Book Review: Content Strategy for the Web by Kristina Halvorson
This book was billed as a great supplement to Howard Krug’s “Don’t Make me Think” book on web design. Halvorson focuses solely on the content of websites — the messages, the branding, the focus, the nouns and verbs — and how to get the most of your website’s content.
The book uses the word “content” so many times that by the middle of the book you’ll have lost track of what the word even means. You may not even know who you are anymore. But the premise is clear: people need specific pieces of information, and no one seems keen on helping them get it. It’s typically buried by legal and marketing crap.
It was inspiration enough for me to redevelop the content of our website and it’s focused me on helping clients with their content a bit more than we used to.
Halvorson does make the interesting point that no one cares about SEO, sorta. Her implication is, in my view, “Customers don’t care about your search engine optimization, they just want to find the cost of ‘X’ or how to use ‘Y’.” Her point here is squarely aimed at people that write sentences like this:
“Acme, Inc. is the leading high-efficiency, low-wattage toaster in the midwest. Our high-efficiency, low-wattage toaster makes great toast in its super low-wattage form factor designed to bring about the highest efficiency with the lowest wattage use in the midwest.”
That sentence really just says, “Acme, Inc. makes an efficient toaster that uses less energy.” But, that won’t really get the attention of anyone Googling for “low wattage” toaster”, will it? The result is that people come to your site, but don’t get the message. It’s better to have a great message that in turn drives people to your site.
It’s part of the reason why we always explain to our clients that we can’t guarantee you the number 1 spot in Google for “toaster” or some equally generic term or phrase. We’d love to be able to, but it comes at too high a cost. So far, all of our clients have agreed, and now we have a pretty nice book to back it up.