How to make content updates less of a chore

Complexity diagram

One of the biggest headaches for comms teams is keeping intranet and website content up-to-date

Websites and intranets can grow to have numerous pages and large quantities of internal links. Keeping content up-to-date and capturing dead links can become a very complex and time consuming job for the in house team. But keeping content current is essential if you are to encourage stakeholders to visit your site regularly, or if you need to persuade your staff to use the intranet as their first port of call for information and resources.

There are some simple things you can do to make content updates easier

The first is to allocate responsibility for all items of content to specific teams or individuals when you first design your intranet. Draw up a simple spreadsheet listing each element of content and allocating a named individual or team as ‘owner’. Most content will sit obviously within a particular team, such as HR or comms, but there will probably be odd pieces in a mature website or intranet that no one seems to own. If that is the case, you should review whether that content is actually needed. If no one owns it then it probably isn’t required or else it needs to be reformulated so it sits more obviously with a particular team.

When you are clear about who owns the content you can agree an update cycle. This is likely to vary for different teams. Some may want to do almost daily updates and others may only need to refresh their content six monthly or so. Once you have agreed this cycle with the content owners you can set up automated reminders for the respective teams to encourage them to review their content.

Whether automated update requests result in the desired outcome will depend on the culture of your organisation. Some teams may respond well to a fixed routine. Others may need a bit more encouragement. If you have got the natural update cycle wrong, or the request comes at a busy time when there are other priorities, they may just ignore them. So you may need to supplement an automated request with a friendly chat. You can also use this as an informal opportunity to check that the website and intranet is working well for that team and sell its benefits.

There are no hard and fast rules for keeping content successfully updated and the most organised teams with the most sophisticated systems can still struggle to keep on top of the job.

We’d love to hear what has worked in your organisation. Is your digital content always bang up-to-date or are there dark corners on your sites that you know need a good spring clean? Share your secrets for success.