There’s nothing wrong — and quite a lot right — with these priorities. But if you want to ready your content to be more flexible and adaptable, then you can’t just look at each page individually. You need to start finding patterns in the content.
It’s a simple question, really: What are we publishing? If your first an
swer is “a page,” look again. What’s the shape of this content? What is this content most essentially? Is it an interview, a feature story, a product, a bio, a recipe, an erotic poem, a manifesto? Asking these questions will help you see the natural pieces and parts that make up the content.
When you do, you’ll have a structural model for the content that matches your users’ mental model — i.e. the way they perceive what they’re looking at and how they understand what it means.
For example, I recently worked with a large publicly traded company whose website dates back to the early aughts. After a couple of responsive microsites, they’ve caught the bug and want to update everything. Problem is, the existing website’s a mess of subdomains, redirects and thousands of pages that are nowhere near ready for flexible layouts.
Our first step was to dig deep, like a geologist — except that instead of unearthing strata of shale and sandstone marking bygone eras, we identified and documented all of the forgotten templates, lost content and abandoned initiatives we could.
We ended up with a dozen or so content types that fit pretty much anything the company was producing. Sure, we still ended up with some general “pages.” But more often than not, our audit revealed something more specific — and useful — about the content’s nature. When it didn’t, that was often a sign that the content wasn’t serving a purpose — which put it on the fast track to retirement.