The future of content is structured

In an era where content volume is exploding, most organizations struggle to handle the information flood. Content gets repeated, formats diverge, and finding or updating content becomes a tedious nightmare.

Merethe Honne
Counsellor

But there is a solution. It is called content modeling. "Content modeling is defining the types of content you have, what attributes it has, and what relationships they have to each other," says Carrie Hane, Principal Digital Strategist at Sanity, a leading content platform.

"It's really that simple. I always start with a diagram, just boxes and arrows. I have a product. I have documentation. I have features. I have price plans. And how do those all connect?"

By modeling the connections between key content entities, you create an adaptable structure for organizing information based on its underlying meaning - not just how it will be displayed on a web page.

Future friendly content

This semantic-first approach pays major dividends down the line. When you understand exactly what each piece of content represents, you can reuse and repurpose it across channels with ease. Building new or updating digital properties involves realignment, not building or rebuilding entire sites and infrastructure from scratch.

In today's world of rapid change, flexibility is priceless. As Hane puts it, structured modeling makes your content future-friendly - ready to adapt as business needs shift and evolve. Companies that embrace it now will have a huge ompetitive advantage over those sticking to old-school document-based systems.

Traditional content strategies

Many companies today are focused on quantity over quality when it comes to content. "You don't really care about the structure," Hane explains, "if content is meant to be for SEO or a campaign or something temporary. And so people just want to get it out, make it look the way they look, and then forget about it."

This ad hoc approach to content makes it difficult to reuse or maintain over time. "If people are creating longer-lasting content, they want to use it across channels - they want to use it on the website, in the app, and in email and things like that - then it's worth the time to do the planning," says Hane.

Structured content - where pieces of content are broken into reusable parts with meaningful metadata - solves this problem. "Organizations that do the planning become more efficient. I’ve seen teams go from taking hours or days to make even the smallest of content updates to a website – and involving developer do the work – to minutes after moving into a CMS that was modeled with structured content," explains Hane.

If you create more lasting content, you'll be able to use it across channels, on the website, in the app, and in email. It makes it worth spending the time on content modeling
Carrie Hane, Principal Digital Strategist hos Sanity

Building a solid content foundation

When asked what tools and architectures companies need to build sustainable content strategies, Hane argues you have to start with the content itself:

"We need to think about the process and collaboration of creating content. A fantastic storyteller can use words, of course, but they probably also want to use pictures, maybe some video, maybe some charts and graphs. How does that all fit together?"

This requires cross-functional collaboration, with writers, designers, and developers all aligned around the content model. "Here are the elements of the story. What are they? What do they mean? And then you can translate that into a content management system. You can connect that to your design system and whatever you're using for interface design."

Once the content structure is defined, it can be brought to life across digital platforms. "And so that the experience comes out and that story can really be told," says Hane.

Why structured content is key

Hane sees structured content and semantic markup becoming even more important in an age of AI. "I'm doing some research about how we need more structured content now. And to get the structure you need to do content modeling."

She continues: "Structure is based on meaning and intent. In other words, the semantics of what this data is. We need to have more structured data around what we're creating." By teaching machines the explicit meaning behind the content, future AI will be more useful and trustworthy. But it starts with upfront investment in content modeling by human experts.

Overcoming resistance to change

Of course, change doesn't come easy. Hane estimates a typical organization has three groups of people: those who resist any kind of change, people who go along with reasonable change, and others who are always open to new ways of achieving goals.

Her advice is to "start with people who are amenable to change, who are willing to rethink how they've always done something."

By starting small with allies who share your vision, you can demonstrate results and build internal demand for structured content. «Once you have advocates who will speak for you, your work becomes easier because it’s not just one person trying to make change happen.»

Sustainable content for an ever-changing digital landscape

Hane believes strongly that content modeling leads to more agile, future-friendly content strategies. She shared the story of a client who rebranded and they have to redo their website to reflect these changes. All they're doing is changing the front end of the website.

They don't have to go back and rebuild the CMS, redo all the content. Because their content model provided a flexible yet structured foundation, the client was able to efficiently update the visual presentation without needing to redo the underlying content. To Hane, this exemplifies the power and promise of structured content. "Make your content sustainable. If it's sustainable, it will live forever."

Breakfast Seminar — Work smarter with content in Sanity

Oslo 19 March | Trondheim 21 March

Norwegian Sanity has been named the world's best headless CMS (G2.com), largely because of their approach to how content should be managed. At our breakfast seminar, you will gain unique insight into this tool and the logic behind it.

Go to registration

What can we help you with?

Morten M Wikstrøm
Morten M Wikstrøm
CEO, Consulting
Trondheim
morten@increo.no
/
976 90 017
Merethe Honne
Merethe Honne
Counsellor
Oslo
merethe@increo.no
/
928 87 311

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