Content Workflows: Crafting the Right Approach for Your Team


Content creation doesn’t sound particularly complex. Everyone writes, right? 

Well, the reality is quite different, especially in a business setting where multiple stakeholders are involved. The creation, development, and management of content can pose significant challenges. Oftentimes, teams adopt disparate workflows and processes – sadly this often leads to inefficiency, quality issues, and delays.

Navigating content workflows and consciously selecting the right approach is essential for cultivating efficiency and effective results. Whether working on a small-scale project or managing a large team, having the right workflow can mean the difference between success and failure.

When defined content workflows are part of an organization’s content operations, they streamline the content creation process, helping design and development teams collaborate to achieve speed, quality, and confidence. By gaining a deeper understanding of content workflows, teams avoid ineffective processes and design rework, allowing them to optimize projects.

In this article, we'll explore the importance of unified workflows for content creation, examine common workflow models, and provide tips for creating workflows that include modular content creation.
 

The challenges of traditional content workflows

Many content creation workflows are designed efficiently, but when it comes to implementation, things get… messy. The content creation process often involves multiple teams with their workflows and processes, which is where the confusion and delays come in. 

Many workflows look like the following:

  1. Create a project or creative brief
  2. Handoff
  3. Prototyping and design with placeholder content
  4. Handoff
  5. Content creation and layout cycles
  6. Handoff
  7. CMS configuration to match the prototype structures
  8. Content pasted into CMS
  9. Code and Test
  10. Rework
  11. Optimize and deliver 

The linear handoff-based workflow can result in a disjointed process with multiple siloed activities, and fragmented workflows, which can lead to inconsistencies and inflexibility in the final product.

Static page-based content approaches can be suitable, for the right circumstances. If your team only designs one-off experiences with no consistency of content types or design elements, the page design approach could be the most efficient for you.

To choose the right approach for your team, it's important to understand the advantages and disadvantages of each method and assess which approach is better suited for your team's needs and goals. Finding the right balance between flexibility and efficiency is key to successfully navigating real-world content workflows.


The Modular Content Approach

A modular content approach involves starting with a strategy and content model before or during the process of building a digital property.

In a modular approach, both content and design are built in reusable component format from the very beginning, allowing for easy reuse across multiple customer experiences. Let’s take a look at an approach that aligns authoring and design utilizing a workflow that benefits from the configurability of the Figma plugin community (a real, proven workflow! See a more indepth demo here).

This modular process looks like this: 

  1. Define Business Strategy and Content Strategy 
  2. Create Domain Model and Content Model 
  3. CMS Configuration and Link to Figma via Plugin
  4. Collaboratively Create and assemble content and design components in Figma 
  5. Code and Test
  6. Optimize and Deliver 

This approach starts with business strategy and content strategy, defining the content and its intended purpose. Next, the team creates a domain model that represents the concepts and relationships in the content. The content model is then built, which defines the content types, their elements or fields, and their relationships. The content is then authored in components. This can happen using a headless CMS, which separates the content from its presentation layer, in a spreadsheet, or another structured authoring tool.

The content components are assembled along with design components in Figma. Figma is a design and prototyping tool that allows for easy concurrent collaboration. Teams use Figma along with integration with design systems for modular design component reuse. And Figma can integrate with headless content management tools using plugins like RealContent, making content component-based as well. 

By using Figma and a component approach to design and content, it becomes a lot easier to build and modify new customer experiences. Instead of static prototypes used one time for one experience, prototyping becomes dynamic, incorporating a shared pool of modular components.

Once it’s time to code the content and design components to create the final product, everything is already well-defined, modular, and integrated. This leads to faster coding with a more agile and flexible component structure already in place. 

Read more about the benefits of Collaborative, Component-based Design and Content.


Ways [A] can help you get started with component-based content workflows:

  • [A] can work with your team on a modular content pilot incorporating a few key team members and one or two significant content types to test out how new workflows can function
  • [A] can provide software and training for integrating Figma into your modular content supply chain, with off-the-shelf and custom-developed tools
  • [A] can host assessments, training, and workshops to elevate your organization's awareness and facilitate a more cohesive content and design strategy.

Authorship

Cruce Saunders is the Founder and principal at [A]. He hosts the Towards a Smarter World podcast and The Invisible World of Content YouTube series. He has been a keynote speaker around the world at conferences and an invited speaker at enterprises around the world. He regularly presents on AI, content intelligence, content operations, content engineering, personalization, governance, content structural and semantic standards, and enterprise transformation.