Book Review: Content Strategy for the Web

Rachel Lovinger   November 16, 2009

kh-bookcoverKristina Halvorson, founder and president of Brain Traffic, has done more to raise awareness of Content Strategy than any person in the world of web design. She’s well known for her dynamic, clear presentations about web content at many of the industry’s most celebrated conferences. And now she’s written a book on the subject, Content Strategy for the Web.

(Full disclosure: Kristina Halvorson is a friend and colleague. She quotes me in her book and thanks me in the acknowledgements. I still feel comfortable saying: It’s a great book.)

Halvorson’s book is written in an easy, conversational style. It addresses both the reasoning behind the concepts, and the practical application of the discipline. Its broad approach will make it useful for a wide range of web professionals. Here’s what I think different groups of people will get out of it.

  • Project Stakeholders: The book makes a great case for Content Strategy. If you have clients or bosses that are hesitant to invest the time or resources it takes to make sure the project has great content, if they think it can be done at the last minute, or they just want to buy cheap content, have them read Halvorson’s book to understand how much better, smarter, and more effective their content could be with a reasonable amount of time and attention.
  • Project Planners/Project Managers: If you’re trying to scope, schedule or assign resources to a project, you’ll gain a much better understanding of what’s needed to make sure that content is ready at the same time as the rest of a web project.
  • Web Design Generalists: You may be muddling through with the content part of your projects without any real guidance or methodology. This book describes the tasks that should be performed, provides a wealth of practical tips, and poses the questions that need to be answered at each stage of the design process.
  • Web Design Specialists: If your organization is large enough for different people to focus just on IA, visual design, functional requirements or content strategy, there’s a need to identify what each person is going to contribute and who’s responsible for which tasks and deliverables. Whichever role you’re in, Halvorson’s book will show you how content touches all parts of a project. Even if you’re not primarily responsible for the content, it’s valuable to understand how the pieces will come together to make a more successful final product.
  • Aspiring Content Strategists: If you’re looking to transition into the field of Content Strategy you’ll learn how your experience maps to the responsibilities of a CS, how to speak the language of the practice, and what skills you need to build to be well rounded in your new role. At 172 pages, the book can’t provide every detail to turn you into a Content Strategy expert, but Halvorson includes references to other resources that will be helpful for diving deeper into specific practices.
  • Practicing Content Strategists: If you’re a specialist you’ll learn about aspects of the discipline that you might not practice on a regular basis, and you may reassess your strengths and areas of growth. If you’re a generalist you’ll learn which skills you need to build upon to become fully versed in all areas of the practice.

I’m willing to bet most people will think differently about their web content after reading this book. And I’m certain that everyone who reads it will gain new ways of explaining the practice and value of Content Strategy to other people who aren’t familiar with it.

As an added bonus, if you’re in the New York area, the Content Strategy New York City Meetup Group will be hosting a book launch party for Kristina on Tuesday, November 17th. Come meet the author and a bunch of local content strategists. If you bring your copy of the book, Kristina will sign it for you (but she won’t be selling copies there, so make sure you get it in advance).

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  1. [...] Reply Looking forward to IgniteNYC tonight and meeting CS guru Kristina Halvorson at the NY Content Startegists MeetUp tomorrow. [...]

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