A content inventory serves many purposes. As the name implies, it is primarily an inventory list of all site content; you can begin your content inventory as soon as you have site content. The inventory can also be used to indicate the status of page content; for example, draft versus complete. After the content has been organized into categories, perhaps as a result of conducting a Card Sort, the content inventory may be organized to represent the website’s hierarchy of pages.
A content inventory is typically a spreadsheet document, where each row of the spreadsheet represents a single web page. Child pages are listed in the rows below the parent page to which they belong and one column to the right of the parent page. Columns may be listed as: Navigation (i.e., Global vs. Utility Links), Level 1 Navigation Title, Level 2, and so on. You may also want to add a column to track the Status of page content, e.g., missing content versus complete content, and a column for comments about the page’s content, such as a brief description.
This hierarchical structure makes it easy to see at a glance, how deep pages are, i.e., the number of mouse clicks away from the homepage, and how pages relate to one another. Furthermore, in Microsoft Excel, pages can be grouped together, and groups can be expanded or collapsed for different views, like Global Navigation pages versus Utility Link pages, or to view a single Global Navigation category’s pages with all other pages collapsed.
When the content inventory has been finalized, you can prepare a Site Map Diagram.