At the OSU Extension Service we do great work and want to make sure people can find the content that is most useful to them. In the second phase of the website upgrade, we will look at the web visitor’s experience to further design the navigation on the site, and we will listen to faculty and staff about better organizing content on topic or program pages. Watch this web upgrade project blog for future updates.

For now, the Search feature, easily found at the top of every page, assists visitors to find what they need regardless of a curated topic or program page. Just type in “Central Oregon” or “Integrated Pest Management” for example, and it looks for this reference in any of the content fields and across the site. It’s a robust feature that never gets outdated. Here’s a how-to video that shows you how to search our site.

Narrowing down search results

However, if search turns up a lot of results, then this is where the tags – such as keywords or regions – come in handy in further narrowing down the search results.

Just check one or more of the filter boxes that appear on the search result pages, and it will give you just the content tagged for those terms. Currently only 5% of visitors, who used search in the past two weeks, used these filters. A third of visitors instead tried a more specific search term in the search field. Here’s the most common search refinements in the past two weeks:

  1. Hogweed -> giant hogweed
  2. Horse fair -> Clackamas county horse fair
  3. Jobs -> employment
  4. 4-h -> 4-h summer conference
  5. Cherries -> canning cherries

Search keeps visitors on the site

Visitor sessions that used search features in the past two weeks browsed through more pages and stayed longer on the website than the site average.

Those that used search filters visited twice the number of pages and stayed double the time on the site than those who only used the search field. They saw more and hopefully learned more. Though, everyone spends about the same amount of time on average (just over a minute per page) reading the actual content they find.

Making good content available on the website and also making it more digestible is something we can do now. While we work on the second stage design, encourage visitors to use the search field and filters to find what they are looking for, and they may also discover new information along the way.

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