Content modeling made easier: Embrace a unified workflow with Visual Modeler

Content modeling made easier: Embrace a unified workflow with Visual Modeler
September 15, 2023


We recognize that teams are under constant pressure to innovate, not only to produce meaningful content but also to deliver impactful experiences. Much depends on technical and non-technical folks working side-by-side, taking their formative ideas and transforming them into something tangible and, yes, incredible. 

So what’s the best way to harness creativity and meet these goals? Here at Contentful we’re always talking about the benefits of structured content via content modeling — it’s the foundation upon which digital experiences are built — and how we can get users of all abilities started on this path. 

That’s why we’re introducing Visual Modeler, an interactive way to visually build a content model and easily collaborate on the changes with your team members. Visual Modeler streamlines the entire content modeling process by bringing planning, building, testing, and iterating into a single workflow. It shortens the overall modeling cycle, where you can tweak and refine your content models as you go.  

With Visual Modeler, editorial teams can have confidence that the content architecture meets their needs and — most importantly — allows them to leverage the right model to deliver impactful digital experiences.

Content modeling is essential, but doesn’t need to be complex

So let’s back up a bit, and dig into the reasoning behind Visual Modeler, and how it addresses a core need for our users. Why this feature? Why now?

In the composable era, content modeling is essential to frame consistent and compelling experiences for multiple platforms, channels, and outlets, whether it’s a tablet or a TV screen. But approached without adequate preparation, creating a content model can be a complex process which presents first-timers with a steep learning curve.  

Around 50% of content management system users we’ve spoken with lack prior modeling experience (figure based on internal research). This creates “false starts,” which means there are more iterations needed to generate the right model. Downstream, meanwhile, content editors are demotivated because they struggle to build the experiences they want to build. More often than not, all parties have to go back to the drawing board again and again (and again).

Visual Modeler enables digital teams — whether they are technical or non-technical — to develop and create robust, accurate content models that editors can utilize to efficiently deliver their content experiences.

Traditional linear modeling: Isolated workflows and high inefficiency 

Customers often tell us they're using a visual method to model content. Digital teams might be using external tools such as Miro, Figma, or Excel to plan their models. 

This results in a linear process where teams design a full model externally and then implement it in their content platforms. While this approach works, it’s not easy for editors and marketers to iteratively test and provide timely feedback on the editing experience. 

Isolated process workflows require multiple iterations leading to high inefficiency.

Isolated process workflows lead to multiple iterations, causing high inefficiency. 

In short: digital teams struggle to work efficiently because they’re juggling various tools, which in turn throws up blocks to collaboration. This can result in a poor quality content model, or in the best case scenario, it takes more time to create the right one.

A visual method to efficiently iterate 

The new Visual Modeler serves as a single place for all content modeling stages — planning, building, testing, and iterating. This unified approach eliminates the need to switch between different applications and systems, saving valuable time and preventing any unnecessary hiccups. 

Your team never stands still, and nor should your content model.

Your team never stands still, and nor should your content model.

The way that Visual Modeler supports streamlined auditing adds another layer of efficiency to the iterative process. It empowers you to inspect, refine, and validate your content model in a cohesive workflow to avoid false starts. All of these efforts foster quicker iterations, aligns content models more closely with project objectives, and accelerates the development process overall.

Collaboration on content models made effortless

By now, it should be clear that content modeling requires a holistic understanding of multiple considerations and diverse perspectives of different team members. Without collaborative input, critical insights might get missed, and the resulting content models could fall short of meeting intended objectives.

Preliminary feedback on Visual Modeler from users has been very enthusiastic, and that one of the standout features is its collaborative nature. Compared to the old way of doing things, the content modeling process now has the necessary support for seamless collaboration between teams. 

Visual Modeler is an ideal solution for developers, coordinators, designers, editors, contributors, and marketers alike. By enabling teams to work together seamlessly, Visual Modeler eliminates communication gaps, enhances clarity, and ensures that every team member is on the same page when it comes to content architecture.

Visual Modeler ensures that every team member is on the same page when it comes to content architecture.

When it comes to content architecture, Visual Modeler ensures every team member is on the same page

Empowering developers and content editors alike

As we said earlier, content modeling forms the foundation upon which digital experiences are built. Comprehending content models and being able to collaborate on them is pivotal for the whole digital team because of its overarching influence on the end user experience. 

A shared understanding of content models can lead to smoother workflows, quicker decision making, and more cohesive digital experiences.

Technical users can leverage the Visual Modeler  to construct content types, establish connections between them, and visualize these connections through a graph-based interface. Furthermore, they can effortlessly create new fields and gather valuable feedback from the editorial team. This synergy results in a validated and scalable content model that paves the way for efficient content creation.

For non-technical users, Visual Modeler offers a user-friendly and intuitive environment to provide feedback on content models. It also facilitates deeper understanding of content connections and helps editorial teams to onboard faster. Now that they can better grasp the content architecture and provide meaningful input, the editorial team can ensure that the content architecture serves their needs.

Wrapping up

The Visual Modeler brings a fresh perspective to how we model content and work together. By providing an easy-to-use, visual, and collaborative platform, it empowers teams to construct, iterate, and refine content models efficiently. 

You no longer require niche skills to understand and provide your feedback on content models. Whether you're a developer, coordinator, designer, editor, contributor, or marketer, this functionality is a must-have in the modern content creation toolbox. 

This universal understanding of the content modeling process empowers digital teams to work cohesively, create engaging digital experiences, and respond swiftly to changing demands.

Take the Visual Modeler for a spin, and experience the power of streamlined creativity and collective innovation firsthand. The feature is available now to all users in Contentful, or consult our help documentation for more information.

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