Click to Print: An installation at Artomatic

I usually post about putting things online — but this post is about taking them offline.

If you live in DC, you might know already about Artomatic. In short: 1,300+ artists and performers take over an 11-story building, filling it with art, performances and activities for five weeks. It’s completely volunteer-run, and a pretty mind-blowing experience of unfiltered creative endeavors.

I’m part of the marketing team, and I also contributed an installation, called “Click to Print.”

Why? (more…)

Storytelling revisited: A white paper worth reading

M+R has lots of smart people on their team, so I always get excited when they release new studies and research. Their recent white paper on storytelling is a case in point.

Do we really need yet another piece about storytelling and fundraising? Yes, we do.

Lab Day Wrap-up: Three lessons about Tableau Public

Lab Day is over! It was hard to really focus on it as much as I wanted to, what with a couple people being out of the office and vote going on in the U.S. House. I’m happy we did it, and looking forward to hearing about the rest of the Web team’s experiences.

Lessons learned about Tableau Public: (more…)

Lab Day: Maps built with Tableau Public

The web team here at EDF, inspired by Google’s “20 percent time” (and lobbying by web producer Porter Mason), is experimenting with setting aside occasional Lab Days. The goal is to allow our producers to experiment with new tools, build new skills, and otherwise do cool stuff that wouldn’t fit into a regular work week.

Today is my first Lab Day, and I decide to recreate (or create) some maps we’ve worked with using Tableau Public, which I learned about at a really good data visualization session at last year’s NTEN Conference.

And here’s my first map! (more…)

Top 3 Most Helpful Content Strategy Resources

Developing a content strategy was a new challenge, and I found myself turning to a few resources over and over. In case you, too, are ready to embark on this challenge, here are my trusty companions: (more…)

Content Strategy: What it is and why you need one

Plan, by Flickr user Tintern

Last year when we embarked on our redesign (still in progress!), we tried to prioritize. We asked, “If we could redo only one component of the site, which would it be?”

We didn’t pick graphic design, or information architecture, or even our aging publishing platform. We thought the best way to improve key metrics was to re-think the site’s content. To us, that meant not only the text of the articles, but the use of images, videos, micro-copy, interactive graphics and features — all the material on the site that helps convey ideas.

That led us off in search of a different kind of redesign. Along the way, we learned a new phrase, “content strategy,” and met a few “content strategists.” This approach has become a powerful tool for us, so I thought I’d share how we got here.


Key Takeaways: Data Don’t Have to Be Boring 2011 NTC Session

Posted on March 24, 2011 Under Online Content

This session covered a lot of ground through back-and-forth with both the panel and the attendees, which was great. Felicity Simmons of the Lucile Packard Foundation did a nice job keeping the conversation flowing.

I was most interested in the conversation about how to extract the most powerful, portable visualizations from a complex set of data. Kurt Voelker of Forum One raised the issue, flagging the problem that so much great data lives only in text-heavy PDF files. Some tips that got tossed out: (more…)

Link: Yahoo!’s Excellent Tips for Online Writing

There are terrabytes of online writing tips, and most of them aren’t great. But reading through Yahoo!’s web writing style guide made me nod happily. The three articles on writing were particularly good.

Thanks to Tesia Love, who does communications for our oceans team (and blogs in her spare time), for sharing the link.

Rare Find: An Easy-to-Read AND Super-Technical Blog Post

One of the things I hear a lot is that we can’t possibly make a certain piece of writing clear and engaging — the topic is just too technical or complex. I know that’s not true, but it can be hard to convince people that it’s worth even trying when all we have to look at is a dense economic text.

Richard Denison, who works on toxics for EDF, recently provided an excellent example of a blog post that makes a complex argument easy to follow. This post really pushes the boundaries for depth and length: It has 2,250 words and molecular diagrams! Here’s how he made it work:

  • He takes a clear position right from the headline, and does nothing but support and illustrate that position. He walks you through and doesn’t let you get lost in irrelevant details. That focus makes the substance much easier to take in.
  • The conversational tone makes you feel like you’re connecting with an actual person. And little touches remind you that the person you’re listening to cares deeply about what he’s saying: “…a wholly debilitative lung condition whose name speaks for itself: obliterative bronchiolitis.”
  • Finally, he uses headings, lists and structure wisely. Even if you don’t read every word, just skimming the headings and lists shows you how he’s building the argument and what piece of it is where. And if you do read the whole thing, it’s like having the Google map view in addition to turn-by-turn directions — it’s easy to see how things fit together and grasp the overall destination.

Again, here’s the post to check out. When everyone at EDF learns to structure posts this well, I will do cartwheels in the hallway!