Connecting Content: Creating Reusable Content Models

Written By: High Monkey
Posted: 8/29/2017

A Crash Course in Content Modeling

Last week, we kicked off our Content Strategy Crash Course webinar series with the first webinar, "Connecting Content: Creating Reusable Content Models". Virgil gave a 45-min web presentation on how to use the COPE model (Create Once, Publish Everywhere) to share content across multiple devices, create re-usable "chunks" of content, and create useful content that is easy to update and edit. Here are three of the main points he discussed:
 

1. Content Goes "Stale"

The problem: When a content system is poorly built, it can become difficult to update the content consistently across the site. This happens often when a website grows organically and quickly--when there are large amounts of similar content living on a site, editors or managers begin picking and choosing where to update content, and start to prioritize "important" content over content deemed less important. 
How to fix it: Break the content down into "chunks". When you create multiple chunks of the same content, you can avoid content going stale or growing outdated. When content is chunked, it's easier to update content as you'll only have to update one piece that will be displayed in various places on your website! 
 

2. Content Has a Purpose

The problem: Marketers tend to create content in anticipation of how we WANT the consumer to think or act. 
How to fix it: We should learn and understand what the consumer wants and how their thought process works. Step away from hypothetical situations and get down to the actual needs and thoughts of your end user. For example: You may think your customer understands the witty joke that you and a colleague found hilarious. You may be sorely mistaken. Your end user may not get the joke simply because they have a differing sense of humor or lack knowledge in a particular subject. Conduct some UX testing and market research and figure out what your user wants and needs instead of making educated guesses based on stereotypes or assuming you already know.
 

3. Content Has a Language

The problem: Organizations have a tendency to model their content around themselves and the language they use internally--whether that language is used to describe themselves, their process, or their services. This tendency is common within technical organizations or government organizations. When an organization uses acronyms, jargon, or language that is unique to the company, content often ends up making perfect sense to those on the "inside", and leaving others (consumers! users! buyers!) feeling lost and like they are on foreign turf. 
How to fix it: Make sure that your user "gets it". Identify where you are using company or industry-specific language and why you are using it there. If possible, replace it with language that aligns better with your customer's language. Make sure that content is communicating in a way that can easily be interpreted. 
 

Interested in learning more?

Watch the recorded webinar       CrashCourse.png


 

Question & Answer:

Audience members submitted their questions post-webinar. Here are Virgil’s answers:

Question: I really enjoyed your webinar, but I’m not sure how to start. How would you recommend I get started with content modeling?

AnswerI would recommend taking a piece of content that you think is important to your overall strategy. Take the content and begin free-associating: think of what relates to that piece.
For example, if you’re a clothing company with an e-commerce site, you might start with “jeans”. Brainstorm everything that relates to that piece of content: denim washes, colors, fit, brand, length, sizes, styles, and so on.
At the end of this webinar, I recommended the Content Strategy Alliance (CSA). They’re not paying me to promote them, I genuinely think this is a good place to get started. I would start with their Best Practices Handbook that includes many useful tools and templates. Page 55 of the CSA Handbook is an especially great place to begin the process of content mapping/modeling. 
 

Question: What software is useful for this process?

Answer: There are a few pieces of software that I find particularly helpful when it comes to content modeling. If you have a Microsoft license, Microsoft Visio is a great tool. I also like to use MindMapper. I’ve also started using Mindomo more recently, which is a less expensive option if you’re sticking to a tight budget.
 

Question: How can I convince my colleagues and decision-makers that it’s time to put time and resources into re-evaluating our website’s content strategy?
Answer:There is no magic bullet when it comes to proving the value of a good content strategy. Overall, there needs to be desire for more success from all parties involved.
I like to tell decision makers that when it comes to UX, different people get to the same point in different ways. This a fundamental we need to understand to be successful. If you only give your users one path to get to one specific piece of content, you will fail. Giving your users multiple paths and understanding the multiple paths to content is important not only to your website’s success, but also to your consumer’s.
Good content strategy has a cascading effect: it allows for better search, social sharing opportunities, and other important aspects of your online presence. When your content strategy is solid, it will be easier to place new content into the overall strategy—it just makes sense. Getting your entire team on board will be difficult. This technique takes a lot of effort up-front, but the benefits will outweigh the costs and you (and your team!) will find that managing content will be much easier. 

Would you like to learn more? Register now for our next two webinars at www.highmonkey.com/crashcourse!

Chad's Bio Coming Soon!

More About Virgil

Virgil Carroll is the owner and president of High Monkey – based in Minneapolis Minnesota. Virgil also wears the multiple ‘hats’ of Principle Human Solutions Architect and SharePoint Architect.

Virgil is one of those rare individuals who can dive deep into technical topics while speaking clearly to the business owners of a project and never forgetting that the end user experience has the highest priority. He calls it using both sides of his brain. Virgil is passionate about leveraging technologies ‘out of the box’ as much as possible with a focus on the strategic use of content to create websites that deliver the right content to the right audience on the right device at the right time. Virgil brings high energy, an ironic wit, and a sense of grounded perspective whenever he speaks to an audience. Virgil regularly speaks at conferences and user groups throughout the United States and occasionally in Europe.

Posted: 8/29/2017 12:00:00 AM by Miranda Rasmussen | with 0 comments


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