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Content Critical: Gaining Competitive Advantage Through High-Quality Web Content 1st Edition

4.4 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0273656043
ISBN-10: 027365604X
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Editorial Reviews

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.

About the Author

 Gerry McGovern is a content management consultant and author. He has spoken and written extensively on Internet issues over the last seven years. He is advisory editor for BOSS (Bloomsbury) on the subject of ecommerce. (BOSS is a 3 million word plus one-stop reference and interactive tool, embracing all aspects of the world of work.) He writes a column for the popular marketing website, clickz.com, on the subject of content management and also has his own highly regarded and widely read online newsletter called New Thinking. He is a member of the Financial Times Knowledge Dialogue, a network of thought leaders advising executives on critical business issues.  Previously Gerry founded Nua, which became best known for Nua Internet Surveys, a leading resource for information on Internet trends.

Rob Norton

is a freelance journalist in New York City. He is a contributing editor at Business 2.0 magazine, for which he writes the Leading Questions column, as well as news stories and feature articles. He also writes and publishes Net Style, a weekly online newsletter. Rob also does consulting work in journalism, publishing, website design and information architecture.

Previously Rob was Executive Editor at Fortune magazine, where he was a member of the management team that revamped Fortune in 1996. He was responsible for "First," Fortune¿s innovative front of magazine section, and directed Fortune¿s economics coverage. Rob joined Fortune in 1984, and worked for several years in the magazine¿s Washington bureau. He has written several cover stories and dozens of feature stories, and also edited Fortune¿s 70th anniversary issue in February 2000.

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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: 6.3 x 0.6 x 7.8 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: #1,968,068 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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