In our third semester we tried to find out more about content modeling. The deeper you get into content modeling the more you can achieve. But it is hard to get things done – both in theory and in practice.

A Web Content Management (WCMS) can´t solve all of your production problems. Of course, it often means more efficiency and easy going production. But there is quite a bit more to a CMS than that. A Web CMS is a system is used to handle the delivery of the content of a Website, but it doesn’t really „manage“ content.

A content model is a way to ensure that your WCMS understands what to do to deliver connect correctly. According to Rachel Lovinger, a content model documents “all the different types of content you will have for a given project. It contains detailed definitions of each content type’s elements and their relationships to each other.” You have to think about how you can re-use your content in all channels. Dealing with content requires creativity: how do you make most efficient use of what you have? And how can you communicate in a form that is adequate for your target group?

STYLE word cloud, creative business concept background

„Get the most efficiency out of your model!“

You really have to know your content and, as a next step, develop your unique content model, defining various channels and story angles as well as giving an elaborate timeline. In addition, you need to convince your management about the business advantages of your effort. An argument that is popular among management is efficiency.

Of course there is a challenge to it: how to measure efficiency? Meghan Casey wrote that “measuring content effectiveness is not quite an exact science. It is about getting a sense for whether you´re headed in the right direction and what you can improve.”[1] But there are, of course, effects which you can see. For example a very well done content model can have a positive impact on communication management:

• Creating a content map to show what content (style, format) can be used in which sequence and channel
• Ease of access to content creation from dedicated admin menu options
• Ability to import and export specific types (i.e. just events, just experts)
• Create distinct workflow for a content type
• Remove certain types of content from search results

It really helps to have a content model to get things done? Once you developed a content model, it can be one of the most valuable tools for your work designing content delivery as it can bring things together which belong together. One example are different job types who all work with “content”. It helps clarify requirements and encourages collaboration between designers, developers creating the CMS, and content creators.
After Rachel Lovinger you can split up the different job types into groups in order to state out which effect content modelling has on their work.

For information architects and designers

• a content model supports the content, layout, and functionality portrayed in the designs
• a content model helps information architects and designers make sure that the page designs accommodate all the content types for the site and provides guidance on the bits of text and media that will be available for the page

For developers:

• it helps developers understand content needs and requirements as they configure the CMS
For content authors and producers
• the content model gives them a guideline for the next tasks
• it gives content authors tech guidelines on how to enter content into the CMS

Every one of these roles has to understand and to contribute to process improvements (the WCMS) to achieve high levels of productivity. As result you can better support people in the way they use technology to make their jobs low effort.

But as Cleve Gibbon states out “No model should survive first contact with real content. But that’s okay, if that happens early and often during content design.“ It is important that you design your content model in a way it provides maximum flexibility to get the best out of it. Otherwise you are not able to convince designers, developers etc. to join in your effort and you will continually struggle to get the most efficiency out of your system.


[1] Megan Casey (2015): The Content Strategy Toolkit: Methods, Guidelines, and Templates for Getting Content Right. New Riders.p.