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Content Modelling: What, why and how

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Slides from a talk given at Content Strategy Melbourne on 21 January 2015.

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Content Modelling: What, why and how

  1. 1. Content modelling What, why and how Angus Gordon @WeAreWeave Content Strategy Melbourne 21 January 2015
  2. 2. I need some words for my website. OK, what kind of words? I don’t know.
  3. 3. I think you should change this label on your menu. Hmmm…I’ll have to check with the designer.
  4. 4. I quickly discovered: • There was no real plan for content in most web projects • Content was expected to fit design, not the other way around • Content people weren’t regarded as important stakeholders
  5. 5. Karen McGrane
  6. 6. “Structured content” “Nimble content” “Adaptive content” “Chunks vs blobs” “Content modelling”
  7. 7. The Big Bang
  8. 8. But before the big bang…there was the move from static sites to content management systems
  9. 9. Benefits of CMS • Quicker and easier content updates • Distributed authorship • Integration with other software • Database-driven approach lets you add structure to content, which gives us superpowers (if we choose to accept them)
  10. 10. What is structured content? Body (Insert event details here) Teaser Description Location Date / time How to book Title Photo
  11. 11. What can we do with this structured event? Automatically add it to a calendar Decide we don’t like the calendar and replace it with an event listing Automatically archive it when it’s finished Display or link to a map of the location Lay out the information differently on desktop vs mobile Offer a feed of our events to another website
  12. 12. Can I do all this in my CMS? Probably…but you may need to research the specifics. Stuck? Talk to a developer!
  13. 13. So what is a content model? A content model specifies the structure of content in your CMS. It includes the content types that will be available, and the fields (“chunks”) that they consist of. (Every content type will have its own set of fields.) Content models range from very simple to very complex.
  14. 14. Content model vs presentation model • The content model is about how content is stored in the CMS database. • The presentation model is about how that content is presented to website users. (Sitemaps, wireframes, design mockups etc.)
  15. 15. So let’s get started with some content types The content types you need depend on what content you have (your content ecosystem), and what you want it to do.
  16. 16. Some common content types • Blog post • Event • Location • Product • Service • Case study • Publication • Staff profile • Member profile • Project • Video • Podcast • Review • And yes, “Standard page”
  17. 17. A content type may correspond to a page type, but they are not the same thing. (Content model vs. presentation model) Blog post content type Blog post page Blog index page Home page
  18. 18. Put it all in a diagram
  19. 19. Recipe Ingredient Cuisine Meal contains belongs to is part of
  20. 20. Once you’ve got your content types, start thinking about the fields you need for each of them.
  21. 21. Fields A field can represent: • A standard component (or “chunk”) of the content (text, image, audio, video), or • An attribute of the content (e.g. categories/ tags, metadata), or • A relationship with another piece of content (reference field)
  22. 22. How much granularity? Think about what you want to do (or might want to do) with your content.
  23. 23. How much granularity? But don’t be too constained by the present: sometimes things are worth doing even if they’re not put to use immediately.
  24. 24. LA Times journalists were geocoding articles for years before they had a use for it
  25. 25. To document: use a spreadsheet! Once you’ve drafted your content model, test it with real content and real presentation models. Revise and revise again.
  26. 26. What makes a good content modeller?
  27. 27. Content modelling is about finding a balance between: • Authors & end users • Ambitions & resources • Present & future needs • Structure & flexibility
  28. 28. You don’t need a highly technical vocabulary
  29. 29. You don’t need to know everything about every CMS
  30. 30. You do need an analytical mind
  31. 31. You do need to understand context
  32. 32. You do need imagination
  33. 33. You do need empathy: with authors, with users, with developers
  34. 34. Further reading Karen McGrane, Content Strategy for Mobile 
 (A Book Apart) Sara Wachter-Boettcher, Content Everywhere: Strategy and Structure for Future-Ready Content (Rosenfield)
  35. 35. Thank you! @WeAreWeave DrupalSouth: