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Future student online experiences

Future student online experiences

Sharing the work of the Prospective Student Web Content Team

Auditing is an essential part of content management

Auditing sounds scary. It’s one of those things that often gets overlooked because it just feels too hard or because we don’t have time for it. But it’s essential if you want to manage your content efficiently and minimise risk.

Our scenario

Our job is to manage the prospective student experience. To do that we have to think about the full user journey through our estate, not just the experience on one website.

When trying to map those user journeys, we realised that content aimed at prospective students was spread across multiple websites, managed by multiple teams. We didn’t know enough about who owned it, how often it was being updated, or how well it served prospective student needs.

That’s why we needed an audit.

Approaches to content management

There are a couple of different approaches to managing content across a large web estate.

1. Focus on the success of top tasks, ignoring the rest

With limited resources this might be the only option, but is it really a sensible approach?


  • Don’t dilute resource and effort by spreading your team too thinly.
  • Help users to complete tasks that are important to them, improving their experience.
  • Make the red routes to application smoother.
What is a red route?

Red routes are the priority routes that users take as they step through a website, in order to complete their top tasks. Content that sits on the red routes is the most important since it will serve the largest proportion of your audience.


  • The long tail of poor content gets in the user’s way and confuses them.
  • People are distracted from their top tasks and diverge from red routes.
  • CMA compliance risk still exists due to duplicate / poorly managed content.
What is the long tail?

It’s important to realise that not all content is equal, and never will be.

A small proportion of content on every website will be significantly more important than the rest. This is purely related to the top tasks that most users want to complete on the site. The remained of the content is the long tail: a large proportion of pages that get very little user interaction.

In Google Analytics, take a look at the page views on your site using the content drilldown. You’ll soon see which pages are truly important to your users. This can often be as little as 20% of the pages on your site.

Optimising what’s important, get to know your long neck – Neil’s blog post for Website and Communications

2. Focus on improving all of the content

A more holistic approach to content management would improve the student experience, but is it really possible?


  • Provide a simplified user journey that makes task completion easier by default.
  • Reduce enquiry levels by improving all content.
  • Eradicate duplicate content and remove CMA compliance risk.


  • More resource and effort is needed to tackle the content.
  • Buy-in from other departments, schools and colleges is essential.
  • Content across a large estate changes faster than you can manage it.


No matter which approach you take, you’ll need an audit before you can really begin to take control of the content. You can’t manage what you can’t measure.

If you’re interested in a step-by-step guide on how to approach an audit, see my post on how to tackle a content audit.

How to tackle a content audit – my previous blog post

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