Designing your content architecture

When designing a platform, you will want to document both your content model and your content architecture as part of your governance plan. Your content model will define the types of content you plan on hosting, and their fields and organization. Your content architecture documents how to organize the content in a manner meaningful and intuitive for the users of your platform.

Content architecture is important for several different user groups, including the following:

  • Content​ ​administrators​ create content for the platform, and need intuitive and consistent content models.

  • Designers need access to a fully-defined content model, including content available and unavailable to end users, to create and update their designs to accommodate the current state of the content model.

  • Developers need a complete and accurate content model to configure the content management system. A lack of current knowledge about the content model can lead to technical debt and increased time-to-market.

Defining content architecture

Drupal’s ease of use means content architects can add a large number of fields to content types with several clicks of a mouse, making the process easy to create an overly-complicated content model. A well-defined content architecture encourages developers to build a structure efficiently supporting the company’s business goals and features.

When defining your content architecture, we recommend the following steps:

Creating a content inventory

Your first step in developing your content architecture involves performing a content inventory: a list of all content on your platform helping you determine what content you must include, but how to categorize and present your content. The process will also help you determine content you must create, and assist you with creating the tasks in your project plan relating to content production and editing.

When conducting a content inventory, ensure you complete the following steps:

  • Assess every piece of content to determine its purpose

  • Document critical content details, including:

    • Content status

    • Navigation level

    • Title

    • URL

    • File format

    • Author

    • Taxonomy and tagging

  • Determine how you handle content during your re-platforming efforts, based on the following questions:

    • Remove content?

    • Rewrite or edit content?

    • Move content from its current location?

    • Split content into new pieces, or combine content with other content?

    • Create missing or non-existent content?

Creating an editorial calendar

After creating a content inventory, you must create an editorial calendar to define the frequency of content creation, review, separation, or removal. Your calendar must also display who owns each piece of content or content section.

Marketing campaigns, seasons of the year, known organizational events, or compliance reviews may heavily inform your editorial calendar. You must also factor in the lead time needed for developing and refining content from initial assignment to publication.

Determining placement and presentation

After you create your content list, the next step is to determine how the content fits together in your platform. If a single content type’s attributes are similar enough, consider content to be the same content type despite differences in appearance or location.

You must also consider how your content fits together:

  • Does your content need an organized data model containing specific structural elements for sorting and filtering?

  • Will your content be used in a single place in a single website, or reusable across several different places in a single website, or through various websites using Content Hub? If yes, you must determine how to cross-reference content.

  • What fields, taxonomies, and metadata does your content require?

Make decisions ahead of time, and frequently related to content architecture and content modeling. As careful decisions affect the technical architecture of your platform, any significant changes may delay your project, and make your content architecture and content model a moving target instead of a defined process with a clear plan.

In the following documentation, you will learn more about Building governance policies to deal with feature requests and approvals.