Spotlight On Client Work: Wausau Websites

July 6, 2015

Fast Horse recently completed a fantastically exciting and challenging project for Wausau Tile, Inc.. and the team held a learning session to discuss that process with all of our new and old Ponies. This session focused primarily on the client’s audiences, unique messaging needs and uniformity throughout sales and marketing efforts. Of course, we ran long and barely dipped beneath the surface regarding the three (or four) websites that were developed to facilitate the months of strategizing and positioning. I’d like to discuss one specific step of the process that I felt was particularly important: the content model.

A website for an organization like this is simply one of many digital properties that are built and maintained to achieve broader goals. Whether you are trying to inform, entertain, convert or sell, there are a variety of opportunities: social media, trade shows, websites and applications, actual brick-and-mortar shops. All of these venues for interaction should convey the same messages and information — and the more complex those items are, the more difficult it is to create a content model.

A content model is simply a working document that outlines the types of content, associated fields, and any relationships between types. To use a simple example, every website will typically have a content type of “interior page.” The fields associated with this will likely be: a page title, an excerpt, the body text and a featured image. The objective of utilizing a content model for even simple content types is as an organizational tool that instills good habits for more complicated content types.

The product offerings of Wausau Tile presented us with a clear opportunity to implement a content model, and a few steps went into it:

  1. We took an inventory of their existing content, spread across four different websites and numerous catalogs.
  2. We documented consistent attributes as well as unique attributes.
  3. We concocted various ways to assign the unique attributes to consistent field types.
  4. We tested the model against additional content types to ensure consistency.
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The end result of this effort was a spreadsheet template with roughly 30 column headers, and we managed to shoehorn all of the products, regardless of type, into this general model. There are a wide variety of taxonomies that the content management system uses to display intended content without the need to edit high-level pages. This means individual products can be added/removed/edited without having to make changes in multiple places.

For example, if product XYZ is classified as a “bench” and a “table” you can simply select both of those categories as primary and secondary and it will show up on both the “benches” and “tables” pages without having to edit them directly. Alternatively, you can change the title of a product, and if that product is featured on a project page or as a related product, it will automatically update the title site-wide.

Using this method on complex digital projects is absolutely crucial. It will keep the content organized, provide an outline to assist in focused content creation and will enable creativity within a framework. The time investment up front pays off in the long term due to more streamlined content management and consistent user experience.