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Content Critical: Gaining Competitive Advantage Through High-Quality Web Content Paperback – December 8, 2001

ISBN-13: 007-6092014508 ISBN-10: 027365604X Edition: 1st

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Pearson FT Press; 1 edition (December 8, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 027365604X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0273656043
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 6.3 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,897,899 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Content Critical is highly recommended. It belongs in every design library. It should be on the reading list of every course in Web design. Any Web designer who plans to be in business five years from now should read this book." 

Ken Friedman, Design Research News

"Content Critical is amply provided with reality checks, examples, and practical ideas and suggestions ... The authors have succeeded in writing a book that will appeal to both beginners and experts."

Geert Jan Kraan, Net Professional magazine

"Content Critical is another good example of a book that can make a difference. The book is well written and full of useful insights on web publishing. And, as such, the book is a very useful tool for everybody who is in charge of a commercial website."

Gert Birnbacher, chairman of DEBA, Scandinavia's largest network of e-business companies

"Content Critical is the best non-technical book on the subject of web content that I have come across to date ... For those interested in the 'change management' dimension of content and knowledge management, Content Critical may well become the standard text."

Andy Harrisson, Content Management Focus magazine

"Content Critical is an excellent book for academics and practitioners alike ... It should be read by anyone involved in Web content management, of course, but it should also be required reading for those with responsibilities including internal or external communication (and what academic or executive does not?)"

Colin Jevons, Journal of Consumer Marketing

"The term "bible" is now highly over-used in reference to tech books but if it weren't, that's how I would categorize Content Critical."

Rowan Wilson, Knowledge Management Review

"In this wonderfully straightforward book, Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton show why the success of your business depends, more and more, on getting 'the right content to the right person at the right time'."

Jonathan Price, author of Hot Text: Web Writing that Works

"In two books about the Web (Content Critical and The Web Content Style Guide), Gerry McGovern and his co-authors have made the subject as easily understandable as it is disorganized in reality."

Robin Sherman, American Society of Business Publication Editors

"Students and practitioners alike will benefit greatly from Gerry's book and I have made it a core 'must have' text for my undergraduate new media studies courses."

Andy Price, University of Teesside

"I can't think of anyone more clearly focused on the issue of good site content than Gerry McGovern, and I found myself nodding in agreement on every page,"

"For me, it was an important book to read, because, as a copywriter myself, I find the line between 'content' and 'copy' is very hard to discern sometimes. I think it's important for online copywriters to understand the work of content creators, and vice versa."

"Best of all, you get the sense with Content Critical that McGovern has a deep, deep knowledge of the subject. And he writes in a way that makes his knowledge accessible to others. Absolutely THE book on creating and managing content online."

- Nick Usborne, author of Net Words: Creating High-Impact Online Copy

"In this wonderfully straightforward book, Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton show why the success of your business depends, more and more, on getting "the right content to the right person at the right time."

"Their book cuts through the dot com hyperbole to show why your content is critical to profit. On the Web, therefore, we are all becoming publishers."

"With common sense, good humor, and sharp focus, McGovern and Norton give practical step-by-step advice on creating and managing content. I think you'll laugh out loud, as you mark passages to quote to your boss and your team."

- Jonathan Price, author of Hot Text

"Everyone involved in the Web should read this book; it is Tom Paine's Common Sense for a wired world.  Buy it now or watch your empire fall."

- Rob Benson, TrainingZONE

"Content Critical does a terrific job of laying out the reasons why content itself must take priority and then, even more importantly, the reader is the number one priority.  The book has been of great value in getting this vital rule across to the students."

- Diana Botsford, Director of Information Services, Drury University, USA

"Every serious webmaster, web designer, online editor, web developer or student-in-training will find Content Critical will make them stop and critically think about their web design work.  My students are now required to read it."

- Curt Schroeder, University Regina, Canada

From the Back Cover

In the age of information overload and content glut, how do you get people to read what's on your website?

The modern world runs on content. And the Web is fast becoming the medium of choice for content delivery. Increasingly business is about getting the right content to the right person at the right time - and making a profit out of it. Content is critical.

Content Critical will change the way you think about the Web. If part of your job involves writing original content to be placed on the Web - product support material, a marketing pitch, or internal communication - you're part of a publishing process. Think of your website as a publication and it all begins to make a lot of sense. Think of the person who visits your website as a reader and your objectives become clearer.

Content Critical explains the theory and practice of producing reader-focussed, compelling content. It includes highly detailed, practical advice about what it takes to build a professional, content-oriented website, including classification, navigation, search and content layout. It shows you how to organize a publishing team and how to create a web publishing strategy.

Discover what high-quality content really is, and learn how to create it.

Having a Web presence that people want to use and keep coming back to is increasingly a vital source of competitive advantage. And that means content is critical. How good is yours?

Content publishing expertise is the vital skillset in the information age. Content Critical will help you:

  • discover the key skills required to write compelling content for the Web
  • understand the rules of publishing content online
  • know how to appeal to your online readers
  • develop an effective Internet communications strategy
  • build publishing skills within your organization.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By effie on May 28, 2002
Format: Paperback
Written by two guys with real-world tech publishing credentials, this book takes a serious look at the role of quality content and what it takes present it on the web. They make a couple good points:
1. Quality content can create competitive advantage
2. Quality content is difficult and expensive to create.
The best point in the book came early in the first chapter: In an information society, we are all involved in publishing -- whether we are writing an article, a marketing pitch or a sales report. McGovern and Norton make a case for an organization taking its publishing role seriously and creating systems for documenting, improving and sharing the information to foster business relationships and gain competitive advantage. And while the book lays out the structure required for managing content organizationally, it falls short of lessons or examples of how to do it.
They highlight the basics - know the reader, create a publishing strategy, follow an editorial process, and build in ways to measure your success. For anyone with a background in publishing it's rehash. The book is best suited for educating business managers who don't have a publishing background, providing them with a brief understanding of the process and the rational to justify budgeting for the staff required to produce quality content. If you're new to content, it may be worth a read.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Robert Elhart on January 17, 2002
Format: Paperback
This book is a must read for those planning, creating or managing websites.
The sub-title of the book captures what it is about, Gaining competitive advantage through high-quality web content.
Gerry McGovern, through his internet newsletter, New Thinking, has been on a consistent crusade to get all of us to recognize the working content of a web site is words (effective messages) and that website visitors are readers. The book examines this reality in considerable detail and contains many helpful suggestions for improving the effectiveness of website investments
The writers make the point that a website is essentially a publication, and needs to be managed in the same sense. The site publisher needs an involved editor, and should use skilled writers----and should not leave content to the nearly obsolete "webmaster"
The authors make the point that in many cases the words in a web site are not written with needs of the reader in mind and fail to get the desired response. Their message as too "the seven things readers want from your web site" is a real gem. These are:
1. Readers want to be able to find things.
2. Readers want your advice.
3. Readers want up-to-date, quality content
4. Readers want relevant and straightforward content.
5. Readers want to do things
6. Readers want to interact
7. Readers want Privacy.
Two passages from the book are effective summaries of its main message,
"Remember that the reader is king of the Web, and that everything about your website needs to be done with the reader in mind, is the key to online success.
If you know your readers, know how they behave in our information-literate society, and know the seven things they want from your website, you'll be well on your way to success.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Frank Carver on September 24, 2003
Format: Paperback
This book is primarily about web site design, although that may not be very obvious from the title. I wish many more web site authors and publishers would read this sort of book, though.
The overall premise is that the job of producing and running a web site has a lot in common with traditional paper publishing. Central to this idea, and the inspiration for the title, is that whatever the site, people actually visit it to read words. Not to look at pictures. Not to admire layout or coo at dynamic navigation menus. To find and read content. Everything else is at best irrelevant, at worst a distracting nuisance or even a reason to leave the site completely.
I wholeheartedly agree with this, and generally follow with the recommendations that the author makes about how to encourage and profit from this understanding: keep things simple, short, and fresh; understand your readers; make it easy to find stuff; treat editing and publishing as key business functions and so on.
What I find slightly disappointing is that the book itself doesn't entirely embody these values. The style is repetitive and often long-winded. As a well-edited web site or a conference presentation this would pack a much more powerful punch. I felt I understood the essential message quite early in the book, and finished reading it mostly out of duty.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Harrison on February 1, 2002
Format: Paperback
Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton are experienced journalists who write unashamedly about text content. They define visitors as `readers', not `users', who come to a web site to read and gather content. If that makes Content Critical old fashioned, it is old fashioned for all the right reasons.
It deals with the fundamentals of web site content; its purpose, its design, its creation. Readers of McGovern's weekly newsletter won't be surprised by the content, themes or style of the book. It is direct, business-like, sometimes humorous and always well argued.
Content Critical is the best non-technical book on the subject of web content that I have come across to date. It is comprehensive and well structured. It demonstrates the authors' long fascination with the Internet as a publishing medium as well as their advocacy of information architecture as a professional discipline.
Content Critical has an important message and presents it according to its own rules and guidelines.
Content Critical analyses the benefits and costs of content with a model for comparing the cost of content to its reach and value.
It is easy to forget when we are surrounded by technological marvels that great content is still difficult and expensive to produce. The proliferation of television channels offering cheap to produce content is clear evidence of that.
The central chapters provide checklists and examples for the principles on which the majority of content rests. Topics include:
*Creating content and the importance of editorial (since `even the best writer needs an editor')
*Information architecture as the foundation upon which a web site is built and developed
*Principles for good navigation design
*Content layout and design.
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