During these times, we make the most with what we have. And sometimes we can do more with what is at our fingertips. In one-on-one web meetings or when auditing webpages now two years after launch, it’s clear that many of the helpful features of the website’s content management system are still new to you.

When things are new, they may be avoided or underused. So, explaining how these work more than once and in different ways helps. We have done a written web guide, blog posts and trainings. Some quick tips below will hopefully show you things you may have missed.

How do I make a page more designed or organized?

It can be hard to connect what you see on the back-end (where you edit pages) with what you see after you save it. Page sections are the way to layout your content and make information standout for a visitor on the webpage – whether it is a topic, county or program page.

Below is an excerpted video from a recent webinar. It switches back and forth to help you see: what each page section looks likes in edit mode and what it looks like once saved.

Click to play the video on page sections

As the video shows, page sections allow you to add pieces of content to a page in chunks, one section at a time.

There are different types of sections you can use to customize your page:

  • Standard: For typing in static text and for adding images or videos. These don’t fully use the content management system, since they aren’t shareable across the site.
  • Automated: For automatically displaying lists of events, program resources, or latest content. Once set up, you don’t need to do anything more. The content updates based on tagging or dates.
  • Selected: For finding content that others added on the website, and selecting it so it displays in a specific place. You need to remove it later if you no longer want it to show.
  • Designed: For setting up a page so content stands out (e.g. an orange stylized bar with icons to click). Also, it can make content formatted a specific way (e.g. content titles show and when you click the full text expands).

Not all page sections or advanced settings are covered in this video, so also read more in the web guide.

How do I stop an event or announcement from showing up?

You can now modify tags! This makes it easy to fix a piece of content that was mistagged. You can also add your county tag, topic tag or program tag to something to get it to show up. This can be useful for an online event that may be of interest to your audiences.

This short video shows you how to modify tags (click to play).

What’s happened to my content or page?

Sometimes you notice something has changed or isn’t how you remembered it. First, take a deep breath and realize two things: there’s an easy way to find out and it’s usually a simple explanation.

We are in this together. You each have a lot of access to do things you need to on the website, and that means many other people do too. It’s what makes this website platform function with the resources we have. Communication and a sense of calm can help most situations.

The easy way to find out what’s happened is to look at the “Revisions” tab at the top of any page.

The revisions page records who made the last changes, and you can compare to see what changes were made. It’s even better when everyone remembers to leave comments in the “revision log” field when editing a page. Those comments appear in the Revisions tab too.

If nothing looks out of the ordinary there, then send a quick email to https://beav.es/extension-support to ask us to look into it.

If it’s a technical issue, then we will get on it. If it’s a training issue, we can offer context to help understand the way the content management system or different team processes work.

What’s the benefits of the website’s content management system?

This efficient system has prepared us for the long term goals of integrating Extension content with other sites, social media, and client relationship management platforms. It will also be able to personalize content for visitors on the website. This is why the content is structured and tagged in the way it is.

Being in the same content management system helps to:

  • Show a more unified presence of Extension and the coordinated efforts within each of our programs, fields of expertise and regions
  • Track analytics and feedback for a more strategic approach
  • Avoid duplication of resources and use the tagging and page sections to share and show one piece of content in many places.

We are continually improving this behind-the-scenes editing experience.  We are working to simplify the way content authors add, find, select, translate and manage content. Stay tuned for more news and trainings later in the year. In the meantime, reach out to us now for a 1-on-1 working session to get up to speed on all that you can do.

Since the Internet has existed, researchers have studied how people interact with it. Despite this, persistent myths about how visitors use websites have sprung up. In this post, we’ll take a look at a few of these myths and use research and data from the field and from the Extension website to determine whether or not they have a basis in reality.

Myth #1: Visitors don’t scroll and thus are likely to miss content “below the fold”

For years in the early days of the web, people were told that important content on a page needs to be at the top of the screen, where visitors can see it without scrolling. Recent research has shown, however, that this trend in behavior is changing. In 2010, users spent about 80% of their time looking at content in the first screen they could see. In 2018, they spent the same amount of time looking at the first three screens of content (see Scrolling and Attention). This is partially due to the prevalence of mobile device usage. On mobile devices, 90% of users scroll within 14 seconds.

At this point, nearly all web users are familiar with scrolling. What determines if they will scroll on a given page is whether or not they have reason to believe that they’ll find what they’re looking for by doing so. This concept of users following “information scent” is part of a larger field called “information foraging theory”, which compares the methods people use to find information online to the methods animals use to find food in the wild.

When deciding whether to take an action like scrolling or clicking a link (or moving to a new area to forage for food), two factors are considered:

  1. The “cost” of the action – how long it takes, how difficult it is to undo,  etc.
  2. How likely it seems that performing the action will get the desired results

Scrolling is one of the most low-cost actions a person can take on a web page – it doesn’t require loading a new page and you can undo the action without even moving the mouse pointer. Therefore, according to information foraging theory, if a user has to choose between two equally likely methods of finding information – clicking a link or scrolling on the current page, they would be more likely to choose scrolling.

What this means for you

  • At the top of the page, tell visitors what they will find by scrolling down. This can be done with a table of contents, a quick links bar, a short summary in the first paragraph, etc.
  • Make sure the sections further down the page are easily scannable – even though most users scroll these days, they do focus most of their attention on content near the top.

Myth #2: Visitors read all of the content on a page

Although this contradicts the previous myth somewhat, many content authors develop content for web pages with the assumption that visitors will read the entire page from beginning to end. For many years now, we have known this is largely not the case. Website visitors almost always scan the page in an F-shaped pattern, reading the first few words of each section or paragraph as they go down the page. 

The reason for this is based in information foraging theory, described above. Users scan in order to determine the likelihood of finding the information they want on the page. If in the course of their scanning they determine that the likelihood is high, they will decide it is worth their time to read the page or section in more detail.

What this means for you

  • Make your web content scannable as much as possible. There are several techniques for doing this:
    • Use headings frequently to break up text. These headings should describe the information found in the following section. On longer pages, you may consider further differentiating sections by using alternating background colors.
    • Use pull quotes, where certain sentences are enlarged and emphasized graphically like in a magazine.
    • When enumerating multiple ideas (such as a list of items or series of steps), break them into a numbered or bulleted list.
    • Keep paragraphs short, with one idea per paragraph.

Myth #3: Visitors to a website always (or almost always) start at the home page

When designing a home page or landing page, many people assume that it will be the first page that visitors see when they come to the site. However, this idea is not supported by the data. 

Over the past year (May 13 2019-2020):

  • 2.71% of visits to the Extension website started on the home page
  • 6.47% of visits started on a program landing page
  • 3.71% started on a county landing page
  • 1.95% started on a topic landing page
  • 0.22% started on a project landing page

This means that about 85% of visits to the site start on a page that isn’t a landing page.

In comparison, more than half of visits (57.6%) start on an article or a news story, mostly via searching on Google or other search engines for specific information. It is also slightly more common for visits to start on a program subpage than the landing page (6.79% of visits vs. 6.64% of visits).

What this means for you

  • Don’t assume that putting something on your landing page means all (or even most) visitors will see it.
  • Make sure that visitors can understand your content and get all the information you want them to have without needing to visit the landing page.

Myth #4: Visitors won’t find information if it can’t be found within three clicks of where they start

This is an extremely pervasive myth that we have addressed before. The first thing to know is that this measurement is not useful in telling you how easy content is to find. Technically, all content on the Extension website can be found within two clicks of any page by using the search feature. 

Additionally, although it is still often repeated, the “three-click rule” has been proven false. This is due to, again, information foraging theory. As long as visitors have a reason to believe it is worth their time to follow a link, that it will bring them closer to their goal, they will do it regardless of how many links they have already clicked.

What this means for you

  • It is better to “chunk” information into more pages with fewer link options rather than putting a large number of links all together to try and minimize the number of clicks to get to each destination.
  • Make sure visitors know why it is worth their time to click a link. This is mainly done by using meaningful link text. People are more likely to click on a link that says what they will see if they click the link (such as “full results of the study”) rather than something generic like “click here” or the link URL.

Myth #5: You should open links to external sites in a new window/tab to make sure visitors get back to your site

For a long time, it was considered a best practice to open links to external websites or applications in a new window or tab. It was believed that doing so would prevent the user from leaving your site entirely for the one being linked to. However, doing so leads to serious accessibility, security, and usability problems, to the point where today opening links in new windows is often considered one of the top usability problems on the web.

Additionally, data suggests that this idea is not accurate. Studies have shown that the back button is the most used control in web browsers. This means that by opening a link in a new window/tab and thereby disabling the back button, you are preventing visitors from using the control they are most likely to use to return to your site.

What this means for you

  • In almost all situations, you should have links open in the same tab as they are clicked in.
  • If you have control over the external page being linked to, provide links back to the original site (e.g. at the end of a Qualtrics survey or YouTube video).
  • If you or people you know have a personal preference for opening links in new tabs, learn the shortcuts for doing so (such as clicking with your mouse’s scroll wheel or holding Ctrl or Cmd when you click)

Myth #6: Visitors primarily use menus to find what they need on a site

Research has grouped web users into three categories:

  • Search-dominant: users who mostly use a site’s search feature to find what they’re looking for
  • Link-dominant: users who mostly use menus and links to find what they’re looking for
  • Mixed: users who use the site search feature and menus and links about equally.

In general studies, it has been found that about half of all web users are search-dominant. On the Extension website, the search results page is by far the most visited page on the site, receiving nearly twice as many page views as the home page.

Even for users that are link-dominant or mixed, heat maps we have created for the Extension website (which show where on the page users click) show that users are more likely to click on links in the main body of the page than menu items. You can see an example of this in the heat map below. Notice how, while the heat map was recording, the “Events” link in the quick links bar got many more clicks (23) than the same link in the sidebar (0).

 

This is also likely due to information foraging theory. Links in the body of the page have more context that allows visitors to determine whether clicking the link will get them the information they are looking for. The main body of the page is also where users are more likely to be scanning. It seems that if they can’t find what they need by scanning the page, then they will try the menus. 

What this means for you

  • Make sure important links are included in the body of your pages, not just the sidebar. A quick links bar or call to action page section is often a good way to do this. 

Web updates

Topic committees now have the ability to configure “topic categories”. These are a pre-defined list of keywords that will be available to select from when a piece of content is tagged with the corresponding topic. See instructions in the website user guide.

Later this week we’ll add a new focus area template to each county that will be unpublished until you add your county’s unique information. This can include information on accessing food (food pantries, meal sites, and school lunches), health care (Oregon Health Plan) and financial assistance. See the screenshot below.

To use this focus area:

  • Review the information
  • Delete any information that isn’t relevant for your county
  • Add local contacts for the remaining relevant information (name and contact info for your local health department, etc.). Update the text within the brackets: “[[ ]]”
  • Publish the focus area
  • Display it on your county landing page. And move it up under the “Online resources and activities” focus area.

See last week’s blog post about the “Online resources and activities” focus area, where you can share information about the work OSU Extension is doing remotely now.


Screenshot of focus area


Across OSU Extension, email newsletters are used to educate, convey information to, and build trust and community with industry-specific, program-specific and general audiences. However, each newsletter within the division looks different, sounds different, provides varying levels of effectiveness and offers varying levels of brand alignment and accessibility.

There are best practices we all can adopt to improve the effectiveness and accessibility of our email newsletters. In the coming weeks, we’ll be rolling out Extension newsletter templates to make it easier to tell our stories better. These templates will be designed to work on MailChimp and Constant Contact platforms. Stay tuned!

In the meantime, adopt the following best practices and we’ll make significant strides in readability, effectiveness and accessibility.

10 Best practices to adopt now

1) Write engaging and informative subject lines.

This is the first opportunity to make your audience curious about the content of your newsletter. Try to limit the subject line to no more than 50 characters (including spaces). Check out these websites for guidance on writing engaging subject lines:

2) Make the preheader work for you.

Preheader text is the short line of text displayed next to or just below the email subject line when an email is viewed in the inbox. Preheaders are often overlooked opportunities to engage the reader and tell them more about what’s in the newsletter.

3) Build a clean list and remove unengaged email addresses.

If someone hasn’t opened any of your emails for a year or more, find out if they still want to receive your email newsletter. Send a “We miss you” email to see if they want to continue being a subscriber. A clean list will give you a more accurate email open and engagement rate.

4) Personalize your greeting.

Using the first name of your subscriber is more likely to capture the attention of the reader. This can be in the subject line or start the newsletter with “Dear {first name}.”

5) Keep content short, simple, personable and focused on the interests of the readers.

Think about what the payoff is for the reader. What’s the essential takeaway? How does the story reinforce the value of Extension to the community? Then write two or three compelling sentences as your lead-in to tease the reader into continuing to read the story by clicking on the call-to-action.

Limit the number of articles to three to five. Enough white space within the overall newsletter will make the newsletter easier to read. The Extension website is a good source for newsletter content: news stories, publications, event information and other content. Use links to encourage visits to the website.

6) Use compelling calls-to-action.

Instead of “click here” or “click this link,” use more actionable language, such as “Learn more,” “Download,” and “Register today.” If calls-to-action are images, use alternative text to make sure readers can click them even if images aren’t enabled.

7) Improve accessibility.

Increase font size to 12 to 14 point for body copy. Use the Georgia font for headlines and Verdana font for body text. Use alternative text to describe story images so that subscribers that disable images or those with disabilities know what you’re showing them. Do not use text over photos or PDFs embedded into the newsletters. Avoid text-heavy content.

8) Include links to social media sites.

This allows readers to share content easily. (And consider including a link to your newsletter in your email signature. Refer to email signature guidelines for the way to do it.)

9) Include an email signature.

People are more inclined to read and open emails if they come from a person rather than info@companyname or noreply@companyname.

10) Send your newsletters consistently.

Choose the frequency of the newsletter and settle on the day and time of delivery (this may take a little time to find the best day and time for open rates and click-throughs). Then stick to the schedule so your readers watch for and anticipate it.

Additional tips

Review metrics to see what content is of greatest interest to your audience.

During the Stay Home, Save Lives mandate and beyond, reinforce in headlines and body copy that OSU and Extension are here for our communities.

Set expectations when someone first signs up for your newsletter so that they know what to expect for frequency and type of content.

A/B test subject lines and calls-to-action between two groups of subscribers to learn what language creates a greater response. Read: Effective email marketing subject lines.

Segment your audience to appeal to their interests. The value of the content will be elevated if it’s of interest to the reader.

Add video and animated content to increase engagement with the reader. Also increase engagement and learn more about your readers by adding a quick poll.

Reinforce the personality of Extension with the tone of story selection and writing style. Personality characteristics for Extension are defined in the Extension Style Guide:

  • Collaborative – We’re better together
  • Conscientious – Aware, with integrity and conviction
  • Visionary – Creatively leading the way, taking on issues
  • Welcoming – Friendly, open to all and enriched by difference
  • Progressive – Pursuing innovative practices that lead to proven methods of thinking and doing
  • Helpful – Focused on service that meets the needs of our communities
  • Adventurous – Having the courage to seek out new solutions

 

Author: Ann Marie Murphy

 

Sources:

Virtual Extension

OSU Extension’s educational outreach teams — PACE, EESC and ECTU – are continually adding new resources and updates to the Virtual Extension site on the Extension Employee Intranet.

Virtual Extension complements OSU’s Keep Working and Keep Teaching websites, with information specific to our Extension and Engagement context. The website features a list of resources to help you:

Virtual Extension was featured on this week’s First Monday video.

The Virtual Extension team seeks your feedback, and for you to share your needs and ideas so we can work together through this current situation and position us for even more ways to serve Oregonians in the future. Let's talk button

OSU Extension Professional Development & Connection Opportunities

Starting this week join us for daily Zoom training sessions.

  • Marketing Mondays
  • Technology Tuesdays
  • Water Cooler Wednesdays
  • Teaching Thursdays
  • Financial Fridays

 

Extension Website Training

Wednesday April 8  8:30-10:30

Join us for a special 2 hour session for all staff and faculty who currently work on the Extension website or would like to start. This training will include an overview of Extension’s web strategy initiative, a tour of the website, and demos and Q&A based on audience interests.

Presented by: Victor Villegas, Technology & Media Support; Michele Scheib, Content Strategist; Bryan Mayjor, Web & Content Strategy Leader; Tamara Hill-Tanquist, Web Designer; Amerie Lommen, Web Developer

Join via Zoom

 

Kudos

We’d like to give a big shout to Washington County’s Jenifer Halter who posted tips for searching the Extension website.

 

Zoom Security

Learn how to properly configure your Zoom Meetings to prevent Zoombombing.

 

Web updates

The events content type has two new features:

  1. Zoom meeting information. You can now add Zoom link, meeting ID, and phone-in numbers
    Fields available for zoom events
  2. Event status. You can now add the status to events.
    screenshot showing status options

Online events now have a dedicated page. A link to the Upcoming Online Events can be found on the Statewide Events page.
onlne events list image

While people across Oregon and the world practice social distancing in response to COVID-19, they will continue to stay connected via social media. 

Since March 1, around the time the first COVID-19 case was discovered in Oregon, traffic to the Extension website from social media has risen by about 8% compared to the previous period, and we expect to see it continue to rise as our offices around the state begin to use social media more heavily. 

Learn what content has been working well when shared on social media. This can help you make your social media posts more effective.

Where is content shared?

On many pages on the Extension website, there is a “Share” button that visitors can use to easily share the page to social media, email it to someone, or save it to a bookmark service. In analytics, we can see the platforms where people have shared our pages.

Here are the shares since January 19, 2020. The following stats only include visitors who have used the “share” button on the page. We cannot determine how many people have shared a page manually.

  • Facebook: 140 shares
  • Twitter: 12 shares
  • WhatsApp: 9 shares
  • LinkedIn: 4 shares
  • Reddit: 2 shares
  • Tumblr: 1 share

We can also get an idea about how often our content is shared on various platforms by looking at how many times people arrive to our site from those platforms. In total, people arrived to our site from social media 10,074 times. The most common platforms people arrived from were:

  • Facebook: 9,398
  • Pinterest: 242
  • Twitter: 176
  • YouTube: 53
  • Instagram: 29

What this means for you

  • Facebook is by far the most common place where our content is shared. If your county/program does not currently have a Facebook account or doesn’t use it regularly, consider creating one or becoming more active.

What kind of content is shared

Similar to the above, we can look at the pages where visitors most often used the “share” button to share content to social media:

  1. Coffee Grounds and Composting: 26 shares
  2. Clackamas County 4-H Tack and Bake Sales: 10 shares
  3. Monthly Garden Calendars: 9 shares (all months)
  4. Rural Living Day 2020: 4 shares
  5. BBB Exercise Tutorials: 4 shares

We can also see where on the site people most often arrived from social media platforms:

  1. Put rose pruning and planting on the calendar: 309 times
  2. When to start seeds indoors in Oregon: 304 times
  3. Coffee Grounds and Composting: 302 times
  4. Branding: OSU working to settle the debate of the ages: 281 times
  5. Are there male and female peppers: 268 times

What this means for you

  • Educational content is the most commonly shared type of content. Especially during this social distancing period, consider including more educational content in your social media presence.
  • Content that tends to be popular is ones that address timely seasonal topics (such as gardening in the springtime), “hot” or “highly-discussed” issues in an industry, and “myth busting” content.
  • Events are also fairly commonly shared. If you are putting on an event (including virtually), be sure to advertise it on your social media and encourage others to share it. 

How effective is sharing content

To see if visitors are engaged with the content on our website, we often look at our website’s statistics.

  All website visits Website visits starting  from social media
Percentage of people who viewed only one page 65.76% 69.12%
Number of pages visitors saw when visiting our site 1.82 pages 1.55 pages
Average length of time people visit our site 1 minute 42 seconds 1 minute 17 seconds

This shows  when people arrive on the Extension website from  social media, they tend to not stay on the site as long as people who arrive from other means.

What this means for you

  • When you share content on social media, make sure that the page you share includes a “call to action”. For example, on an article like “Put rose pruning and planting on the calendar”, you might add a statement to the end of the article, such as “Find your local county Extension office to see when rose pruning classes are offered in your area.”

We are headed your way!

Starting next week and continuing through October, EESC’s web team will be hosting regional Extension website training sessions across the state. Don’t miss this in-person opportunity to learn about the website and how you can contribute. RSVP to reserve your place.

Dates and locations:

Central Region:
Sept. 17 (Tue.), Wasco County Office (The Dalles)
Sept 18 (Wed.), Deschutes County Office (Redmond)

Western Region:
Sept. 24 (Tue.), Marion County Office  (Salem)

Coastal Region – North:
Sept 26. (Thur.), Tillamook County Office (Tillamook)

Southern Region:
Oct. 2 (Wed), Klamath County Office (Klamath Falls)
Oct. 3 (Thur.), Josephine County Office (Grants Pass)

Metro Region:
Oct. 17 (Thur.), Washington County Office (Beaverton)

Coastal Region – South:
Oct. 22 (Tue.), Coos County Office (Myrtle Point)

Note: Eastern Oregon workshops were held in April.

Agenda

Each workshop will have a morning and afternoon session. Try to attend both sessions if possible.
Note: The Wasco and Deschutes County workshops have different start and end times, 11:00 am – 5:00 pm.

Morning session (10:00 am to 12:00 pm)
The morning session will include an overview of the Navigator project, understanding the differences and purposes of office, program, and content team groups, updating your website profile, tagging, and basic content creation.

Lunch break (12:00 pm -1:00 pm)

Afternoon session (1:00 pm to 3:00 pm)
After lunch we’ll dig deeper into managing landing pages, content types, tagging, best practices, tips and tricks, how to avoid duplicating content, and answering your questions.

 

Do I need to do any preparation before the workshop?

No. However, you’ll get more out of the workshop by learning about the Navigator project and skimming through the website guide beforehand.

What should I expect?

The format will be a combination of lectures, how-to demonstrations, one-on-one assistance, advice, and learning from your peers.

What should I bring?

Your ideas and questions

A WiFi enabled laptop, tablet, or pair up with a colleague.

Bring anything you want to add to the website on a flash drive, or on your laptop. We’ll show you how to add it to the website.

What will I learn?

You will learn: How to create and edit content. What tagging is and why it is important. Your role within your office, program or content team. And where to get your questions answered as you learn how the website works.

RSVP

If you are planning on coming to a workshop, please RSVP to ensure we have enough room for everyone.

This spring, we launched a feature on the Extension website called “focus areas”. These allow counties to highlight the work they do around a particular topic or topics, and were intended to serve as a link for visitors between the statewide educational content on topic pages and locally relevant events and programming on county pages. Now that focus areas have been live for a few months, we took a look at analytics to see how effective they have been in meeting the goals we had for them.

Here are the basic stats for focus area pages, for the period of March 20, 2019 – August 7, 2019:

  • Pageviews: 3,655
  • Average time on page: 1 min. 17 sec.
  • % Entrances (views where it was the first page viewed on the site): 26.59%
  • % Exits (views where it was the last page viewed on the site): 28.78%
  • % New visitors: 61.53%

These stats (the low time on page, entrance, and exit rates) suggest that visitors are using focus area pages as a navigation tool on the way to the content they want to see. This is what we want to see. Additionally, the percentage of returning visitors to focus areas is significantly higher than for the site as a whole (38.47% vs. 13.12%). 

Here is a graph showing how visitors get to focus areas:

A majority (~57%) of visitors to focus areas click on focus areas from a county page. Of those, around 35% do so on the county’s landing page. The second most common way people get to focus areas is by searching on Google or another search engine, which makes up a majority of the “Entrances” in the graph above.

On focus area pages, counties can:

  • Select topics to direct visitors to and related experts to contact in their county. 
  • List programs and events offered in the county related to that topic. 
  • Highlight individual pieces of educational content that are especially relevant to their county, such as newsletters. 

Here is a graph describing where people go from focus areas:

We see that 37.86% of visitors find content of interest and click to it from the focus area – if this type of information has been featured. Watch or read how to do this in our Website User Guide.

Finally, here are the top 10 visited focus areas up to now:

  1. HAREC Plant Pathology Diagnostic Laboratory Services
  2. Douglas County Home Garden and Landscape
  3. Benton County Forestry and Natural Resources
  4. Douglas County Forestry and Natural Resources
  5. Deschutes County Home Garden and Landscape
  6. Lane County Home Garden and Landscape
  7. Washington County Home Garden and Landscape
  8. Lane County Forestry and Natural Resources
  9. NWREC Berry Crops
  10. Douglas County Livestock and Forages

Ideas for improving county focus areas

Here are some things you can do as a member of a county group to improve your county focus areas:

  • If you offer services at your office, make sure to add them to the website. Some of the more popular focus areas are those that give information about services for the public, such as laboratory services, pressure gage testing, and supplies for checkout.
  • Make sure to tag your county events with a topic. Events are displayed on focus areas based on the topic(s) they are tagged with. Analytics show that a lot of visitors to focus areas are interested in the events listed there.

EESC will also use this data to make design and functionality improvements for focus areas, which may potentially include making them more visible on topic landing pages or linking to them from content pages themselves.

Recent website updates

OSU recently updated the version of WordPress used for their blog platform. If you use an OSU WordPress site you will see some changes, including a new text editing interface called the Gutenberg Editor. Links to training instructions have been added to the OSU WordPress instructions. Please contact us if you need any help with the new editor, including turning it off.

Imagine if you could ask your smart speaker to search the OSU Extension website for events located near you, or ask Siri to find all of the blueberry pruning publications in the OSU Extension Catalog?

Alexa, ask OSU Extension what upcoming Master Gardener events are happening near me? 
Siri, show me all of the OSU Extension Catalog publications on pruning blueberries

While this isn’t a reality today, we designed the website to be “exportable”, giving us the  ability to send content to multiple platforms. This might take the form of a virtual assistant, like Alexa, a smartphone application, a chatbot, or whatever the future brings. None of this would be possible without all of that structured content that you all have been creating.

Today, we can interact with machines in highly intuitive, natural ways through smartphones. Virtual assistants like Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant, and Siri have changed the way we interact with machines, using technology like Natural Language Processing (NLP). 1

How people interact with computers is no longer limited to the mouse and keyboard. Recent advances in Natural Language Processing, Artificial Intelligence, and voice recognition software are rapidly changing how we interact with our devices and computers. Remember when we all used floppy disks, rotary phones, and VCR’s? Do you miss them? Keyboards and mice are also destined to become relics of the past. Talking to your phone feels kind of strange to most people, myself included. I typically just use Siri for settings reminders, alarms, and timers, but much more is possible.

Siri, remind me to create a blog post on August 2nd at 2:00 pm.

For me, this is much faster than launching a program, typing and entering the date and time. Let us know how you are using virtual assistants by leaving a comment below.
OSU Extension digital strategy diafram

Here are some interesting statistics on voice activated searches. 2

  1. 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020
  2. About 30% of all searches will be done without a screen by 2020
  3. 13% of all households in the United States owned a smart speaker in 2017. That number is predicted to rise to 55% by 2022.

Providing an engaging, high-quality online experience is a key element to the success of the Navigator project. This online experience can be enhanced by website personalization. In the future, users will be able to create a personal profile by selecting the topics, programs, projects they are interested in, and their location. We can then provide a customized dashboard highlighting the latest tagged content, local events, and much more. Our Customer Relationship Management (CRM) will be able to provide additional insights into users interests, based on previous interactions with Extension. Here is a simple example of how this might work. “Bob” participated in a canning workshop last fall. Chances are he might be also interested in becoming a Master Food Preserver. Knowing this, next time Bob visits the website, his dashboard displays information on the course and how to register.

Preparing for the future – part one

 

Recent website updates

  • Members of topic committees are now able to modify content tags.

 

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1 https://www.axelerant.com/resources/articles/conversational-commerce-integrating-bots-with-drupal-commerce

2 https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2018/04/10/voice-search-statistics-2018

This summer the OSU Extension website turned one! With one year of analytic data on how people are using the site, we have more insight into how the site is performing and how things have changed since launch.

Basic site stats

June 1, 2018 – June 1, 2019

  • Pageviews: 2,826,166 (up 107% from previous year)
  • Document downloads: 314,605
  • Average time on site: 1 min. 34 sec. (up 71% from the previous year)
  • Bounce rate: 66.77%

Content type stats

Content type Views/downloads/clicks Avg. time on page
News story 481,653 5 min. 53 sec.
Article 344,624 4 min. 39 sec.
Program landing page 312,666 1 min. 2 sec.
Program subpage 278,857 1 min. 46 sec.
County landing page 155,697 1 min. 51 sec.
Featured question 141,128 5 min. 18 sec.
Topic landing page 136,122 1 min.
Catalog publication 128,372 N/A
Event 112,987 2 min. 21 sec.
Program resource 111,952 N/A
Collection 54,827 1 min. 38 sec.
Focus area/county subpage 38,953 1 min. 11 sec.
Online resource 36,396 N/A
Announcement 21,679 1 min. 33 sec.
Educational document 20,107 N/A
Social media link 19,308 N/A
Newsletter 16,854 1 min. 59 sec.
Newsletter issue 14,922 1 min. 16 sec.
Project 7,850 3 min. 3 sec.
Video 4,721 2 min. 22 sec.
Project subpage 562 1 min. 21 sec.

Top 10 visited pages

  1. Small Farms landing page (75,663)
  2. Home page (75,159)
  3. Are there male and female peppers? (61,318)
  4. Don’t be timid when pruning grapes (33,179)
  5. Programs list (28,647)
  6. What are short day and long day plants? (25,163)
  7. Monthly garden calendars (23,910)
  8. Locations list (23,665)
  9. State Master Gardener landing page (23,315)
  10. Gardening topic landing page (22,952)

How visitors get to the site

  • Search (e.g. Google): 839,379
  • Social media: 68,809
  • Links from other sites: 56,815
  • Other (email links, bookmarks, typing URL from printed material, etc.): 173,528

Top search terms

What people search for once on the Extension site:

  1. 4-H or 4H: 832
  2. Soil testing or soil test: 719
  3. Compost tea or compost tea brewer: 673
  4. Horse: 384
  5. Jobs: 345
  6. Master Gardener: 330
  7. Canning: 297
  8. Forms: 275
  9. Calendar: 262
  10. Blueberries: 230

What people put into search engines (e.g. Google) to arrive on the Extension site:

  1. OSU extension service (or similar): 1,195
  2. [county or city] extension: 944
  3. Feeding bees dried sugar: 212
  4. Maggots in compost: 131
  5. What do quail eat: 107
  6. Pruning apple trees in summer: 76
  7. Food preservation 68
  8. What do robins eat: 67
  9. Glycemic load chart: 53
  10. Fungus gnats: 51

Changes since launch

As more content has been added to the site, the number of people visiting the site has increased. In June 2018, 81,755 users visited the site, while 109,065 visited in June 2019 (70% increase).

People appear  to have an easier time finding what they need. Usage of search was slightly lower June 2019 than June 2018, meaning people are having more success finding what they need through browsing. Additionally, the number of pages people visit in a session has gone down, while the average time spent on a page is up. This suggests that people don’t need to view as many pages to find what they are looking for.

Going forward

Over the next year, EESC will continue to collect data from web analytics. We will also begin to collect qualitative information through usability testing, site surveys, feedback forms, interviews, and more.

Thank you

A sincere thank you to everyone who has helped make the website a success by: entering content, reviewing documentation and help materials, asking questions at webinars and trainings, meeting with us to discuss content strategy, or any of the other ways Extension faculty and staff have contributed to our web presence. We hope  this time next year we will have even better results to share with you.