KM World and Intranets 2005
Content Modelling 101: Turning Data into Information
by Theresa Regli, Director, Content Management, Molecular, Inc. www.molecular.com
Tuesday, November 15, 2005
Can have the same content, but different content models; more than one way to convey the data, depending on the audience it is intended for.
Users take action based on the information at hand. Some results are positive; some aren’t. It depends on how well someone gathers information, interprets it, and uses it. Effective content models enable business users and end customers to find and act on the information they need to make them successful.
This session – how to think strategically about your content. Use content to solve your business goals.
Definitions of a content model:
- components that comprise a body of content (all the pieces of data)
- building on that, the semantic structure of a body of content (how the pieces of data relate to each other)
- a framework applied to data to create information (making those pieces of data useful to people)
Content model: fuelling a simple business
- knowledge sharing
- knowledge management
- KM to ECM (enterprise content management) – take internal knowledge and share it with others who interface with you (e.g. sharing with customers)
Attributes of a good content model
o law for categorizing information e.g. Dewey Decimal system; Library of Congress – both classification systems for libraries, but used by distinct audiences
o one of the foundations of a good content model
o Figure out to break down content and granulize so it can be reused in many ways
o Localized presentation of elements – make same information look different for different locations
o Make content elements browsable – allow users to narrow down and select products based on very granular attributes. Don’t just store as a big paragraph.
o Useful to have results pull up so they are populated automatically by the system when the user looks something up e.g. www.epicurious.com – find and select recipes based on very granular attributes (ingredient, part of meal, national origin).
Pull up from menus
Power search – search template – figure out how users want to find the information and make those types of searches available
How to effectively gather content model requirements
- you need to go out and talk to your customers/users; you cannot come up with a data model yourself. It will not work for your customer otherwise.
- The curse of the marketing moniker – even though you are using the terminology internally, your customers probably aren’t familiar with your internal terminology
- You need to listen to your customers, both internal and external before creating models
- Listen to the words that your customers use
- Qualitative research: focus groups, card sorting
- Quantitative research: surveys, search logs
o Use quantitative research to validate qualitative research – i.e. send out to a larger group before you finalize
- Think of your content model as part of the customer experience, rather than just a way of organizing data
- Validate content models both with internal stakeholders and external models
- Apply human factors best practices to your content model
Designing your content model
- key considerations
o what kind of data store will the content model be used in (database? XML repository?)
o user feedback – what received so far?
o Any content database of any sort in existence today – can they be used and leveraged?
o Does any terminology exist? Need to be created? Need to be re-written?
o What is the appropriate level of granularity?
Only create detail if it makes business sense
The more granular you get, the more work it takes to create and maintain it
Needs to be a pay-off to make it this granular
- Content model creation process
o Collect core sample of content and analyze re: requirements
o Document and iterate on the categorization
o Testing – hypothetical search, display and browse scenarios
o Keep revising based on findings
Content models help users make smart decisions.
The content model can “make or break” your CMS implementation – make sure your content is modeled to enable:
- how you want to display it
- semantic relationships
- turning data into information
Best to create the model up front; very difficult to go back and change all that; however, may depend on the complexity of your content. If your organization only wants to check documents in and out of document management system, then it doesn’t have to be as complex.
If you want more detailed information contact the speaker.