You can't effectively design navigation without knowing what it is you're providing access to. Understanding your content is critical to creating an effective navigation system. Content analysis is a technique that looks at the type, structure, and general nature of information. This will, in part, determine the types of categories and labels you create for navigation, as well as how content will be organized.
There are three levels of detail at which you can analyze content:
A content survey is a high-level analysis of existing sites and content, requiring a sample of different types of information.
With a content inventory, you account for all pages of site, but you don't look at every piece of content in detail.
A content audit implies that every page, document, and other piece of content is recorded and examined. This can be very painstaking and may not be possible for large sites.
Regardless of the approach you take, a content analysis can be very tedious. You'll have to systematically track various aspects of each page in a spreadsheet (Figure 7-2). Record information that will help you find patterns in the information. Although your list might change or evolve as you encounter more content, start by tracking things such as:
Page number or ID
Page type, such as those presented in Chapter 4
Source and content owner
Discards or content that should not be included in a new site
Notes or any other comments about the content
Figure 7-2. A sample content ...