This post is an overview of what content architecture is, and how it impacts your bottom line. For a deeper dive with more examples, check out The Ultimate CMS Content Architecture Tutorial.
Why content architecture impacts the bottom line
When content architecture is designed well, it’s easy for your editors and developers to have workflows optimized, and make changes quickly and efficiently. Efficiency happens effortlessly, the end users are never aware of all the things that are working smoothly together to deliver an amazing experience, and margins stay high.
When done wrong, your editors may struggle, your integrations may fail, and it may be challenging for your developers to manage security risks and site-wide optimizations. The end results are expensive bottle-necks, missed deadlines, and customers who don’t get what they came for. Inefficiency and mistakes pile together to punish your bottom line.
What exactly is content architecture in a CMS?
Content architecture comes down to planning and preparing for the screens and workflows your editors will need and the options your designers and developers require to get their jobs done well. A content management system (CMS) embeds those screens, options, and workflows into a series of steps and built-in functionalities. Roughly speaking, the series of steps and functionalities are the content architecture of the CMS; they are the building blocks and templates that make your CMS work for you. Or not work for you, depending on how well the content architecture adapts to fit your needs.
How do both you and end users benefit from good content architecture?
Good content architecture makes it easy for your team to deliver site-wide updates across all your digital content. Performance updates can be tested, applied, and rolled back quicker and easier. New employees can start generating ROI quicker. Its easier for editors and designers to complete the work they need to do, which is good for the entire organization. The CMS is easier to manage, and it’s relatively inexpensive to add new features.
Content architecture is like the team behind the scenes that keeps the show running. When everyone on the team has a well-defined role, and works well together, it’s much easier to deliver the very best service possible and give your end-users a polished result.
How content architecture helps future-proof your CMS
Well-designed content architecture considers the needs of the agency or in-house developers who are going to make changes to the CMS. It provides a stable foundation that makes it easier for your developers to do whatever you want them to do with a robust architecture that makes it easy for developers to isolate changes and track effects in order to mitigate those risks. By building in flexibility it helps you steer away from unnecessary expense and allows you to invest in features that make you money.
How content architecture can help you choose the right CMS for your needs
Skill sets, workflows, types of content, and future flexibility all play a role in choosing the ideal CMS for you. Editors who have different coding abilities will want different options. It pays to consider your current editors skill-sets, and the skill-sets of the editors you may hire in the future. Your editors’ workflows matter as well - ensuring your CMS facilitates editor workflows helps avoid margin-punishing bottlenecks. The type of content you use (structured vs unstructured) will impact the type of content architecture you need, as well as how easily you want to incorporate new integrations and future enhancements.
All this matters because different CMSs provide different options when it comes to developing content architecture. Some CMSs are built on content architecture that is difficult to change (Traditional CMS), some CMSs have flexible building blocks that can be easily modified (Hybrid CMS), and some CMSs have essentially no templates at all and require you to build almost everything from scratch (Headless CMS). The type of CMS you choose plays a big role in how much your CMS helps or hinders you when it comes to making money off your content - knowing the content architecture you need helps you narrow down the CMS you need.
The ultimate advantage to good content architecture is increased margins and happier customers. Content architecture will always impact your customer experience; it makes up the 80% customers don’t see that supports the 20% they do see.
Focusing on content architecture, is in essence, focusing on the 80%. Getting it tuned perfectly for your team is a great way to optimize content across all your digital properties, reduce expenses, and create happy customers - all the ingredients you need to deliver standout ROI.