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 If you see something that should be unpublished until it can be further reviewed, contact EESC.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.

Thank you to all the early adopters of the new website – your efforts over the past months pave the way for others who are just getting started.

It’s through your willingness and persistence to try out and report on your experiences in using the Extension website that helps the web team make iterative changes and improvements, and to spot any irregularities that can occur when so much customization happens. As you have shown, this hands-on experience makes the website’s new structure less of a mystery and prepares for the digital way forward.

The opportunity to shape the website involves everyone at Extension regardless of whether you are on a content team or not. We are still in the early stages of this transition process from a minimal viable product to one that continually evolves to meet your goals and audience needs. It’s not too late to get onboard.

Be a Topic Steward

Have you looked at the Topic menu pages and wondered why a certain resource is at the top of the page, or found it difficult to locate the useful resource you always used to direct people to? If this describes you, then you may want to be part of a topic committee that decides what to feature on these topic pages, and how to organize it in a way your audiences will understand. You might also discover cool new content others are uploading that you didn’t know about before. Contact the web team if you have topic expertise and interest in this opportunity.

Be Recognized

If you work with Extension we want to see your updated profile and headshot photo on the site. To do this, anyone can click on the “My Account” link at the bottom of the Extension website and log in with their ONID to make directory changes. People will then be able to see you on the county/combined station office pages, or if you select one of the topics in the “Expertise” field of your profile, then you’ll be recognized under “Meet the Experts” on a topic page.

Be Informed

At the web launch in June, the county and combined stations stopped being the place where educational content lived. It now can be found under the Topic menu pages. The roles of the office staff also changed for the most part, as this type of content is now entered by content and program teams, and this frees up some of their time to prepare for the client database system that will need attention to enter and maintain contacts in 2019. For a visual of the journey through the new strategy, and milestone details see Phase 2 of the Timeline.

Thanks for getting involved and joining other Extension faculty, staff and leaders whose efforts have helped get the heavy lifting done, and now need a team to help carry it forward.

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.