How Smarter Content Architecture Drives Business Transformation
The “when,” “where,” and “why” of content delivery is just as important as the “what.”
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Successful businesses have always set themselves apart by their ability to deliver valuable content to consumers. While that still holds true today, content delivery and consumers themselves have changed drastically in the last decade. No matter how great the content, serving the same thing on a single channel isn’t going to cut it anymore. Now, the “when,” “where,” and “why” of content delivery is just as important as the “what.”
How can today’s enterprise organizations keep up with competitors when the rules seem to change with more and more regularity? With smart content architecture that empowers companies to deliver personal, scalable, and beautiful content on every single channel and device.
The following looks at the ins and outs of smart content architecture, its big business benefits for enterprise organizations, and the one tool you should keep in your roster to harness its transformative power — no matter how the rules change.
What is Content Architecture?
Chances are you’ve heard of information architecture, but what about its close, yet lesser-known, relative — content architecture?
Veteran content strategist Shelly Bowen provides great definitions of each and a helpful example that explain the nuances of their relationship.
Information architecture is the process of organizing and labeling content so it’s findable and usable.
Imagine you have a store full of random sports-related equipment (aka, content) like bikes, basketballs, air pumps, bike seats, and more. An information architect will label each of these items and find a way to organize them so that they’re easy for shoppers and clerks to find and use no matter how they search — by sport, brand, part number, etc.
Next comes content architecture (or “content delivery network” architecture), which is the organization and labeling of each element that makes up the content. When it’s done smartly, content architecture ensures that these elements are searchable, useful, and, best of all, reusable.
Back in the sports store, a content architect will dig into the elements that make up each piece of equipment (again representing the content) and label them so that they can be displayed in different configurations. For example, a bike would be broken down into parts including tires, a seat, a frame, etc. When done correctly, smart content architecture labels each of these pieces so that shoppers and clerks can find the whole bike, a specific bike part, or both depending on their needs.
While content strategy typically focuses on the front-end customer experience and the content itself, content architecture looks at back-end content structure, scalability, and the technology that facilitates it.
The Components of Content Architecture
Content architecture executes upon the strategy developed during the information architecture stage. Content architects typically employ workflows, content models, and wireframes when designing solutions that will lead to the eventual creation, management, and distribution of content.
Content architect practitioners define how content flows from production to promotion. And when defining these workflows, they’re careful to consider everyone who needs to interact with the content, which may include writers, editors, management personnel, and other stakeholders — and, of course, consumers.
Having a map of the overall flow of content, as well as governance around each piece, is also critical to evolving and improving content processes.
Content modeling documents all the types of content needed to effectively configure your content management system (CMS) for different channels and devices. It empowers you to future-proof both your content and your technology by separating content planning and execution from the platform upon which it’s hosted.
A content model is made up of detailed definitions of each type of content (blog, web page, draft, etc.), the components that make up each of these content types (fields like H1, meta description, body text, etc.), and the relationship (hierarchy, internal linking, etc.) between all the different content types.
The practice of content modeling brings together design, development, and content creation folks to make sure that end consumers get the content they’re looking for when they’re looking for it—and that internal stakeholders who work with the content can find, optimize, rearrange, and reuse it.
Wireframing refers to the process of “visually stripping the product down and allowing all involved to focus purely on functions and user interactivity.”
A wireframe can be thought of as an overarching blueprint that displays the relationship between all the content models you’ve created. Whereas a content model is meant to be reused for any display format, a wireframe is typically built with a specific format in mind such as web, app, smartwatch, etc.
Whether sketched on paper or drafted in special wireframing software, wireframes are essential for visualizing content architecture and inspiring early-stage collaboration between content managers, designers, developers, and stakeholders.
The Business Benefits of Smart Content Architecture
“If I scale my content delivery, I’ll lose my ability to personalize it!”
“How can I effectively repurpose all my legacy content on new digital channels?”
Smart content architecture turns these and other common content concerns into big benefits for digitally-transformed businesses.
Smart Content Architecture Gets Content to Market More Efficiently
Because of the helpful visual aspect of content architecture, it encourages collaboration between developers, designers, producers, and other key parties. Feedback gathered in this early stage ensures that the final content delivery product is designed and developed efficiently the first time around.
Future-Proof Against Content and Technology Changes with Smart Content Architecture
We hope you’re not tired of hearing about future-proofing because future-proofing is, well, the future of business transformation. Marketing and sales channels, content delivery technology, and even consumers themselves are changing. With smart content architecture, you’re able to build content models that are entirely independent of whatever technology the content will eventually be displayed on. That means, in the future, content will be easy to update, coding and formatting will be easy to update, and one update will not break the other.
Smart Content Architecture Makes Content Personal
In 2018, generic content was dead. Today’s consumers are sensitive and savvy. They don’t want tired, old marketing schemes. They want inspired, personalized content. The catch is, delivering personalized content at scale is pretty much only made possible by adopting modular, data-rich, and platform-agnostic content architecture.
Content Becomes More Useful with Smart Content Architecture
Creating scalable and repurposable content is practically the definition of smart content architecture. And it’s also a massive benefit for enterprise organizations who put tons of care and resources into developing content assets that they hope to be able to use for a long time.
Smart content architecture makes content more useful by structuring it so that’s it’s deliverable on any channel and device. That makes it useful for computers, search engines, and people.
How to Take Advantage of Smart Content Architecture and Transform Your Business
The enterprise business world has transformed.
It used to be typical to deliver carefully-crafted content to a single channel. You were ahead of the curve if you were serving content — even the same content — to just a few different channels. But now, that carefully-crafted content has to be personalized, maintained, and delivered around the clock on a vast variety of channels and devices. Now, content lives on wearables, connected home devices, mobile apps, jumbotrons, voice-assisted devices, in-store kiosks, and more by the day.
The great news is, you can transform your business content to stay current and competitive. Part of that transformation will come from adopting scalable, smart content architecture. The other part will result from a content management system that can put all that smart content architecture to work. Luckily, that’s what a headless CMS does.
Contentstack pioneered the concept of headless CMS — which is a content management system with no built-in front-end platform to determine how or where content is displayed. Instead, it allows front-end developers the freedom to build the best interface and use an API to call up the content. This is what keeps companies relevant in an omnichannel world where they need to serve consistent content everywhere from websites to apps, kiosks, chatbots, smartwatches, connected home devices, voice assistants, and much more.
For content managers, a headless CMS makes it easy to create content models, workflows, labels, and other key features that make up smart content architecture. A powerful personalization engine helps you segment and optimize your content while built-in AI-enabled widgets can analyze content to improve performance and SEO.
Developers should seek out a headless CMS with enterprise-level availability, security, and scalability that your IT stack requires.
Published at DZone with permission of Mayank Mishra. See the original article here.
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