Content Object Modelling at Summit 2007

Seth Miller of Miller Systems. A highly recommended presentation. Young guy. Definitely a tinkerer gone pro.

Miller Systems is a UX-centric web dev firm. Been around 12 years. RedDot partner since 2002. Several implementations. Have also used Ektron and Percussion. Prefers RedDot.

Great sites have intuitive information architecture (key word: intuitive). Well-written, frequently updated content. Threaded experiences. Contextual linking and content presented with related content and calls to action.

Thought: Miller Systems doing sub-contracting?

“Great contributors adopt great tools.”

Content Object Modelling is a process of defining the most granular content elements, normalizing them, and segmenting for use on one or more templates. Visual process done through relationship mapping, done after the IA is complete (sitemap should at least be really close to complete). Unique Page Experiences (UPEs) identified (lowest common denominator of content use). Need to use real content to determine how this all works — lorem ipsum will not solve the problem. Metadata must be defined — reuse hinges on a smart taxonomy model.

COM uses other critical parts of design and information architecture process that are already in use.

Takes mystery out of the implementation at an early stage. Gets you in touch with the contributor’s interface. Uses tools like Visio and JPGs to define the needs. Does not involve any coding. Helps identify the most challenging issues early, avoiding complication later on (e.g. S&C cards and event calendar). Very useful when integrating applications.

COM helps figure out where content needs to originate/live within the context of the website, and relate it to where it will be used. Identifies content length (and associated risks). Helps identify different swappable containers. Identify authorization levels (e.g. who will edit what material, or have decision-making authority). Good place to raise questions when object use is not clear.

Designs in the example are simple, mostly text- and link-based (well-designed ones, mind you). Using the COM process will be HUGELY beneficial on the RMP redesign.

Use DHTML/AJAX to hide RedDot interfaces (e.g. the keywords interface) and write material directly to the interface. Also for providing descriptive text.

Things for improvement: deep links from RedDot start page to common items (e.g. add/change events, testimonee pages). Make the start page look good. Not because we have to, but because it’s good practice and not being sloppy.

Remember that when working in a CMS (particularly RedDot), the website isn’t just for the end user — it’s also for the content editors/managers. They need to be able to use the interface as well.

Need to really look into Active Templating. Lots of people are highly recommending it.

COM works with translations quite well, provided content taken as a direct translation rather than a localization. If going through localization, you’ll want to COM each of the other languages to ensure content items map properly. Translations require attention mostly for content length.