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Flexible Content Models by Claudia Urschbach


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About the advantages and disadvantages of a flexible content model, relates to everyone working with a content or document management system, affects web-publishing & cross-plattform publishing.

Published in: Business, Technology

Flexible Content Models by Claudia Urschbach

  1. 1. Challenges of creating a f l e x i b l e Content Model 08/11/2007 [email_address] BBC – Future Media & Technology Content Management Culture
  2. 2. Overview <ul><li>Background: Content Management at the BBC </li></ul><ul><li>What does content modelling have to do with UX? </li></ul><ul><li>Why would you want a flexible content model? </li></ul><ul><li>Challenges: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Creating and managing a content model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Communicating about a model </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>User Interface challenges </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Questions  </li></ul>
  3. 3. Content Management at the BBC I <ul><li>Over 200 websites, approx. 30 different web publishing solutions </li></ul><ul><li>3.6 billion page views per month </li></ul><ul><li>2 mayor in-house web publishing ‘players’: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>News CPS - internal built, only used by </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Documentum - bought in in 2002, customised, used by 3 content divisions (English regions sites, Drama & Comedy, parts of BBC Children) </li></ul></ul>
  4. 4. Content Management at the BBC II <ul><li>Situation: A multi-platform publishing organisation </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Old content production: tv & radio </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>New content production: web, mobile, interactive tv </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Objective: Value for money!  Making the most out of any content produced. BBC funded by license fee paid by UK citizens. </li></ul><ul><li>Content sharing & re-use </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-use across platforms </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-use in different context scenarios </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Re-use across business divisions </li></ul></ul>
  5. 5. What is a Content Model? <ul><li>‘ The thingy you create when you turn our designer’s photoshop file into code’ (my client’s project manager) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The model can define xml structures for any type of content’ (me) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The model defines what editors can do and can’t do with their website’ (our CMS-Trainer) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ The model affects how you can display, target & search for content’ (T. Regli, 06/11/08) </li></ul><ul><li>‘ A successful model enables to effectively gather information for the purpose of effectively distributing the information’ (B. Boiko, 07/11/07) </li></ul>
  6. 6. BBC News website Portal object containing elements like: Title Summary Link 1 Link 2 Image
  7. 7. BBC Local - Feature Body Text
  8. 8. BBC Children
  9. 9. BBC Mobile News
  10. 10. Process – Iteration 1 of a model <ul><li>Identify publishing objectives & content needed (define functionalities and output designs) </li></ul><ul><li>Audit already existing content </li></ul><ul><li>Gap analysis: existing content vs. needed content </li></ul><ul><li>Create content model by identifying ’content chunks’ and their relationships to each other </li></ul><ul><li>Implement content model with designs </li></ul><ul><li>Train users of the CMS </li></ul>Iteration 2
  11. 11. User Experience <ul><li>3 types of users to have in mind when you do content modelling: </li></ul><ul><li>Users of the CMS - owners of information e. g. editors, product managers, engineers = everyone who enters information into your system </li></ul><ul><li>Users of the publication (= website, brochure, intranet...) - seekers of information e. g. members of the public, staff members, potential buyers = everyone who consumes the publication </li></ul><ul><li>Creators of the CMS - providers of the system e. g. developers, IAs, operational support team = everyone who is involved in the creation, maintenance and enhancement of the CMS </li></ul>
  12. 12. Different users, different requirements <ul><li>Users of the CMS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>want easy to fill in online forms, don’t like training, hate entry fields they doesn’t know what to type in </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>request new functionality regularly </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>different CMS-user groups have different requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>different publications have different requirements </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Users of the publication: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>like well-structured content and a good search </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>benefit from consistent user experience </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Creators of the CMS: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>need to be able to deploy upgrades as quickly as possible </li></ul></ul> simple & flexible solution required
  13. 13. What defines a flexible model? <ul><li>It’s not modelled to match 1 specific design. Designs change. </li></ul><ul><li>Elements of the model have been identified as truly meaningful ‘content chunks’ – rather then as content just presented together </li></ul><ul><li>Fewer generic objects - rather then many specific objects </li></ul><ul><li>Objects with core elements and a variety of additional optional elements - rather then specific objects with no flexibility </li></ul><ul><li>Open or generous character lengths for text fields - rather then 12 different title elements to match requirements of specific designs (that will change regularly) </li></ul>
  14. 14. Challenge 1: Granularity <ul><li>The more chunks of content you identify and put as elements into a model, the more difficult it will be to maintain and enhance it </li></ul><ul><li>More elements means MORE … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>lines of codes </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>specifications to define (e. g. character lengths) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>difficult-to-reuse content chunks </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>fields to fill out for CMS-users </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Structured content is good  BUT granularity kills the cat. </li></ul>
  15. 15. Challenge 2: Tools – Word & Excel Feature_Venue: Content Model
  16. 16. Challenge 2: Tools – Word & Excel <ul><li>Word & Excel: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Information Architect/Business Analyst can specify model and decisions around </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developer needed to manually write XML </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>With more than 20-30 objects/page types updating gets difficult and often leads to bugs </li></ul></ul>
  17. 17. Challenge 2: Tools - XML Feature_Venue: Rules File & Content Template
  18. 18. Challenge 2: Tools - XML <ul><li>XML straight away: </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Possible but you can’t capture notes around decisions </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>IA/ BA often don’t have skills to write XML so again developer is needed </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>XML is not suitable for communicating with clients </li></ul></ul>
  19. 19. Challenge 2: Tools – an experiment <ul><li>BBC experiement with PROTÉGÉ : </li></ul><ul><ul><li> </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>RDF/OWL based, open source software </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Strict classification of all elements of the model in: Classes, sub-classes, instances & properties </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Model sharable with other tools </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Auto-generates XML  enables IA/ BA produce XML files & control UI of CMS-forms (e. g. order steps, label entry fields, label options in drop downs) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Developer time for initial configuration required </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Training time for IA/BA required </li></ul></ul>
  20. 20. Challenge 2: Tools – an experiment
  21. 21. Challenge 3: Communicating <ul><li>Content models are genuinely abstract. </li></ul><ul><li>What you see on website is never just the model, it’s always content + design. This is misleading because models … </li></ul><ul><ul><li>are independent from design </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>can contain non-visible information (e. g. metadata) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>are made for capturing content platform-neutral. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>You can see a content model by looking at XML but not many can read XML. </li></ul>
  22. 22. Challenge 3: Communicating <ul><li>Another BBC experiment : Semi-Visuals </li></ul>
  23. 23. Challenge 3: Communicating
  24. 24. Challenge 4: User Journey <ul><li>A flexible content model means that the user journey can vary a lot </li></ul><ul><li>Optional elements and entry fields mean that little validation can be included in the UI to check for a client’s specific requirements </li></ul><ul><li>However, trend anyway goes away from online forms to drag & drop solutions that don’t guide the user </li></ul><ul><li>User centred design process is a must to design UI for a flexible model. Key question: Do users understand what the core elements and what optional elements are? </li></ul>
  25. 25. Challenge 4: User Journey