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on February 25, 2010
First, while it may sound obvious, let me state that this book is primarily about content strategy; it is not a user's guide to developing quality Web content. I believe a few other reviews have misrepresented this book, so please consider this before purchasing.

With that said, the book gives a very effective in-depth look at content strategy (or the lack thereof) for large corporations. However, there is quite a bit of repetition throughout the book, particularly in the beginning of each chapter. Halvorson also gives off a bit of a condescending tone in some of her writing, which can be a distraction.

The book is really aimed toward an audience that is already aware of how to develop good Web content but needs assistance building a strategic plan to implement it. By far, the best chapter is Audit (4) which goes into great detail on how to audit your site's current content.

The book is worth reading -- especially if you are in a large corporate setting -- but will not be completely useful if you are not adequately educated on how to create quality content. Before purchasing this, I recommend reading Janice (Ginny) Redish's "Letting Go of the Words."
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on November 10, 2010
This book is concise and has meat. I read the entire book in one sitting. A total eye opener.
I always knew Content was God, but this book puts a lot of structure and process around content, its creation and management. The author keeps the focus on strategy and doesn't deviate.

If I had to abbreviate the learnings in this book, it would be:

Content strategy process
1. Audit :
Content Inventory: Title, URL, content
What content do you have? (Text, PDF, Video, Audio, Forms)
How is the content organized? (break it into sections, what does each section have)
Who creates the content?
Where does the content live?
Qualitative audit : Is content accurate, useful, well written, user friendly, used by audience

2. Creation:
What content to be created,
Where will it come from
How will it be structured
Who will write it

3. Delivery:
Who will review, edit, approve, load
How will you deliver content (vehicles: website, blog, social media).
Which tools will users use to get to the content?

4. Governance:
Plans to add, update, archive

The Editorial Strategy is also part of the mix. This involve values, voice, tone, legal and regulatory concerns.
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on October 17, 2009
As a content strategist with 15 years of experience, for multinationals and smaller, national clients, I can say that every word in this compact, straightfoward guide rings true with my professional practice. Ms. Halvorson's ability to break the horribly messy world of global web content into its component parts, to present it in a concise, and yet personal and pleasant way, is nothing short of remarkable. If you are an editor, strategist, or another kind of content specialist, you can quickly gain an understanding of which processes, tools and knowledge are needed in every phase of planning, creating and governing content. If you are an executive or other person in charge of a web presence, this book will enable you to start gaining control of your content and making sure it's the best it can be. It will also give you the basis to make a case for content within your organization. Most organizations today are dominated by IT and visual design, with little or no expertise in the area of large-scale content development for interactive products like websites. I use this book to teach at the University of Rotterdam, to sharpen my own process, and to explain to clients what this business of international web content is all about. Where I go, it goes! Thanks, Ms. Halvorson!!!
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on September 24, 2010
This book should be essential reading for anyone who is a web designer, project manager, or involved in their organization's web (re)design process at all. Before you start a project, or pick a CMS, or hire a designer, or do anything, you need to read this book. I have seen so many projects flop because content is treated as an afterthought, or because the amount of work it takes to get your content in order is underestimated. This book made me so miserable, because I knew that every page of it was true, and I didn't want it to be. I liked living in the naive world where you just invent a cool, functional design, and expect everything to magically come together after that. Content will just fall into the nice little placeholders you've set up. Then when things go awry, you get to say, "Oh, the client messed up the site once I handed it over to them."

This book is like going to the dentist. You HAVE to go to the dentist, or your teeth will fall out. Do you want that to happen to your website? If you have been coasting along with no content strategy, then yes, it will be painful to pull together an inventory, and get people to assume responsibility for each piece of content that exists. But once you crack the whip and get things in order, well just think about how bright your smile will be. This has been one of the most important books I have read in the last year. It is packed with useful and practical ideas.

Today there was a huge fly buzzing around in my house. He landed near me and I totally could have whacked him, but the only thing around was a copy of Content Strategy for the Web. I had the perfect opportunity to swat him, and let me tell you, this book is totally a perfect size and weight for smacking things with. But I couldn't bring myself to tarnish this book with fly guts. Not just because it is an attractive book, but because I felt it was too valuable of a resource to be used for insect smashing. That's what jQuery books are for.
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on October 29, 2009
As enjoyable to read as it is valuable. Halvorson puts the spotlight on the current state of content on today's websites and it's not pretty. Thankfully, she offers a digestable process for getting back on track and changing the game - completely. Only, however, if you are brave enough to get into the content details - because that's where the battle between killer and total suckage is decided. Not on the "pedestal" of user experience design.

As a manager of an Information Architect team at a large multi-national retailer, I have already started to circulate other copies around the team. I personally appreciated the spot on description and differentiation Halvorson makes about hiring a copywriter at the last minute to take orders and replace the "lorem ipsum" on a wireframe versus engaging a content strategist and web writer who have an entirely different perspective and value to offer.
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on November 9, 2009
If this slim and attractive volume wasn't so dead-on accurate, and so walk-the-talk useful, usable, and easy to absorb, one might be inclined to accuse the author of glibness or sleight-of-hand. But I can't, and I don't.

On the contrary, Kristina Halvorsen proves the breadth and depth of her professional credibility in under 200 pages. She has the wisdom of battle-hardened experience on her side, along with a genuine, if at times breathless, enthusiasm. She rallies the rest of us content-handlers to fight (and document!) the good fight for thoughtful, well-planned, well-crafted, and well-resourced content strategy. And she makes content strategy (in all its aspects) not so much easy as the no-brainer right thing to do for any professional website or web development project.

I'm awed by Halvorson's concise, likeable distillation of principles, process, and proof-points for doing website content effectively. She clearly defines key roles and responsibilities, increases her credibility by acknowledging her influences and predecessors, and palpably demonstrates her recommendations via the voice, structure, and execution of this delightful book.

Kudos too to the book designer -- on first thumb-through I didn't think I'd appreciate the tomato red interior pages, but by the end of weekend, as I finished the read, I was completely won over by the robust cheeriness of the layout and the findability it supported.
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on April 1, 2010
Content defines a website, period.

Without content there literally is no purpose to having a website, yet it is constantly treated like an afterthought in many website design projects. I smacked my head at the obvious wisdom of gathering content and establishing a content strategy before designing a site.

The book outlines a clear path through the often murky, unorganized, and difficult process of defining what content exists for a website, how that content is organized, and how that content is managed and updated pre- and post-launch.

It's an easy read, but every page is packed with good information. I've learned something new each time I re-read a section.

The only downside to this book is that the methods described are time-consuming and expensive. Also, it's not set up in a way that you can skip steps and expect a good result. Fortunately, you'll receive distinct benefits from each step as they're implemented.

I recommend it to anyone with any level of involvement with web design: developers and business professionals alike will gain huge rewards from a thorough study of this book. Keep this one on your often-read shelf, it won't disappoint.
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on March 14, 2010
This book made me feel like an Unfrozen Caveman Information Architect.

OK, maybe I was only frozen in circa 2000, but back then I was working at a dot-bomb internet agency with "content strategists". They delivered content inventories and other artifacts which set out a well-structured plan for a website's content strategy. Morville and Rosenfeld had just released _Information Architecture for the World Wide Web_ which was the key book to define and introduce information architecture to a wider audience. What a great time for a similar book for content strategy.

For those who have been in the industry over the past several years, the only reasonable explanation is that _Content Strategy for the Web_ was frozen with me back in 2000 and both of us only recently thawed. Hmm... unlikely.

This may make it confusing when the author so often portrays content strategy as an emerging discipline. I had to remind myself that the author probably is meaning she is finally introducing content strategy to a wider audience. With this in mind, _Content Strategy for the Web_ still may have been worth the wait.

In addition to offering a well-founded definition of what content strategy is, this book also provides a thorough presentation of the basic deliverables for content strategists. I found it to be extremely well-written, thoroughly edited, and accurate; especially compared to other recent content strategy books, including _The Web Content Strategist's Bible_ by Richard Sheffield.

As a professional IA, I also found its description of how content strategy fits in with other disciplines within user experience (UX) to be consistent with the realities of most web development settings. Though there are several areas of overlap with information architecture, the author correctly points out that we don't need to fight over who gets to do what, we just need to get the job done, correctly.

I feel somewhat obligated to go into additional detail about the exceptional qualities of the book, but many of the reviewers have done such a great job of this already. So instead, I'll simply fill in that portion of my review with some Lorem Ipsum text: Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. Sed dignissim quam eu eros. Aenean hendrerit nibh id mi. Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetuer adipiscing elit. (all annoyance intended)

Some reviewers have remarked on the author's writing style. It can at times make you feel so totally unhip not be using what must be some new world grammar. It will have you counting every period. Every. Last. One.

It could also be argued that this book is essentially a plea that it's time for content strategy to move from eating at the kids table to a full seat at the grown-up table. This may be just what the author intended, and this book certainly does a great job at making the argument that content strategy deserves as much (if not more) attention than design and technology get. But be forewarned, now that content strategy is at the big table, she might be asking for seconds. And a big piece of pie. Thank you!

So why did I end up giving this book only 4 of 5 stars? Maybe I'm just a tough grader, but I was also looking for more discussion around message hierarchy. The book goes into the appropriate detail for defining what content strategy IS, but it could have done a better job showing how it is done WELL. Part of this involves developing an effective message hierarchy, but this discussion is hardly given a page.

But who knows? Maybe this could be a topic to a follow-up book. Thanks to its distinctive red cover, this book might be called the "Red Book". I'd love to see it paired with, perhaps, a "Blue Book" that goes into more depth around creating great message hierarchies.
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VINE VOICEon January 25, 2010
Geared for communications managers who work on large corporate web sites, this book provides a good overview of the processes and issues for content management. The author's business perspective will help readers who need ideas for advocating a content management strategy within their own organizations. But the book left me with a feeling that Halvorson is discussing an ideal world, not the reality for most communicators of limited budgets, staff, and schedules. More evidence to support her claims, and interviews or case studies to show what works (instead of a few screen shots showing mistakes), would strengthen her arguments and the reader's interest.
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on January 28, 2010
In reading several of the reviews posted on Amazon, I was struck by how many people didn't understand what this book was supposed to be about. Strategy, by definition, isn't execution. For those people who are looking for a 'how to write web content' manual, head to "Letting Go of the Words" instead.

The author even clearly states this is not a book about writing, technology, and the like - that is is about how to handle the entire scary process of getting your organization's key web content compiled, written, and placed online. My company isn't very large (300 some odd employees) and this was extremely valuable for me in terms of how to think about organizational web content and explain different concepts to fellow co-workers. Thanks to the author for a valuable book.

(And I have absolutely no connection to the author. Just really found this book useful and can see how others in many different roles and industries would as well.)
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