March 15 2024

Content Modeling: The Important & Invisible Work of a Website Redesign

content modeling websitesWe all do invisible work, like never-ending loads of laundry or cleaning up after kids. If you don’t do it, you won’t be able to find that matching sock and your house will be a mess. Content modeling is the invisible yet incredibly important work of a website redesign. Without it, you won’t be able to effectively reuse shared content across a website, and no doubt it will become disorderly – which will ultimately be more difficult and take longer to manage. That’s why it’s worth the initial time and effort to establish a content model for success.

What is a Content Model?

At its core, a content model is a way to give structure and organization to your website content. On a typical website, some of the content has a relationship to other content. A content model defines the types of content and the attributes of that content.     

Identifying Common Content Types

Most websites repeat the content components, which have the same design or style, throughout different pages and layouts. Content modeling is most valuable when these components contain the same exact content and are used in multiple places on a website. Typical types of shared content for banking websites include:

  • location information

  • rates

  • FAQs

  • promotions

  • testimonials

  • articles

  • other resources

In order to maintain consistency and prevent errors, it is essential to define a content model for many site builds, and structure the site to allow for shared use.

Setting Up a Content Model 

If you start with a plan from the beginning, implementing a content model is relatively simple. It’s when you realize that you need it mid-build that becomes complicated.

Essentially, shared content types will be added and maintained in a single spot within the CMS. When adding a shared content item to an individual page, instead of adding the component and content directly on that page, it will reference the content that is maintained centrally. With this approach, if you need to update a promotion, for example, you would only have to make the change to that one centrally managed content item and it would automatically update anywhere it is referenced – rather than having to remember everywhere that promotion was placed, and manually updating each one individually. This is particularly important for information that is timely or could have a negative trickle down effect if it’s incorrect, such as current rates or support-related content on a banking website. Say there was a rate change, and you updated it on the product page, but didn’t realize it was featured within a related article, too. Hello visitor confusion, not to mention compliance concerns. Content modeling takes the guess work and stress out of the situation.

Defining Content Fields & Requirements

Another important aspect of content modeling is defining requirements for individual content fields that make up a specific content component.

Content modeling helps ensure a level of flexibility while staying visually branded and consistent within the design specifications. This may include the ability to use icons or images, calls to action or in-line links, subtext or headline only, among many other capabilities. Such customization allows individual components to be reused for various purposes throughout the site. This gives site managers and marketers creative freedom to develop content experiences that engage visitors and effectively communicate brand and product value. For instance, a traditional icon band is valuable for introducing features and benefits, but if planned to allow images instead of icons, the same component may be used to showcase volunteering efforts within the context of a community support-related page.

Supporting Manual & Dynamic Updates

It’s also essential to determine if certain content components should be updated manually or dynamically. This is most relevant when it comes to blogs or even featured news items. For example, if you are highlighting related articles on a product page and/ or homepage, how that gets updated should be defined as part of a content model. Should it dynamically update from the latest blog in general, or in a certain category, or allow for both? Should it support the ability to manually override with a specially selected article, which may be valuable to a custom content experience? These important decisions are thoughtfully considered and planned as part of a website content model.

Content modeling may not be as sexy as something like UX design, but it’s equally as important for website users and content editors. Let us help you make the most out of your website content with a custom content model that supports your unique needs. Contact us about your next website design project.

  • Content
  • Website

posted by
Brenna Kelliher
Brenna Kelliher
Associate Director of Marketing

ZAG Interactive is a full-service digital agency in Glastonbury, CT, offering website design, development, marketing and digital strategy to clients nationwide. See current job openings.