Nevermind the title of this post. Forget it. Don't read this book. That's it - end of review.
(Are they gone? Is it just us hardasses?)
Let me be straight: Kristina Halvorson's book Content Strategy for the Web is not for marketing tourists. It ain't for folks who think a Twitter account equals any sort of expertise.
This is a handbook for content strategy badasses. Not sure if you're tough enough to join the club? This book can answer that question as well.
Honestly, I've been dying to review this book for awhile, but took so long because it's so filling. Like a shepherd's pie and Guinness (my lunch of choice incidentally), this book provides a hearty gut-punch of awesomeness.
THE Handbook for CS Success
Content Strategy for the Web covers everything from the basic elements of process (audit, analysis, and strategy; page 35-36), to questions that a content strategy answers (there's a bunch; page 84), to ways to determine success (meeting users' needs and supporting key business objectives; page 15)
Most importantly, this book - more than any other out there - will guide you in creating a content strategy program of your very own.
Most people aren't interested in this. The same way they weren't interested in information architecture in 1997.
Those folks will keep creating websites with pretty pictures that lack useful, usable content. It won't help their search results, it won't help their customers complete a task, and it certainly won't move the needle for their profits.
And that's why any agency should be damn interested in hiring a content strategy hardass.
What Do These Badasses Do?
Well, that's sort of the point of the whole book.
But in short, they analyse what stuff is on your site, what stuff should be on your site (based on planner research, customer insights, and competitive research), the process to get that stuff on your site, and the schedule to keep that stuff relevant, factually correct, and engaging.
I hate sounding vague about this process since the book is so clear and precise. But it's necessary because this really is a guidebook. I can't explain the whole thing - but I can give you my expert opinion (not to sound pompous, but I'm one of the lucky few to get paid to do content strategy full time).
So What Do I Think?
I can honestly say this has been the most helpful book to help me define for others exactly what I do and why. It has changed the way I think about content strategy - solidified it, formalized it - and will have a definite, positive effect in how I do my job.
I highly recommend this book for anyone interested in content strategy, but most especially those already tasked with the job. If you feel push-back in your agency or find yourself defending your raison d'être, this book will help you immensely.
This is also a great book for unsatisfied library science scholars, copywriters, information architects, and others. If you have a niggling feeling that you aren't satisfied in your current position and think content strategy might be your next career step, this is definitely the book to help you decide.
Get Content Strategy for the Web and channel your inner CS hardass. It's not for everyone - but it could be the very thing you're looking for. It was for me.