Model your contents

This is a guest post written by Gladys Cathelain, consultant and instructor in libraries. This is the first post of a series on web interfaces conception.

We often think to organize our contents, classinfying them in sections or categories.

It is also important to model them.

It is a interesting work to do during the creation of your website, because the choice you will make might impact its design. But if your website is already online it is not too late to formalize your article.


By working with one or several article templates, you create a better reading experience: if your article possess at least an image, an introduction and an insert, the reader will have a defined vision of the information and will rapidly know where to find the information she is looking for on the following articles.

This ease your life as well: by using a template, you gain a lot of time when writing your articles.

And finally this gives your website more credibility: standardize your contents, especially when you have several writers, gives your a more professionnal image.

How to proceed?

To start, you have to determine content types. How many contents will you standardize? In library websites we usually find at least theses types: news, information, selection (that can be identical or developped by favourites, reading club, etc).

Then, it is useful to think in detail about each content by type.

For the news, we will need to think about the format of the title, the description, one or several images and some practical informations.

For the document selection, we easily imagine the icon, the title, some editorial informations, the summary and the librarian opinion.

The little “extra”

It is also interesting to think at what could facilitate the readability of the information. Especially on the web, readers scan the information and decide of its interest in seconds.

By attracting the attention on the essential informations (with some blocks materialized by inserts, a change of police or color for example) you can be sure your main message will be understood, which does not mean renoncing on writing some substantive articles.

For informatives articles, you can limit the content to a title and a text, but a “TL;DR (Too Long Didn’t Read)” or a “Keep in mind” paragraph can highlight a useful part of the content.

Create and use the models

Once the elements reunited, you can sketch your contents and create some prototypes on paper or on software (such as in OpenSource).


example of a news content template

If your content management does not allow you to create reusable templates, you can create a standard page for each content type, and copy and paste it when you create a new article.

It could be interesting to define a minimum and maximum size for each article, it will force you to be concise.

And the same advice apply for your medias: images, plans, video or podcast players, etc…

These advices could feel restrictive, but this upstream work will save you a lot of time and quality when you will be creating your contents.

About the author:

Consultant and tutor, Gladys Cathelain specialized herself in web interfaces design. She guides libraries in the valorisation of their communication tools and web services, by defining with them their interfaces by the usages: obstacles and motivations analysis, appropriation, content priorization, technologies and services update.

After working in libraries, in the citizen Internet domain and for an ILS provider, she created in 2011 an independent structure named Deuzio.


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