SciMoms is a science communication project run by several scientists and science writers, who are also moms. With all the misleading information online, these women know how challenging
Inspiration, Part 3 of 3
Blog content often goes stale as the years slip by. Especially in a dynamic field such as science, we constantly get new information and our ideas evolve.
EXERCISE 9: “Refresh Some Existing Content”
Do you have blog posts that have been around a while and could use some sprucing up? Write a new post that brings new details to light and gives the reader a new understanding of the topic.
Don’t have old content of your own? Find someone else’s article that you can update (be sure to link out to theirs!)
Inspiration, Part 2 of 3
Focus on Sources
Today’s lesson and challenge is partly inspired by Isabela Fraga at University of Texas, in her article “Seven tips in science journalism for finding good story ideas”. https://knightcenter.utexas.edu/…/00-14009-seven-tips-scien…
1. COLLECT PEOPLE: Develop and organize a collection of primary sources. One way is to scour a local college/university website for the faculty who work in your niche. Also look for people who share their ideas through seminars, conferences, and workshops.
2. GET OUT: Go to conferences, seminars, and other science-y events. Meet people and learn about their expertise. Find people to interview.
3. BE CRITICAL: Does a recent story make you raise an eyebrow, wonder about some detail left out, or simply use bad/outdated science? Write a better story.
4. BOOKMARKS: Routinely visit these sites to keep up-to-date with news that fits what you’re writing about.
— Rectractions: Check out http://retractionwatch.com for what’s been removed from science publications.
— Embargos: Check out https://embargowatch.wordpress.com for news embargos relating to science.
— The Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/science
— The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/section/science
— Wired: https://www.wired.com/category/science/
— BBC: http://www.bbc.co.uk/science
5. SOCIALIZE: Find social groups for science and journalism online and be an active participant.
6. SET UP ALERTS: You can ask Google to email you when specific key phrases newly appear in online content. https://www.google.com/alerts
EXERCISE 8: “Enhance Your Sources”
Pick any one of the ideas above to begin building or enhancing your list of sources today.
Inspiration, Part 1 of 3
Brainstorming: Keyword Research and Mind Mapping
Today we’ll look at two methods of generating ideas for blog posts. One is data-driven, and the other is more organic.
DATA-DRIVEN: Keyword Research
Go to http://answerthepublic.com and type in some general topic in your niche (be sure to select a country). You will be provided with an amazing array of suggestions based on what people are actually searching for online. Almost any one of these ought to be a good starting point for an article.
For example, I typed in “CRISPR” and got these search phrases among many others:
“how does crispr work in bacteria”
“how was crispr discovered”
“who discovered crispr”
“why crispr is important”
“crispr for cancer treatment”
“problems with crispr”
QUANTIFY THE RESULTS
What to know just how popular a given search phrase is? Check out Google’s Keyword Planner tool.
1. Log in to your Gmail account (or create one).
2. Go to the AdWords Create Account page: http://adwords.google.com/um/StartAccountSetup
3. Go to Tools > Keyword Planner from the top menu.
4. Click on “Search for new keyword and ad group ideas“.
5. Enter a short key phrase you’ve identified (or the URL of the website you are analyzing).
6. Your results will show you related keywords and phrases, along with their recent activity on Google. You’ll get a competition ranking and the average monthly searches over the past 12 months for each phrase.
ORGANIC: Mind Mapping
A mind map is a diagram of ideas. You begin with a central concept in the middle of a sheet of paper, then attach associated ideas—spreading out toward the edges of the paper. Imagine a tree with branches reaching all around. Read more about the process at http://lifehacker.com/how-to-use-mind-maps-to-unleash-your-…
EXERCISE 7: Do some Brainstorming
Try one or both of the techniques above to generate some ideas for blog posts to add to your Content Calendar (Day 6).
Content Strategy, Part 4 of 4
Let’s focus on navigation today. How will users make a path through your website?
Take a closer look at very content-heavy websites. Here are a few to try:
Click around the main and secondary navigation, link lists in sidebars, links at the bottom or under articles/pages/posts, and links in the footers. What sort of mechanisms need to be in place to allow for this kind of multi-dimensional navigation?
The answer, ultimately, is that your site needs a taxonomy. Taxonomy is the science or technique of classification.
On most Web sites, information can be classified by:
– Topic – these tend to be the topics, issues and special interest of your readers, members, customers, visitors. For example, a trade association in the auto industry might have topics related to safety, marketing, supply chain, quality.
– Type – these tend to refer to the content collections on a Web site. For example, a think tank might have news, policy briefs, commentary, testimony, and podcasts.
How are topics different from types of content? Review a few content-heavy sites and identify what topics they have versus types of content.
For example, Cracked.com includes these overarching topics, among others:
– historical curiosities
– comic book oddities
– amazing scientific facts
– human relationships
The same site can be broken down into many types of content, including:
– list-based articles
– Photoplasty (Photoshop) contests
– collections of links to articles on other sites
Why does every content-heavy site need a taxonomy? And how do you use a taxonomy?
– Different people navigate according to their needs and interests.
On any given day, a journalist might want to see all of your company’s press releases, regardless of topic. On another day, the same journalist might want to know everything your organization has to offer in the area of food safety. So let same journalist navigate by both content topic and type!
– Tagging content by taxonomy allows you to relate content by topic and type.
So, a news item on elections would have a sidebar containing other news items related to elections, recent publications and events related to the elections, and other recent news items (regardless of topic).
– A taxonomy allows you to connect people with their interests.
Let your visitors sign up for news by their interest areas, let them personalize their Web experience on your site, and compare the interests of your members with the content you have online.
As in everything related to the design and implementation of websites, the needs of your user come first. You must get to know your target audience as well as you can before you can decide upon the navigation and content strategy that will best appeal to them.
Here’s an article on three user-centered navigation strategies:
Can you think of any other innovative, user-centered methods of pulling a user through a website?
Exercise 6: Analyze Your Navigation
Look at your blog as though you’ve never seen it before. Starting with the home page, how many different ways are there to navigate it? Are there menus? Is there search? Are there lists of recent articles or archives by month? When you go to an individual post, is there a list of related articles? Can the user click on the category or tags associated with the post and see other posts in that group? Are you using categories and tags, and if you are, do they make sense from the user’s perspective?
Bonus: get one or more friends to review the navigation of the site for you. Ask for their honest opinion about whether they get confused, whether your navigation keeps encouraging them to read more, whether they get the gist of what sorts of things your site is about.
Look for new opportunities to enhance your site’s navigation, and fix what doesn’t seem to be working.