Review: Letting Go of the Words by Ginny Redish

Letting Go of the Words Writing Web Content that WorksMy Rating: 4.5/5

About the Book
Letting Go of the Words: Writing Web Content that Works is a book about audience adaption and writing content for the web. Written as a fairly introductory textbook for upper-class undergraduate students, Letting Go serves as a foundational resource for students working to move beyond basic usability (which they can get from the simple but effective book by Steve Krug, Don’t Make Me Think) and into website writing for diverse audiences. The book covers the following important topics in writing web content: content planning and strategy, designing and organizing content, creating pathway pages, writing headings, tuning up sentences, creating appropriate content for homepages, and other related topics.

Author: Jancie (Ginny) Redish
Publisher: Morgan Kaufman
Cost: about $30 on Amazon
ISBN: 978-0321344755

What I Liked
This is one of the best web design textbooks I have found for writing content. For instructors in communication, technical writing, and e-commerce/business courses that focus on the communicative aspects of web design, this is a fantastic resource. Redish makes writing for the web a clear-cut process that offers students and instructors alike an easy method for approaching the critical aspects of word choice, wordiness, organization, audience analysis, and so forth.  The book works well in juxtaposition with Steve Krug’s Don’t Make Me Think, which focuses more on the structural components of web usability. There is some overlap between the two books, however, so an instructor would want to consider the overall focus of the course if they had to choose between one or other. Personally, I prefer Redish’s book over Krug’s because it is more current and much more detailed.

What I Didn’t Like
There isn’t much to criticize about the content of the book. The one small disappointment I had was that some of the content, in an effort to be thorough, ends up being a bit redundant or too simplistic. But those moments aren’t enough to discredit the great teaching and learning resource that this is.

How I Used It
I used this book in an undergraduate advanced web design course where students learned WordPress as a content management system and built various websites for non-profit clients in the community. The book was used in conjunction with Friedman’s Web Designer’s Guide to WordPress. Redish’s book was especially helpful for students coming up with content strategies and developing personas for their web users.