Do you have annual research reports and not sure where these should go? What about a journal article published outside OSU? Or a weekly alert that comes from your research? We have some answers to guide you in knowing whether or not this research content should go on the Extension website and next steps based on that decision.

On November 1, the archived county sites go away so if your content team hasn’t reviewed the content to see if there’s anything to update and move over, then it’s still easy enough to do in the next weeks. After that, it becomes harder once the server is taken down and the content files are backed-up in Box folders.

For combined stations or others with research related content:

If you have further questions or suggestions related to research or archived content, please contact the EESC web team for more information and discussion.

As the website continues to evolve, Extension faculty and staff can stay on top of updates and share your input through events this month. EESC is gearing up for web trainings, and giving web status and strategy reports to different groups throughout October. Here is what is coming up:

  • Friday, October 5th at 9am – 12pm: 4-H program groups listening and practice session at the Linn County Extension office. Open to all 4H web teams – bring questions and content you want to enter.
  • Tuesday, October 9th at 2:45 – 3:30 pm: Regional Directors meeting presentation with a focus on overall web strategy, county and combined station website status, and next steps.
  • Wednesday, October 10th at 11 am – 12 pm: Combined stations webinar to address website questions about the combined station web pages and to discuss the best place for research content.
  • Weeks of October 15th – 26th: Leadership meetings by program area to highlight the website’s current progress, discuss content strategies, and make plans going forward.

The web team also provides webinars or in-person meetings on request (a few are already being discussed). We will also meet up all together again for a session “Ask the Experts about the New Extension Website” on Tuesday, December 4 at 2:15 – 3:15 pm at the Extension Annual Conference in Corvallis.

To get information about any of these events, please contact our web team. See you there!

As the content migration deadline approaches, the main activity happening now by content and program teams involves reviewing old content to see if it’s worth putting on the new Extension website. The way to assess it can be approached by asking:

  • Will our audience understand and be interested in it?
  • Is this accurate and up to date for Oregonians?

Updating the content may be needed before entering on the new website. Not all web content is peer-reviewed although this is an option for those who want this step. The web team is looking into ways for peer-reviewed web articles to be attributed on the website, and analytics about that content provided to authors if needed.

Best Practices for Formatting Content

The format that the content is presented in matters too. In looking at what people read the most over this past summer, one type of content stands above the rest: “articles”. People can more easily find, read, and share “articles” on the website.

Content in articles are text and images on a webpage rather than a downloadable file. Converting a PDF to an article should be considered in all cases if less than 15 pages of content and includes only basic tables, simple diagrams, and photos. Articles can be printed directly from the screen, or shared other ways, if a handout is still needed.

Like in newsletters, the web content is best when it:

  • Provides clear and compelling title and introductory text
  • Speaks to the audience and answers common questions
  • Includes relevant images and headings to skim down the page
  • Uses bulleted lists for brief points and short readable paragraphs
  • Offers research based and practical information with a specific focus

Here’s an example of a popular article in the past week that includes some of these elements:

What are those “worms” in my firewood? 

You may have encountered white, segmented “worms” or grubs when chopping firewood and wondered what they were. Common questions include, did they kill my tree? And are they a danger to other trees? The quick answers are no, and no.

As content and program teams think about the upcoming season, ask “What are people going to be reading?” Then consider how to apply these best practices to existing content on the website or when creating new content this fall.

Criteria for Programs on the Extension Website

You say “program,” I say “program” so why aren’t we talking about the same thing? Extension faculty and staff find this term so useful, “program” is used in many different ways.

For the purposes of the website, we use a definition of program that is customer-driven and narrower to what some may call “programming.” This is distinct from the organizational internal structure of seven “program areas” described in the “about us” menus (with some overlap for program areas that primarily do programming). It is also distinct from the industry or discipline-specific programs that on the website show under the “topics” menu where a range of research-based educational information is shared.

To better make this distinction, the programs in the website menu are now framed under “Get Involved” to find ways people in our communities can, or do, engage with Extension as participants or volunteers in long-term, statewide recognized program activities, in projects, or at events (including classes and camps).

  • Main audience is individual members of the general public
  • Content includes events, forms, and materials for participants as program resources (only shows in the program pages or found in search)
  • Frequency of content is continuous, both in creating and sharing the content
  • Where it shows up is in the Get Involved menu, and on county and/or topic pages
  • Created by a program group that does operations for the program (vs. content team or county office)

Criteria for Projects on the Extension Website

Recently “projects” were added as new content type to address some information sharing activities or centers that did not fit the program criteria and have materials or tools that do not make sense as stand-alone content pieces. Only the “project” as a whole will show up in a search. The alternative is “collections” mentioned in the next section.

  • Audience is individuals within organizations (e.g. school districts, government agencies, industry, or other partners)
  • Closely connected content that includes information dissemination, finished “products” and supporting documentation, background research, etc.
  • Probably ongoing for some time, then “done” when funding ends or other reasons
  • Where it will show up is in the Get Involved menu, and on county, program, and/or topic pages
  • Created by a content team – see the new section on instructions for “adding projects”

For some informational centers that have a web presence outside of the Extension website, these have been added by content teams as “online resources” to the site. If they are OSU Extension activities and fit the new “project” criteria above, then contact the web team to get these set up as “projects” instead. We’ll share examples of projects in future blogs as they get set up.

Criteria for Collections on Topic Pages

The “topic” pages themselves also serve as the landing spot for sharing about work Extension is doing in different areas, such as dairy or irrigation. They provide a way to display articles, videos, Extension catalog publications, etc. together under a topic. New designs of these pages are in the works and will allow for greater organization of how content is featured and displays on the pages. In addition, content teams can make “collections” that are more specific than the topic, and the criteria includes:

  • Audience is learners, producers, and others looking for educational resources on the Extension website
  • Content is separate pieces (articles, videos, publications, etc.) that are gathered together for a specific purpose (e.g. region-specific like spiders in Central Oregon or category-specific such as water-wise landscaping)
  • Manually created, so the “collection” needs to be regularly updated to add new content
  • Where it will show up is on a topic, program, and/or county pages (the latter must add as “featured content”)
  • Created by a content team – see a previous blog post Getting Content Organized on the Website

Finally, EESC will continue to meet with program area leaders, and do usability tests with different audiences, to find ways to add visibility and improve usability of content for various stakeholders.

Moving to an organization-wide content strategy is a major shift. We must remain vigilant, as it’s easy to slide back into the comfortable status quo zone of thinking about the minutia of “website design” instead of customer-focused “content.

Extension faculty and staff aren’t responsible for “updating a website” or “webpage.” In this dynamic site, Extension faculty and staff are responsible for adding and editing content in the website. This means investing time in auditing, evaluating, and identifying content that is relevant, sharable, and appropriate to integrate in the Extension website.

Benefits of the new site

  • Content management system is used as intended – to post in one place and tag to show up where ever it is relevant.
  • Customer-focused website – internal feedback and preference informs our decision making but does not drive it.
  • Building with the end in mind – managing our content in this way allows for integration and personalization down the road, as we eventually add a customer relationship management tool (Salesforce), targeted and segmented marketing communications, and connections between our content and other OSU systems in the future.

Challenges of the new site

  • Major change in how we think and act – requires significant training time and one-on-one and group discussions.
  • Is a work in progress – minimal viable product means starting basic, and then designing and adding functionality based on how it is being used.

Change is hard and usually involves complex conversations and rough patches before people adjust. As we move forward EESC will continue to meet with program areas and content team leaders to learn their perspectives, get internal feedback about the site, and share information from the site (e.g., content status, analytics) to help inform strategy and content decisions.

We also invite you to help us get in touch with external stakeholders, who could do usability tests and help us better understand their needs as well.

Excerpts summarized from OSU Extension Website Strategy Report, July 2016

You are not alone in asking this question, “Who is going to enter all this content?” In the future, it will be less daunting as new content arrives more evenly spaced. With any big transition, however, the amount of initial content to sort through is a big task. One that is currently being addressed in different ways, and the only way through it is forward.

Assigning the responsibility

To meet the need, some of Extension’s program areas designated a content team leader’s time as the main point of contact for doing all the initial entry. These team leaders set aside other responsibilities or spread it out over many months to accomplish this.

Other program areas hired students in the spring and summer to learn how to enter content given to them by content team members, which then the teams reviewed and published. Similar funds may need to be considered for a fall term student to meet the upcoming deadlines.

Some teams looked to their county office staff or research/program assistants to support the entry. This means adding these people to the content team web groups and training them on how to enter content through those groups, especially if this will become on ongoing solution.

If needed, instructional guides created by EESC are available for training those who will be doing the entry.

Importing the content

In some cases, the EESC can help to automatically import this content if it:

  1. Has been consistently maintained content so it is up-to-date and of high quality
  2. Corresponds to a content type in the new website (e.g. newsletter, video, etc.)
  3. Is possible to separate from the rest of the content for export purposes (e.g. has a separate content type or tag rather than one field of mixed text, images, and hyperlinks).

If you feel this is true for content you are reviewing for inclusion, contact the web team for more details.

Culling the content

If entering content takes time, then consider only moving content that meets the needs of Extension audiences. Is it worth moving over? Are only some links on the page worth keeping? Will the information be useful or keep people engaged in our work?

In preparing for this new website, EESC worked with Close to the Customer at OSU to do market research. The most valued aspects of a website (in a survey of 300 Oregonians, half who knew about Extension) included:

  • Frequently updated site content – 58%
  • Information from a recognized source – 45%
  • Information tailored to personal interests – 38%

As your team looks through content on sites that will be going away this year, ask if the content is current, reliable, and/or accurate. If not, you can always save it to Box for improving later as part of new content planning next year. The Getting Started guide also helps to explore other places content could be moved if not a good fit for the Extension website.

While the end is in sight for transitioning content, these next few months are critical to laying a foundation for a larger digital strategy — one to take us further down the road to tailoring our content to individuals’ interests and ways they want to engage with Extension.

It’s been over two months since we launched the first phase of the Extension website, and the number of page views has increased 67% and our bounce rate (those who look and leave) has decreased 44% since the same time period before the launch.

The educational content that the Extension website provides on various topics have attracted new visitors to the website over the past two months. Half of new visitors to the site (50%)* come to read this educational content and they stay longest on these pages (3-4 minutes each).

In comparison, less than a quarter (18%) of returning visitors view the educational content and instead use the website more to engage with the on-the-ground activities.

Almost two-thirds (60%) of returning visitors to the site view programs’ resources and close to a quarter (22%) visit content provided by county offices (e.g. events, newsletters, office hours, faculty/staff). Top search terms (8 out of 10) indicate that people involved in 4-H programs have been very active during this fair season in accessing the website.

Subpages

Subpages are the side menus on county office and program pages, and these additional pages in some ways can serve as a landing spot for local relationships (i.e. a place to direct people on the website). They can also be pointers or guideposts for people to know where to find things, especially as things have changed with the launch.

Are you thinking about adding additional subpages with more information about your  county office/combined station? This can include describing the local context and expertise county-based faculty bring. If you are thinking about creating subpages, get in touch with EESC to request example formats and learn how subpages can be set up for consistency and less maintenance.

Topics

The top ten visited topics since launch are:

  1. Gardening Techniques
  2. Home Food Preservation
  3. Insects
  4. Weeds + Pastures and Forages
  5. Vegetables
  6. Flowers, Shrubs, and Trees
  7. Weeds
  8. Berries and Fruit
  9. Lawn and Turfgrass
  10. Tree Care + Forest Health and Management

These are just a few of the many topics on the website, and we expect the top visited and the total list to evolve over time. EESC will periodically adjust the topic menu as needed based on content, content team feedback, user feedback, and analytics.

This week EESC reviewed requests from content teams about adding new topics, or dividing up or renaming existing topics. We will consult with groups who have contributed content to any of the topics recommended for changes. EESC welcomes feedback from content teams about topics at any time.

Topics should:

  • Include the highest priority content for your program area
  • Be areas that will continue to get fresh content over time
  • Be easy for users to understand and be terms users would use to do a search

Criteria for requesting a new topic:

  • There is quite a bit of content
  • There is a content team associated with the topic
  • There is user feedback or other data that supports the need for and label for the topic

To provide feedback, suggest a change to existing topics, or request a new topic, contact EESC Web and Content Strategy team.

* Percentage taken from a subsection of all content (65% of total pageviews) that excludes navigational pages such as homepage, search page, list pages (list of all events, all latest content, all topics, all faculty/staff) and imported news or publications (not entered by groups).

Have you ever received a call since the launch with someone asking “Where do I find ____ on the website?” Since the Extension website looks different than in the past, people may need guidance to find where information they use has moved. EESC is working with program teams and county-based faculty to find one-click solutions to ease the transition from familiar to new. At the same time, educating volunteers, partners, and the public on the way the new site works can help in the long run.

What is the short answer you can give people on where to start? How about: “Try typing what you’re looking for in our Search field at the top of every page.” You might also add: “If you don’t see what you want on the search results page, then you can try filtering down the results by checking different categories.”

This is usually the quickest and easiest path for someone looking for something in particular. There’s also the “Ask an Expert” option on most pages for specific questions.

For someone wanting to find what Extension offers in general, then you might suggest: “Check out our About Us menu that includes latest news. Also browse the different resources through the Topic menus. These are at the top of every page in the black menu bar.”

If someone seems interested to get involved, you may want to point out: “You can also find the county office in the Find Us menu. County offices have listings of events near you, programs that you could participate in, and often a newsletter with upcoming and local activities.”

If you feel you want to do trainings or newsletter articles for your volunteers, partners, and the public on navigating information on the new Extension website, then let EESC know what short how-to videos, articles, or handouts would be helpful for you to share. Also, watching this 10-minute video on Navigation and Search on the Extension website can get you feeling prepared to guide others in finding what they need online.

If you are a leader of one of the Content Teams, then you may be thinking about next steps. We created a new instructional guide, and gleaned ideas from the Content Teams that have completed entering their priority content. Here’s a few steps those teams took to review and consider for inclusion their content:

  • Started the process well before the deadlines (final deadline is now set for November 1st)
  • Kept their audiences in mind to help whittle down the content most valuable to keep
  • Asked team members to review for inclusion specific content divided by region or topic
  • Rated the content by more than one person to determine if to keep, archive, or update
  • Reviewed content inventories to make sure none were missed and to check all information needed for entry was complete
  • Tasked one of the team members with learning to enter the content and responding to questions from other team members initially (some also used support professionals or hired students to help with entry)
  • Created opportunities during statewide gatherings or through webinars to collaborate with EESC to discuss feedback and train team members on how to enter content
  • Reviewed the content on the new website Topic pages and through searches to see if content was mis-tagged or missing and worked to correct it

Websites work because the people behind it are focused on better ways to make it function. This doesn’t only include the technical pieces, but also the people who make the content happen. Thank you to those who have taken the time to learn the new website and to get content reviewed, updated, and added.

If you are still learning how to add educational content or ready to shift the responsibilities and guide others on your Content Team on how to do it, the Managing Content Team’s content instructional guide is ready to use. This rounds out the other guides already available on the Training page.

Also included in it is details on File Management for when you have a document, such as a PDF, that you want to add to the Extension website. This lets you know the options, and how to make the content work best for ease of use and updating.

In the future, EESC will give you more tools to help with workflows and define clearer roles, so keep us updated on what is needed or what is working best on your Content Team.