Before you move further, let's go through what can come in handy in different situations. Bookmark this page for later when you're modeling content. But even passive knowledge can make a difference when you read further.
General content modeling terminology
The first term is content modeling, which structures your content into highly reusable pieces and adds relationships and meaningful metadata. Creating a content model is a collaborative effort; the best results are achieved if all stakeholders are involved.
The result of the content modeling effort is a content model. The content model is a blueprint and a set of (usually enforced) rules on how your company will work with content throughout the organization or in a given project.It’s important to highlight that a carefully crafted content model is future-proof and not dependent on more volatile aspects of the project, such as the actual content, the implemented front end, or its navigation.
Content types and items
Content types are your blueprints for creating different kinds of content items. For example, they can create an Article, Blog post, or even a Mattress product. Some systems will call these blueprints page types (they don’t have to be pages), entities, collections, data types, classes, or modules, to name a few.The name content type best reflects the purpose of this construct as everything created based on it is content, and all instances will be of the same type. Thus, content type. Creating instances based on content types results in producing content items.It’s important to address the flexibility of content types right here. The Mattress example mentioned is, in most cases, already a composite of multiple content types. The article could contain a call to action (CTA), which by itself can be a content type. We will address how far you should go when it comes to the granularity of your model in a separate article.
Content type elements
Dissecting content types brings us to a lower level where we discover their actual structure. Content types consist of a set of sub-objects for which we’ll use the term elements. These can also be called fields, properties, attributes, inputs, or similar.The term element showcases the flexibility over some of the other naming conventions and highlights the fact that these are the smallest building pieces belonging to an overarching structure, the content type. So, for example, when talking about a Mattress, there would probably be Name, Description, or Price elements. These elements usually come in different types, such as Text, Number, or Date and time.
Building relationships between items
One of the most important aspects of a content model, if not the single most important one, is the links you establish between different content items. Links between items are dictated by how your content types are set up as most systems allow for some kind of linked item element type.
Linking with metadata
Linking items explicitly is one of the ways of forming relationships. Another way, and an even more useful one, is utilizing meaningful metadata, which is any information helping you to form invisible (semantic) relationships in-between content and between content and readers.Metadata can include:
Metadata attached to content gives it the needed context for which the content was crafted. You’ll use different tools to add metadata to your content model depending on what is available and what you want to achieve. In short, metadata can be added as an element, a content type, or a separate taxonomy object if available.
Assembly and chunks
Other common terms used when talking about content modeling are the assembly model, content chunking, and content chunks.
The assembly model is the process of how the content is pieced together from different content items. This can be done manually, by content creators, or even automatically by the actual front end.
Content chunks are the smallest reusable pieces within the whole content model, and the process of modeling those is called chunking.
Chunking sometimes means grouping elements into a content type into more reusable pieces.
These are the essential constructs you’ll need for most content models. Some systems come with supporting tools to aid your content modeling efforts. For example, content type snippets are used for a repeating set of fields that can be used on multiple content types, like SEO elements. Additionally, custom elements can simplify and enhance your content model significantly, such as a custom element allowing you to select assets from your existing DAM. Therefore, it’s recommended to get yourself familiar with your CMS of choice.