What are 'Content Slices'?

Numiko works with similarly large and purposeful organisations. All our clients give something back to society, so unsurprisingly we often come across similar problems again and again. One of the common challenges faced by our clients is how to allow content creators the freedom to create the pages they need, without losing design and brand integrity. The key to tackling this is firstly, by picking a CMS that suits the project. For larger projects, we often use Drupal as our weapon of choice due to its scalability and ‘content slices’ feature.

To put a little context into this, organisations such as: museums, universities, charities, public sector bodies all have multiple stakeholders they need to create content for and often multiple physical sites. For example:

Science Museum Group have four museums spread across 5 locations. Each museum needs to be able to create content that may be centred on an event, an exhibition, an artifact, museum information, insight, teaching materials for families, hobbyists, educators, students and more. That’s a lot of variety in user requirements. We used content slices when we created the Science and Media Museum website to achieve their objectives.

What are content slices?

There is a great deal of information about other agencies concept of “Slices”; Numiko has been making use of the term slices for about 5 years and over that time it has referred to a number of different implementations, but it has always referred to giving the client the most flexible approach to building a page in the most user-friendly manner.

Without getting too techy, in Drupal 7 the approach referred to a home built module based upon Node Level Blocks. In Drupal 8 we have extended the Paragraphs module functionality and we thought we’d go into some of the benefits.

Flexible information

The amount of pages that need to be created over time is vast and varying, so using a slices approach empowers the content creator to design how they present the flow of information on the page. When we gave content creators at the Science Museum Group a selection of slices to create example pages with, they created unique pages and layouts for purposes we hadn’t even thought of. No more rigid page templates - exactly what we were trying to achieve.

Consistency

One of the main challenges we come across in large organisations, is keeping a visual identity consistent across many different page layouts. When a content creator can’t find a page layout they need, they often resort to building their own or microsites. Overtime this creates havoc with a digital identity. This approach ensures that the style and identity of the organisation is consistent. Reusing slices across pages means creators aren’t constantly reinventing different ways to present the media they want to use. For example, this is a slice used on the Blue Cross ‘Support Us’ page. 

Support Us Slice

Here is the same slice used again in their rehoming pages:

Rehoming Slice

Despite being different content, the uniformity is there, ensuring a clear visual identity.

Responsive pages

Creating responsive pages whilst putting all your content into one WYSIWYG body field can be notoriously tricky. Using this approach, each slice of content can respond independently to screen size. This doesn’t just make it easier for developers to be responsive throughout a build, but it also significantly improves the user experience. After all, the whole point is to get the user from A to B, regardless of what device they’re using.

These are just a few of the reasons why we enjoy working in this way but of course we’re always looking at different ways to approach our projects. If you want to know more about what we do, just get in touch!