Content modeling checklist for Headless CMS

Content modeling checklist for Headless CMS

There are many tasks related to content modeling in a headless CMS, so it’s easy to lose sight of what’s important. It’s always good to have a list of possible action points you can refer back to. This list can help you with that.


  1. Prepare a content strategy with your persona journeys across various channels.
  2. Add your and customers’ goals and possible CTAs.
  3. Identify friction points and touchpoints.
  4. Review your analytics data and list top content items and search terms.
  5. Perform a content audit to filter out ROT (content that is Redundant, Obsolete, and Trivial).
  6. Check if these analytics are enough for determining the performance of content and its usefulness to your consumers.
  7. Map content KPIs to company goals.

Determine the content model for your core content

  1. In the writing phase of structured authoring, there is no place for form. The form is not the author’s job. Identifying the semantics (the meaning and relationships) in the text is.
  2. Every content model is unique and consists of content types, the assembly model, and content elements.
  3. Content modeling is collaborative, and the best results are achieved if all stakeholders are involved (also important for the buy-in).
  4. Check your CMS’s content modeling toolset—content types, content items, components, content type snippets, taxonomies, guidelines, and content item variants might help out a lot if available.
  5. Get yourself familiar with the toolset of the CMS and try modeling different relationships (1:1, 1:N, M:N).
  6. Use content type snippets, linked items, components, and variants for a highly flexible model.
  7. Write down your core content and content types based on analytics and/or business and customer goals and add structure to them. Skip formatting & form of any kind.
  8. Change visual content types into semantic ones.
  9. Reuse what’s reusable with linked items or content type snippets (find structures that are shared across multiple content types).
  10. Connect content types with relationships and add validation rules.
  11. Identify content snippets with the same functionality/same data and merge them.
  12. Create a content type(s) for chunks and chunk your content items into reusable pieces to avoid content duplication. Limit nesting to a maximum of 2–3 levels if possible (this might have a significant impact on usability).
  13. Think about how every object will serve your internal and external stakeholders and if it should be part of the content model at all.


  1. Determine the persona implementation approach if needed.
  2. Review your analytics data to see what taxonomy needs to be applied.
  3. In your diagram, associate metadata categories with content types OR content attributes. If a cluster of elements has the same metadata, this may indicate reuse potential by creating a separate content item or content type snippet.
  4. Find metadata categories which can’t/aren’t being reused.
  5. Discuss how and where individual attributes and metadata will be implemented (max. 12 items per category).
  6. Content variations depend on the metadata, so make sure you have identified the metadata supporting these variations discovered during persona journey creation.
  7. Remove all not-required metadata for browsing content; optionally, add missing metadata categories at the end of the process.
  8. Do not use WYSIWYG elements, as it points and leads to an unclear structure. Always try to break down the WYSIWYG area into reusable elements.
  9. Specify how CTAs (calls to action) are implemented.
  10. As a rule of thumb, only use taxonomies for internal relationship purposes; all content that needs to be surfaced on the front end should be implemented via content items.

Linking the Content and Form

  1. Every time you consider including a form-related object into your model, discuss if the related functionality can’t be handled by the presentation or business layer instead. Consider replacing them with semantic objects (e.g., Page vs. Topic).
  2. The front end can be driven via taxonomies not representing the actual layout. E.g., layouts can be driven by the voice or persona metadata.
  3. Create your sitemap and navigation; primarily try to reuse existing semantic relationships if possible.
  4. Identify objects which will be displayed as “pages” and specify your SEO metadata elements for these via snippets.
  5. If required, define the URL implementation.
  6. Determine how translations are implemented.

Check the flexibility of the content model

Check what would be necessary and would break if you tried:

    • Adding new elements/items/types
    • Changing the order of elements/items/types
    • Changing the names of elements/items/types
    • Changing the structures of elements/items/types
    • Deleting elements/items/types


  1. Use Multi-Axis Delphi Card Sorting (Business value & User value) to identify must-have and redundant metadata or content types.
  2. Check for missing elements and/or naming conventions.
  3. Check if the content design addresses friction points in your persona journeys.
  4. Make sure the supplied metadata categories and attributes cover your sort and filter (search) scenarios.
  5. Check if you can remove content creation friction for your editors.
  6. Divide content elements into content groups based on their purpose and permissions to help with the above.
  7. Content modeling is a rapidly evolving discipline, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If your model, even if it’s unconventional, supports your needs, it might be the perfect fit for you.
  8. A content model can be used for whatever you need. Besides websites or mobile apps, it can also serve as a build manifest for your app or a configuration tool for your internal testing processes.


  1. Ensure the collected analytics are sufficient for determining the performance of content and its usefulness to your consumers.
  2. Review if content KPIs align with company goals regularly.
  3. Your content publishing workflow may cover more than standard publishing steps. It can incorporate a project-like approach to content production, regular content refresh reminders, persona association reviews, KPI reviews, and others.
  4. Set up yearly content model audits and reviews as content models may evolve, as do yours and your customer goals.