Are you over-managing your content?

The content management sweet spot

One of the distinguishing features of an enterprise content management system, in my view at least, is the lack of “canned” content types. In fact, many enterprise systems start off as the proverbial blank sheet of paper as far as content architecture is concerned.

This ability to create custom content types is enormously powerful but it can lead to an over-management of content. By this I mean the temptation, as a content architect, to create distinct content types for every little thing. From a purist’s point of view this may not seem like a bad thing – but over-engineering your content can result in it becoming a tedious chore for your authors. There is most definitely a line here and deciding whether or not to cross it can be difficult.

If you’re considering creating a “video” content type to allow your authors to embed YouTube videos onto your webpages, hang on just a second. YouTube is already managing this content. I’ll take a guess that you’re thinking less about content management and more about content presentation. There is little or no benefit to holding items in your CMS to represent content that’s already being managed somewhere else. It’s just an extra step that will annoy your authors.

If you want to control how third-party content is displayed on your site, rather than making your authors jump through hoops, you can use services like Embedly to embed external content directly into your pages in a controlled way.

This means there’s no need to create and maintain umpteen content types to represent the raft of embeddable content out there – and makes your authors lives easier, to boot.

Similarly, steer clear of creating additional content types that are merely a means to present other content. Do you really need a “gallery” content type? Can you get away without a “carousel” item? (or carousels at all for that matter)

If your developers can give your authors easy and intuitive ways to indicate how items should be presented without wrapping them in another layer of content, you’re onto a winner.

Ultimately, striking a balance between content utility, development complexity and authoring experience is the best bet.