A presentation at GatherContent Masterclass by
Rahel Anne Bailie
A blueprint for high-impact content operations
© Rahel Anne Bailie, Founding CEO, Content Operations Expert at Content, Seriously
▪ Reasons for a content model
▪ What goes into a content model
▪ Basic principles of intelligent content
▪ Intelligent content in action
▪ Applying editorial and technical structures
▪ Adding meaning through semantics
▪ Examples of potential content uses
▪ Enabling content operations
▪ Supports omnichannel delivery
▪ Segment by audience
▪ Segment by stage in the user journey
▪ Segment by product
▪ Supports multichannel publishing
▪ Output by device
▪ Output by medium
▪ Cross-channel delivery
▪ Use the content in many contexts
▪ Single source
▪ Create once and re-use multiple times
▪ Add metadata effortlessly
▪ Use predefined categories of attributes
▪ Apply styling at delivery time
▪ Automatic styling for any output
❑ Controlling the content
❑ Making the CMS work
❑ Auto-serving up of content
❑ Aggregating of content
Goal: To get enough information that you can create good personas and user journeys
• You can use one of the many established research methods
• If you can’t speak to users directly, find proxy users
• Do some guerrilla research
Goal: Understand the people who will use your product or service
• You don’t want market segment personas; you want to use behavioural personas
• Use personas well; they aren’t specific people, but a representation or archetype of your users
Goal: To understand all the touchpoints with a user, from the beginning to end of a service
• A journey map is created from the perspective of the user
• The journey may begin before they interact with your service and goes across all channels
• The journey captures the experience and insights through the lens of the user or customer
Goal: To diagram an abstract representation of a web of interconnected objects that allows you to define the elements of a domain
• The domain model is the precursor to the content model
• There is no single way for notation of a domain model – you can use a mind map, groups of sticky notes, or any other visual representation
Goal: To categorise and create relationships in order to create a network of contextual content
• A taxonomy involves organising content into categories with controlled terminology
• An ontology, or knowledge graph, builds on a taxonomy by creating conceptual relationships that improve context
Goal: To codify groups of elements that come together to create a particular content microformat (such as an event, a person, an organisation, etc.); content patterns that automate content use, delivery
• The most popular set of content types for presentation layers (such as a Web CMS) is schema.org
• Authoring-side content types are often custom-built, though there are schemas such as DITA, DocBook, and a host of other schemas
Goal: To create a representation of the collective content types and understand their relationships in order to automate delivery of content (for example, in a Web CMS).
Content modelling brings together the six previous activities to allow content to work together as a cohesive whole.
Content models should be system, channel, and interface agnostic.
▪ Carry out user research.
▪ Develop personas for each primary audience, to define their needs.
▪ Map the user journeys to determine the touchpoints for content.
▪ Create a domain model for your product area.
▪ Put together a content taxonomy.
▪ Create any content types that you need.
Intelligent content is:
▪ Structurally rich
▪ Semantically categorised and so is
▪ Automatically discoverable
In practical terms, structurally rich means that content is structured in a way that computers can understand how to process it.
Element / Value / Instantiation
Event category / Alphanumeric (Max char) / Masterclass
Event title / Alphanumeric (Max char) / Content Modelling Training
Event date / ISO 8601 date format / May 27, 2021
Start time / ISO 8601 date format / 4:00 PM
Duration / Number HH:MM / 02:00
Location / Place / [Online URL]
Teaser / Alphanumeric (Max char) / Invest in your content career. Level up your team.
Image / .jpg or .png / rab_headshot.jpg
Speaker / Person / -
Title / Alphanumeric (Max char) / Content Strategy Expert
CTA label / Alphanumeric (Max char) / Register for webinar
In practical terms, semantically categorised means that the content has metadata attached that gives information meaning, so that the content can be processed with more specificity.
symbol, airport, toilet, gender, black
In practical terms, automatically discoverable means that search engines can find your content because it understands not only the words but also the intent
Googling “wine bar” will yield a list of nearby venues where wine is served.
Adding the word “buy” to your search indicates to the search software that you have changed your intent, so Google now shows products called a “wine bar” that can be purchased.
In practical terms, content that is reusable, reconfigurable, and adaptable means that the content is flexible enough to be used in different ways to meet more needs.
Adaptive content is designed to adapt to the needs of the customer, not just cosmetically, but also in substance and in capability. Adaptive content automatically responds to the screen size and orientation of any device, but goes further by displaying relevant content that takes full advantage of the specific capabilities of the device being used. – Charles Cooper, The Rockley Group
Different outputs, different formatting, and inclusions/exclusions are easily effected, programatically.
Information / User Portal / Owner’s Manual / Media Console / AR App / Service Manual
How to use a particular feature / Full version / Short version / Phrase /
Single sentence / Short version plus repair info
❑ Standardise the structure for each content type.
❑ Standardise the structure of the content itself.
❑ Standardise the copy.
❑ Map out the copy differences and where each is used.
❑ Apply metadata for content destined for specific outputs.
Let’s look at the architecture of a recipe
▪ The editorial structure of a recipe
▪ The technical structure of a recipe
▪ The semantics that are added
▪ What benefits the semantics bring
Let’s look at the content model of a recipe for tiramisu.
The recipe didn’t all fit on one slide, so here’s the second half.
What do we understand when we read a recipe?
▪ What it is and looks like
▪ What we need to use
▪ What we need to buy
▪ How much it makes
▪ How to make it
▪ How to serve it
No of servings
▪ Recipe name
▪ Image of finished product
▪ Prep time
▪ Number of servings
▪ Prep time
▪ Cooking time
▪ Ready time
▪ Instructions Section
▪ Footnotes Section
Image of finished product
Number of servings
• Footnote Type
❑ Draw the structure for your content types.
❑ Label each element and what it does.
❑ Add any limitations for a data field (datatypes, constraints, etc).
❑ Reduce number of content types by increasing flexibility within the type (for example – toggle for optional fields)
Label the units
▪ Allows automatic conversion between Imperial and Metric measures (for example, 1 cup = 250 ml)
Tag the ingredients
▪ Allows the re-use of recipe across multiple markets (for example, omit nuts for use on an allergy site)
Specify cooking method
▪ Users can filter recipes by cooking method (for example, stove-top method)
Specify prep time
▪ Users can filter by length of preparation time (for example, meals under 30 mins)
Specify serving size
▪ Choose recipes by quantity served (for example, recipe for batch of 48 cookies)
Specify the tools
▪ Look for recipes that use tools owned (for example, cake bakes in a bundt pan)
▪ Find ingredients by related terms (for example, fries/ chips, savoiardi/ladyfingers, po’boys/hoagies)
Categorise by specialty
▪ Filter recipes by specific user needs (for example, diabetic, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, nut-free)
Categorise by dish type
▪ Filter recipes by place within a meal (for example, soups, side dishes, desserts) Categorise by occasion
▪ Filter recipes by time of year (for example, Christmas, Passover, picnic, barbecue)
Paprika will take any structured recipe and pull it in, while eliminating the cook’s life story that inevitably precedes the recipe itself.
Here is another application. Supercook lets you specify which ingredients you have in your refrigerator, and from there, it gives you some recipe options to use up those ingredients. Again, semantic metadata.
Here is Yummly, a smartphone app that provides recipe recommendations personalized to your taste, a semantic recipe search, a digital recipe box, shopping list and one-hour grocery delivery. According to the description on Wikipedia, it offers a semantic web search engine for food, cooking and recipes. So it’s leveraging semantics to serve up recipes based on the holiday, the cuisine, and so on, or to get the right ingredients for a recipe delivered to your door. Pretty cool use of semantics, right?
▪ Use the content in many contexts Single source
▪ Create once and re-use multiple times
Add metadata effortlessly
▪ Use predefined categories of attributes Format and style-free
▪ Ignore all formatting and styling
❑ Go through user research for things that users want.
❑ Consider new ways of engaging end users.
❑ Look at new ways to personalise using adaptive content.
In the front of a bakery, there is a showcase. That’s where you present the doughnuts. It’s organised and displayed in the best way for customers.
Similar to the information architecture in a Web CMS.
In the back of there bakery, there is the working environment. This is where you make the doughnuts. Organised to suit the production process.
Similar to creating content in an authoring environment.
Using a home baking kit in a bakery would be a slow and clunky process.
Similar to using a word processor and spreadsheets.
Using an “all-in-one” baking-and-showcase machine is OK for fast food but not volume.
Similar to doing everything in a Web CMS.
Operating model is both an abstract or visual representation (model) of how an organisation delivers value to its customers or beneficiaries as well as how an organisation actually runs itself. (Wikipedia)
Determining behaviour, workflow and process design, IT decisions, and investment decisions, aligned to the business objectives. (Strategy& (PWC))
The configuration of the organisation to deliver its strategy. (Deloitte)
ContentOps is a set of principles used to optimise production of content to allow content to be leveraged as business assets to meet intended goals.
Save time and money, maintain quality:
• Maintain a single source of truth.
• Reduce inefficiency of rote tasks.
• Automate whatever you can.
• Use standard processes.
• Monitor results, use insights to make further improvements.
Respond to business and user needs:
• Ability to scale and respond to demand.
• Improve collaboration across value streams.
• Automate continuous delivery pipelines.
• Improve innovation.
• Reduce risk.
• Ensure resource availability.
▪ Standardise the structure.
▪ Standardise the content.
▪ Transclude (single source) common content.
▪ Automate the population of data.
▪ Use fit-for-purpose software (meant for production), to automate all non-value tasks:
▪ Copy-and-paste into the CMS.
▪ Tracking with spreadsheets.
▪ Copying data into pages.
Instead of using a hodge-podge of tools: Track in JIRA, Brief in Google doc, Write in Word, Consult PDF style guide, Approvals in Outlook/Teams,
Store in SharePoint, Copy-and-paste to CMS.
A fit-for-purpose system would have:
A working environment (repository, workflow, knowledge graph, quality management and content optimisation, knowledge graph)
A processing environment (transformation scripts)
A delivery environment (storage with semantic enrichment)
❑ Map out the content production process, end-to-end.
❑ Identify manual interventions in the current state.
❑ Map out a future state where manual processes are automated.
❑ Calculate the differences in number of steps and amount of time.
❑ Assign time and costs, and calculate the potential savings.
❑ Reactive – ad-hoc content handling, little forethought
❑ Tactical – multiple, siloed processes
❑ Integrated – coordinated at the delivery end, no operations
❑ Managed – operational model focused on efficiencies
❑ Strategic – information enablement where operations support business strategy
▪ Increases the potential of content exponentially.
▪ Supports delivery initiatives – personalisation and multichannel.
▪ Enhances brand, user experience.
▪ Increases capacity to focus on more value-add activities.
▪ Enforces consistency and adherence to the style guide.
▪ Removes waste and rote tasks from content production processes.
▪ Facilitates single-sourcing.
▪ Reduces downstream production costs, such as translation/localisation costs.
▪ Automate anything possible – don’t use staff as slow computers.
▪ Invest in production-grade tools – do a costbenefit analysis.
▪ Think single-sourcing – CODA (Create Once, Deliver Anywhere).
▪ Remember that models will grow and change with business models and operational goals.
Articles on the web
Intelligent Content: A Primer
Adopting Intelligent Content: Practical Advice
A metaphor for intelligent content
The intelligent content approach
Intelligent content presentations on SlideShare
Rahel Anne Bailie; Content, Seriously
Designing robust content ecosystems
View Meet Business Objectives with Content Modelling.
The business value of a content model is often overlooked. This presentation provides some insights into how your content model drives value at the business end.
The following resources were mentioned during the presentation or are useful additional information.