Content Strategy for the Web: Book Review

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Content Strategy for the Web

Content strategy is a fairly new term in the design, development and publishing industry and thankfully everyday its becoming more and more acknowledged. It’s not that we haven’t been performing content strategist type roles, but now we have defined a specific title.

Content strategy, at a very high level, relates to how content is organized, written and how it moves through your organization. If you’ve ever had to deal with generating content with more than a few people for any company you’ve no doubt realized how painful the process can be. Everybody has an opinion about content but not everyone is a qualified writer.

As a designer a lot of my job has to do with creating various elements of excitement that make up each web page. Throughout the majority of my career, these elements have simply been pulled out of thin air only to then have a writer go back and create something to fill in each element. The problem with this process is that the designer tends to be the only one making the decisions about what goes on each page.

When I first discovered Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson I was immediately excited. I appreciate any resource that helps me think more clearly about all the aspects of content, which can in turn assist my designs.

One common problem that I have witnessed firsthand and the book warns us about is that content tends to be the last thing companies think about. The book goes into superb detail about what you’re up against, how to get organized, and how to continually execute as the years go on.

Usually, when the idea of a new site has been decided upon, everyone is anxious to get the design going without ever really contemplating what they're going to say. Sure we know what each section will generally say, but the actual words are something we typically wait on until the last minute. This is really detrimental because the content is how your users are going to relate to and interact with your brand. There’s nothing worse than a well designed site that has mind numbing content.

Content Strategy for the Web doesn’t really go into "how to write for the web" (see list below) but more about the process of developing good content and how content for the web is more than just a headline and a few paragraphs on each page. It’s the concept of copy versus content. Content for the web needs to encompass an overall experience. Text, audio, images and content is what users are expecting and what creates an effective web page.

Overall, I would suggest this book to anyone that deals with the web. Whether you’re a designer, developer, IA, content strategist or simply in charge of keeping your company's website up-to-date, this book will help you understand the process as well as make the hundreds of minute but important steps to website greatness easier to achieve.

Writing for the Web

As I mentioned above this book is not about how to the write for the web, but if you’re interested, here are a few resources I have found to be very beneficial.

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