How to Create Portable Content with Structured Content Models

May 5, 2016

Structuring your content for portability across media platforms gives your agency the ability to not only place your message on other properties, but gives you the assurance that your information will always be up-to-date across multiple platforms. This ability is never more important than during an emergency, whether it is a natural disaster or a health crisis such as the Zika virus disease.

Screen capture of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's information microsite for Zika Virus.

Three members of the Open and Structured Content Working Group discussed all things structured content during the “Creating Portable Content with Structured Content Models” webinar earlier this year.

Christen Geiler, Digital Information Specialist from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), provided an overview on how content models work by breaking your content into smaller structures that allow them to easily adapt to various devices and media types and allow your agency’s content to travel further than your own website.

Stacey Thalken, health communication specialist from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) then then discussed CDC’s structured content pilot project and highlighted their work on microsites. Microsites are small, self-contained sets of pages within a larger website, used to convey information about a specific topic. Microsites are made possible by structuring your content and through the use of content models like those created by the Open and Structured Content Models Working Group.

The Zika Virus Microsite preview in red.

CDC has had success with microsites including the Ebola virus, their new microsite on the Zika Virus, and their campaign on concussion prevention, “Heads Up.” Thalken highlighted how the team who manages the Heads Up campaign markets their microsite to their partners by linking to those partner sites who have embedded the code within their own sites. Once on your site, staying current is made easy and maintenance free as any time CDC updates their information on the microsite, that content is updated anywhere the microsite is embedded.

Russell O’Neill, web operations team lead, USAGov, from GSA, then provided a more in depth demonstration of how to take your structured content and turn it into consumable APIs [21:12].

Thalken and Geiler closed the webinar with a discussion about the how CDC and HHS are offering health related content through their federal content syndication storefronts. Agencies and partners can embed the various storefronts’ code on their own website, and not have to worry about updating that content, as it will update when the content is updated on the host site.

As far as getting your organization on board? Start small and find content that would be valuable for reuse. Pair that with a group in your organization you know, and go from there. As Jacob Parcell, MobileGov Community of Practice lead put it, “we are all looking to franchise each others’ content and the more we can franchise it together, the better.”