ROT is in the air. Not because it’s late fall and everything is dying in the garden, no. I’m talking about web ROT – redundant, outdated and trivial content that clutters up big websites.
In the Government of Canada context, with CLF updates coming down the pipe, the opportunity to reduce the ROT [NB internal GCpedia link] is there. You’re gonna have to update your site anyhow, so why not kill off those old pages that have been online & unchanged since the 1990s?
It’s a noble quest, but I do wonder if it’s tilting at windmills.
The “reduce the ROT” idea is basically to prune back your content so that what’s left is the good stuff. The quality stuff that most of your users want, the long neck of your website. The top tasks.
Thing is, to remove the ROT, precious hours of your web team’s time will be spent identifying, unposting and archiving all that mess. If your site is big enough, it’s a question of many hours on that “mind-numbing” journey through the depths of your web content. & if responsibility for web is shared (as in decentralized situations that are still very common in government web management), you’re likely going to have to do battle with small-minded content owners who refuse to see the big picture.
Weeding out the ROT is actually an indirect way to fix your website. So instead, why not just cut to the chase and push the good stuff to the top of the pile? Rather than cutting away ROT, why not directly optimize your killer content?
Here’s some ideas on how that might happen:
- tweak your on-site search to push the top content up the results
- offsite, enhance the findability of your best content via SEO
- provide dedicated landing pages for top tasks and content — and then make sure search results and site nav get you to these
- tweak your nav to provide more direct paths to the good stuff
- feature the good stuff prominently on your home page
- and most of all, switch your focus from managing content to managing those key tasks.
… and there’s many more things that can be done. That’s just a quick off-the-top-of-my-head starter list. What are you doing to bring quality forward on your site?
(Of course, both reducing the ROT and optimizing the quality content would be the best possible approach, but since I live the reality of limited time and resources, I need to prioritize… and so these days, I’m putting my energy towards surfacing the good stuff first.)