the sally sisson blog


February 1, 2011

Extreme Content: How is web writing like extreme winter weather?

Ready Classroom 2

A: You’ve got to be prepared for both.

When a client needs web content, sometimes it’s just a home page or a few headlines. Sometimes it’s the whole thing – 1st, 2nd and 3rd level pages plus links and special features.

Light to moderate to heavy

For the Ready Classroom website, Discovery Education needed the whole package: research and writing for a dozen categories of extreme weather and natural disasters, customized content for each of the 50 states, copy to cross-reference it all, and creative standards-based lesson plans for different grades ranges for K-12.

On top of that there were different strands for three different audiences. All content had to be run through Discovery Education as well as the Ad Council and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), their partners for this particular project.

blizzardsatful

Stock up. Hunker down.

Web writing involves a range of skills: research, writing (both copywriting and long-form content), editing, organization, planning, critical thinking. It also takes time, especially a job of this size. It can be enjoyable to dive deep into a topic and stay holed up for a while. The key is to be be prepared (clear your schedule, line up childcare), stock up on supplies (decent snacks, decent coffee, case of coffee filters), and prepare for a couple all-nighters. Note that it’s good to come up for air every once in a while, whatever the weather.

Toolkits, checklists and survival skills.

We’re getting pretty hard hit with winter weather this year, some parts of the country worse than others. Just this morning I consulted Ready Classroom to check my own family’s state of preparedness for this week’s monster storm. According to FEMA, the Red Cross and my own trusty tips, we still have another trip or two to the hardware store before ticking all the boxes on our Disaster Preparedness Checklist.

Check out the site and see how you stack up. Are YOU prepared?

The calm after the storm

Judging by the broken flashlight and half-empty box of kitchen matches by my side, I would not win many Girl Scout badges for preparedness. However, the content I developed did score some points: Ready Classroom won a 2010 BESSIE (Best Educational Software Award), which made those days and nights in my underground bunker all the more worthwhile. Read more here.