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 tip sheets 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 In certain cases, you may want your content to be invisible to visitors if it becomes out of date.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There are three ways to make content unpublished: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  • Archived: The content was published, but is now out of date or no longer needed.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.

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 managing program content and 4-H guides.

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 managing program content and 4-H guides. 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.

If you are new to working on the Extension website, or need a refresher, then here are some getting started tips and answers to frequently asked questions. Hopefully, it will help avoid common missteps when still learning the new website structure.

  1. How you add content to the website is less based on where you are located and more on your role. In the previous website, you entered things on your county site. Now you enter information together with your group (see Who is going to enter all this content?).
  2. Every group can add an event or newsletter. Whoever creates the newsletter, must continue to be the group that uploads subsequent issues (which show up automatically on the newsletter page).
  3. EESC uploads any catalog publications to the site so your group doesn’t have to. If a catalog is not on the site, then it’s probably been pulled to be updated.
  4. You can see who uploaded a certain piece of content and in what group by going to All Content Overview. There is also a link to this on the My Groups menu page when logged in, just in case you forget.
  5. Any member of a group can make a change to the group’s content, but contact the author, if reachable, about changes. If you see something that should be unpublished until it can be further reviewed, contact EESC.
  6. When mentioning an Extension faculty or staff person on a webpage, just hyperlink their name to their profile page. This way if their contact information ever changes it only has to be updated there and not all around the site. Adding someone as an author to an article (step 3 of edit screen) creates this link too.
  7. If the content relates to more than one topic, then it can be tagged with all topics to display many places. This way people can find information in the topic they are searching on, but be careful about not over-tagging (it needs to be relevant).
  8. Content Teams can get confused about an Article vs. Educational Document so a good table that helps you to see the difference is in the content team guide “Deciding the Type of Content”. Also see File Management and Getting Content Organized on the Website.
  9. Program Groups have the useful function of tagging a program resource with a category. Then, it appears automatically with a title and description on a page with the same category selected in its Program Resource List (which you can see in the page’s edit screen). This way you don’t need to hyperlink to the program resource.
  10. Office Groups subpages, which are the side menus on county office pages, are meant to describe the physical location and facilities and serve as a landing spot for local relationships (i.e. a place to direct people on the website to find staff, events, or newsletters). They can also be pointers (e.g. orange button links) in this transition period for people to know where to find things, especially as educational content is now on topic pages instead.

See the FAQs and the Training page of this blog to learn more specific answers or to questions that may come up for you farther down the road. And of course, always feel free to email our web support team.

Over the past month, many different meetings generated suggestions for website improvements that can be helpful for all teams and visitors. Thank you for taking the time to share your issues and explore the options. Now we want to update you on changes you can start seeing today.

The most requested change included control over how content is displayed and organized on the topic pages. Content experts who volunteer to be on topic committees can now do this type of curation (contact the web team or a content team leader if interested in serving on a topic committee).

Other improvements the web team focused on included events, search, and navigation. Here are some of the recently implemented changes on the site that will make for easier access:

Auto-labeling Events

Events that used to list the name of the group that added the event (e.g. Lincoln County Event) now will just say the city/town hosting the event, so it makes sense no matter where it is posted.

Displaying Events

Events now show in chronological order on county and program pages since the events tagged for the county/program are now mixed in with the ones created by that county/program.

Navigation

When visitors see an event or resource of interest to them, they can now click on the teaser photo in addition to the title to get to it, which makes it easier for touch-screens.

Search

Results that bring up documents (e.g PDF files) directly, now allow a visitor to click on it to open or save, and/or to click on a link that brings them to the page where it can be found, so they can see other related resources too.

Segmenting Events

The county or program subpages can now just show specific events by category. Just add the events list (gray button) and select the “calendar” you want to display. Events marked with that calendar will show up on the subpage. Currently, only Forestry Extension is available as a calendar, but you can request other ones be added by EESC.

Subpage Navigation

Programs can now create nested sidemenus (i.e. subpages under subpages) for additional subdivisions of information. Learn more in the program guide (or if a 4-H program, click here).

New Window

Some people requested that external links (i.e. online resources) and PDFs open up in a new window, so people aren’t taken away from the Extension website. This will not be changed since it needs to be set this way for accessibility overall and on mobile devices.

Still Coming

Additional changes to the events, search, and other features will be coming based on feedback over the past month.

Also, a new look to the program and county pages is currently being worked on, which may address some other suggested improvements. More details on these will come in future blog posts.

If you have other needs or questions, please feel free to contact our web support team.