Content Modeling Best Practices in Contentful
March 15th, 2023
originally posted at nansen.com
Contentful is a powerful Content Management System (CMS) that enables you to manage and deliver content across multiple channels. To optimize your use of Contentful, it's important to follow best practices when creating your content models. In this blog post, we will explore five best practices that will help you create a well-structured and easy-to-manage content model in Contentful.
Why Your Content Model Matters
The architecture of your content model is the most critical aspect of content management. It affects both your editors and developers who need to interface with your content. A poorly designed content model can lead to a bad editor experience, a codebase that's hard to manage, and difficulty when it comes to scaling or modifying your content models in the future. It's important to get it right the first time because any fixes become exponentially harder once content is added.
1. Keep your content model simple and flexible
When creating your content model, it's important to keep it simple and flexible. This means that you should avoid creating too many content types or fields that are too specific. Instead, try to create content types and fields that can be used in different contexts.
For example, instead of creating a separate content type for each type of page on your website, you could create a single content type for all pages and reference content blocks to differentiate their appearance on the site. This approach makes it easier to manage your content and ensures that your content model is flexible enough to accommodate future changes.
2. Use descriptive field names and labels
To make it easier to understand and manage your content, you should use descriptive field names. This means that you should use names and Ids that accurately describe the content that the field represents.
For example, instead of using a generic name like "Image" for a field that represents the hero image of a blog post, you could use a more descriptive name like "Hero Image". This approach makes it easier for content editors to understand what each field represents. It also makes things more clear if more image fields need to be added in the future, like if you want to include a “Teaser Image”.
3. Use field types that match the content you're creating
Contentful offers a wide range of field types that you can use to represent different types of content, such as text, assets, rich text, and links. When creating your content model, you should use field types that match the content you're creating.
For example, if you need a field to represent a true/false value, you should use a boolean. You should avoid using a number field that is populated with a 1/0 or a text field with the values “true” or “false”. Similarly, if you are creating a blog post, you will want to use either rich text or markdown for the body content. This ensures that your content is well-structured and makes it easier to manage and deliver to different channels.
4. Use field validations to ensure consistency
To ensure that your content is consistent and accurate, you should use field validations to enforce data constraints. Field validations allow you to specify rules that content must meet to be considered valid.
In the context of our blog post example, if every post requires a hero image based on the site design, it is a good idea to make that field required. Omitting it could affect how the post is rendered on your site. If you are managing the slug (URL) of each post in Contentful, it makes sense to make that field unique to avoid issues of duplication on your site.
5. Use reference fields to establish relationships between content types
In Contentful, you can use reference fields to create relationships between content types. Reference fields allow you to link one content type to another (or one to many), which can be useful for creating complex, decoupled, content models.
For example, if you're creating a blog post and want to link it to a specific author, you could use a reference field to link the blog post to an author content type. This approach allows you to create a well-structured and is flexible enough to accommodate future changes. Any future update to the author model or the blog post model can be done without effecting the other.
In conclusion, by following best practices when creating your content model in Contentful, you can create a well-structured and easy-to-manage content model. By keeping your content model simple and flexible, using descriptive field names, using field types that match the content you're creating, using field validations to ensure data consistency, and using reference fields to establish relationships between content types, you can create a content model that meets your needs and sets you up for success in the future.
If you have any questions, or need help with your content model, feel free comment below or contact me directly.