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Review: Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery
by John S.
Overall Value 9
|Table of Contents:
Chapter 1: Content Management in Your Future?
Chapter 2: Implementing a Content: Management Solution.
Chapter 3: Taking a Close Look at Your Information Resources.
Chapter 4: Creating an Information Model.
Chapter 5: Developing Information Types and Content Units.
Chapter 6: Using Content Units to Structure Information Types.
Chapter 7: Developing Content Plans for Static Web Sites.
Chapter 8: Developing Content Plans for Dynamic Web Sites.
Chapter 9: Developing a Single-Source Strategy.
Chapter 10: Authoring for Reuse.
Chapter 11: Staffing for Content Management.
Chapter 12: Making a Business Case for Content Management.
Appendix A: Content Management Requirements Checklist.
Appendix B: Vendors.
I just finished reading
Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery (Amazon
link) by JoAnn T. Hackos. It is an excellent book that will
introduce you to the concepts of content management. Unlike several other
books on this topic, Hackos focuses on information architecture and
usability. In other words, she puts people before technology. She makes it
clear that you should understand what people need and then build your
technology around them. This is the definitely best approach to content
management I have seen.
Hackos has a strong background in usability and information architecture. A
few years ago Hackos and Redish wrote User and Task Analysis for
Interface Design (Amazon
link), a book that provides in-depth coverage of task analysis.
Most usability professionals own a copy or two. Fortunately, Hackos injects
this point of view into her more recent book. Bravo!
It shouldn't be
hard for you to believe that most other books on content management focus on
technology. It is easy to talk about vendors and technology and solutions.
However, it is much more difficult to focus on core business issues. If you
have tried to simply take your documents and push them through a content
management system you will know exactly what I am talking about. Content
management systems only facilitate content management, they don't allow you
to instantly control or manage content. You have to have a solid plan in
place and you must have an information architecture developed. Hackos
understands this and helps you through the planning process. She makes you
think, in all the right ways.
information architecture is not fun and games. You need to think about your
users as well as your business needs. As Hackos correctly indicates, you
also need to think beyond your current content delivery channels. For
example, most companies have hardly thought about sending their content out
to the world simultaneously as PDFs, HTML, Word documents, and text messages
to cell phones. Most companies have not considered that they could package
their content and deliver it to users on CD. Hackos covers all of these
issues, and more. She gets you thinking about the future.
Packaging Your Content
One of the best
things about Content Management for Dynamic Web Delivery is that it
will help you understand the utility of XML and structured information
(e.g., using tags). If you are clueless about how XML can be used in content
management, you should buy this book. Hackos makes it very clear how XML,
SGML, DTDs, style sheets, and more, can help you manage your content. The
language is plain although the concepts are complex.
The concept of
metadata is well covered and it is made interesting. There are many, many
pages on how you should think about your data. While some of the book is
very basic, Hackos dives deeply into metadata and how it should be used. She
talks about legacy data, searching your databases, and turning information
into knowledge. The book also gives you an idea about how to fit this jumble
of information into a solid and stable information model. While this book is
not about information architecture, such as Information Architecture for
the World Wide Web (Amazon
link), it does cover the basics. You'll learn what you need to
As I stated above,
Hackos does an excellent job merging the ideas of usability, information architecture,
and content management. This is not trivial. It is hard for people focused
on technology (e.g., Information Technology departments in Fortune 1000
companies) to focus on end users. Often the solution is proposed before the
problem is sufficiently stated. Content Management for Dynamic Web
Delivery balances the needs of the users with the needs of the company.
It is really quite impressive.
I really can't say
enough good things about this book. The examples are excellent, the
checklists are great (e.g., Appendix A: Content Management Requirements
Checklist), and the focus on end users is outstanding. The core concepts are
stressed again and again, but it doesn't get boring because Hackos focuses
on different aspects each time. She also seems to have a true understanding
of requirements management because the book is full of important warnings
about planning ahead and using the right tools at the right time.
I suppose that the
main flaw with this book is that it doesn't dive into too many
implementation details. Perhaps another problem is that the Content
Management for Dynamic Web Delivery is, at times, long and academic.
But, those aren't really fair criticisms. The book does just what it should
do: It makes you think about the true nature of content management and it
keeps you focused on your end users. The focus on usability more than makes
up for any potential issues I have with this book.
The bottom line is
that if you need a rock solid introduction to content management, you should
read this book. The funny thing is that I didn't even plan on reading this
book...that would have been a major mistake. It is one of the best books I
have recently read and you should add it to your library.
Please send them to me: firstname.lastname@example.org
I want to know what you think about this report.