Content types: less is more

[A blog post originally puiblished by IBM
for their discontinued software product, Watson Content Hub.]

One of the first things managers and administrators do when setting up IBM Watson Content Hub is to create a set of content types.

First things first: What is a content type?

Content composers use a content type every time they create content. Content types contain elements, such as text, images, files, and videos, to define what composers can enter or upload into their content. When you create a content type, you add the elements that you want your composers to use when composing their content.

Learning about content types is the easy thing. Understanding when to create one is a bit harder.

Why you shouldn’t work backwards

One method of determining what content types you require is to look at all the ways in which content is delivered; across websites, landing pages, mobile applications, mailing lists, blogs, and social media posts. Plus, even within channels, content might be displayed in different ways; a detailed product page, as opposed to a summary “hero panel” on a home page, for example

One strategy would be to create a separate content type for each of these. Using this method, you might end up with 6 or 60 or 600 different content types. This might not be the most efficient way to determine what content types you require because your content composers could end up adding the same content multiple times when using different content types.

Why “content first” is the better method

With a content first methodology, each content type is created based on the type of content you’re composing. Using this strategy, you might create one content type to store things related to a product, a second content type related to promotional events, and maybe a third content type relating to sales campaigns.

The benefit of this methodology is that content stored in a single content item can be reused across multiple channels. For example, if you store all the content related to a single product in a single content item — images and videos and promotional text and product descriptions and user manuals and specification documents etc. — these pieces of content can then be reused in different ways across all your channels.

This means a content composer only creates a single content item per product, but your developers can reuse the content stored in a single content item multiple times; on a landing page, a hero panel, in a storefront, in an email campaign, or as a social media post. This is a much more efficient way of composing and reusing content.