At first, let’s mention the prerequisites. In an ideal setup, at this point you’ll have a content strategy document ready. It should cover your current and future business and customer goals. It should contain your customer personas and journeys throughout all communication channels. It should also outline content production workflows, content ownership, and include a strategy for content audits and content model reviews.
Usually, you’ll be figuring out your core content and core content types in the initial content modeling phase. The easiest tool to use is a whiteboard with post-it notes. Use tools that allow you to frequently update your drawings, so pen and paper are not a good fit in most cases.
Frequently, using mind maps allows you to flesh out the most important content model structures and relationships. An alternative to a whiteboard would be a collaboration tool—for mind maps Mural.co or Miro.com.
Review the data
If you work with existing content, check your analytics to see what content is in demand. Itʼs advised to also check relevant search terms. If you are missing this data, make sure you set up relevant monitoring on your new project. As an alternative, do a core content model workshop to identify important information for your customers.
Tables and diagrams are friends
At this point, you’d be slowly identifying content types and their elements. It’s easy to lose track of what belongs where, so you might need to switch to different tools to capture the increased fidelity of your model. A good start would be draw.io or a simple spreadsheet. Making changes at this point will be a bit more cumbersome, so don’t hesitate to double-check your designs from the previous phase a couple of times before proceeding.
Take a shortcut - reference schemas
You might think, “What do I use as a reference?” Using references is not a bad practice, but avoid a 1:1 copy as every business is unique. There is, however, schema.org website that can be used as a sanity check to make sure nothing important was missed. It’s rarely required to implement all elements mentioned for a given object, but it can be used as rough guidance in case something obvious was left out.
One of the last steps is to transfer your model into the actual CMS. Start with the core content types at first and slowly add everything else. As in any phase, this can be overwhelming too. Some CMSs might help ease this by providing additional content modeling or visualization tools, so it might be worth doing some research on that front as well.