Why should you learn content modeling?

Why should you learn more about content modeling? Maybe you don’t think it’s a big deal. You may have worked on several projects, and you know how to structure content in the CMS of your choice. Itʼs very easy to copy generic structures, such as products, and recreate them anywhere. This may suffice, but will a generic setup really highlight the important aspects of your product? 

Content models are unique

What are the strengths of this new business that make it stand out against its competition? To give you an example, the mattress we mentioned earlier might be customizable. Does a generic content model support or inhibit the execution of their current and future plans

  • Every content model is custom to support each project’s needs. There will be similarities, but using a generic approach will probably get you generic results—not something many want to aim for. 
Copy & paste generic content models
Copy & paste generic content models

Future-proofing your model

You might be an architect or a developer and know exactly how to create the model for the project in mind. You’ve already broken down the product “Mattress” page into its elements and created an image in your mind showing how these map to the front end of your single page application. This on-the-fly modeling usually causes the layout of the app to be embedded into your content model, locking it in place. This approach is great for now, but what if the single-page application trend gets eclipsed by another trendy way to create websites? Or what if the framework of choice gets replaced? Does this model you’ve created on the go support it, or will it require a deep rewrite, content model adjustments, or even migration of content?

  • Generic content models are rarely future-proof, and most CMSs have a bias towards a form of presentation, most often a page. This means any content model adjusted to fit into this biased form will almost definitely be outdated in the future.

Reusing content

As a content writer, don’t you think it would be nice to have a set of reusable content chunks to support your next article? You’ve already written that “Humans sleep 1/3 of their lives”, so why not reuse this information? You already know there is this one piece of content that would fit perfectly into this new article to get your point across, so why not reuse it? 

  • A great content model facilitates and even enforces content reuse. Content reuse supports consistency, unified (brand) messaging, and higher quality of the content you produce.   
Reusing content chunks across channels
Reusing content chunks across channels

Content chunks simplify development

Content reuse isn’t important only for content writers, but also for developers. More often than not, projects require dozens upon dozens of templates. Wouldnʼt it be much easier to create a universal set of components that could be reused over and over for the whole website instead of debugging all those templates individually? 

  • Models supporting content reuse are easier to transform into the desired front-end representation. Content models help break down content into components (chunks) that are accessible through APIs. 

Good metadata creates relationships

It became apparent in content modeling sessions that content often has semantic relationships, yet they are not part of the content model and not used. A simple example can be that a certain mattress is great for left-side sleepers and there is an article describing the benefits of sleeping on the left side without any semantic connection in the actual content. 

Semantic relationships between content chunks
Semantic relationships between content chunks

Modeling will be a must-learn skill

For agencies and pretty much any individual in the content business, being able to create a great content model is already seen as a possible differentiator against their competition. It’s a unique skill that will help you find a new job and stand out in the crowd. 

  • Content modeling is a key skillset for the future and a key differentiator against your competition. 

Reuse content everywhere

For you as a marketer, it would be amazing to have access to all written content in your newsletters. It would be nice to be able to create a CTA for left-side sleepers featuring the mattress you recommend. The same content used in the CTA could be reused in newsletters, on social media, or third-party display panels.

  • Sufficiently chunking the content during content modeling unlocks its potential to be served without adjustments anywhere where there’s an internet connection.  

Your last CMS migration

No one likes migrations. Migrations and re-platforming are not cheap—they hinder your execution readiness and for developers, it’s mostly unattractive mundane work. Migrations are often executed when the company outgrows the underlying CMS. What does it mean to outgrow a CMS? It means that you are not able to execute your business plan due to limitations of the content or used systems. A future-proof content model can alleviate these pains and even make migrations obsolete. 

  • Content modeling can create an extendable, adaptable, and future-ready content model making migrations obsolete. CMS systems able to facilitate such a model are predominantly of the headless kind. They usually have a strong set of APIs allowing for a straightforward migration process if necessary. 
Extendable content models are future-ready
Extendable content models are future-ready

It's fun to collaborate

And last but not least, it’s fun. Content modeling should be a collaborative effort. Stakeholders throughout the company can collaborate, give inputs, and have their requirements met. This exercise could bring all your teams closer together and can help everyone invested in your content operations. Imagine enabling everyone to contribute to content creation. With proper governance in place, you can exponentially extend your content creation team and give a voice to everyone.      

  • Content modeling is a fun and collaborative exercise that allows for tighter cooperation between teams, business units, and across the whole organization. It can tangibly evangelize your business values, goals, and mission internally and empower your employees to contribute to your business by producing valuable content.  

You can also check out what can go wrong if you cut shortcuts during your content modeling phase.

Key Points

Here are the most important points:

  • Every business is unique, and a content model should reflect that to bring out the strengths of a business. 
  • Content model focused on pages is outdated, whereas focusing on metadata-based relationships will do a lot of heavy lifting when surfacing content anywhere, e.g., for personalization. 
  • Reusable chunks and structured content support reuse and speed up content creation. They also simplify development by logically connecting to component-based front-end frameworks. 
  • Spending time getting the model right in the beginning can prevent future mundane work, such as CMS migrations or content model refactoring. 

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