Sharks & Kittens

shark kitten

What lessons does “Sharknado” have to offer about social media strategies?

How is Disney harnessing the magic of Responsive Web Design?

And why does a baby eat a kitten every time a link says ‘click here’?

Check out my posts on the Aztek blog to learn the answers to these questions, and so much more!

I’ll be blogging on my own website now, so be sure to check back often to read industry news and updates, learn about trends in content marketing, and discover how pop culture influences the world of web marketing. And maybe–just maybe– we’ll have a kitten meme or three.

Thanks for reading!

What sorts of topics would you like to see covered on this blog?

“Amelia is fighting with the plush shark again,” © 2013 Paulo Ordoveza, used under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.

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Welcome back, blogger!

I’ll admit it– I have not been the best blogger here. If I were my own client, I’d advise me to dramatically overhaul my blogging strategy. So, I shall take my own advice!

Look for this space to feature a renewed and re-energized focus on web writing and content marketing. First step? We need some new content. Coming soon!

In the meantime, I am delighted to report (albeit six months after the fact) that I have a new full-time job! I am the Content Strategist for Aztek, and I’ve been busy creating and launching our new, robust, inclusive Content Services. It’s been an amazing experience and I have learned a lot. More on this to come!

Thanks for reading!

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Atomic Oxygen, Ceramic Coatings and Beyond

Every day at NASA’s Glenn Research Center, there is fascinating work being done. Research, development, design, testing and more. All the work shares one common attribute: innovation.

Here are some of my recent web stories featuring innovation at Glenn:

Aerogels: Out of this World
Aerogels, among the lightest of solid materials, are being revolutionized by NASA.

Out of Thin Air
NASA researchers are investigating ways that atomic oxygen can be used to make positive contributions to life on Earth, including in the biomedical realm.

Changing the Game: Ceramic Coatings
New technology being developed at NASA’s Glenn Research Center creates super thin ceramic coatings on engine components.

Materials: Out of this World
The Materials International Space Station Experiment, or MISSE, tests the stability and durability of materials and devices in the space environment.

Revolutionary Atmosphere
A new NASA book, “Revolutionary Atmosphere” chronicles the Altitude Wind Tunnel and Space Power Chambers at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

What innovations would you like to learn more about, from NASA or in other fields?

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Welcome to the Redesigned Site!

I am happy to report that all of the design and usability changes that have been in the works are now live! Take a look around the site and let me know what you think. How do you like the look and feel and the colors and the logo? How about the social media connection area? Any other ideas or feedback to share?

Now that the design changes are updated, I look forward to posting more frequent blog entries. Stay tuned, and thanks for visiting!

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More NASA Stories

It has been a busy and productive autumn! Work on this website continues (look for new developments soon) and some new freelance clips will also be available shortly.

Here are two new stories that I have written for the NASA Glenn website. Learn about the unique challenges involved with communicating in space and meet some inspiring students who have interned at NASA’s Glenn Research Center.

Communicating in Space

Glenn’s Student Ambassadors

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Belated is the Blog

And once again, I take to my blog to beg your forgiveness for the long duration with no posting!

I have a good explanation– I’ve been making a lot of behind-the-scenes changes to this website. Phase One is now complete– we’ve migrated to a new server and we’re operating on a new CMS. These changes, which are for the most part not immediately visible, are extremely exciting to me. I hope these changes will make this website even more accessible and easy for visitors to use.

Please, take a look around and tell me what you think! If you see something that isn’t working perfectly, or have a suggestion for improvement, please don’t hesitate to let me know.

In the meantime, we’re getting started on Phase Two: some design and usability tweaks. I am especially excited about these changes, and I think they’ll be pretty readily detectable by return visitors. Stay tuned for some exciting new developments!

Meanwhile, here is some of what I have been writing lately for the NASA website:
Ohio Astronaut Lands at Glenn
New Assignments, New Responsibilities Proposed for Glenn
Tiny Technology with a Big Heart

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New NASA Stories

Happy Holidays!

It has been a busy fall and early winter. I’ve been wrapping up some great projects (more to come soon) as well as writing lots of stories for the NASA Glenn website.

Here are a few of them:

Astronauts Test Glenn Exercise Harnesses

Metallic Foam Reduces Airplane Noise

Glenn Helps Ares I-X Soar
Thanks for reading, see you in 2010!

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Rocket Writer

I’m back on the blog!

I apologize for the radio silence for the past few weeks, but I have been busy acclimatizing to my new position.

I am happy to announce that I am now working as a Web Content Creator for S.G.T. Inc, at NASA Glenn Research Center! I work on the web team creating all manner of copy for NASA Glenn. It’s an exciting place to work, and an exciting field!

We have just posted my first feature web story on the NASA Glenn site. The story is about Glenn’s role in the upcoming Ares I-X flight test launch, which is the first flight test of any hardware in the Constellation Program (NASA’s plan to continue space exploration.)

I’ll be back to my regularly scheduled posts now, which will include links to my work at NASA.

Thanks for reading!

Posted in Announcements, Clips, Web Writing | 1 Comment

Content That Counts

Say you pick up a book at your local bookstore. There are some pretty pictures, and the font choice is pleasing and the layout is logical and engaging. But if the story is terrible—boring plot, poorly written, non-engaging language—would you continue reading it? Would you buy that book?

Of course not. And no one would blame you. It’s not a cracking of the chestnut of judging a book by its cover—rather, it’s judging a book for what it contains. Judging it by its content. And if the content isn’t solid, no reader will stick around.

I recently stumbled upon an article on the website A List Apart, and it contains one of the most intriguing, smartest articles I have read about content strategy and web content creation. In her piece “The Discipline of Content Strategy,” Kristina Halvorson writes:

“Until we commit to treating content as a critical asset worthy of strategic planning and meaningful investment, we’ll continue to churn out worthless content in reaction to unmeasured requests. We’ll keep trying to fit words, audio, graphics, and video into page templates that weren’t truly designed with our business’s real-world content requirements in mind. Our customers still won’t find what they’re looking for. And we’ll keep failing to publish useful, usable content that people actually care about.

“Stop pretending content is somebody else’s problem. Take up the torch for content strategy. Learn it. Practice it. Promote it. It’s time to make content matter.”

This is expressed so eloquently, and describes a real-world problem in accurate, easily digestible yet profound terms. So much of the content on the web is, simply stated, not good. Much of it runs the range from forgettable and ineffective to appallingly bad. Some web sites that offer merely mediocre content seem to shine in comparison, simply because the content isn’t awful.

I think we can do better. The world is full of eager writers—smart people who can turn a phrase artfully and draw a reader in. Regrettably, many writers still view the web as an enemy, a passing phase or an irritant. I would urge those writers to keep an open mind. Every day, my appreciation and passion for interactive communication grows. There are so many unique benefits to communicating online; the ability to immediately interact with audiences, the capability to reach a wider group of readers and the leisure of unlimited space are all siren songs that this writer can’t resist.

I’m all about taking up the torch for content strategy. To me, the flame is exciting, challenging, rewarding—and fun.

How do you feel about web content—creating it, consuming it, judging it? Comment below.

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Click Here

So you’re building a new website. You have lots of considerations—you want it to look awesome and you want people to actually read and interact with your content. You want people to have an easy time finding your website,  and you want them to stick around for awhile once they do find it.

All of these facets of website design and development are interrelated, and each of them interacts and influences content decisions.

The examples are limitless. If the design of a website calls for teeny tiny text, in a funky font color on a busy background, that is going to influence how people receive your content. You could feature the most moving and powerful prose the Internet has ever seen, but if readers can’t read it, it’s irrelevant.

Proper web content isn’t simply engaging, informative and well written (although it should be all of these things.) Great web content works for you in more ways than just communicating with your reader—it’s enriched by strategic key word placement, it’s influenced by matters of organic search engine optimization (SEO). Great content can bring people to the site by working with current technology, and then it can entice readers to stay longer, because of the value of the information.

The fascinating field of usability is quite intricately interwoven with content creation and management. From the elementary to the advanced, usability (how a visitor uses a website) should be taken into consideration in every aspect of a web site.

From macro to micro, usability and content strategy are symbiotic arrows in the same quiver, employed for accomplishing the same bulls eye hit. Even seemingly smaller choices, such as whether or not to use ‘click here’ in links*, have huge ramifications in the efficacy of the content and the website at large.

Usability, content strategy, web design and interactive marketing are constantly changing and developing. It’s not enough to read a book on the topic of the web and consider yourself an expert. In order to understand the web, you must immerse yourself in it, daily, and develop a first-hand perspective and informed opinion.

The best and most talented web folk I know are voracious learners who are inspired by the constant evolution of their medium. They feel challenged and intrigued by the daily innovations and newness of the field. They find it exciting. And the best web teams have an innate sense of how important each element is. They work together in the most genuine sense of the word. And together, they create.

*I’ve recently been examining and exploring this topic. It seems logical that in most cases, “Click Here” isn’t a great way to label links. Especially if there’s no further information, simply stating “click here” offers no value or clear direction to a reader. But, if it’s coupled with info, great action words and clarity, is “Click Here” sometimes OK?  This informative article says no (and the comments offer a vigorous debate.) I’d love to hear what you think—comment below.

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