What is a content template?
Erin Kissane defines a content template as a paragraph-level companion to your website’s wireframes (or other IA documentation) and it’s an effective way of getting information from subject matter experts to the people who will actually be responsible for writing the web copy.
When does it make sense to create a content template?
While content templates can be useful for one-off pages like a Home Page or About page, they are particularly helpful in cases when you have many instances of one type of content (e.g. product pages, category landing pages, or staff bio pages) that need to contain similar information and need to be presented in a consistent way.
How To Create a Content Template
- List each piece of information that must be included on the page. Then list the pieces of information that are optional to include. You can do this in any text document.
- Group all of those pieces of information into logical chunks and give names to those chunks. You may have naturally done that on the first pass.
- For each chunk of content, write down what that content is supposed to accomplish. For example, a list of program benefits should focus on how the program will help your target readers.
- List your specifications for each piece of content. This includes things like ideal word count, capitalization style, list vs. paragraph, and any other notes of guidance like “make sure you define any acronyms you use” or “keep to a few short sentences”.
- Provide example content for each piece of content included in the template. In cases where multiple formats are possible (e.g. list or paragraph), provide an example of all options whenever possible.
This content template is based on examples from Erin Kissane’s book, The Elements of Content Strategy.