Using a Web Content Matrix

A web content matrix can be an immensely useful in tracking your content. Before you create one, you need to decide what information you are going to record on it. Having too much information will make the document unwieldy and time-consuming, perhaps leading to its abandonment. Having too little information can lead to the excel content matrix not fulfilling its potential.

So how do you know what to include?

Creating a web content matrix

You need to make some decisions before you start.

  • How long is the website going to exist for? A typical website may last 3 years before being rebuilt.
  • What information will be useful for you to have in that time period before the website gets rebuilt? Some information will change regularly and some will be static (such as URLS). Having these all in one place can save you a lot of time.
  • Who is going to use it? If this is just for one person (yourself) then you can be quite flexible (e.g. “I know that information is a little old but I don’t need to spend time updating it right now”). If it will be used by multiple people then it needs to be clear what is on it and how accurate it is.

Having a lot of information (such as photo URLs used) that change a lot make the content matrix very difficult to maintain, and you may be better off leaving them out.

The Cycle Ireland Content Matrix

I have 100 routes on the cycleireland.ie site, with 200+ pages, so I wanted all of the information that I would regularly refer to in one place. I used the following columns in my content matrix:

  • Route ID
  • Short name (used on the app)
  • Main image
  • Video URL
  • GPX filename
  • Distance
  • Climbing
  • Difficulty
  • Rating
  • Long name (used on the site)
  • Directions page URL
  • Area
  • Type (linear or loop)
  • Status (on the free or paid app)
  • Central co-ordinate (used by the app)
  • Number of photos in gallery
  • Word count
  • Start town
  • Finish town
  • Published date
  • Keyword

This matrix gave an an overview of the site in a number of important ways. A couple of columns – number of photos and word count – were not updated when changed but still gave a rough overview. If I needed accurate figures for these I could update them at any time. Others, such as rating, occasionally changed and the matrix was updated in tandem. The most important thing is that I understood what was accurate and what was estimated, which is easy to show in a spreadsheet, however you choose to do it.

What about large sites?

This web content matrix was for a small site. If you have a much larger one you need to decide for yourself what is important and how deep to go. Nobody else can make that decision for you. It is a good idea as you are starting off to quickly create a simple matrix and then add to it as you find yourself requiring information.

In this way you don’t need to make a huge blind commitment that you may later regret.