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on October 31, 2007
I'm a usability researcher who's looking to get some concrete suggestions about how to write better for the web. That's what I was hoping to find in this book--a guide with detailed suggestions for how to do this type of technical writing. Instead, there are very few concrete suggestions in this book about how to write well, other than vague platitudes about keeping phrases short, and providing users with the content they'd like to see. Duh.

I read this thing cover to cover in about an hour. Mostly I learned that "killer" rhymes with "filler." A lot. If it has not yet occurred to you that you might want to talk to your customers about what they're looking for on your webpage, then I guess this book would be for you and would provide you with that revolutionary insight. That's all the advice there is in this book--talk to your customers to find out the content they're looking for on your webpage, and then deliver that content to them in small, easily digestible phrases. Again, duh.

For people who are just starting out on this type of research, there's really no detailed advice on how to conduct this "talking to your users to find out what they want" research though (other than some more platitudes like "be a good listener."). If you want more detailed advice on how to do research like this, I'd say search the web for "wants and needs analysis" because that's basically what this guy is recommending. If you can't find enough things for free on the web about that, there is a good chapter in the book "Understanding your users" by Catherine Courage on this technique. That book is also great for giving you a wide toolset of techniques for usability.

He also gets a little bit into persona creation, which is basically a fancy way of saying it helps to imagine who your customers are and have a picture of them in your mind as you design your user experience. Again, you can find free stuff on the web about this or check out Tamara Adlin and John Pruitt's book "The Persona Lifestyle" to get lots of great information about this technique.

If you're truly just starting out trying to figure out how to make your website better and you don't know where to begin, I think a way better guide is Steve Krug's "Don't Make Me Think." That book provides a great overall context for providing great user experiences in general.

I am looking forward to reading the new Ginny Redish book on this subject! Her stuff has been high quality in the past and so I expect she will have a bunch of actual information on how to write for the web as opposed to the filler in this book. It's pretty ironic that a book all about providing great content without a bunch of filler is...a bunch of filler. It was a killer for me but not in the way it intended to be.
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on April 19, 2009
I did like the author's writing style to some degree here, but I was very surprised to see a book on usability testing where no actual usability testing was performed as part of research for the book. I am a technical person and marketing books usually bore me. As did this one.

This book had no examples, and I didn't get the impression that the author had really done any actual usability testing at all. It seems he just took notes over a period of a time and then published them. Where is the hard work? Where are the examples? Tables of data? Proof of concept? How do I know what you are saying is good advice?

This book didn't "clue me in" to what is available to the world today. For example, no references to utilities that are available such as "heat maps" and "graffiti analysis", which today I can't do without.

I have 2-3 key recommendations for you for usability testing:

1. Make sure to check out crazyegg.com and getclicky.com, these sites will help you solve almost every website issue you have for $20 a month combined.

2. Get the Ginny Reddish book "Letting Go of the Words." I left a sterling review for that book, as did over 100 other people. It is my #1 most referred web book. Any opinions expressed in the Reddish book are all backed up by over a hundred examples. Reddish explains that no one reads the web -- they BROWSE. Her book proves her own concept.
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on July 8, 2007
I've read a few books about web content and website management over the years, including some of Gerry McGovern's previous works. Some are good, some ok, many terrible. This is the first book where I feel a real maturity has been reached. Gerry totally gets it. He focuses on the real issues impacting sites with pin point accuracy, and offers real, tested solutions to fix them. If you follow the suggestions in this book your site *will* improve, and by improve, I don't mean something fuzzy, but I mean help you achieve real, measurable business goals. I learnt a lot from this book and will no doubt continue to.

The back cover of the book says if you only buy one book, make it this one. I couldn't agree more.
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on July 4, 2007
70% of bloggers don't regularly blog after their initial burst of enthusiasm. I suspect many of them just felt they had to jump on the blogwagon, or be left behind.
It's the same way with the Internet. Many companies have tentatively embraced the Web because they don't want to be left in the brick & mortar world. Yet they don't realize a half-hearted foray without whole-hearted commitment and a culture that truly understands and embraces the Web, is doomed to deconstruct their brand in the most consumer-empowering medium of all.
Gerry McGovern's book is a wake-up call to those caught in ether limbo -- and a really useful how-to bible for those who truly want to craft a competitive edge online. Each chapter contains insights and compelling case studies -- all communicated in an accessible format that makes light of serious business-building stuff.
In short, it's killer book content.
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on June 17, 2008
Gerry McGovern's "Killer Web Content" *seems* to be a primer about writing "killer content." And it is. He talks about simple ideas (e.g., "killer, not filler," or, on the Net, "in self-service mode, people go on gut instinct") in simple sentences, with lots of words in red so you get the idea. Then you put those ideas all together and think about them. And *then* you start looking at websites created from the grad school universe by professionals, all too often FOR PROFESSIONALS, that leave you - us - Everyman - frustrated or even amused (and that is not the intent). Ah, the epiphany: you realize that too many people are getting paid too much money when they have no idea how to talk to us: the folks who are surfing at 2AM in hotel rooms, trying to learn something for tomorrow's presentation to the Executive Committee. Obviously McGovern has practiced medicine: you listen to the patient, and the patient will tell you what the problem is. You listen to the customer, and the customer will tell you what she needs to hear. You listen to your children, etc.

Of course, the devil is in the details. Would that there were a standard operating procedure to ferret out the words that each of us wants to hear. Then we could fire Sales and Marketing - all they do is get us folks in Technology and Operations into trouble, right? Nope, says McGovern, you have to talk to people, relate to them, listen to them, hear what they say, abstract the content, try it out on your site. Each word is a hypothesis: true or false. Does it work? Does it bring people? You measure, you re-frame, you redesign, you re-relate. Surely it must be easier than this! All Jeff Bezos did is slap some stuff onto a website, and look at him! Right? McGovern just smiles, probably lifts a Guinness - he hints at his pleasure in Ireland - and, secure in the knowledge that you'll reread his book, just goes on about his business, writing and consulting.

Oh, it seems so simple. Oh, it's not really that complicated. Oh, it is so, so worthwhile. Read the book carefully.

David Block MD, PhD
Editor & Publisher, "The RoadeWarrior: every consultant's ezine"
[...]
david@roadewarrior.com
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on July 15, 2007
I've been a Gerry McGovern follower for several years, and his work is always right on target. Killer Web Content, while amazingly simple in concept, is focused and effective. It breaks down the art of content management into bite-sized pieces that anyone can use to improve a website's ability to deliver exceptional value to customers, which should be the goal. Forget flashy, splashy, self-serving websites; create one that brings customers back over and over because you've got something to offer. McGovern's work provides guidance in a real world way.
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on July 12, 2007
Too many websites spend most of their resources on technology solutions and layout/design while neglecting the management of their content. This is a big mystery because both techology and design are only carriers of the content. But the content is what visitors area looking for. Gerry McGovern has successfully told this to the world for years and those who have listened now have much better websites and happier visitors. And happy visitors come back to your website again, and agin.

Follow the advice in Web Killer Content and your website, Internet or intranet, will improve. The book brings up a lot of things you can do yourself without bringing in expensive consultants so you won't crash your budget while improving your content.

This book is an easy read. It's well structured and with a lot of practical examples. Contrary to some other computer related books which exceed 700 pages without really saying anything, McGovern tells the story in 200 pages. It's only about managing your content...
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on July 18, 2007
When Wikipedia is one of 10 most popular websites, you know that attention to design isn't as important as attention to content and how clearly that content is presented on your website. And that's why this book is the best place to start planning how to make your website a more effective marketing tool.

In print, Gerry has followed his own advice about websites: keep things easy to scan so that people can quickly find the points that are most important to them. Works in print just as it works online. Personally, I find the elements on writing content for the web the most valuable section of the book followed closely by the "carewords" concept that is too often ignored in the quest for keywords and success with search engines. Getting people to your website isn't helpful if they don't stay long when they arrive and that's where Killer Web Content really helps.

If you have a web marketing team at your organization, make sure everyone reads this book soon.
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on August 24, 2013
I read this book in 2009 and thought it was really good, but I didn't have the experience writing for the web that I do now. What's amazing to me is this book was published in 2006 and it is still very relevant. At the time Gerry wrote this book, a lot of websites were using bland seo content just to drive traffic, but Gerry foresaw that intelligent, customer-centric content would be the ultimate tool of online business. This book is the one that pivoted the discussion forward about the value of content and how to do it right.
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on February 2, 2008
The book is a good read with a lot of useful information about content design and production. Don't expect a detailed tutorial, it aims rather to show you what is important and what approach you should take.

What I liked
- rich information about user behaviours regarding content consumptions (debunks some myths)
- eye-opener findings (did you know that the word 'special offers' is preferred to the word 'deal' when people are asked though when searching, they use the word 'deal'? etc.)
- clear examples and reasoning that can help you in situations when you have to convince clients about some fundamental content issues

What I did not like
- if you have been following Gerry's newsletters as I did, well, you already know most of what the book is about
- there are some chapters that did not tell me really anything (one is about some very rudimentary SEO, another about the importance of blogging)
- the design of the print: there are complete pages written in bold red letters, some pages look like this is the first Powerpoint presentation with an ISBN number
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