What I've Been Up To

When I started this website, I really intended to update my blog more often -- certainly more than this sorry schedule of now three posts in two months. (I know I'm not the first person to start a post this way -- it turns out keeping a regular posting schedule is harder than it looks!) 

I hope to make a more consistent blogging schedule happen one of these days soon, but until then, here's a bunch of work I've done lately, all of it fun stuff. Really, I'm lucky to be having a blast on pretty much every assignment and learning so much -- just how work should be. 

ARAG Group Website Copywriting - Earlier this year I worked with the ARAG Group on their website redesign for their entry into the more consumer-focused individual legal insurance market. I wrote new copy and re-wrote existing sections for most of the site, and provided user experience guidance on keywords and navigation labeling. ARAG's new site went live May 1 and I think it looks great. Congratulations to ARAG on a successful redesign! 

MPO Website Assessment - While I was working on the ARAG site, I also did a website assessment for the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization. (Hello, midnight oil!) I met with several of their site users to conduct usability testing, and then put together recommendations to improve their site based on my research. Instead of a full redesign, they've gradually been making changes. It's fun to visit the MPO site every couple weeks to see which of my changes they've implemented -- their site is really starting to shape up.

Radiant Health Cover Headlines - A couple weeks ago I wrote the cover headlines for a great new health magazine for Nigerian women, Radiant Health. The magazine was started by Nnenna Kalu Makanjuola who grew up in Nigeria and now lives in the United States. She has a background in public health, and started the magazine to empower Nigerian women with current, reliable, and practical health information. I really enjoyed learning more about the unique health concerns faced by Nigerian women (as well as many health concerns shared by Nigerian and American women) and it was great to have a role in this latest issue of the magazine. 

Des Moines Register Stories - Last but not least, I've continued to enjoy writing for the Register. Here are a few recent favorites:

  • Follow These Tips for a Beautiful, Organic Lawn - Now that I work from home, I can see the back yard out my office window and may have developed a slight obsession with dandelion elimination. I talked to local experts for tips that are a little more efficient -- and less carpal-tunnel inducing! -- than my hand-pulling method.
  • Making Healthy Eating Easier - This story is based on Brian Wansink's fascinating research on how to essentially trick yourself into eating healthier. I've already implemented a few of his ideas at home.
  • 10 Tips to Help Kids Strike a Better Balance with Tech - Learn about the great lengths my friend Scott's son will go for a middle-of-the-night technology fix!
  • Should You Tip? - Hillary Clinton got some flack recently when she failed to tip at an Ohio Chipotle. The Register asked me to speak to a bunch of Iowa restaurants to put together a guide on tipping for carry-out and fast food. 

    Note on the tipping story: I wrote a short sidebar for the story about Diane Bauer, a Council Bluffs restaurant owner who told me Clinton left her a big tip the week after the Chipotle-gate scandal. The Register didn't run the sidebar because we didn't have proof about the details of that visit. I thought this was an interesting addendum to the story, so just for kicks I decided to post it here. I don't have any reason not to believe Bauer's account, but read these next few paragraphs at your own risk! {insert winking emoticon}

    Clinton Tips Big at Council Bluffs Restaurant

    When Hillary Clinton visited the Main Street Diner in Council Bluffs, owner Diane Bauer got to find out first-hand how Clinton tips.

    Clinton stopped by the restaurant mid-morning to meet with local Democrats, and just had a cup of coffee. The restaurant owner picked up Clinton’s tab for the coffee, but Bauer said Clinton signed the coffee mug she used, posed for photos with the staff, and left a $56 tip on the table. Some of Clinton’s staff ordered food, and Bauer said they also tipped well, and brought extra tips around to each of the servers in the restaurant.

    “I don’t know if they tipped so much because they got a hard time about tipping before or if that’s what they usually do,” Bauer said. “They said it was for our effort, but there really wasn’t any extra effort. She was very polite and sociable, and took the time to greet every customer. Even though she had people waiting, she asked about my life and my family and my business.

    “It went so smooth you didn’t really realize you had somebody of that importance here,” she continued. “I’ve had lots of candidates here, and I’ve never had any of them go that well.”