This is one of the 52 terms in The Language of Content Strategy published by XML Press in 2014 and the contributor for this term is Paula Land.

What is it?

The process and result of creating an organized listing of content assets (text, files, audio, video, images) for a body of content. An inventory includes as much information about each piece of content as possible.

Why is it important?

Creates a current-state baseline, which helps to define scope and identify issues for further analysis.

Why does a content strategist need to know this?

Often conducted as the first step in an overall content strategy implementation, a content inventory is a quantitative registry of a body of content. In its typical form, a content inventory is a list of files, generally managed in a tool or spreadsheet. It is used as a starting point in the journey from the current as-is state to a future to-be state.

Although it usually refers to the content of a website, an inventory may also catalog non-digital content to create a complete picture of an organization’s content assets and to allow for auditing across all customer content touchpoints. In addition to establishing the as-is state of the content prior to a redesign or replatforming, inventories can be done as part of ongoing content maintenance.

At minimum, a content inventory contains a list of all the pages, images, documents, media files, and metadata associated with each piece of content. Historically a manual process, this data gathering is now supported by automated tools.

Throughout the course of a redesign or migration project, the content strategist or content manager supplements the basic data with other information relevant to the project. Examples include content ownership, review status, migration notes, redirects, and search-engine-optimized URLs. The inventory is often organized by the structure of the site so that a site navigational model can be derived. The inventory may also be used to track content from one system to another.

A comprehensive content inventory provides the foundation for additional analysis, in the form of the content audit.