On the Extension website, we share practical educational resources that puts science into the hands of people across Oregon and beyond to help meet their local challenges.*

One of the essential commitments of this website change underway is to facilitate collaborative development of a customer-focused digital strategy based on content. Educational content on the website is driven by and managed by program area leaders (via faculty on content teams), and the content strategy is based on audience needs.

Priority is given to developing relevant, sharable content in OSU Extension’s new content management system. This content can then be shared many places, including the website.

Facilitate content strategy workshops

As faculty experts gather this summer to share projects of interest with each other, consider adding a content planning workshop to your agenda. What would this look like and what tools can you find to help facilitate this?

Extension’s content strategist** can work with content teams to facilitate interactive and reflective workshops, or develop templates for content team leaders to guide your own working groups. To plan, begin with three basic questions:

  1. Why are you doing this workshop?
  2. What do you need to get out of this?
  3. How will you get that?

The content strategy toolbox includes ideas such as:

  • Ways to define the top priority content you want to develop
  • Mapping your existing content to align it with audience questions
  • Creation of an audience journey map through the seasons
  • Development of a roles matrix and workflows to improve processes
  • Card sorting for tackling consistency in content keywords

If you would like a facilitated workshop, so the content team leader can fully participate in the activities, reach out early to collaborate on what would work best in the time and setting available.

Also, starting this summer the web and content strategy team will be looking more closely at your audiences’ experiences with the online content, both through direct user research and by digging into the analytics. Questions that have come up through discussions with content team leaders will be explored, and we may ask you to connect us to people you serve, while we reach out to those new to Extension. We want to learn what the public is looking for, and how that matches to what we provide.

Interested in a content planning workshop or want to explore more your audiences’ experiences? Contact the web and content strategy team to get started.

*This happens thanks to the faculty who work with Extension and Experiment Station Communications (EESC) to produce multimedia and catalog publications, and the also the new development of 38 content teams that create articles and share educational documents directly on the website. These include: Family and Community Health, Sea Grant, Forestry and Natural Resources, 34 Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources working groups, and a collaboration of three program areas focused on Youth Development.
**Michele Scheib

When a change happens, there’s a lot of fluidity in roles with some people pitching in where needed. At a certain point into the transition, clarity is needed to outline current expectations and responsibilities. This helps working relationships and goals be more defined, and taps into the strengths and interests of each member of a group.

Last week we shared our new guide on working on the Extension website, and it included updated roles for all who are involved with the web project and the long-term digital strategy. These roles are shaped by the guiding criteria of the “right people doing the right things”.

Roles and Responsibilities

Focusing in on just a few responsibilities at a time may make the way forward more manageable. Some of the suggested focuses for 2019 are highlighted in “Getting Started with Content” in the new guide. Full roles and responsibilities are also outlined:

Everyone in a content team or program or county office group can learn how to add content to the website. The team or group can also designate a member to be “publishing editor” who does the entry or this assignment can rotate. There is flexibility in how the roles fit for your team or group (see the points of contact for each team or group).

Working on the website can be more effective when you meet as a group and discuss, for example, “How does your content address the questions being asked by your audiences?” This collaborative inquiry can make your content more engaging too.

EESC can facilitate interactive workshops for your team this year to define your website goals, plan your content strategy, or map out your process in making the roles fit for your team or group. Contact the web team with your ideas and requests.

Over the last months, as you scroll down our digital strategy blog, we have shared various tips for managing content on the Extension website. Let’s revisit these to see what may be worth using in  upcoming quarters.

  1. Did you know most fields you need to fill in when adding content on the Extension site are searchable? Just place your cursor in the select field and start typing. A list will pop up to select from, such as the name of the county or a list of OSU authors.
  2. Keywords allow content to show higher in search results, and help you and visitors to narrow down the results too. You can add them using these keyword guidelines.
  3. For content that doesn’t use keywords (e.g. program resources, events), any important words that someone may want to search on to find the content should be somewhere in the text or title.
  4. To capture your effort as a content team leader in your P&T CV, document it in Digital Measures under “Other Assigned Duties.” Content you write or edit can be added under “Publications.”
  5. When you see a Program Resource list you want to reorder, click on the pencil icon that appears next to the list’s title and select “reorder items”.
  6. If you are hosting a virtual event or webinar, you can now select “online only” as the location. If your event is the same time and location on several different days, then you can mark the “event occurs multiple times in a specified period” checkbox to only have to enter it once.
  7. The Equal Opportunity and Accessibility statement is already on every page of the Extension website linked in the footer, so you only need to add it to downloadable documents on the website.
  8. For best results when posting applications (such as for Master Gardener trainings), add the application’s file or link as a “program resource” that displays on a “How to Join” sub-page. Then create an announcement that references that program resource or the page itself.
  9. When you save a piece of content, you can enter a “Revision log message” to describe the changes you made or why you made them. These messages get displayed in the content’s Revisions tab.
  10. A simple way to add new content to the website could be taking a newsletter or blog piece you have written recently and turning that into an article useful for your audiences.

Is there a suggestion that has worked well for you? Share it with our web team.

How can you keep content fresh on the Extension website? By repurposing what you are already doing. Also, by taking another glance through what you have and edit it with a readability or diversity lens.

Tapping into current efforts

Taking a newsletter or blog piece you have written recently and turning that into an article can be a straightforward way to add new content to the website.

Other content teams have latched on to an idea of locating and revamping older catalog publications as a way to avoid starting from scratch.

When you find yourself answering the same questions, providing familiar advice, or doing another standard presentation — turn these into quick articles or videos that you can refer people to online in the future. Short answers to featured questions are popular with web visitors.

Similarly, when you publish new research in different places, such as a journal article or  association report, take a new slant or go more in-depth on one aspect to write a web article that speaks to Extension audiences too.

Adding content with purpose

It’s not just enough to add content when you have it. To make this effective, you need to add content for the right reasons.

These include meeting programmatic goals and audience needs, which we will be working more with teams to better define this year, and then map out content with this in mind.

It also means taking time to think about how people skim content on the website, and about all audiences we are trying to include. A couple tips in our guide on our training page can help you take a fresh perspective on your existing content:

If you have questions or other suggestions, please reach out to our web team to let us know.

Keeping content fresh, current, and accurate on the Extension website means knowing the tools to keep existing content maintained. In certain cases, you may want your content to be invisible to visitors if it becomes out of date. Or, you might want to review the content another person updated before it gets published.

There are three ways to make content unpublished:

  • Draft: The content needs to be finished/reviewed before it gets published.
  • In Review: The content was published, but has been taken down for review.
  • Archived: The content was published, but is now out of date or no longer needed.

At the bottom of any edit screen, you will see these options in a drop down field above the Save button.

You can also see the status of all content at a glance on your group’s list of content.

Note that if you “Edit” a piece of published content and set its state to “Draft”, the previous version of that content will remain visible. To hide all previous versions, set the state to “In Review” or “Archived” instead.

To see the public version of the content, click on “View” tab. To see the latest draft of the content, click on the “Latest version” tab. These tabs are visible below the title on the content’s page. You can also see a “Revisions” tab, where all the past published versions can be found and reverted back if needed.

When you save a piece of content, you can enter a “Revision log message” to describe the changes you made or why you made them. These messages get displayed in the Revisions tab.

It is recommended for educational content or annual events to “archive” rather than delete. Deleted content will no longer be accessible and cannot be restored. Archived content can still be found on the Group Content page when logged in if you want to update it and republish. It also helps avoid the content being inadvertently added again, since the reason it was “archived” can be noted in the revisions field for future reference.

Read more in the user guide under Managing Content. As you do some housekeeping of your group’s content, reach out to the web team if questions come up. Thanks for your work to keeping the quality of content reflecting the valuable service OSU Extension provides the broader community.

With more than one way to add a program application to the Extension website – as an announcement, a program resource, an event, or text on a sub-page – how does one decide the best approach? One case example could help give insight into this question.

We took a closer look at 16 Master Gardener training programs* that had an electronic application (printable PDF or online form) linked from the website to see the audience’s actions.

What did we find?

  • Application links were seen more than 10,000 times and were clicked/downloaded nearly 2,000 times. This is a good 20% conversion rate (i.e. the number who downloaded or clicked on the application, divided by the number who viewed it).
  • Among the Master Gardener programs, 8 uploaded the application and 7 linked to it (1 did both). The applications available for download performed better.**
  • Only one program put a direct link to the application on their main program landing page, but they didn’t have higher success in conversion rate than anyone else.
  • However, programs that had an “announcement” showing on their main program landing page had higher average conversion rates. We could interpret this to mean that people who are specifically looking for applications with the intent to fill them out, find them through announcements.

  • Links to applications that were shown on a sub-page (usually the “How to Join” page) were seen more often than those that were only shown in an announcement or event. We could interpret this to mean that people who are not yet decided about applying or who are learning about it for the first time, find it through the sub-page menus.

Recommendation

Add the file or link to the application as a “program resource” that displays on a “How to Join” sub-page. Then create an announcement that references that program resource or the page itself.

Do you have other questions that you want to see if analytics can answer about your audiences? Get in touch with the web team to ask your question.

 

* The remaining Master Gardener programs asked visitors to get in touch with a person to apply or receive application materials, so these need to be tracked off-line.
**It would be useful for all the programs to see how many people actually submitted applications once they clicked to an online form or downloaded a PDF application. In the future digital strategy, online forms may be preferable for ease of processing and tracking applications.

Over the last months, the web team made a few adjustments to make it easier to add program resources, peer reviewed content, and online events. EESC also continues to work on finalizing design and support tools for the website. Here’s a look at what is new and what is on the way.

New Changes

Program Resources

Instead of keeping the default alphabetical order, you can now rearrange program resources in the Program Resource List. When you see the list you want to reorder, click on the pencil icon that appears next to the section heading and select “reorder items”. This takes you to a screen where you can drag the program resources up or down on the page. More is explained in the guide on the Training page.

Reviewers

When adding new content, some program area leaders have asked for articles to be peer reviewed. You can now check the box and add the reviewer’s name in “Step 3: Author and Publishing Information” when entering educational content.

Events

If you are hosting a virtual event or webinar, you can now select “online only” as the location.

We are also working on a design fix for how to display all events chronologically but have local events more distinct on the main landing pages.

Upcoming Tools

County Page Design

Later this month you’ll have access to the county page design features and ways to highlight focus areas in your county that we mentioned in an earlier blog. We’ll send more details when it gets closer to rolling out.

Program Page Design

In December we released new design features for the participatory program pages, and details on how to apply these tools are in the guide on the Training page. Since this is new, we are working on video tutorials to walk you through how to spruce up your pages.

Training Guides

A new searchable guide full of how-to instructions and tips for entering and updating information on the website will replace the current working drafts on the training page. We will let all web group leaders know when it is released.

Employee Intranet

On the OSU Extension employee intranet, the last pages are being revised for ETCU Tech Help, EESC, and 4-H employee resources, and will soon be available.

 

If you have a question or want to check in on the status of other changes, please reach out to us through the web support form.

In 2018, Extension faculty were organized into content teams to populate the new Extension website. If you led the review of content from the county and program sites to see what to migrate or facilitated a discussion with your working groups about what content your audiences wanted, report your contributions and outcomes in Digital Measures.

To capture your effort in your P&T CV, document it in Digital Measures under “Other Assigned Duties.” While content you have authored, reviewed, or contributed to can be listed under “Publications,” on a content team you may provide more leadership that strengthens the group process. Here’s some suggested language that could be used; enter the steps that are appropriate to your experience.

The Other Assigned Duties screen looks like this:

screenshot described in text

 

Assignment Title:

Extension Website Content Team Leader or Extension Website Content Team Contributor

Description of issue/situation:

Because older program and county websites were going offline, existing web content was reviewed and if warranted, migrated to the new Extension content management system.

Content teams had opportunities to provide feedback to the Extension website, which was launched in phases. This step-wise launch permitted faculty to become trained in the new content management system and workflow processes.

Description of action taken:

As a content team leader, I convened team members so that we could “divide and conquer” the size of the job.  Content was reviewed for its suitability to today’s Extension audience and then entered on the new website. I coordinated workload with [student workers, research assistants, content team members, etc.] who assisted in content entry.

In addition, I facilitated communication with my teammates, the EESC web team, and with program area leaders to [request topic changes, curate content on the site, enter or review content on the website, tag content appropriately, identify missing content, suggest functionality or design changes, and coordinate or participate in trainings to learn the content management system]. This took approximately ____ hours.

Description of outcome or impact:

___ pieces of content were added and read by ___ visitors.  These requested features were added to website: ____ (Also include any impact statements from people in the community or clients who have benefited from the website content).

Inclusivity of this activity (optional):

Our content team’s content reached an audience under the age of 35, who made up ___% of all visitors to our group’s content.

All our content included subheading formats, alternative text of images, and clear writing to increase the access to its content for diverse audiences. When feasible, PDFs were also made into text articles for improved accessibility.

Scholarship:

https://extension.oregonstate.edu. (Also note whether faculty from other states indicated they had referenced various resources from the website.)

Start Date:

(This can just be the year if you don’t know the month)

End Date:

(Leave blank unless you have rotated off the content team)

There is the ability to link relevant publications, presentations and more to this kind of record. The EESC web team is also working on an analytics dashboard linked to content team group pages when logged into the the Extension website to quantify page and site traffic. Until then, you can contact the web team if you would like this information.

Just in the past week, website communications with various county, program, and content teams about how to better search on the Extension site led to one convergent idea:

  • Keywords don’t often take me to the publication I want.”
  • “The way material appears (or doesn’t) seems to be highly dependent on keywords.”
  • “I didn’t know the right keywords to use in order to access the information I wanted.”
  • “I’ll need to give our working group members info about [keywords], so their work is findable.”

The content teams responsible for entering educational content (e.g. articles, videos, etc.) not only will want to “tag” all content with a topic, regions, languages, but any additional tags would get typed into the “keywords” field.

Additionally, for content that doesn’t use keywords (e.g. program resources, events), any important words that someone may want to search on to find the content should be somewhere in the text or title.

The more thought put in to this up front, the easier it will be to find the content again later on.

Keyword Guidelines

Keywords are the only “tags” on the site that requires content authors to type in their custom word instead of selecting it, so please follow these guidelines while doing this.

If you’re not the only one to enter content on a certain topic, you could create a “keywords to use” guide for your working group and other web content teams that may be contributing relevant content. These types of suggestion tools can be loaded into Box and shared.

You can also send EESC a list of keywords you want added to specific catalog publications, since keywords are a new field in that system. This way when catalog publications import to the Extension website, they will be easier to find.

Keywords Use

Keywords allow content to show higher in search results, and help you and visitors to narrow down the results too.

 

The URL from those filtered searches can also be copied to share with others or put into the orange “button links” on program, county, and topic pages.

Search the Extension Website

Dairy Topic Page (Edit Screen)

Dairy Topic Page (Saved View)

Do you need further training on this or have other questions or suggestions? Let the web team know.

As November comes to a close, we have new instructional videos for those working behind the scenes on the website. These show the basics you need to know, and are also explained further in the written training guides. You can learn how to:

  • Update your personal profile information
  • Add events, announcements, or newsletters
  • Improve how an image displays
  • Link to another web page or resource

More videos will be coming out next month. In the meantime, you can also get an in-person demonstration during the Extension annual conference. Join us on Tuesday, December 4, 2018 at 2:15 pm for our session “Ask the Experts about the New Extension Website” in Corvallis. The whole web team will be on hand to listen and walk through your questions and challenges. We will also explore how to more effectively search and find resources on the website, so you can better assist Extension clients. If you cannot attend, reach out to us about doing a virtual session this winter.