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Published on February 9th, 2011 | by Rahel Bailie


The content matrix

Depending on how you structure your content inventory spreadsheet, you may be able to add columns and extend the inventory to become the content matrix. The matrix will have columns to indicate where the content is destined – when it’s product content, that could mean not just one but multiple places, whether it can be used as-is, or needs to be edited, who is responsible for the content, the translation status, and so on. Richard Sheffield, author of The Web Content Strategist’s Bible, provides an example for anyone who has bought the book. It has a relatively comprehensive sampling of “things you might need to know about the content”.

Sometimes, a linear spreadsheet doesn’t quite do it. In that case, your job as a strategist is to figure out what format the spreadsheet should take so that it will get the job done.¬† In one instance, an inventory was of no use because the site revamp was so radical that the content was all new. What was important, in this case, was to convey to the ad agency writers where the content came from, and how the components and subcomponents were to be displayed so that when it did appear on the website, there would be no embarrassing repercussions. As well, it had to convey to the technical team certain things about the content mapping.

The content matrix ended up looking like this:

While I won’t go into too many details, one of the things it indicates is that the landing page actually has no content; it’s greyed out to indicate that. That content is pulled, by the CMS, from individual pages, and the related pages are listed. The subpages that feed the landing page are listed across the top, and the page components are listed down the left side. The landing page does, however, need its own page title and meta description for search engine use, which is shown at the top of the grey column, so the writers won’t forget to create it, and the technologists won’t forget to include it as part of the content modeling process.

I’m sure that comparing content matrices among practitioners, and even for one practitioner between projects, will yield a range of deliverable styles. The common theme is that the content matrix gets the job done, and that job is indicating where content will end up in the new site, and allow for technologists to customize the CMS or create migration scripts to make that happen.

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About the Author

Rahel Anne Bailie is a synthesizer of content strategy, requirements analysis, information architecture, and content management to increase the ROI of content. She has consulted for clients in a range of industries, and on several continents, whose aim is to better leverage their content as business assets. Founder of Intentional Design, she is now the Chief Knowledge Officer of London-based Scroll. She is a Fellow of the Society for Technical Communication, she has worked in the content business for over two decades. She is co-author of Content Strategy: Connecting the dots between business, brand, and benefits, and co-editor of The Language of Content Strategy, and is working on her third content strategy book,

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