Website Owner’s Manual Review

Ed: You can learn more about how to run a successful web app business at Future of Web Apps Miami in February 2010 – buy your ticket online today!

Recently I received a copy of  “Website Owner’s Manual” by Paul Boag. Unlike other books that deal with the technical aspects of web sites this one is aimed at those who project manage, run and maintain web sites on a daily basis.

Paul is the host of the popular web design podcast Boagworld and is also one of the founders of Headscape, a web design agency based in the UK. He’s passionate about helping those involved in websites, be they designers or “owners”, communicate better with their clients and stakeholders and this shines through in the book.

In each chapter Paul offers “website owners”, i.e. those responsible for the running of the site, proven strategies, crafted from his ten years in the industry, for dealing with the web site process from start to finish.

Much of the book focuses on the non technical aspects of owning sites and covers issues such as how to tackle “design by committee”, creating persona’s for your users, community and dealing with feedback effectively. For me this is one of it’s main strengths and a welcome change to the more technical books I usually read.

One nice touch is the way in which each chapter concludes with “next actions”. For example at the end of the chapter “Ensuring access for all” Paul advocates the following three actions:

  1. Get your team on board – The first and most important step is to ensure that your developers and content providers understand the importance of standards and accessibility
  2. Create an accessibility policy – Begin by writing a rough draft yourself. Don’t worry too much about specifics at this stage, but concentrate on creating a skeleton for discussion
  3. Finish what you start - After you’ve completed these actions, consider your long-term strategy for ensuring accessibility

If all you do is read these pages, you should obviously read more, then you will be left with a solid strategy for your next web project.

What’s covered?

The book is broken down into 12 manageable chapters which take you through the journey of starting your web site right through to testing, promotion, user engagement and beyond.

  1. Secrets to a successful website (Download chapter as PDF)
  2. Stress-free planning
  3. The perfect team
  4. Differences over design
  5. Creating killer content
  6. User centric design
  7. Ensuring access for all
  8. Taking control
  9. Decoding technobabble
  10. Driving traffic
  11. Engaging your visitors
  12. Planning for the future

Is it for you?

If you are involved in any aspect of the web design process then you will learn some valuable lessons by reading “Website Owner’s Manual”. It never hurts to understand more about the process from a non technical aspect and there are a lot of ideas and strategies that will improve how you create your web sites.

It’s definitely the kind of book I wish I had been able to leave on my managers desk when I worked on web projects in a large public sector organisation a few years ago.

Win a copy

We have 6 copies of Paul’s book to giveaway. To be in with a chance of winning a copy all you have to do is leave your best “website owner’s tip” as a comment. Paul has kindly agreed to pick his top six.

Any entry up to 6pm GMT Monday 14th December 2009 will be entered.

Readers offer – 30% off

Thanks to the lovely people at Manning Publications Think Vitamin readers can get 30% off any version (print or ebook) of Website Owner’s Manual.

Simply use the checkout code “tv30” at to redeem your offer. Offer valid until December 31, 2009

Ed: Paul has spoken at a number of industry events including our own Future of Web Design New York. Here’s a video of his presentation “Getting client’s to say yes”. A full transcript is available.

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