January 25, 2013
Going Outside the Body Copy: Strategies for Structured Content

The quality of any website is determined by the content. Having a solid strategy for presenting information across platforms-whether desktop, mobile or even print and RSS-is essential in today's multi-device market.

Ingeniux has some standards you can follow, specifically in regards to the body copy field in the CMS, to ensure your content is structured on your website for optimal delivery. However, there are certain types of content that are difficult to manage in the body copy field if you're attempting to reach audiences across platforms. These include advanced layouts, embedded videos, and custom formatting. 

structured content

"Understanding best practices for structured content in the CMS will be your key to success."

Understanding best practices for managing this content in the CMS will be your key to success.

Advanced Layout

Advanced layout includes multi-column tables or floated containers. If you have a three-column table layout on your site, it will break when viewed on small screens, such as a smartphone. Also, there are not many options for overriding your layout settings without creating a second set of content. Who has time for that?

So, consider creating a new page type when you need a new layout for multiple platforms. If you need to structure data, pull it in through a navigation or component list so a table can be built on one platform and a responsive layout on another. You have many options, and all are better than setting up custom HTML in the body copy field.

Embedded Videos

Videos are a riddle, as some work with multiple platforms, and some don't. Certainly it might be difficult or impossible to output a video to RSS or print, but not so much for mobile. In fact, many video platforms, such as Vimeo and YouTube, now support mobile.

However, you have to consider both your video file format and the dimensions of the video. If it's embedded in the body copy area, there is no way to control the size for responsive layouts and no guarantee it will play on your iPhone. Older formats like .wmv will play on almost nothing.

You could use an alternate video page for various devices, but why bother? If you want a video on a page, use a media or link element so your content contributors can properly add them. Recommended formatting is .mp4 or .m4v served through JWPlayer for maximum device support.

Custom Formatting

There is certainly a lure to using the advanced formatting features in body copy to add styling to elements to a page. However, the more custom alignment, size, and colors you add, the harder it's going to be to change it for various platforms. It can also output some fairly clunky code.

I'd recommend restricting the options available to content contributors in the body copy field using the CMS administration panel, and setting any styles that people may use in the styles dropdown. This way, your styles can be managed with CSS, and are able to change across platforms.

New Tools for Structured Content

With new tools available in CMS 8 like Schema Designer, it makes it easier to create new templates and update existing pages with structured content. Adding text fields, navigations, and other elements are much better for sharing data and formatting across your site. It will also keep you sane during a new project where you output to a different platform.

 

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