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Posted by: Chris McIntosh Posted on: Thu, 12/12/2019 - 03:24 Posted under:

Get more customers with Drupal and Content Modeling

Learn how content modeling can lead to higher conversions and provide you with insight into what you should be creating next for your website or blog.

One of the critical parts of designing and developing a new website that is often overlooked or not given enough attention to is Content Modeling.  During this phase of developing a content strategy, you will want to Identify your organization's goals in regards to messaging.  Create a Taxonomy system that meets those requirements and consider what metadata should be allowed or required.

Organization is King

When it comes to organization, the content model specifies how you will go about segregating content.  In many unstructured authoring tools, the content model is typically defined in a template and an accompanying style guide and is then enforced by your team's editors and proofreaders.  For smaller teams that do not have these roles, it is important to leverage tools in the CMS to enforce and help content creators self-edit.

With Drupal, you can leverage the Taxonomy, Node, and Paragraph modules to help you define terminology to use, the types of content the site allows to be created, and even the sub-content items contained in it.

Precision vs Simplicity

You will need to balance precision and simplicity as you define your content model.  Defining a content model with too much precision can lead to a large and complex content model that is hard to understand.  CMS or Single-Sourcing plans may also put some limitations on how you can define your workflow and content model, as well as what metadata you create.  For example, if your using HTML5 as your content model it is easy as all of the elements are already defined for you, but have limitations for example, there are no provisions for content reuse.  Another custom content model could match your requirements exactly but would need a lot of work to create it.  Fairly early on you need to match your requirements to your tools.  

One of the current challenges is content development for technical information, there is currently a transition from more unstructured content to one more generally based on XML.  The reason for this is that XML offers several advantages, such as the ability to enforce a consistent structure and the ability to generate a wide range of output formats automatically.  However, creating and establishing an XML-based content development environment is challenging and can often be expensive.  There are several existing XML standards that can help with technical content.  The DITA(Darwin Information Typing Architecture) offers a framework for a more modular and topic-based content with the ability to reuse content heavily.

Automate for success

Content LayoutThe next step in the process of implementing your content model strategy is deciding how to automate the implementation of these things.  The easiest way to do it in Drupal is to create Content types that line up with what your content model is trying to accomplish.  This can be done with Paragraphs designed to meet those needs.  Providing simple forms for the content creators to fill out, and then through theming rendering it in the proper manner.

In the diagram to the left, you can see one of the common models I use for blog posts or landing pages.  For something like a text paragraph I will provide the users a paragraph title, and body field allowing them to enter the content.  I restrict the elements that can be placed inside of the Wysiwyg editor in order to enforce our content strategy.  

You can then leverage things like paragraph libraries to build a library of reusable items that can be shared across several pages or articles in order to maximize the time spent creating them.

This is just one of the many ways you can design your content, and you can be as dynamic or restrictive as you feel is needed for your organization's content modeling needs.

In Conclusion

Once your team has decided on a content model, you can start building out the items in that model in your selected authoring and publishing environment, creating marketing campaigns, and more.  Keep in mind that content modeling changes can get more expensive to implement the later in the project you make them, so it's important to get it right early on.