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Riley Edmunds
Riley Edmunds 15 April 2016

The Content Architect: An Essential Role for Successful Content Strategy

A lot of time, energy, and planning goes into creating a successful content strategy. Strategists must think about customer needs, content sourcing, content development, and content delivery. What many overlook is the role of the content architect and the essential role content structure plays in preparing content in the content management system.

A lot of time, energy, and planning goes into creating a successful content strategy. Strategists must understand the content needs of the customer, who is going to develop that content (or supply the information needed to develop the content), and how the content is stored and managed so that it can be reused on different platforms and in various promotions and outreach.

In a recent blog post on CMI, Ann Rockley identifies two types of content strategists that support the development of a content strategy: The front-end content strategists who focus on creating the best content for the customer and the back-end content strategists.

Today we’ll talk about the back-end content strategist. Rockley also refers to this role as the intelligent content strategist, but we refer to it as the content architect.

The content architect, as Rockley points out, helps organize content, recommending the best approach to structure it so it can be re-used in a variety of situations and across channels and devices easily.

The content model these content architects create involves defining topics and metadata, essentially the core structure of each content item, any workflow and governance rules around it, and the business rules required to identify how content is assembled when a customer requests it. The content architect defines this structure for the CMS, and often plays a key role in the selection of the best CMS to support the content model.

Here's a high level overview of the main stages of any web content strategy, and where the role content architect comes in:

Strategy

  • Determine content ownership
  • Create content recommendations
  • Define voice and tone and develop editorial guidelines
  • Prepare content governance model – Content Architect

Design

  • Prepare staffing recommendations
  • Develop taxonomy and nomenclature
  • Design CMS customizations – Content Architect
  • Develop content model
  • Sketch new workflows – Content Architect
  • Prepare metadata strategy – Content Architect
  • Develop migration plan
  • Develop content matrix and mapping  - Content Architect
  • Determine editorial calendar

Create

  • Create assets
  • Write copy deck
  • Content into CMS
  • Review for brand compliance and SEO
  • Implement governance model and workflows

Maintain

  • Advice client
  • Plan for period auditing
  • Use analytics to determine areas of success and failure
  • Adhere to editorial calendar

Assessment

  • Audit content
  • Conduct stakeholder interviews
  • Analyse and validate content ecosystems (sites, channels, social media, partners)

The content architect is essential in the back-end planning portion of the content strategy process. They’re responsible for defining the structure of the content and their role is key to making sure that the content, once created and published, can be delivered successfully on any device, platform, or medium.

Supporting Structured Content in Your Content Management System

What Rockley and others say about content strategy, the role of the content architect, and the importance of structured content should resonate with any provider of web content management. More and more we’re seeing CMS and WEM platforms follow the revolutionary content model of “create once, publish and deliver anywhere.”

So, what is required to support structured content in your web content management system? Here are two examples of features that help make managing structured content possible:

Powerful Taxonomy: A powerful tagging and classification system enables features such as browse-by-topic, faceted or guided search, related or recommended content, and more. It also allows content strategists to personalize the web content experience based on user behavior, device, business rules or audience segments.

NoSQL Database: A NoSQL database makes it very easy to update the schema on the fly without having to make extensive changes to the database.

At Ingeniux, we are 100% onboard with this content management philosophy. We strongly believe that structured / intelligent content is how businesses should be creating and managing their content today, and we've built our platform to support it. This isn't something we recently started doing; it's been in our mandate for a long time.

Not all web experience management systems are alike, and many don’t support the role and needs of the content architect. Read more about structured content and why it’s important.

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