The Content Architecture Stack

illustration of a building to demonstrate the concept of architectureContent architecture is a set of practices that incorporate content expertise into the design of digital products like websites, apps, chatbots, and voice assistants. It involves close collaboration and consultation with the creators and consumers of the content, with product managers, with other designers, with the engineers who build the products, and with business and other stakeholders.

The stack of content architecture practices includes content strategy, content modeling, information architecture, content design, and UX writing.

These five practice areas track to Jesse James Garrett’s UX “layers” model set out in his book The Elements of User Experience.

screen shot of Jesse James Garrett's UX layers model
UX layers model
  • UX writing tracks to the “surface” layer, where content is rendered and presented as attractive, helpful communication artifacts (web pages, app screens, voice utterances, etc.)
  • content design (AKA information design and/or interaction design) tracks to the “skeleton” layer, where content components are gathered into useful, usable assemblies
  • information architecture tracks to the “structure” layer, where content is categorized, organized, and labeled independently from its ultimate rendering and presentation
  • content modeling tracks to the “scope” layer, where the breadth of the content domain, the objects that occupy it, and the relationships between them are named and described
  • content strategy tracks to the “strategy” layer, of course, where user needs and business objectives are discovered and content plans are made

I have worked up and down this stack throughout my content career. I currently focus on the foundational strategy, modeling, and information architecture layers.

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