on 19 September 2011
There are times when I have a bought a book in good faith, only to read/flick through it and think "Why did I buy that?" The Internet Case Study Book falls into this category. The problem is that the minute you buy books on web design/web best practices/"cool websites"/"successful websites" they invariably become dated. This book, for example, doesn't deal with linking brands, campaigns and websites to Facebook and Twitter - slightly strange given it was published in 2010 and is pitched for online brand building (you get the odd "the campaign was linked to a FB or Twitter page" line. It's actually difficult to say whether this book covers examples of good websites or how to build online brands.
The book is divided into 5 chapters - Campaigns, E-commerce, Promotional, Social Media and Corporate. Take out the 20 pages of forewards and peer-to-peer backslapping, and you're left with approximately 350 pages of examples of how to build an online brand through your website (or is it vice versa?). Each section has its own foreward and each case study is covered over 2-3 pages. You're give the background to the brief, the challenge the agency faced, the solution and the results. Don't expect any in-depth analysis - you get a couple of short paragraphs for each. In fact, by the end of the first chapter, you can pretty much predict how each case is going to read - all the "examples" were really tough and the end results were "amazing and beyond expectations".
The introduction to the book by Julius Wiedemann is so generic it reads like it was written for about 100 books. In his introduction, Rob Ford says "One of the areas I was most looking forward to researching when putting this book together was the statistical information for each example" - fine, except the reader sees only a few stats (3-4) for each case, which cover anything from the number of unique users, YouTube clips generated, registrations, time spent on site and site visits amongst others. It, therefore, makes it difficult to compare campaigns. Also, very little, if any, information is given to the budget size of the campaign and, more crucially, the ROI.
The mainly flash-based websites covered within the book are almost exclusively aimed at consumers and produced by Big (American) Brands. Campaigns for clothes, food/drink, games and music feature heavily. The book doesn't cover smaller brands that have done some fantastic online brand building on shoestring budgets. It's also a big-slapping exercise to agencies - all the work covered in the book has been produced by agenices. There has been lots of great work done in-house, but that's not been covered.
All in all, I wouldn't recommend this book. In fact, it should not have been printed as a book in the first place - it should have been published online with live links to the websites and case studies it covers. It's difficult to appreciate websites in print (which probably explains why Taschen have used good quality paper and charged a not so small sum of money for this book). There are links to the campaigns - but they are in print and some take a little while to type out.