Content Modeling, Information Modeling, & Prototyping

I created this content model as part of a UX/IA engagement for a retailer who was trying to unify the inconsistent way it had been treating its product catalog. I’m a big fan of Sophia Voychehovski’s Object-Oriented UX technique, and I’ve adapted it to use in a content and information modeling process, to great success. I used this content model to radically simplify how the retailer was thinking about its products and the experience it needed to offer, and then used that model to create an information model and collaborated with a colleague on a prototype. After implementing the first phase of our recommendations, the client had their best sales week ever.

For this process, I whiteboarded the content model and created the diagram in Omnigraffle, extracted the metadata implications and wrote the information model, and worked on the Axure prototype with a colleague.

An information model is a much less charismatic deliverable, but it is essential to ensuring that the experience is properly implemented in the back end. The information model rationalizes and defines the metadata attributes that were identified in the content model, breaks the user-facing content objects into governance-focused content types, and defines any taxonomies that will be needed.

Together with a colleague, I also created a low-fidelity prototype in Axure, to communicate how the content model would inform the future experience.

The client didn’t have budget or inclination to test with users, unfortunately, so the audience for the Axure prototype was client stakeholders and the development partner who’d be implementing the changes. Because the audience was internal, we added much more annotation than we usually would and reproduced the color scheme from the content model. When prototyping, especially from this kind of content model, I always prefer to do mobile-first.