Introduction to Content Architecture

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Content Architecture refers to the way all of your content is organized, structured, labeled, and inter-connected. Well-designed content architecture is key for two things:

  1. The content management experience for your content editors'
  2. The experience for the visitor' of your digital solution

Your content editors will be able to build, edit, and manage content more intuitively, and as a result, your visitors will have a better user experience too! This is the best practice for the Content Before Design approach, or Content First.

Agility is a flexible, content-first CMS that can be configured in several ways. We find that It is important to step back and evaluate how everything will work together before you start development.

Great Editor Experience

Having a smooth and intuitive content architecture maximizes your content editors' experience by giving them tools to have full control over their content. This makes things like building new pages and editing content easier for your editors and avoids putting them in situations where they might have to hard-code content. This will allow your editors to rely less on developers when a change is needed, leading to faster and more efficient updates.

Future-proof your Digital Solutions

Having good content architecture is also extremely beneficial when it comes time to expand your digital solution. By future-proofing content ahead of time to ensure it's reusable, flexible, and easy to manage, and by thinking of what integrations you may need in the mid to long term, you can be sure that these expansions will be easier to implement and that the integration process will run more smoothly. No more complete restructuring of your digital solution every time you may need a new integration!

Pillars of a Successful Content Architecture

Content Architecture is simply the most important operation you can undertake as a modern organization in our connected world. How you are able to promote your brand and communicate your message is directly related to how your Content performs, which translates into more engagement with increased traffic and, ultimately, more conversions. Building an effective Content Architecture allows your organization to move quickly, and with greater reliability in terms of your brand messaging.

We believe there are 4 important pillars of a successful Content Architecture:

Content Strategy

The first and arguably the most important pillar is your Strategy.  Think of it as an ongoing birds-eye view of how everything is supposed to work.  Building out your strategy is an opportunity to determine all the really high-level questions that matter most to you:

  • What are your strategic goals as a business (or business unit)?
  • How does your creative content fit in with that strategy to provide value?
  • What areas of the organization will benefit from having this strategy?
  • What teams will be needed to implement and maintain the strategic integrity of our strategy as time goes by?

Coming up with these questions (and more) will provide the building blocks.  It truly is a top-down scenario; the better we are able to define what will make you successful moving forward from a high level, the easier it will be to continue to be successful over time.

Content Modelling

Your Content Model is the way that the content, (i.e.: text, lists, images videos, etc.) is set up within Agility CMS, allowing editors to make updates and circulate this content with ease, across all your digital products.

Agility CMS's unique approach to Content Modelling enables a robust and consistent way to define, and relate your content with endless possibilities.

Next, we’ll need to think about where we want that content to end up, which we will refer to as its destination or outputs.

Where Agility CMS's best-in-class Editor Experience differentiates itself from other systems, in that it not only allows you to define and relate content, it also integrates with our built-in Page Management. This means you can define content, then control exactly how that content gets used and on which page.

  • Not Just for Developers - Customize your content models right in the CMS using our visual builder
  • Optimize your Editor Experience - Group fields together, set required fields, default values, and much more
  • Future Proof your Content - Define structured content that is de-coupled from your presentation layer
  • Evolve your Content Model Over Time - Seamlessly switching from editing content to your content models allows for quick updates and promotes iterating on your content models

With Agility CMS, not having restrictions or limits of entries or content models allows you to build bullet-proof architectures without compromise.

Content Workflow

Invariably, we will end up changing our architectural models as we continue to examine the specifics of what each endpoint requires.   As we work through all the places your content will flow, we should also ponder what the future might look like – are we making decisions based on a technology that might disappear or drastically change soon?  How will we respond to these changes? How can we build resilience into our system to allow for this sort of flexibility? 

At this point, we have to consider the question of who does what with which elements of content and when:

  • Who composes content?
  • Who approves it?
  • Who triggers the events that cause content to flow through to an endpoint?

This is called Content Workflow, and it’s all about the people side of the equation.  It’s vital to keep in mind that these folks are the lifeblood of your Content, and their experience matters.  We need to make sure they are set up for success.

Content DevOps

Now we can begin to work through our ideas about HOW our content will flow in our stack to its various outputs.  We refer to this as Content DevOps.  It might mean tools that we integrate with, application protocols that provide us data or that we feed data to, or software development components that need to be implemented.

DevOps brings the Development and Operations process together in a cycle used to deploy and update the artifacts powering our online properties.  This is illustrated by a continuous repeating pathway through the stages of Plan > Create > Verify > Package > Release > Configure > Monitor > Plan. This process has redefined how we deploy and maintain our code online because it allows us to iterate quickly and continuously with new features and bug fixes.

There are several questions you need to ask in order to shape out your DevOps Strategy. Here are a few to get you started:

  • Who will develop the software artifacts needed for online properties?
  • Who will own the code artifacts over time?
  • Where will the code be stored (on-premise or managed service)?
  • What will the process of building/testing/approving/releasing code require?
  • Who will be accountable for the process at each level of responsibility?
  • What packages and/or frameworks will you rely upon, and what are the risks involved?

Conclusion

Your Content Architecture is a tool that can help you harness the rhythm of your organization into the outputs that you need in order to be successful.  We’ve walked through the concepts of Content Strategy, Content Modelling, Content Workflow, and Content DevOps.  Unpacking how these concepts relate to the ideas you have for your organization is an exciting and challenging proposition.

With the flexibility that Agility CMS has to offer, we hope you’ll allow us to join you on your journey to building your content architecture. 

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