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.

The internet by the nature of its design connects people together, but it isn’t only about reaching audiences out there. On the Extension website, it’s also about connecting with our own colleagues within OSU. Here’s some reminders about ways you may need to talk with each other when adding and sharing content.

Reduce duplication

Before putting up new content, whether an event or resource, search to see if it’s already on the website first. If it is, then you can just have it tagged for the place you want it to also appear. What if you aren’t part of the group that put up the existing content? Check who is and email/call them with your request.

Make content relevant

When finding content on the website, maybe it doesn’t have information included that you feel is needed. For example, it is missing the location of the event in the short description or title, or it is written for a commercial audience so doesn’t address small producers. Or maybe it just shouldn’t be up there. Check who created it and email/call them to share perspectives.

Evaluate content

When faculty or professional staff who are not on Content Teams are looking for content on the website and it’s not there, sometimes it may just be in the queue waiting to be entered. Other times it has been overlooked or needs to be discussed among the content team. Check what web group it relates to and email them for a status update.

Learn from others

Many people are seeing what others are doing in adding content to the website and replicating what they like about it. Find out who is in the county, program, or topic group of content you like and email them to see how they did it.

For each of the ways above, the steps to connect with the right people are the same:

Reaching out to each other helps to streamline information, make it reliable and relevant to audiences, and teaches us about the variety of ways to approach our work.

As more content is added on the OSU Extension website, our EESC web team begins to get more requests for how to organize content for specific audiences. There are different ways to appreciate what this website can do, and how you can be a partner in using the tools.

How the Website Helps

Tagged content

The website already does a lot of the heavy lifting, so you don’t have to.

  • You add one piece of content and it displays many places based on the tagging and categorizing you input.
  • Update the original content later and changes will show up across the site, too. Easy!

While you may have less control in setting everything up on a particular page, it’s less likely to be a hassle in keeping the site maintained with current content and design updates over time.

Related resources

When visitors are reading content on the website, at the bottom of the page they can see “Related Content from OSU Extension.” This is generated automatically based on the type of content they just read and may answer other questions they have.

Topic pages

Content teams put up the majority of educational content on the website, and it mainly displays across topic pages or in searches. These teams can add videos, articles, documents, etc., and each piece can be tagged for a topic. Topic pages only show content tagged with that topic.

More You Can Do

As the topic pages grow in the amount of content, it’s harder for the visitor to know what key content to focus on. Also, county pages sometimes want to point people to topical content narrowed down to their regional focus. What can be done?

Add keywords

Adding custom keywords can help visitors narrow down what they see on each topic page. It’s easier if the keywords are kept up as a clean list. Keywords also makes it easier to group specific educational content tagged for a program, such as when you scroll down the sections of the Master Food Preservers publications.

Monitor topic pages

Right now, topic pages are organized by topic committees and also automatically show the most recent content tagged with the topic to keep these pages fresh. Sometimes content is mis-tagged or duplicated and it’s easier to spot on these auto-populated Browse Resources section on topic pages. If you see something out of place, log into the site and use this All Content Overview tool to search who created the content and ask that group to make the change.

Create collections

If individual pieces of content are related, a content team can manually gather these together in a collection. A good time to use this is, for example, the monthly gardening calendars. Others use it to group content topically or regionally.

  1. From your content team group page, create a “collection
  2. Add introductory text describing what the collection is about. For example, see Poisonous Plants Commonly Found in Pastures.
  3. Add a collection section (subheading) and select collection items from existing content in the system (video, article, etc.). Note: You can reorder these if you add each collection item separately with the “Add Collection Item” button.
  4. Then tag the collection with appropriate topics and/or programs.

This collection will show on tagged topic pages. A county can add the collection as “featured content” on their main county page or as “highlighted content” on a local focus area. It will also show on program pages that have a section for “Program tagged content list” if tagged for that program, such as a Regional Gardening Information section in Master Gardener local programs.

Drawbacks to collections  are that they must be maintained by the content team. This can be time-consuming. As new content is added to the website, it will also have to be manually added to the collection. This doesn’t happen automatically as it would for content tagged with a Topic. Collections may have gaps if new content is not added or if all related content wasn’t added when first creating the collection.

Collections are an option that serve a specific purpose and are not a solution for all needs, especially where the website is helping to organize the content already. If you have questions about this, then reach out to the EESC web team.

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.

Webinar Trainings

Are you responsible for adding content to the website that people may be seeking?

If so, we have a couple webinars coming up that take you behind-the-scenes to:

  • Answer frequently asked questions,
  • Review roles & responsibilities, and
  • Show how to select & display content on pages.

It’s a new approach for many, so join us for the upcoming webinars:

June 5, 1-2 pm, Web Content Webinar for 4-H County Programs

June 12, 9:30–10:30 am, Webinar for Extension Faculty/Staff Working on the Website

The June 12 webinar will give a chance for web teams that are related with programs or county/combined sites to hear more about the content teams work too. While not required, it can help if you’ve reviewed the training and support resources first, or have tried adding to the website, so that it isn’t completely new to you before the webinar. As always EESC welcomes your questions and suggestions before, during, and after the webinars.

If you joined us Monday afternoon for the New Website Overview webinar (watch the webinar recording), then you heard how Search is the main way to navigate our new website. Many more people are taking advantage of the Search features, according to analytics from pre- and post-launch, making the Search page the top visited page over this past weekend.

10 most visited pages over this weekend

  1. Search page
  2. Home Page
  3. Programs List
  4. Gardening top-level topic
  5. Find Us page (locations)
  6. 4-H main page (statewide)
  7. Animals and Livestock second-level topic
  8. Master gardener main page (statewide)
  9. Article: How long do garden seeds last?
  10. Featured question: Raised bed lumber, pressure treated safe?

Most common search terms (used on the site) over the weekend

  1. “compost tea”
  2. “compost tea brewer”
  3. “horse”
  4. “record book”
  5. “canning”
  6. “compost”
  7. “horse fair”
  8. “blueberries”
  9. “cool form”
  10. “fair book”

Twice as many people visited the Extension website after the launch and are staying twice as long to view more than one page, compared to the previous weekend on our old site.

County teams can now begin adding announcements, events, sub-pages, and social media links! View our Friday county webinar for the details. Also refer to the managing county content guide for specifics on entering content.

All teams (topic, program, county):
As more content gets added to the website, keep sending us your questions and suggestions. It helps to clarify if you’re on the right track before you enter too much content. Your suggestions help us to make needed changes, too.

Tips for content entry

When entering in your content, remember to:

  • Make sure any links do not point to content on the current Extension website (URL includes http://extension.oregonstate.edu/)
  • Include a thumbnail image, so that it looks unique on the landing pages (when in the edit screen, click the thumbnail button to upload)
  • Tag your content in Step 2 of the edit screen with the topics, programs, and/or counties it may relate to (so it can show up across the site in all relevant places)

Content: Good examples

As more content is entered, we’ll show examples of well-formatted content on the site. This week we highlight this article: Hay Options – When You’re Short on Hay

  • It uses short paragraphs with the key point in the first line of each.
  • The headings make it easy to skim.
  • The style of writing to “you” is welcoming.
  • The tips are clear and helpful.

Next week we’ll look for an example of a well-formatted program landing page or county sub-page to share. Here’s a video with instructions on making a sub-landing page.

What’s next

We are still designing the topic landing pages and will continue to work with content team leaders on this. If you have suggestions or questions, please let us know.

UPDATE: Thank you for your participation in the survey! The survey has been closed. If you would like to provide additional feedback please contact us.


The Extension Website Upgrade project has entered the strategy phase, and we need your input to help us to create a next-generation OSU Extension web presence that is user-focused, easier to manage, and truly awesome.

We invite you to take the OSU Extension Website Upgrade: Employee Survey by Friday, June 17. This is your opportunity to provide feedback on our current web presence, information on web content management, and input on priorities for the upgrade. It should take less than 15 minutes to complete.

You’ll remember from the project Discovery Report that this employee survey complements our external, user-focused research.

Questions? Please let us know.

Thank you!

—Your Web Steering Committee
Jeff Hino, Tamara Hill-Tanquist, Brooke Edmunds, Ann Marie Murphy, Alisha Atha, Patrick Proden and Victor Villegas