Content types are the building blocks of your content model. You want to make sure they are useful and avoid having too many odd parts that aren’t effective.
Content types give your content structure
When planning your content creation, you need to know if you have the right content types available. Right content types are important as they will structure that content.
The content type you choose will provide the structure to discuss a topic. Some content types are general-purpose, composed of only a few common elements that can be used for a range of content items. Others are focused on a single specific topic and have numerous detailed elements.
Use what you have
In many cases, you will already have the content type you need. Unless there’s a special reason to manage or deliver unique details, more general content types are often adequate. But sometimes, you may think you need a new content type.
When to extend your model
Before you create a new content type, answer the following key questions:
- Is a new content type needed?
- If an existing content type is not quite right, can you make a small modification to it so it will be useful in other situations?
- Who will use the new content type?
- Who will be in charge of the content type, making sure it is aligned with your organization’s long-term needs?
Confirm that the proposed new content type is significantly different from existing types, addressing content about something new and distinct and therefore requiring special elements.
Generally speaking, a new content type that will be used widely by many people will be more useful than one needed by only a few. And the more items that are created based on the new content type, the more that content type will be used.
In other words, a new content type is more likely to be valuable when:
- It’s frequently used to create new content.
- It supports multiple products or different lines of business.
You should also expect that the new content type will be used for the long term. You generally shouldn’t create new content types to support short-term projects.
The need for a new content type
Importantly, you shouldn’t create a new content type just because one person in your organization wants it. Multiple stakeholders should see the value of having the type added to the content model. The new content type should help staff manage content and deliver details to customers more effectively.
So, when creating new content types, make sure they will be useful. Otherwise, you’ll have added clutter to your content model. You want to avoid “snowflakes”—unique one-off content types that are used in only one place. Snowflakes tend to become unused and forgotten because they turn out not to be necessary over the long term.
The matrix below will help you think through how likely it is that you need to create a new content type.
|Used to create many content items||Used to create few content items|
|Used by many people||Very likely||Maybe|
|Not used by many people||Maybe||Less likely|
These are general guidelines only. You may need a few critical content types that are needed for a specific purpose for the long term. But it’s unlikely you will need to create new ones often.