Content Strategy for the Web
Content Strategy for the Worldwide Web is not about creating web content. Though the title does explicitly and honestly state what it is about, those less savvy among us (me) might be forgiven (I hope) for thinking it was actually about creating web content. Rather, it is about developing and implementing a plan to ensure that web content is properly produced and cared for during the web development (and maintenance) cycle.
In short, this book is for content strategist hopefuls, not web writer wannabes.
A thorough introduction to the field
As defined on page 32, a content strategy for the world wide web plans for the creation, delivery, and governance of web content.
The practice enjoyed a brief period in the limelight of the webosphere in 2010, before web practitioners were lured away by shinier new toys like HTML5, CSS3, and “responsive web design”. It is undoubtedly an important discipline: for the majority of websites, the content is what people come for, and content can also drive them away, or at least make them unhappy and frustrated. Even sites that are ostensibly “web apps” — online applications which visitors use to complete tasks rather than simply find information — have content, in the form of microcontent, help documentation, and marketing copy.
This book gives a clear breakdown of the tasks facing a dedicated content strategist, and where those tasks may overlap or intersect with other disciplines, such as information architecture, copy editing, marketing, and web writing. For anyone in charge of managing the web content for a large organization, this book is an invaluable resource.
Is it applicable to small-scale sites?
Content Strategy for the Worldwide Web presents strategies for developing and maintaining web content in the context of larger companies: not only overcoming resistance to the very idea of a “Content Strategist”, or the need to spend time and money on content, but also managing the input from various stakeholders and interacting with many other members of the “web team”. In my freelance business the “web team” usually consists of: me, and my client. In most cases it is my client who develops the content.
However, the underpinning ideas of this book holds for any web project: that a website’s content cannot be an afterthought if you want the site to succeed, and that good content deserves and requires time and resources on an ongoing basis. In addition, many of the fundamental steps described are applicable to any size company or website. For example:
- assessing what content already exists (Chapter 4)
- taking time to analyze what your content needs and goals are (Chapter 5)
- how to plan for maintaining content over time (Chapter 11)
This book is meta. It isn’t about creating content, it’s about creating a strategy that will allow for the creation and maintenance of content. (In fact, at its most meta, it’s about developing a strategy to create “Metadata: The Content Behind the Content”). While it contains valuable information for those working with or within a large organization, it wouldn’t be the first book I’d recommend to the owner of a small-scale website who needs to create their own effective web content.
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