada Web Standards