I want to recommend two new books for whoever is active in designing Web
sites and intranet. They are being published this month by the Financial
Times. They are Content Critical and the Web Content Style Guide
The authors are experts in Web design and communication. One author, Rob
Norton, is former executive editor of Fortune Magazine, one of the world's
largest and best known business magazines. The other is Gerry McGovern,
one of Ireland's leading experts in Web design and interactive media.
To learn more about Content Critical, go to:
To learn more about Web Content Style Guide, go to
I will print selected advance information on these books below.
Our universities, schools and departments are spending -- and wasting --
millions of dollars, pounds, kroner, lira, markka, etc., on Web sites that
do not work. Far too many organizations mount Web sites loaded with
special effects and fancy images, without attending to accessible
information, ease of use, or good navigation. Many organizations mount Web
sites that must be repeatedly redesigned. If we can develop and retain key
knowledge on basic issues, the future investments we make will become a
Content Critical is an important place to start in developing better Web
sites. I will send a note on the Web Content Style Guide in the next post.
I will be reviewing both these books in the December issue of Design
Research News. The reason I recommend these books before reading them
completely is simple. I've seen a lot of what will be printed in the
newsletters of Gerry McGovern and Rob Norton.
Their newsletters are a valuable resource, and I've been looking forward
to these books. Knowing the quality of Gerry's thinking and Rob's, I'm
already recommending these books to different lists. I view this as a
public service. Much of our work today world is connected with the Web.
Making a better Web means building a better world.
If you visit the Web site noted here, you will also have a chance to
subscribe to a new elist focusing on these issues.
I have been active in Internet research and information design issues
since the early 1990s. I view the publication of these books as an
important step in bringing the Web to its fullest potential.
In December, I will publish my evaluation of these books. In the meantime,
you can learn more about them at no cost by visiting the pages listed
here. If you want my personal advice, I'd say these books are worth the
risk of an advance order.
Ken Friedman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Leadership and Strategic Design
Department of Technology and Knowledge Management
Norwegian School of Management
Advanced Research Institute
School of Art and Design
Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton
Financial Times Prentice Hall
Content Critical will change the way you think about the World Wide
Web. It is built upon a simple but profound insight: The Web is a
medium for publishing content.
The Internet was invented as a communications medium and the Web was
invented as a publishing solution for content. If part of your job
involves writing original content, whether that be a technical paper
for a product, or a marketing pitch for that product, you're part of
a publishing process.
If you find that you're spending increasing time reading in order to
help you do your job better, you're directly affected by publishing.
The modern world runs on content. We're either publishers or
consumers of it. Mostly, we're both.
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. Because the Web is not all that
different from all those other communication tools: print, phone, fax.
Yes, there are differences. Yes, Web publishing has different
dynamics and rules than, say, print publishing. But the core
objective is still the same: to communicate with other people.
Content Critical explains both the theory and practice of the Web as
a publishing medium, drawing from the best and most applicable
offline publishing practices, and from the best practices of web
publishing today. It provides in-depth information about reader and
website analysis, cost-benefit models, and content creation, editing
and publishing processes.
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 will show
you how to organize your publishing team and how to create a Web
If you work for an organization and part of your job is to write for
that organization you should read this book. If part of your job is
to edit the written work of others and then publish that work on an
intranet or Internet website, then you should read this book.
If your job is to help your organization create, edit and publish Web
content more efficiently, then you should read this book. If you do
any of the above you're involved in publishing whether you know it or
not, and Content Critical will help you do your job more effectively.
Table of contents
Chapter 1: Everything you know about publishing is wrong
Chapter 2: The benefits and costs of content
Chapter 3: The reader is king
Chapter 4: The need for content standards
Chapter 5: Creating content
Chapter 6: Editing Content
Chapter 7: The four pillars of information architecture
Chapter 8: Navigation critical
Chapter 9: Content layout and design
Chapter 10: Special topics in web publishing
Chapter 11: The publishing team
Chapter 12: Five stage publishing strategy approach
Web Content Style Guide
The Web Content Style Guide
Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton, Catherine O'Dowd
Financial Times Prentice Hall
Good writing is the exception rather than the rule on the Web. One
reason for this is simply that good writing is hard to do. Another is
that many of the people who've been involved with the Web from the
beginning have been slow to realize that writing is a very big part
of what the online experience is about.
While the Web has important non-textual uses, most people who use it
spend an overwhelming amount of their online time reading words on a
page. It's not an accident that we call them webpages. It follows
that quality content-well written, well edited-is essential for the
success of any website.
In addition to quality content, the design of websites must
facilitate finding and reading that content. Web design is about
content design. It's about laying out content so that it can be
easily read. It's about organizing content so that it can be easily
navigated and searched.
The number-one design principle for the Web is simplicity. Quality
web design should be all about making life easier for the reader to
find content, and then making it easy for them to read that content.
The Web Content Style Guide aims to codify the rules and standards
that make for effective web writing. It also aims to give
nontechnical guidance to all those involved in designing and running
a website, from the chief executive officer to the junior writer. It
examines topics from accessibility to animations, from fonts to
forms, from information architecture to intranets, from navigation to
newsgroups, from search to style guides.
Every entry is written from the perspective that a website must get
the right content to the reader as quickly as possible, in the most
readable manner. The fonts entry, for example, discusses the font
sizes and types that work best onscreen.
The Web Content Style Guide covers some of the same ground as the
offline style and usage guides, but is tailored specifically for
online managers, writers, and editors.
Grammar and style issues of particular relevance to the Web that it
focuses on include: the key differences between American and British
English; how the Web accentuates plagiarism; what sort of dash looks
best onscreen; the difference between data, content, information, and
knowledge; and when and how to date documents.
If you are involved in a website, whether as a manager, designer,
writer, or editor, The Web Content Style Guide is essential for you.
It is packed with examples, and is written in a clear, concise, and
Based on the authors' 40-plus collective years experience in
traditional publishing, and 15 in designing content-rich websites, it
is always practical. It champions best-practices in web content
writing and design, and is not afraid to kill off a few Internet
myths along the way.
Ken Friedman <email@example.com>
[Host's Note: In assoc w/Amazon.com, these links...
Content Critical: Now Everyone's a Publisher, What Makes Your Content Better? by Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/027365604X/learningorg
The Web Content Style Guide: Style and Usage for Online Writers, Editors and Publishers by Gerry McGovern, Rob Norton, Catherine O'Dowd http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0273656058/learningorg
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