Content audit review system for OpenCart and WordPress

Particularly if you create a lot of content then ensuring it stays up to date can be a relatively difficult job. There are systems you can adopt like leaving reminders on a calendar for example of having some kind of system on a spreadsheet although it might not be as user friendly and it can make the process seem more overwhelming to end users.

Another problem I wanted to solve was to help further develop existing content, so my system also serves as a prompt to make people think “what can I do to add additional value to this existing content”. This helps improve the quality of existing content because our knowledge and thought process on things change over time. Also looking at something with a fresh pair of eyes after a while helps you see it differently.

Doing some research I noticed there is an excellent looking plugin for WordPress available that does this you can read more about here if you’re interested http://stephanieleary.com/code/wordpress/content-audit/

However that was the one and only one I found and it doesn’t quite fit my needs for what I want to achieve,partially because I would also like it to work with OpenCart too. I decided to scratch my own itch and come up with my own system because it seemed like a pretty straightforward thing to make.

Read on for more information on how I built this.

My requirements for a content review system

Primarily I wanted to create something as simple as possible to use, so I wanted to present minimal UI (user interface) so all you have to do is click a link in an email click a couple of buttons to say either “yes I’m happy with this content”, “make these edits …” or “delete this content”.

My logic behind a standalone application instead of something more natively integrated was that I wanted something for people to use who aren’t very tech savvy. So if they don’t use a system like WordPress the bar to using my system is in theory very low because there’s only three options. You have to go through a confirmation screen to say “yes I’m sure” which I have in place to help reduce accidents, such as for example deleting content if you accidentally press that button. One click actions are a bad thing if you can do something irreversible like deleting content.

Flagging content for review

I noticed both WordPress and OpenCart have a field in their database entries to say when they were last updated.

So I copy that date to a new database in addition to the post/product name and a link. There is also an additional column in the database to say when it was last reviewed, because the date some content was last updated doesn’t really matter so much because it’s more important to know that it has been checked. Content could be a few years old and still relevant, because just looking at when something was last updated isn’t really the best way to determine whether something is still relevant.

With this determined I have a cron job running a script once a day which imports all active content. Duplicates are merged in using the replace function for my database.

“Deleting” content

Although I say I delete content this process in fact disables the post/product then marks the record to be ignored within content audit system. This I do because it’s safer and easier, although I can easily change this on request. So far this seems to work well.

Future considerations

This project is actively maintained although new features are low priority. However I do have some improvements in mind I might add in future, such as:

  • secure login without a username/password. Currently a user has to login with a user name and password because I don’t want just anyone being able to access this system. To ensure the system continues to be as simple as possible to use removing the barrier of a login system is a logical step
  • manually add other content, assets (photos, videos, etc) and UI. It’s not just written content that should be reviewed because a website should evolve overtime to be better. Simply redesigning a website often doesn’t fix more fundamental issues but that’s another conversation, so providing a feature to manually add things for review like elements of a website design, forms etc will be useful and make a lot of sense

Conclusion

So far this system seems to work well and also helps save a lot of time. This is because instead of waiting to be caught out with outdated content this system empowers people into being more proactive not just keeping things fresh but also encouraging ongoing development and improvements to their overall website.