In life, one of the first steps when planning any kind of transformation is to visualize the end state—the destination. It’s kind of fun. It allows for analysis and prioritization of needs, and, maybe most importantly, creates optimism among the audience anticipating those changes. Good stuff.
If the transformation you are seeking is digital, then your journey will likely begin with content modeling. That effort is often underestimated, under-valued, and under-appreciated in terms of the impact it will have on your efforts to scale up.
When modeling your content for a customized content management solution, such as SDL Tridion or Sitecore, a big part of what you create is the foundation for most of your digital strategy efforts: page regions. If you’re planning to personalize your content for specific audiences, the regions are the basis for defining that experience, whether it’s a carousel showing curated lists of products to customers based on preferences, or a full-blown campaign with personalization and business logic. Atop the entire content modeling house is page type.
Regardless, when done poorly, either through the design or the development of those page regions, content modeling can affect everything from how in-line editors (such as Experience Manager) function, to fragmented user experiences of the non-recoverable variety.
Meanwhile at the content level, author and digital strategist Karen McGrane frames the idea as a dichotomy of “blobs” and “chunks.” This addresses the need to separate the code and content. The “blobs” of code and "chunks" of content are the foundational elements of any modeling effort that will enable scalability to other platforms, delivery methods, or designs.
If you are trying to make your platform a golden confluence of function, flexibility and scalability, take the content modeling aspect of your efforts very seriously. The inherent promise of these modular content management systems is that you can literally separate design and content. That makes possible the ability to manage many elements of your digital properties with little-to-no IT involvement. Any company trying to scale markets with real brand integrity/protection needs to know all about this. And, more importantly, to want it for themselves.
So What? Ubiquity Yo!
OK, great. We’ve established the need for this work. In our upcoming series, Content Modeling for Smarties, I will go over the basics of thinking strategically through this critical work so you can get the most flexibility and scalability out of your digital ecosphere with the least amount (re)work possible. For example, in SDL Tridion, you would want to model every single element possible so that you can take the words (content) anywhere without needing to rework the design (code). Then, those words/images can be sourced easily from SDL Tridion and repurposed for social media or other platforms/aggregators.
That’s the value of content modeling—writing words once, using them anywhere.
U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Roger S. Duncan