The Web Project Guide: Model Your Content | Write for People and Machines

Two more chapters have launched (with much less anxiety). I’m thankful that this is the last month I’m actively writing two chapters at once. From here on out, it’s either a single chapter or I’m doing opposing edits on a technical chapter from Deane.

I’m excited about these chapters because they pushed me in two directions. First, they helped me shape my own mental model around how I explain content modeling. That this chapter was released just a few days after Deane’s new book (Real World Content Modeling: A Field Guide to CMS Features and Architecture) gives me a bit of heartburn — thankfully, Deane’s new book is both great and very focused on the technical implementation of a content model, rather than the conceptual idea of a content model — but I’m happy with how it turned out. I hope it gives people enough background to understand the basics of content modeling and why it matters to their web project.

As far as the chapter on web writing, I had to dip back into a past life. I’m a recovering copywriter, and I learned most of the “rules” of web writing by accident — my background in content layout and spacing and plain language all come from advertising. I also learned most of my bad habits as well, like my habit of writing section headings that make no sense, or my love of overwritten metaphors and idioms. Writing this chapter was a palate cleanser: it helped remind me of the power of clear messaging, and it helped me center how I wrote. (I should have written this chapter first, probably.)

The chapters got long. Again. I have dozens of potential blog posts in the wings from the scraps I let fall. But while both chapters feel very different, they also represent my journey from teacher to web professional; they represent the writing background that got me into this industry, and they represent the work in content modeling that now makes up a large part of my output.

Anyway, here are the links.

CHAPTER 11: Model Your Content
Content takes many shapes, and connects in many ways. How these shapes and connections manifest – both in how they relate to the editorial and design model and in how they are converted into data that a content management system can manage – has considerable impact on every subsequent stage of the project.

CHAPTER 12: Write for People and Machines
Your text content doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. It has to be written. This chapter is about writing for the web, understanding how to write for both people and for web services like search engines, voice recognition, accessibility, and more.

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