One of the most essential elements of an effective content workflow is content structure itself. Continuing with our series on the Effective Content Backbone, this month we talk about content structure, what it means, why it’s important, and what the challenges are in implementing it.

First, we need to understand why content structure has become important. There was a point in time when it had little to no significance to us as publishers. That was back in the day when publishing was all about creating a single instance of a product. Sure, we had to know what pieces and parts we were writing, editing, or designing, but all of the focus was on the final printed product. And making the product successful, engaging, and profitable was all that mattered.

Enter the age of the Internet, and digital, and mobile. Now, we need to be able to create content in all of those places, and more than likely move that content from product to product. It’s not sustainable. It’s manually intensive. Content structure, however, creates predictability and consistency in our content so that we can more easily move it around, even in automated ways. It gives us the ability to label and identify content, and to convert content.

Content structure starts with what we call and label things, agreeing on common nomenclature across content elements so that everyone speaks the same language in how they describe elements and how they “mark them up” in their content processes. Developing and adopting these standards is step one on the pathway to an effective content workflow.

Another component of content structure is effective, consistent, and intelligent naming. File names are a huge opportunity to make content consistent and identifiable, yet so many publishers don’t make the effort to invoke this simple procedure in their content workflows. Would you like to know how many file-naming procedure documents I’ve written for publishers over the years? Too many to count. But now they are increasingly important, and publishers understand why and are implementing them.

If you want to learn more about content structure, check out my recorded IDEAlliance talk, Structured Content for Effective Content Workflows, on YouTube.

Posted by: Margot Knorr Mancini

A thought leader in the publishing industry, Margot Knorr Mancini has helped numerous publishers redefine their missions to become nimble content generators with the ability to repurpose content easily and efficiently. As Founder & CEO of Technology for Publishing, her analytical mind allows her to remain a step ahead of the industry, recognizing early trends and developing pivotal best practices.