By Steven Buxton & Mariia Ginzburg, on May 29, 2020

Lessons from Valtech: Relevant content starts with your content model

Desk of a Valtech content model professional, with a computer and breakfast

Some of the world's best-known brands turn to Valtech to deliver future-proof business transformation. An award winning global digital agency, Valtech has 3000 people in 16 countries across 38+ offices. Blending 25 years of technical heritage, creative marketing, strategy consulting and data science expertise to deliver ROI for clients, fast.

Clients trust Valtech to remove complexity and deliver frictionless solutions that close the experience gap between customer expectation and reality.

Recently, some members of the Valtech team sat down for a content modeling workshop with Contentful. We spoke with Mariia Ginzburg and Steven Buxton about their experiences. 

Content modeling can be a difficult concept to grasp, but there is great value in understanding the process. For the colleagues that hadn’t worked with Contentful, the workshop was a chance to get everyone up to speed. Valtech also felt it was important that everyone understood how Contentful was different from other CMS solutions. They recognized it can be hard to break free from old workflows and behaviors. 

Lucky for us, they were happy to answer some questions about their experience in the workshop. 

How did you decide to participate in a content modeling workshop? 

Mariia: For Valtech, all team members need to have a firm grasp on the basic concepts of content modeling. Why? It is easy to slip (back) into a more traditional, page-oriented approach to content management. Team members can do a lot more when they understand how content types are used, how they can be assembled, re-used, and integrated into each other. Take content localization, for example. When your team members are familiar with the different localization strategies, they can choose whichever one is best for the use case. With most of Valtech’s clients working on a global scale, providing multi-language support is critical.

Understanding the core concepts also prevents people from getting lost — editors in particular can be left in the dark about their content model. Starting with the content model helps everyone focus on the core structure of the information delivered to the users. If the content is well structured, then creators don’t need to worry about how it will later be displayed on the respective devices and channels of the end user. It becomes second nature and leaves your team to focus on the editorial process.     

What makes some content more engaging than others? 

Steven: There’s the old proverb, “Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder.” It depends on the person, whether something is beautiful or not. The same goes for content. Content is only “good” if it is relevant and interesting to your audience. It’s easy to get caught up in what you might think is best and lose sight of your reader. Sometimes your reader just wants to find the right information quickly. Sometimes the reader wants more, and the most important thing you can do is provide links to similar content.  

And when you’re not sure what your audience wants? Allow your content to be easily searchable, categorized and structured. Content should consist of distinctive components. That way, the audience can quickly find what they're looking for. It also makes content manageable from an editor’s perspective –– it’s a win-win. 

What role does categorization play in content modeling? 

According to Jim Ambras, who led Valtech through the content modeling session, every content model should include a well-defined taxonomy of categories from the start. There are a few significant benefits to incorporating categorization into your content model. Categorization, such as free-form tags, allows information to be easily searchable and accessible from different devices. Navigation across channels and devices depends on it. 

Steven: The second benefit of categorization is the ability to provide personalized content to the user based upon their interests. It gives you the capability to show content similar to what your user is viewing. An excellent example of this is when a product page links to similar products. 

Without careful categorization from the start, introducing elements like this becomes difficult. It is this ability to orchestrate content delivery across different devices that gives you the competitive edge. More and more companies are turning towards personalized content. It holds huge potential for connecting content providers, commerce, and social media. Valtech’s task as an agency is to create solutions that are as open and flexible as possible so that our clients can adapt quickly.

How can a flexible content model like the one Contentful provides help businesses with content atomization?

Steven: If a clear structure is in place, integrating content from different sources becomes possible, and this can continuously enrich the content. The flexibility of changing and adapting the content model opens up a range of possibilities. To give just one example: a retailer we work with wanted to add information about production standards to their products because more customers find these relevant. It was important to have the ability to add these standards through an addition to the content model with space for some business logic like different content snippets, depending on where an item was produced. If a retailer has thousands of products, this will only work if the content model supports it.

What piece of advice would you give to someone modeling content for multiple devices and platforms?

Steven: Humans are visual beings. To an editor, it is important to actually see what an article looks like in the course of the creation process. Technically, the content in headless systems is detached from the visual presentation. But editors want to see what their content looks like during the creation process. The content model cannot cater to a single device but does need to take into account what primary devices people use. This defines some limitations, such as field lengths. 

What’s the most valuable takeaway from the content modeling workshop?

Mariia: The content modeling workshop was a great start for Valtech team members who hadn’t yet worked with Contentful. For those who had production experience, it was a good refresher. The main takeaway? Have a good understanding of Contentful’s core concepts. 

After the workshop, some of the Valtech team members quickly became Contentful certified. They’re ready to continue putting knowledge into practice, providing clients with high-quality implementation and support.

Steven Buxton

Steven Buxton is a business analyst and practice lead for the headless commerce and content practice of Valtech Germany with over 20 years of experience in ecommerce, both as a shop operator and as a consultant.

Mariia Ginzburg

Mariia Ginzburg is a senior consultant and a member of the headless commerce and content practice at Valtech Germany with more than 7 years of experience in software development within various areas including ecommerce and content-oriented systems.