1-1-1 Book Review: The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane

May 4th, 2011 Karine Joly 2 Comments

I read The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane in March, actually just the day after it was published. I first heard about it at the master class about content strategy in higher ed Kristina Halvorson presented for Higher Ed Experts in February. She was raving about the book and I thought it might prove useful for the graduate course on social media marketing campaigns I designed for SNHU ealier this year.

While I read the book in a couple of hours (no, I’m not an olympic-grade speed reader, it’s just 100-page long), I haven’t managed to find the time to review it up until now, so – finally! – here is my 1-1-1 Express Book Review of The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane.

The Elements of Content Strategy by Erin Kissane

  • 1 thing I liked

    What I like the most about this book is the fact that it provides a great overview of the values, practices, tools and techniques of content strategy in just 100 pages. While some might see it as a very short book, I think its length (or shortness) makes it easy to get not only your content strategists, but also content contributors, bosses and stakeholders to read it. I also love the fact that the book defines the main characteristics of good web content and provides very clear and practical directions to achieve it (and you can even read about this in the free excerpt available on A List Apart). Yes, you can probably find all this information on the web if you search for it, but since time is the new currency, Kissane provides a really great shortcut to learn what really matters.

  • 1 thing I didn’t like too much

    The thing I didn’t like in this book might just be the result of an error (or an oversight). On page 57 of my ePUB version, Kissane mentions that her reader will be able to find references for many of the main content strategy delivrables/documents on her blog at a dedicated address: www.incisive.nu/elements. This makes perfect sense especially for a discipline like content strategy for which the body of knowledge is still in its adolescence. When I clicked on this link in my electronic version of the book, I expected to get a neat list of the said online resources, but all I got was an invitation to check later and/or elsewhere. Fair enough, after all the book had just been published the day before. However when I sat to write the short 1-1-1 Book Review for this book ealier this week, I checked the page again and… didn’t find any new links.

  • 1 big take-away from the book

    There are many really good tips in this book – especially for folks who aren’t content people by trade, but the one that caught my attention pertains to content audits. You probably all know by now about the process involved in a content audit (yeah, the hours of quality time with your web content and a spreadsheet), but Kissane warns that it’s better to start this work after some user research has been done. Once you get a better understanding of your end users, their needs and expectations when it comes to your website, your would make a better assessment of your content. Since this is a very labor-intensive process that might be done in higher education by cheap labor student workers, the user personas or user scenarios will definitely help them perform the audit. As Kissane reminds her reader, the goal of a qualitative content audit is to answer these important questions:

    • Is the content appropriate, useful and user-centric, clear, consistent, conscise?
    • Has it been supported?
    • Is it outdated or inaccurate?

    The answers to these questions will be more reliable with a deeper knowledge of the end users and their needs.

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