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4 Ways to Improve Your Content Modeling

Abstract content model

The most important part of a content strategy, in my opinion, is your content model. It not only ensures your copywriters and editors are able to publish the appropriate content, it provides the framework for your user experience and ensures proper delivery of content across marketing channels.

Most content management systems were designed with content “blobbing” in mind - content should be entered into a body field and formatted with a WYSIWYG editor. Because of this, most organizations have not taken the time to truly analyze their content needs because the assumption is made that all formatting and structure will be added through the WYSIWYG editor.

Maintaining content in this format is a nightmare. Pages become inconsistently styled, content migrations become a bear, and porting content to external systems becomes nearly impossible.

Here are some tips for how you can improve your content modelling on your next website development project:

Properly Define Your Content Attributes

Most content strategies stop at defining the fields a particular content type should have. Depending on your editorial workflow, you may only want to have content editors select what image assets to associate with an article. Or, you may want to control the terms contributors are able to use when tagging a blog posts, so that free tagging field won't due.

When defining your content attributes, make sure to answers the following questions:

  1. Is this field required?

  2. Who should/shouldn't be able to enter content into this field?

  3. What field type will enable content creators to most easily enter content given your editorial guidelines?

Model Your Assets Off

Seriously. Model your content assets. Don’t rely on the stock image and video management features of your CMS.

First take inventory of the types of assets you will be using with your content and how they will be used.

  • How will your assets be organized and searched for?

  • Does any metadata, such as department, country, topic, need to be associated with various assets?

  • Will images and videos be reusable within various pieces of content?

  • Do assets need to be credited to the creator, such as a photographer or videographer?

  • Will images appear in a gallery or be embedded within content?

  • Will assets only be attached to content via fields or will they be accessible through your WYSIWYG editor?

Once you have a good sense of your asset management needs, select the best asset management system for you. There are a number of customizable plugins or modules for content management systems that will offer the appropriate asset management tools that align well with your content model. If you have a large library of assets, look into using an external asset management system like Alfresco. These systems typically offer integration with CMS systems like Drupal.

Determine Your Needs for Microcopy

If you are not familiar with microcopy, it is a shorter variation of a content attribute, like a title or news article description. Microcopy can be used in many different ways, but it is typically used for displaying teasers on listings of content or in content previews on social media posts.

When you are trying to draw a reader in to read a full post, you want to grab their attention. Microcopy is a great way to develop content that draws people into  your website. If your micro-title is what will appear as the preview title when you post your article to Facebook, then create one that will generate the highest amount of clicks. Be witty or suspenseful.

Not every organization is going to have the desire or ability to develop microcopy for every piece of content. Gauge your writers’ tolerance for this before building microcopy into your content strategy. If your team won’t write it, then don’t build it into your content model.

Make Sure You Have the Right Metadata

Metadata is not only important for SEO, it is important for content portability. When your blog posts are shared by your readers on Facebook, you probably want an enticing thumbnail image to appear rather than a larger version of your favicon.

Think strategically about how your content is going to be discovered, and how it will appear on each external platforms. Then determine what metadata will need to be present in order for an external platform to generate the appropriate representation of your content.

Here are some type of metadata you will most likely want to have on your website:

  • Meta tags

  • Site verification code

  • Open Graph markup

  • Twitter Cards markup

  • Google+ authorship tag

Did you plan for any of these areas when developing your content models?