People often deride church websites for their lack of utility and beauty. And while beauty is in the eye of the beholder, web content strategists have many ways to judge the utility of a site. The ROT analysis is among the simplest.
To conduct a ROT analysis, just audit each page in your website’s architecture. Like food, web pages can go rotten. To find rotten pages, ask yourself if each page you inspect is Redundant, Outdated or Trivial.
Do you have two pages that do or say the same thing? Maybe it’s a ministry landing page that duplicates content on the sub-ministry pages. If so, get rid of the sub-pages or the landing page. Or make each of them distinct.
This is a big problem with many church websites. Is your home page still advertising the women’s conference from last year? Or the sermon series that ended three months ago? How about broken links, advertising pages or other websites that no longer exist?
This is also a problem with sites that put the latest blog post on the home page. If you aren’t blogging regularly, don’t feature your blog in this way. Few things say “this church doesn’t get it” like a “latest blog” feature that is several months old.
This category is the most subjective of ROT. One man’s trivia is another man’s compelling content. But for the purpose of a ROT analysis, the audience decides what is trivial. An example:
Years ago, our Sojourn Church website included full page bios for every staff member. Each page included a staff photo and all kinds of information about the staffer—everything from job title to favorite film. This was fine when the staff was small.
By the time we grew to 15+ staffers, most of the staff bios got next to no page views in a given month. The pages weren’t worth keeping up. And with occasional staff turnover, promotions and requests by the staff to swap new photos for old, they did require regular upkeep. We decided to nix them.
The Limits of a ROT Analysis
Remember that ROT reveals content that is redundant, outdated or trivial, but it won’t tell you what content is inconsistent with your vision, inappropriate or even mediocre. For that, you need to conduct a more comprehensive site analysis.
Still, your communication staff can greatly increase the value of your website by conducting a periodic ROT analysis—and in the case of most church websites, they can do so in a short amount of time.