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Creating Your Product Catalogue - From IA to Shapes

Once your Crystallize tenant is properly configured, it’s time to focus on your catalogue. Each tenant has a catalogue that will eventually be filled with product data and marketing content. But—as with building a house—you don’t nail up a few boards here and there and hope for the best. You need to do some upfront planning as to the structure your content should take, then proceed to build out that structure within Crystallize. Fittingly, this design process is known as information architecture (IA).

Content Modeling

Your IA process starts with content modeling. Content modeling ensures you’re capturing all the data pertinent to your products/content and organizing it in the best way possible. It’s a process similar to designing a database schema, and ideally involves gathering input from many stakeholders (ex. developers, designers, users). Not only will a good design make your next steps clear, but it will also help everyone remain on the same page as the project moves forward. Spending the time and effort to get this right can save you a lot of trouble later.

Read more about content modeling and the tools we offer for facilitating this process in our Best Practices section. There’s also our Content Modeling 101 blog post that includes a free downloadable PDF. You can also check out our livestreams demonstrating content modeling for Crystallize, linked below:

Defining Shapes and Pieces

Once you’ve determined your content structure, it’s time to implement it within your Crystallize catalogue. The first step is defining shapes (required) and pieces (optional) for your catalogue items (products, documents, and folders). You can think of shapes as flexible templates. Each one is made up of zero or more components (ex. text, images, numeric values) that you arrange and configure as desired. Pieces are similar to shapes, and are used to easily repeat content that’s shared across shapes of all types: for instance, header/footer info or metadata. Pieces can also be used to facilitate subtype and ad hoc polymorphism.

Shapes and pieces can be managed via the PIM API or the Crystallize App. To do so, you'll first need the requisite permissions for Shapes (read, create, etc). Refer to our documentation on roles and permissions for more information.

Within the Crystallize App, you can click the Settings button on the left side of the screen. From there, choose Shapes. You can also bring up the command palette with CTRL+K or ⌘+K and type “Shapes.”

If this is your first time here, you’ll notice there are already default Product, Document, and Folder shapes defined and available to you in the left-hand panel. However, we recommend that you make your own shapes based on your requirements. Whenever you create a product, document, or folder, you assign its shape at the time of creation. You can’t change its shape later on. So you want to get your shapes in place before adding any items to the catalogue.

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