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Content Strategy for the Web

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If your website content is out of date, off-brand, and out of control, you're missing a huge opportunity to engage, convert, and retain customers online. Redesigning your home page won't help. Investing in a new content management system won't fix it, either. So, where do you start?
Without meaningful content, your website isn't worth much to your key audiences. But creating (and caring for) "meaningful" content is far more complicated than we're often willing to acknowledge. Content Strategy for the Web explains how to create and deliver useful, usable content for your online audiences, when and where they need it most. It also shares content best practices so you can get your next website redesign right, on time and on budget. For the first time, you'll:

See content strategy (and its business value) explained in plain language
Find out why so many web projects implode in the content development phase ... and how to avoid the associated, unnecessary costs and delays
Learn how to audit and analyze your content
Make smarter, achievable decisions about which content to create and how
Find out how to maintain consistent, accurate, compelling content over time
Get solid, practical advice on staffing for content-related roles and responsibilities

198 pages, Paperback

First published February 10, 2012

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Kristina Halvorson

10 books21 followers

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 144 reviews
Profile Image for Marko Savić.
Author 2 books27 followers
August 9, 2016
The most important thing I realised, when I read this book is:
You are on the web => You are publisher.

Well the author said that if you or your organization has a web site, then you are a publisher but I guess my claim could also hold in this web 2.0 times (or are we already 3.0?). One other thing to keep in mind is that this is not a book about web writing. It's about content strategy - for the web.

Content strategy consists of:
+ creation, + delivery, + governance.

This book more specifically deals with:
+ how to plan the content strategy;
+ how to create a content but don't expect to learn how to write for your web site;
+ governing the content.

The whole book is written with the presumption that you/your organization is already on the web or has a web site. Which seems like a must today for everybody. So if we follow the most important thing to remember from this book, about being a publisher, this means that everybody today already is a publisher. I guess that's not far away from the facts. And if you are a publisher and want to be successful publisher, you need a content strategy. This book definitely helped me to rethink my own blog and about my company's web content.

If I already talk about a web site, to me it was interesting to realize, that a mid-sized web site was one that has 200 to 1.200 pages. And inside such a web site for example it is pretty straightforward clear that you should develop your linking strategy. Or will you use automated linking service like Zemanta, for example?

When delivering content, we have options to choose between:
+ original content,
+ aggregated content,
+ co-created content,
+ licensed content,
+ user-generated content.

And I was impressed to realise how many people profiles could actually be engaged in content creation. The list of profiles is:
+ content requesters,
+ content providers,
+ content creators,
+ content reviewers,
+ content approvers,
+ content publisher.

And if it that is not enough, once your web site is live you could need profiles like:
+ web editor-in-chief,
+ web editor,
+ web writer,
+ search engine optimization strategist,
+ reviewers and approvers.

From the numerous profiles above it is clear that copy is not content. In content creation there are numerous profiles involved. And author goes further in claiming that user experience (UX) design is not the answer to a successful web site but the collaboration across disciplines. That, in my opinion is the reason why this is not such an easy task, actually.

For some professional, be that marketing, communications or other it might be interesting to realise where content strategy stand when compared to brand strategy. Well content strategy is not about the talk. It's about how you walk the talk. And messages from your brand strategy are not your content.

There is one other news to have in mind when you have a web site. Your content is never really finished. Sorry, says author of this book, Kristina Halvorson. And one other piece of advice. Take your social media efforts like a commitment not like a campaign. So, stop thinking "launch". Start thinking "lifecycle". I couldn't agree more.

And for almost a gig like me it was interesting to see two diagrams. One is: How to measure content effectiveness? Diagram was developed at the Content Delivery & Analysis Ltd:
Diagram on content effectiveness

For the end of this review only one remark from the author. If your are some kind of web professional, you probably saw a diagram the Elements of user experience. Well I didn't. And the author recommends to not think of content as a feature as maybe it could be said from this diagram, originally developed by Jesse James Garrett.

Profile Image for Rob.
222 reviews7 followers
June 14, 2011
Very good introduction to content strategy, but if you've worked in magazines, content strategy simply feels like a way to sell 'online publishing'.

I'm being simplistic, but the whole mystique around content strategy feels a bit emperors new clothes to me.

That's not to say that Halvorson's book isn't well written and all-encompassing, I just think Content Strategy as a whole should be renamed 'how to create and run a website for Dummies'.
Profile Image for Ahmad hosseini.
271 reviews65 followers
February 16, 2017
What is content?
Content is what user came to read, learn, see, or experience.
Content is more or less worthless unless it does one or both of the following:
1. Supports a key business objective
2. Fulfills your users’ needs

What is content strategy?
Content strategy guides your plans for the creation, delivery, and governance of content. Content strategy is not about how writing, it is managing process of creating, distribution and promotion of content.
Critical components of content strategy:
Substance: what kind of content we do need? What messages doe’s content need to communicate to our audience?
Structure: How is content prioritize, organized, formatted, and displayed?
Work flow: What processes, tools, and human resources are required for content initiatives to launch successfully and maintain ongoing quality?
Governance: How are key decisions about content and content strategy made? How are changes initiated and communicated?

What is persona?
Personas are fictional representations of your ideal customers, based on real data about customer demographics and online behavior, along with educated speculation about their personal histories, motivations, and concerns.
• What are the biggest problems they are trying to solve?
• What does he or she need most?
• What information are they typically searching for?
• What trends are influencing their business or personal success?
You should ask:
• What do they do online? Do they read blogs? Are they active on Twitter, Facebook, or other social networks? What kind of search terms do they use? Are they email newsletter subscribers?
• What kind of information do they tend to consume online? Educational pieces? Trend articles? Interactive tools like calculators or worksheets? Do they watch videos or listen to podcasts?
• Which of your products do they spend the most time researching? How do they use those products?

What is advantages of book?
Book all issues that may be encountered during activity is a content strategist covers.

What is weakness of book?
There is little real examples about tasks in the book.
There is one common problem in articles and books that I read about content strategy, they do not provide real examples. For sample in B2B companies, creating content is very hard or creating content for not interesting products such as shovel, brick, Fertilizer, etc. needs idea!

Who should read this book?
Everyone! If you think in true manner, we all create content for other person such as our boss, our customer, our colleague, etc. so we all need be familiar with content strategy. Book is very useful for website admin, business owner, freelancers.

Planning a content strategy
• Defining goals
• Identifying audience and habits
• Defining voice and angle
• Creating an editorial calendar
An editorial calendar is like a road map for content creation.
Profile Image for Ali Arabzadeh.
165 reviews53 followers
November 17, 2017
از بخشی شروع می‌کنم که بیشتر از همه در جریان خواندن کتاب اذیتم کرد؛ ترجمه. ترجمه‌ی بد عملاً کتاب را از حیز انتفاع انداخته است. برگردان‌های عجیب و غریب و نامانوس، جملات بی‌معنا و مهمل و خلاصه هرچیزی که از یک ترجمه‌ی بد انتظار دارید این‌جا هست.
ناشر هم نخواسته از مترجم‌ها کم بیاورد و در کتاب‌سازی تا حد امکان خراب‌کاری کرده است و کتاب را با نازل‌ترین کیفیت و آن هم در ورد صفحه‌بندی و چاپ کرده است.
از این افتضاحات که بگذریم خود کتاب منبع معروف و شناخته‌ شده‌ای در حوزه‌ی استراتژی محتواست اگرچه موقع خواندنش نباید انتظار مواجه با یک کتاب عمیق را داشته باشید. این بیشتر یک کتاب کاربردی برای «استفاده» در کار است.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
Profile Image for Paul Signorelli.
Author 3 books13 followers
April 22, 2011
Kristina Halvorson, in "Content Strategy for the Web," offers a concise and well produced introduction to a subject of interest to those of us involved in workplace learning and performance (training)--and anyone else interested in knowing how to reach online audiences effectively through well designed and engaging content. The book itself is an example of what it promotes: rich content provided in a graphically interesting format that leaves readers with "a high-level overview of the benefits, roles, activities, and deliverables associated with content strategy" (p. ix). "Content Strategy" takes a simple--but never cursory--approach to the subject; it begins with reminders that great online content is the result of a cohesive strategy including analysis, structure, creation, extensive revisions, formatting, publication, updates, archiving, and a willingness to revisit that entire cycle as needed rather than a one-time start-to-finish process. "Web content is never really finished," she suggests. "Sorry" (p. 131). That straightforward confirmation leaves us with a lesson well worth remembering and an invitation to further exploration.
Profile Image for Dhuaine.
190 reviews24 followers
May 17, 2012
Great overview of content strategy for beginners - it starts with the basics and moves to pro stuff for very large organizations. It's more theoretical than practical though, or that was impression while reading it... Unless you're someone important and/or dedicated content strategist, you won't have opportunity to roll out the big guns described in this book. Thankfully, scaled down approach would be very useful for smaller websites. :)
Profile Image for Katie Gainey-West.
342 reviews4 followers
April 22, 2021
This book doesn’t directly relate to my job but I like how approachable this book was. They female authors excel in their career fields and they explained content strategy and how to implement it at small or large companies. Great beginners guide or refresher course for content media specialists.
Profile Image for Jalal Samiee.
5 reviews10 followers
July 20, 2017
A little old, but still a fine handbook for all Content & Media Strategists. Content Strategy is the live essential plan for any communication plan.
Profile Image for John Collins.
44 reviews
July 20, 2017
This really reinforced some thoughts I’d been having and reading about on the importance of governance in content and content strategy. Also had good tips for conducting various type of audits—exciting, right?! Well, helpful nonetheless. Will be a resource that I refer others to.
Profile Image for Tamara.
1,414 reviews557 followers
December 28, 2010
I truly have no understanding of the different roles people play and the different workflows that exist within large firms that handle the creation of web sites & web presences. (Information architecture, user experience design, graphic design, programmers, etc. They're all a mystery to me.) That was my biggest problem while reading through this book. I think the 2-person team I work in makes it hard to think of the different roles that could be played if we had more manpower.

Nonetheless, this book was helpful.

Favorite Quotes/Tidbits:

Your brand is what users think and feel about your organization.

Whatever brand characteristics your organization chooses, the way in which your messages are delivered - your online tone of voice - makes an enormous difference in the way your users perceive your organization and your messages...Voice and tone are the most flexible components of your brand.

To write truly effective web content, a writer needs to care deeply about - and take responsibility for - helping online readers find information and complete tasks.

The web writer's mission? Useful, usable content that's also enjoyable. It's her job to begin a conversation with the reader that results in mutually beneficial outcomes all around. A problem solved. An article found. A connection made.

Profile Image for Morgan Craft.
8 reviews9 followers
March 4, 2011
Content Strategy for the Web was a great overview of learning the process of content strategy at a large organization. Having worked at a large NYC based digital strategy agency most of the concepts in this book were familiar. Even the look of the site and content maps were familiar from what I've seen presented and used in client meetings. So the accuracy of this book for portraying the decisions and the workflow of how a large organization needs to handle content creation is outlined nicely. Thus, if you are a design student or a related field of study looking to graduate and get a job at a large digital agency like RazorFish or Dentsu this book will give you some background on the process at first like these so when you go into an interview you aren't clueless. If you are a single individual that just setup a blog and are starting your own media empire there are books better suited for a beginner. I'd recommend maybe reading web content writing books like Ginny Redwish - Letting Go of the Words (note this book is mentioned in Content Strategy for the Web as a resource)
Profile Image for Stringy.
147 reviews37 followers
June 12, 2012
Got a website full of old, useless or just flat out wrong content? You need a content strategy to help you clean it up, and create a plan so that it doesn't happen again. And this book will show you how to figure one out.

Covering research, design, creation and evaluation of content, Halvorson assumes you're working with a large website. But the principles are the same, no matter how large or small the project. You need to know your audience and your goals, and come up with a plan for acheiving them. Content is king on the web, and it doesn't just magically appear.

I found this book particularly useful since I'm going to be re-vamping my work website later this year. There's no point in me cleaning up the HTML and design if the content is wrong or not supporting our goals. I think Halvorson's techniques will come in handy for getting buy-in and helping my team understand how to get what they want and need from our site.
Profile Image for Shawn Manaher.
2 reviews
September 5, 2012
Content Strategy for the Web sets the stage for Content Strategy to be implemented for any company by helping individuals to understand what it is, why it is important, how it can be created, who is involved, how it is managed, etc.

The writing is professional, engaging, and uses the right amount of humour to keep things lively. It reads like a story and has been structured helping users to quickly jump from one topic and section to the next.

The only reason I would give this book a 4 instead of a solid 5 is because I found the book lacking in making sure it was written for the masses. The author definitely has come from the corporate world and the language is heavy on the corporate speak.

Overall, this book should be included in everyone's library that is involved in content; whether someone is just starting a website or they are the head of content at a major company. Great read!
Profile Image for Alyssa.
629 reviews16 followers
June 7, 2016
Excellent content strategy overview. This book has a bit of everything from start to finish in working on developing and rolling out a content strategy project. I especially loved the questions it asks you to consider for your situation when working on each part of the strategy. Great, conversational tone and easy-to-understand writing doesn't further complicate what can be a complex subject. My only minor quibble is that it is heavily web-focused (obviously, it's in the title). But anyone with critical thinking ability can expand this to a global content strategy beyond the web. The questions still apply, the concepts still apply, the payoff still applies. Invaluable in my business case when I was trying to describe what a content strategy IS to people who have never heard the term.
Profile Image for Ilona.
171 reviews69 followers
January 31, 2016
A book dedicated for mostly puting out fires: it answers all questions a content strategist can have when they are hired to fix a strategy of a company that reaches millions in revenue but in their website still sometimes have bits of "Lorem ipsum".

Not so much relatable for companies that are starting out and want to do right by their content, or to companies that have less than 5000 pieces of content but still want it arranged neatly.

Really useful and easy to read, shining with light humor now and then.
Profile Image for Esteban Mulki.
72 reviews5 followers
April 20, 2011
Un himno a la burocracia, solamente sostenible en proyectos web megalómanos. Si estás buscando leer sobre una innumerable cantidad de puestos de trabajo de alta especificidad, procesos complejos bien documentados y listados de tareas engorrosas, esta es tu opción. Para proyectos chicos probablemente no tenga ninguna utilidad ni aplicación práctica. Sirve como guía teórica para recorrer un ideal de trabajo muy dificil de llevar a cabo en el 99% de los proyectos web.
Profile Image for Mike.
1,472 reviews134 followers
November 30, 2012
Engaging from the get-go. Kristina doesn't mess around - she directly engages with her reader, and wants you to know she understands the problem space and that she's got some immediate things for you to do. No f***ing around.

And I see exactly how her lessons will immediately benefit me - I'll be able to deliver a "content strategy" to my boss in the next week or two, as soon as I get past Chapter One.
Profile Image for Sonny.
64 reviews1 follower
June 27, 2011
If you ask Kristina Halvorson, she'll tell you that the book is dated and not to read it. She feels that content strategy has moved on. But in talking to her, it was not clear to what. For my part, I felt the book - or at least the first 90% of it - was a good introduction to structuring the creation of a content strategy for websites.
Profile Image for Yiwen Xu.
28 reviews10 followers
September 24, 2013
This book was written for someone in a more stable company with hierarchies and structure. I was reading it as a person trying to understand what content strategy is for the first time. Probably would've done better reading up on SEO and user interaction. There are some great websites out there with better information! Copyblogger is one of my favorites.
Profile Image for John.
500 reviews9 followers
March 11, 2010
A quick read but deserves time to process. Very concise compact chapters that deliver. I'm going to keep this around for reference. A required book for those interested in creating websites and writing for the web.
Profile Image for Sean.
17 reviews4 followers
January 21, 2011
I would say this book works nicely for designers or developers that need to work with copy writers to develop content. If you're a copy writer or deal with content for a living, this is probably a nice short read that may give you an idea or two on tightening up your game.
Profile Image for David Rosen.
36 reviews5 followers
December 27, 2018
If You do Social Media Strategy, You Have to Know Content Strategy

If a management consultant and a website copy writer got married, then "Content Strategy for the Web" would be their first child. It's one of those books that you'll want to read cover-to-cover to get the big picture, and then re-read, scissors in-hand (well, Evernote), to pluck out the many useful methodologies.

What makes this book so useful is that the authors know that no matter how brilliant the strategy, no matter how creative the content, if you don't have the buy-in of the organization and embrace the mundane details of execution, you'll fall flat on your face. This svelte 184-page guide goes into just the right depth on:

* What content is
* What an effective strategy looks like
* What screws up strategies
* The roles of each person in the content creation supply chain
* How to dissect the content creation workflow
* Tools that will make your life easier (my favorite part)
* How to do a content audit
* How concepts like "voice" and "messages" fit in

All of this is done with a minimum of jargon, a maximum of realism, and a smattering of humor to keep you motivated through the end. Authors Kristina Halvorson and Melissa Rach also deserve a round of applause for one final touch: at the end of the book they list blogs, Meetups, Google Groups and other books that continue your education on content strategy. Those are several steps further than most authors take, and as a reader, it's much appreciated.

Content Strategy is available on Kindle, but I picked up the print version because that's where I saw it first and I couldn't resist. In retrospect, the beautiful layout gave me the mental room to reflect on the weight of the ideas better than the e-version would have. Either format will work, so pick the one you'll most likely read.
Profile Image for Georgina Brooke.
38 reviews18 followers
October 23, 2021
I do find this quite dated now, but I feel like I sort of have to give it 5 stars as it's been such a practical, pivotal book to important parts of my career. I literally used it as a bible to implement my first content strategy projects.

The gaps for me now are; it's a little biased (IMHO) towards private sector content, which means lots of talk of competitive advantage, brand messaging and what the org needs to tell the consumer. This doesn't sit entirely happily with my (also somewhat outdated) conception of the internet as a two-way interface between organisations and individuals, and also isn't terribly practical in the public sector, where the main focuses are around how can I most clearly/simply get this information over to an end user (this is what Sarah Richards did so well), how can I teach someone X, how can I entertain and inform someone around the items in my collection (e.g. a museum)/ the unique things I have to offer on the internet.

Also almost always when Kristina Halvoson speaks of content meaning website content. This feels outdated to me, she does mention social media but never talks about how you might go about strategising an organisation's content off multiple platforms (how does the same idea stream out on the website, social media, enews etc). This feels a bit limited now.
Profile Image for Andrew Heitzman.
39 reviews1 follower
November 15, 2017
This book is thorough, and continues to tackle ideas where other books would end. Halvorson not only tackles what content strategy is, but goes on to define how to create and the implement content to be displayed online. At times, she includes significant detail that can feel overwhelming (see the chapter on auditing methods for existing web content), however, these are the details that significantly matter to the book, and to the reader's understanding of implementing web content. Overall, this is an incredibly significant and helpful book, recommended for anyone who needs an overview. That begin said, Halvorson herself tells the reader not to stop with this book. It's a fantastic starting point, but by no means is it the finish line.
30 reviews
July 18, 2017
I would give 3.5 stars. The book goes along with its main idea: it gives what you need.

If you studied and/or read marketing, about communication strategy, it will be an easy read, it becomes quite redundant/repetitive, in general: content strategy is communication strategy, just outlined in different format.

However this book provides a good work template when doing content audit, and strategizing the content development. I got some good ideas.

Main point: content has to have its purpose, and follow the strategy. If it doesn't - it is redundant. Less can be more. You don't want the user to get lost in myriads of unnecessary information.
Give the user what he/she needs.
Profile Image for Kireth.
146 reviews4 followers
January 29, 2022
A solid introduction to the world of content strategy that also acts as a comprehensive summary of the steps involved. This book was recommended to me by my manager as I got really stuck into the work during my first internship, and realised that there's much more to content marketing than just scheduling a campaign and copywriting.

Read the rest of my review and summary at my website life-of-karrot.com.
Profile Image for Julie.
576 reviews6 followers
November 9, 2022
A very good action oriented primer to Content Strategy.

This will help you figure out where to start and give you explicit, step by step instructions for how to build a content team and sell your organization on the importance of content. It's sort of a holy grail for beginners and you can build on the material inside/make it your own.

It's not overwhelming and a great resource for starters.
Profile Image for Erin.
19 reviews1 follower
January 23, 2023
The advice in this book holds up, even though it was first published more than a decade ago, and serves a great primer for content strategy. If you have your hands in content for professional or personal reasons, this book is worth your time.

While some of the suggestions may seem obvious, they aren't easily followed in practice given competing business priorities, availability of resources and managerial understanding of what it takes to plan, create and govern content. If you need help building a case for content strategy, start here.
2 reviews1 follower
July 1, 2020
Amazing book! I loved that it was more of a strategic look at the overall need for content strategy and how to think about it. THere were a few places tools or templates were referenced, but the way this was written you could walk up to a whiteboard and put together a strategy- or at least the first pass at it.
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