‘Clarity, Trust, Persuasion’: a framework for content audits

A content audit involves analysing existing content on a website to see what’s working, what isn’t working and how it can be improved.

We often conduct content audits for our clients, but we don’t always use the same format. However, there is one particular framework that we come back to time and time again – ‘Clarity, Trust, Persuasion’.

Why ‘Clarity, Trust, Persuasion’ is the ideal framework for content audits:

  • It’s flexible enough to work in many scenarios and relevant to pretty much any website or app, regardless of the context
  • It allows you to draw on UX, SEO and conversion principles to audit website content in a holistic way
  • It covers three key themes that often ‘make or break’ content
  • It’s easy for stakeholders to follow

What makes a good content audit?

Before exploring the framework, it’s important to understand what makes a good content audit, regardless of how it’s structured.

It outlines recommendations as well as findings

Outlining hundreds of content issues without recommending any actions makes the job of finding solutions much harder in the future. Listing recommendations together in one document helps you to see where ideas cross over and which solutions might have the biggest impact. We tend to highlight the problem (to inspire future ideas) and then propose the solution that we think is best to test.

Problem-based example: There are no trust signals on the page

Solution-based example: Introduce the Feefo rating above the fold and add a testimonial component after the summary to increase the number of trust factors on the page

It shows findings grouped into clear themes

Categorising findings helps you to better understand the quality of the content and get a quick view of overall strengths and weaknesses. If most of the findings fall under the ‘Persuasion’ theme, for example, you’ll probably want to involve a conversion specialist and collaborate with them on ideas for making key CTAs more compelling.

It’s backed up by data and research

Resources such as buyer personas, user needs, Google Analytics data and previous usability research findings can help both steer recommendations and give them more weight.

Screen capture

The ‘Clarity, Trust, Persuasion’ framework for content audits

When using this framework, we categorise each finding into one of the following themes:

Clarity

Is the content conveying what it needs to? Is it clear, inclusive and accessible? Is it in the right format?

Trust

Is the content helping to build trust with the user? Is it deceptive or misleading?

Persuasion

Is the content compelling enough? Does it give users the confidence to move forward to the next step?

These themes tend to cover the majority of findings that would appear in a content audit, from SEO implications to problems with page hierarchies and user journeys.

What findings would sit under these themes?

The following examples show the types of findings that could sit under these themes – both in terms of what needs improving and what’s currently working well:

Clarity

Need for improvement

  • Unclear terminology that only the business would understand
  • Meta data that doesn’t fit with the context of the page
  • Long, unbroken blocks of text
  • Vague information that doesn’t manage the user’s expectations

What’s working well

  • Strong visual distinction between different sections
  • Purpose of the page is outlined clearly from the start
  • Prominent contact information

Trust

Need for improvement

  • Inconsistent or contradictory information
  • Unexpected user journeys
  • Lack of trust factors, e.g. reviews
  • Outdated information
  • Generic stock imagery

What’s working well

  • Case studies clearly signposted
  • Factual information backed up by sources
  • Clarity on how personal information is stored and protected

Persuasion

Need for improvement

  • Language or tone that doesn’t match the brand
  • Generic content that’s duplicated across pages
  • Vague or unclear call-to-action links
  • Lack of engaging imagery or media

What’s working well

  • Inclusive language that talks to the user
  • Prominent stats and figures
  • Engaging media on the page (e.g. illustrations, video)

Putting it into practice

Working remotely during a pandemic has taught us many things, but one of the most relevant in this context is how brilliant Miro (a virtual whiteboard tool) is for content audits.

Rather than inputting the findings straight into a spreadsheet, it’s much easier to drag screenshots of pages into Miro (Full Page Screen Capture) is a handy tool for capturing full-page screenshots) and annotate them directly using coloured sticky notes. This allows you to view multiple pages next to one another and spot common issues or inconsistencies.

For the sticky notes, we use different colours for each theme (Clarity, Trust and Persuasion) to visually spot where the common issues lie.

It’s still important to log each finding and the specific details in a spreadsheet, as this is much easier to work from when you actually come to implement actions from the audit. However, it’s much easier to talk a stakeholder through your findings using Miro, as the work is represented visually without the need to navigate through the website.

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Will you be using the ‘Clarity, Trust, Persuasion’ content audit framework? What other frameworks do you like to use for your content audits? Let us know on Twitter.

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