How to use content model templates across teams

Breaking down content types creates efficiency and smooth collaboration

Liaising across teams over and over on web page formats or content modules is hardly an effective use of time.

When we start working with clients, we often find situations where nearly every piece of content is being newly designed without consideration to consistency across similar types of content (or else just the opposite, with content being lazily cloned without thought to the formatting that works best for the content).  Some content teams have no pattern at all for how content is formatted, resulting in a time-consuming trial-and-error approach.

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A content type is a specific kind of content that shares the same structure and purpose, regardless of the topic. For example, event postings, product descriptions, and case studies are different content types.

A content model is the structural definition of a specific content type. Essentially, it identifies the different components (or building blocks) that make up that content type, and outlines any requirements or guidelines for that component.

Content models increase efficiency and collaboration among developers, designers, and content creators. They also increase creativity and exploration of content design.

Content models increase efficiency & collaboration among developers, designers, & content teams. Click To Tweet

A content model is created for each distinct content type

The model breaks each type into components and, for each component, provides guidelines around:

  • Whether the component is required or optional
  • Purpose (Ex. Provide information; Inspire action)
  • Characteristics (Ex. Up to 40 characters)
  • Editorial (Ex. Use verb phrase; Be unique & descriptive)
  • Additional notes

Content types share a common purpose and editorial structure. For example, a step-by-step process, event listing, and news article are each distinct content types.

Similar types should have a similar structure, physically and editorially. These structures should allow for some variation, but within defined parameters.

Content models define the structural requirements of content types. They break the content type down into components, some of which are required, while others are not.

Use the template below as a starting point for defining requirements for a specific content type.

Content model template

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Sample content model: Event listing

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Further reading

Content teamwork: Aligning your people and processes [Workshop slides]

How to design an effective content toolkit

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