Best practices for optimizing your digital editorial workflow

optimize digital editorial workflow lead
April 4, 2019



As companies migrate their workflows to become increasingly digital, content design and editorial needs are also changing. Companies need to reimagine how they work with content and deliver it to users. Since Contentful is a content management platform that serves partners and customers of all shapes and sizes, we know that there are many ways to approach digital transformation.

Digital editorial is no longer exclusively reserved for companies in the content production industry –- there are many brands who recognize the need to build publications and work with content. Content is as an incredibly useful tool for engaging with customers and prospects. Engaging content creates relationships with customers that are more organic and communicative, as opposed to the one-directional nature of traditional advertising.

In this piece, we’ll go over the best practices for optimizing the workflow of your editors to cater to their increasingly digital needs. By implementing these tips, you can enhance the efficiency of your organization, cut costs and save time.

Contentful brings many features to the table to assist in streamlining your content operations. For example, Contentful makes content reusable, so editors no longer have to copy and paste content that they’ve created across multiple systems. Sadly, this antiquated copy-paste workflow remains a surprisingly common practice across industries, as legacy CMSes were never designed to support the same content on multiple channels, platforms and devices.

Know your audience

If you’re going to embark on the digital editorial journey, it’s important to understand who will be on the receiving end of your content experiences. Put the users’ needs front and center when it comes to deciding when, where and how they will consume your content. From there, you’ll be able to better define the content your audience demands and design the best possible channels for them to access it.

Factors like user preferences, both from a content consumption and general consumer perspective, can help you map user journeys accordingly. For instance, if your biggest user audience tends to be mobile and on-the-go, you will have to know how to craft experiences that account for surrounding distractions, potentially slow or non-existent internet connections (e.g. on the subway) and the touchscreen experience. The key is to look at the users of different platforms, topics and platforms before mapping individual user journeys. From there, you can build out projects that provide each group with a tailored content experience.

For instance, you might have a group of users interested in stock investment, and primarily search for information on the subject in the form of podcasts. There may be another group interested in the same, but who prefer reading about it in the form of blog posts. It is important to understand the distinct, separate needs involved in both scenarios.

Understanding user flows is a key before you design and format your content. Conducting research ensures that a baseline is established based on actual needs, rather than simply guessing how users may or may not consume your content.

Planning your content structure

Building great content experiences means being able to provide a high degree of context and personalization. It’s not just about the user interface anymore, but also about structuring content to be separate from design from the very beginning. Legacy CMSes were never designed around this — creating problems for both developers and content creators.

Design and content are often commingled in traditional CMSes, forcing editors and developers to struggle to make content changes without having to modify design, and vice versa. This is why people love Contentful – it separates developer and editor workflows by decoupling the presentation layer from content. Content creators don’t have to bother developers for every tiny content change, and both sides can focus on building the content experience your users want.

However, the prerequisite to accomplishing all the above is to first create a solid content structure. This means planning out content before you start on the project itself. That said, this starting point lays the groundwork for everything else that you do, ensuring a much easier time in the long term. This is the key to efficiency and fully transforming your editorial workflow into a digital one, which kicks aside the problems, frustrations and repetitive, manual tasks of the traditional ways of working.

Thinking in terms of components

While the macro view of your projects in terms of pages is still relevant, it is far more crucial to look at elements within those pages as components. Having a design system helps with this a lot. Thinking of content in terms of individual, reusable pieces allows you to reorganize and redistribute it to multiple platforms and contexts.

Contentful helps you get it all together: You can work with content blocks to easily organize, reshuffle and reuse your content when the situation calls for it. Seeing content as components has many benefits. For example, you can quickly put a new page together using a combination of fresh and existing content. This is great for last minute deployments and for extending the life cycle of your content. Or, you can design and develop for multiple devices and content delivery channels at once, since components are standardized and well-defined.

A quick tip: It helps to visualize components (and your content model) in whichever way is easiest for you to work with. If it helps to keep it old school, put pen to paper and create a wall of post-its for planning out your content flows.

Collaboration between content editors and developers

Despite both roles being in separate different realms of their own, bringing content editors and developers together is crucial to creating any successful digital product. Their involvement will allow information and needs to stay in sync.

When expectations are set at the start of the project, each side better understands the role it has to play. Editors are able to work smoothly with their content via an intuitive UI, while developers can focus on creating features that are the most relevant for how editors produce content.

Future-proof your content

It’s hard to know where content will go next, and which devices and platforms will be the next big thing. It’s crucial to choose tools that keep your content future-proof, no matter the context.

Contentful’s cloud-native infrastructure is optimized for digital workflows and provides modern features that let you easily manage and reuse content. Learn how Contentful can work for you by checking out our features or by signing up for a free account.

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