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Modeling inspiration by others

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Even though content modeling principles have been here for many years, it’s not an exact science. There will always be pioneers, and there will always be companies that will use anti-patterns to their advantage. Looking into what others have successfully used might be beneficial during any content modeling phase.

Most companies don’t make their content models publicly available. That’s why we put together this list of interesting practices. From our experience, we saw them serve their purpose even though they may not be the typical approaches.

Table of contents

    Key points

    • Content modeling is now a rapidly evolving discipline, so don’t be afraid to experiment. If your model supports your needs but it doesn't follow all best practices, it might be the perfect fit for you anyway.
    • Drive the look and feel of the front end via the content's semantic purpose. For example, instead of choosing page layouts directly, let content creators choose the voice and tone or a persona, which will affect how the front-end is rendered.
    • can be whatever you need it to be. Websites or mobile apps are just typical examples. We have customers that use for their app manifests, configurations of their internal processes, location tracking, etc.

    Don’t be afraid to experiment. If the model you came up with supports your basic requirements, even though it doesn’t look like a conventional approach, give it a go while keeping your model flexible.

    Format content with voice & tone

    Separating form and content is difficult if editors were used to having control over both. Try incorporating a taxonomy to help them shape the look and feel of the content without allowing too many disruptive changes.

    For example, don't model a content type for a block of a text with an image on the left and the same one with an image on the right. To be able to create a list with different blocks, include a taxonomy called Voice & Tone, which can have options such as Playful, Professional, and Inspiring. Choosing an option will then render a different appearance on the front end.

    Diagram of a layout modeled with a voice and tone

    The same taxonomy is still valid for responsive design and can be later reused in voice channels (such as home assistants or hotlines) to adjust the actual tone of your assistant. How neat is that?

    You can go even further with the design differences. For example, the Professional option would create a layout of a list view while choosing Playful would display the content with a big hero image at the top. In all cases, content creators choose the semantic while the front end chooses the appropriate appearance.

    Google uses advanced content models on their Think with Google website. They reuse interesting facts, graphics, charts, and other shareable information across articles. Not only is it highly reusable, but it’s also easy to add CTAs to that content. In this example, they allow you to share or download the given piece of content.

    Example from Think with Google

    Create app build manifests

    On top of handling all the content for your app, is also used successfully for the app build manifests.

    The settings stored in the build manifests tell the app which features should be enabled for which version of the app. This way it’s easy to enable or disable features and to have a scheduled roll-out of different functionality.

    A filled-in app manifest content item.

    Create an interface for regression tests has been used to create a simple-to-use setting interface for regression tests.

    These settings can include options such as which websites to include, which pages to include, whether to ignore certain pages, whether to ignore color differences or others.

    Instead of hard-coding these settings into the tests themselves or having a TXT/XML configuration file, you can have a fully-versioned setting dialog with a workflow to drive your internal processes.

    Filled-in regression test configuration content item.

    Add “missing” CMS features

    Moving from existing CMS platforms into, where you are the true king of your content model, comes also with seemingly missing features. Re-creating those as part of your model is always an option, however.

    Testimonials, quotes, charts, and other one-time used components

    If you still want to use a page designer functionality, you can use a set of content types representing different widgets, such as Image gallery, Quote, Testimonial, or Chart.

    Allow these content types in a rich text area or as linked items in a relevant content type (typically called Landing page) and you can achieve the same result but with unlimited options over such widgets.

    If you need some specific functionality like an image selector from DAM or a markdown editor, use a custom element for it.

    Don’t forget to configure the preview and edit links so that your content creators can see what the content is going to look like in the end.

    You can also create a Page setting content type snippet allowing you to specify if the page should show up in the navigation, be excluded from the search, or be excluded from the robots.txt file.

    Example of the navigation and search settings.

    How excluding from search and navigation is done in this docs portal

    Enable website or app navigation editable by content creators

    There are multiple ways to create navigations. If you need your editors to control the navigation behavior, go with the explicitly modeled navigation. It then gives them the option to create a hierarchical structure for your content items.

    For example, the page tree navigation in this portal is also modeled that way. Everything from Tutorials, Write and collaborate, Preview content to individual articles like Previewing unpublished content is modeled with linked items so that the Customer Education team can edit the structure directly.

    Explicitly-modeled navigation used in this portal.

    How navigation is built in this portal

    Using and displaying locations

    Locations can relate to your offices, cafes, bus stops, smart beacon placements, moving businesses, and so much more. The difference is the accuracy and additional parameters that are needed for each of these applications.


    If you need to select just an area, use taxonomy or a content type with content items as options. You won’t be able to select a specific location, yet it might be easier to select an option from a list than to click on a specific location in maps or enter an address.

    Specific locations

    Concrete places have a couple of options:

    • If the place has an address, the easiest approach is to add an element for the address and let the front-end show up a map with a pin on that location.
    • If you need a precise location because sometimes places are between two addresses or just in the middle of nowhere, add two elements for latitude and longitude.
    • Both ways can be made even easier by using a custom element with a map that will let your content creators pick a place by clicking on a map. You can then set up the element to save either an address or latitude and longitude based on the click. See the integrations topic on GitHub and the custom elements overview to find custom elements you can use or customize for your scenario.
    An example custom element with a Google Maps selector.

    How a Google Maps selector can look

    Moving locations

    Moving objects, such as buses, usually require a completely different approach. This might be solved with:

    • A tracker with a unique identifier that will be placed inside that moving object
    • A 3rd-party tracking service that takes care of tracking such device with API available
    • A’s custom element that lets your content creators pick a tracker from the tracking service’s listing

    By combining these three things, can serve as part of the tracking environment.

    Reuse guidelines with snippets

    Guidelines are incredibly important when it comes to content production. They explain and show to your content creators how to use content item's elements in a way that will benefit the produced content. On the other hand, they might be tedious to set up and maintain for multiple elements or types.

    A simple way to reuse them is to create a content type snippet for them. To a snippet, place a Guidelines element and then add elements that relate to the guidelines. You don't even have to add any element if the guidelines are general enough to fit multiple content types.

    Finally, in the target content types, add the newly created snippet.

    This way the guidelines are always in one place, and elements that are often reused, such as Title or Published date, will always have relevant and up-to-date guidelines.

    Building curated content

    It’s not unusual to have the top 3 articles displayed on your home page. That can be driven via traffic analytics based on click-throughs, time spent reading, or they might even be curated.

    If you’d like to implement a curated content section, discuss if you have any special requirements, such as influencing the order of content, expiration, or the number of items in your list.

    Limited number of spaces

    If you have a specific number of places on your website or a different medium, the most suitable approach is to have the list located in one content item. Implement the list as linked items so that ordering the items is a breeze too.

    This makes managing the curated section straightforward for your content editors. They can do it from one place and always know which content items are among the highlighted ones.

    Unlimited space

    If you’d like to include more content, enable editors to toggle if the item should be among the highlighted content in the items' content type directly.

    In the items' content type, add a multiple-choice element that content creators will select if they want to put that item into the curated section.

    This approach is suitable, for example, if you have a carousel with an unlimited number of items in it.

    What's next?

    This article is continuously updated with new frequently seen or interesting content modeling options. Check this page again in some time to stay in the loop.

    • You can also contribute! Send us an email and describe your use case and solution.

    If you have gone over all articles on content modeling in this section, you've learned what content modeling is, why it's important to spend time on it, how to do it step by step, which features from are suitable for you, and how to model some of the most common or advanced scenarios.