Writing for the web today can sometimes feel like you’re trying to put a puzzle together with a blindfold on. It’s difficult to imagine how the final page is going to look and feel because all the content you are writing is input into small silos in a Content Management System.
I first ran into this experience a few years ago as I worked on the development of a website in Joomla. The experience really became very frustrating without a method for organizing the content and understanding all the different ways and places the information might be used.
The content creation process
Generally when people begin to plan and develop a website they start out by making a road map of all the menu titles, drop down titles and the final content pages that they will need. And that method works well, until you begin writing your content.
Since coming to Information Mapping I have learned an easier way. The Information Mapping method taught me to analyze, organize, and break down all of my information into individual blocks that are limited to a single main idea. The method is extremely powerful. It allows for content written in a CMS to be repurposed over and over again throughout the site without revision.
CMS are only as good as what you put in
As I work with other content developers I find that this simple method forces writers, from novice to expert to really focus their content. Too often I’ve opened up a CMS to find that someone has written piles of content and stuffed them all into one long “article” with no differentiation between facts, guidelines, or processes. When it comes down to it, content management systems are only as good as the content we put into them. When we put garbage in, it’s garbage we get out.
Blocks in the Information Mapping method refer to small units of information that are limited to a single main idea. Blocks can be a sentence or two, a paragraph, a bulleted list, or a table or diagram. Regardless of the form, the information within the block must be limited to a single main idea. We teach people how to write using blocks in our training programs. Some people refer to this as topic-based authoring. It is very powerful when writing content for CMS.