Craft CMS Manchester: #14

Focus on: Content

Carrie Hane
Carrie Hane Tanzen

Content is the whole point of the digital products you create. It needs to be omni-channel, ready for AI and machine learning, and easily maintained. But many teams struggle with how to get content up front, maintain it once it’s published, and make sure it’s ready for the future.

As a Craft developer, you already have the tools to support a connected content framework. Structured content creates relationships, connects to other systems, and allows for personalised customer experiences.

Fourways House, 57 Hilton Street, Manchester, M1 2EJ
Thursday 23rd May 2019

Why focus on content?

The focus for the most recent Craft CMS meetup was content.

Ask any team at any agency about content and they’ll tell you about the struggles they encounter when trying to get content upfront before starting any designs.

The meetup and writeup aims to answer the following questions:

  • Why getting content early is so valuable
  • How you can get buy-in from key stakeholders
  • Why content requires cross-team collaboration
  • Where a CMS like Craft fits into the content phase

Designing Connected Content using Craft CMS

Adopting a content-first approach has a number of benefits.

  • It helps increase the likelihood of a project coming in on time and in budget
  • It delivers a website that has been designed with a greater understanding of its audience.
  • Allows you to build out a sensible information architecture
  • Creating omnichannel content that can better adapt to future changes

As Carrie mentions in her talk (linked below), a content-first approach requires a willingness on the part of the key project stakeholders to engage and invest in a phase that is often undervalued and overlooked.

A full transcript of Carrie's talk is available on the Club journal, you can also check out the video over on Vimeo and grab the slides.


After an initial period of silence while everyone digested the importance of a content-first approach and recognised the huge mountain to climb in order to change old habits and approaches, Carrie’s talk prompted questions and discussion. Here’s a couple of them:

Q: Getting across the concept of content-first can be really difficult because they can't visualise it. Do you have any experience or advice around trying to get the client to see beyond that barrier?

A: My clients are coming to me to do this specifically, I'm not convincing them that I need to do this. But they are always very uncertain because they haven't done it like this before. I always start off with a bit of education and I involve as many stakeholders as possible. [The issue] I have encountered in the past is the shift to splitting the time and budget. Most of your clients will have done a website before. They know what to expect. They know that it will cost a lot of time. And they'll fight back against shifting money and time to the beginning and the planning stage.

One way is to identify one two projects where you feel there is the space to do things differently and test it there. Once you've done it yourselves and you know how it's going to work, you'll be in much better shape to say to new clients, ‘this is our process and we know it works because we've done it.’

Q: How does the model work when there is too much content or detail?

A: Your content types are going to be about 80-90% of your content on your website and then you're going to have another 10-20% that are miscellaneous pages - in Craft CMS they would be your singles entry types so that you don't have to have the same structure. 'About' is usually one of those pages. These come out when we do the site menus. The menus are based around the model. Make note of the ones that don't fit into it and then slot them in when you're doing the menu structure so you can see which pages are needed. But still do the content sheets for them so that you start with; who is the audience? What are their needs? What is the business goal? How are they getting there?

What next?

It’s on us as designers, developers, project managers, and content creators to change the hearts and minds of our team and clients. It’s a huge task but it’s key to the health and success of projects.

Here are some key takeaways from the meet up, which will hopefully help:

  1. If nothing else, get a Content Strategy Statement upfront
  2. Be proactive - set meetings and show example resources
  3. Make it a collaborative process amongst project managers, designers, developers and the client
  4. Separate the cost of the planning and design from the build.

Big thanks!

A big thank you to Carrie for her talk and all those who attended.

If you'd like to learn more about how to improve your content process, Carrie's book on Designing Connected Content is a great place to start.

And if you're heading to Montreal in September for Dot All Conf, you'll also have the opportunity to hear from Carrie again as she hosts a Designing Connected Content Workshop.

Purpose First.

Ready to connect with your audience and inspire them into action?

Let's talk

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