OSU Extension’s faculty and staff, like all organizations, have a wide-range of computer competencies. While giving workshops over the years I’ve made some incorrect assumptions regarding how tech savvy the  participants are. For example, in the past I’ve assumed that everyone uses common keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl P or that everyone understands what a bookmark is.

This week I’d like to share some basic time saving tips that I use on a daily basis to help our “non-power” users out there work more efficiently.

Keyboard shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts allow you to do common tasks with just your keyboard. Keyboard shortcuts save time, and helps reduce repetitive stress injuries by using your mouse less often.

Common keyboard shortcuts

Windows

Apple/Mac

Open document Ctrl + O Command + O
Close document or tab Ctrl + W Command + W
Save the current document Ctrl + S Command + S
Copy the selected item to clipboard Ctrl + C Command + C
Paste the contents of the Clipboard into the current document Ctrl + V Command + X
Cut the selected item and copy it to the Clipboard. Ctrl + C Command + X
Undo the previous command Ctrl + Z Command + Z
Select All items Ctrl + A Command + A
Print the current document or webpage Ctrl + P Command + P
Find items in a document or webpage Ctrl + F Command + F
Find again: Go to the next occurrence of the item previously found. Ctrl + G Command + G
Refresh webpage Ctrl + R Command + R
Open a new Tab in web browser Ctrl + T Command + T
Switch/Toggle between open applications. Press Tab again to select next application Alt + Tab Command + Tab

 

General Productivity tips

Screenshot of toggle between apps
Switch between open applications using Ctrl/Command + Tab
  • Alt/Command + Tab  Switch between open applications. I use this shortcut everyday.
  • Use the keyboard shortcut to add hyperlinks in most applications, including MS Office products. Select word(s) for the hyperlink, then press Ctrl/Command + K to quickly add a link.
  • Find is your friend. Use  Ctrl/Command + F
    to text in an application or web page.
  • Create content using your favorite word processing application, instead of entering it directly on the website. This way you have a copy of the content and you can use the features available in the word processor like spell checking and and grammar suggestions. Then copy Ctrl/Command + C and paste Ctrl/Command + V the text into your web page.

 

Web Browser tips

Using browser address bar to enter search terms
Use the browser address bar to enter search terms
  • When entering a web address, you don’t need to include http:// or https://. Web browsers assume you are looking for a web page so save yourself a few keystrokes.
  • Bypass Google or Bing. Search the web by entering search terms in your browser’s address bar.
  • Save time by using your web browser’s autocomplete feature instead of Bookmarks for sites you frequently visit. As you type in the address bar, a list of websites that you browse on a regular basis are displayed. Press tab (or use your mouse) to select the site, then press return to load the website.
  • If you use Bookmarks, use folders to organize your links. See bookmark tutorials below for common browsers:

Extension Website tips

Screenshot showing how to use search feature with dropdown lists
Using the search feature in dropdown lists.
  • Most dropdown lists on the Extension site have a search feature. When adding topics for example, you can scroll through the very long dropdown list, or just place the cursor in the field and start typing a few characters of the desired topic and then select the topic.
  • Finding County offices. From the Extension homepage, add a slash and name of county in the browser’s address bar, e.g. extension.oregonstate.edu/clatsop, extension.oregonstate.edu/morrow

Do you have any productivity tips you’d like to share? Let us know by leaving a comment.

Website updates

There aren’t any new features to announce this week, but we will be updating Drupal and several key modules Thursday morning before regular business hours. We anticipate the updates will improve website performance and stability. The upgrade does require that we take the Employee Intranet site offline during the upgrade, back online by 8:00 am.

As I am writing this, many OSU Extension county offices and combined Research and Extension Centers have entered initial phases of resumption after several months of being closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While many of us are looking forward to a “return to normal”, we know it will take a long time, and even then it’s very likely that things will never truly go back to the way they were before.

I want to take this chance to look back on some resources that were created to support OSU Extension faculty and staff during the pandemic and remind us of how these resources can continue to benefit us going forward. The past few months have been tough for many of us, but it’s good to remember that the work we did then was not only valuable at the time, but will remain valuable into the future.

Virtual Extension Resources

Shortly after we received the announcement that Extension Offices would be closed to public visits, a team comprised of members from Extension Communications, ECTU, and PACE began work on creating and collecting Virtual Extension resources for faculty and staff. These resources are intended to provide guidance around delivering Extension programming remotely. These resources continue to be updated, and the Virtual Extension team is still available to answer questions, talk through issues, or take suggestions regarding remote program delivery.

Since they were launched, these resources have received more than 9,000 pageviews. The most popular resources have been:

  1. Video and Multimedia Recommendations
  2. Video and multimedia for social media, web and more
  3. General program delivery considerations (accessibility, civil rights, security and privacy)
  4. Live online, interactive consulting to a larger group
  5. Real-time or recorded online ‘lecture’

Keep these resources in mind as you provide remote programming or use a mixed modality approach. Some of our case studies show that remote delivery has increased the reach of programming beyond what was expected in “normal circumstances,” so also consider continuing to provide remote offerings even when programming can be fully in-person. In the spirit of inclusion, think about what audiences are excluded when they are required to travel and gather in-person to receive our programming, as well as those who are excluded by requiring the tech and ability to receive programming virtually.

Professional development webinar series

To complement the online Virtual Extension resources, the VE team organized a series of Professional Development and Connection webinars for OSU Extension faculty and staff. These have included presentations from VE team members as well as faculty  and staff from throughout the organization. Topics have varied from Zoom and other software tutorials, to social media and marketing strategies, to Spanish language instruction!

Recordings of all presentations are available online. Definitely check them out if you get the chance. If you would like to present a session or have a suggestion of a session you would like to see, get in touch with Victor Villegas.

As part of this series, Extension leadership has also launched two recurring opportunities for conversation and connection with Extension faculty and staff and leadership: Water Cooler Wednesdays and Ask Anita. These sessions continue to occur regularly. 

Public online resources related to Coronavirus and COVID-19

In addition to the COVID-19 resources for faculty and staff, OSU Extension has produced a multitude of resources for Oregonians about staying healthy and taking care of themselves, their families and their communities. Thanks to the content management system that powers the Extension website, these resources were entered quickly and automatically collected on our Coronavirus (COVID-19) topic page. This page has been viewed over 850 times since it was published. Just a small sample of this content includes:

It also includes links to a number of credible sources of information about COVID-19 (including OHA, CDC and WHO) in order to combat common myths about the virus that have popped up in our communities.

In addition to addressing the needs of Oregonians related to physical, mental and community health, OSU Extension also worked to provide resources to parents and other educators who needed to quickly change their methods of child care and education as schools closed. Resources created by faculty and staff from a variety of program areas and resources were collected in a “Youth education resources” topic page. Since March, this page has received 1,034 pageviews.

While these resources have been particularly relevant in the face of COVID-19, the topics they cover have always been and will continue to be important. Consider exploring these pages (or other topic pages) to see what resources may be related to your work now or going forward.

Innovative web and digital strategies

The work described above has led to connections and collaboration that didn’t exist before the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, the Youth Portal mentioned in the previous section involved input, coordination and effort from team members from 4-H, Extension Family and Community Health, Oregon Open Campus, Outdoor School, Oregon Sea Grant, Extension Communications, and others. A subset of this group has agreed to work together in maintaining this topic page going forward.

Additionally, work on Virtual Extension resources has provided extra opportunities for collaboration between Extension Communications, ECTU, and PACE. Through these collaborations, we have been able to refine Extension’s strategy around content and event promotion through social media and newsletters. We have also launched a pilot of “Opt-In Forms” for topic pages, which allow visitors to tell us about their interest in a topic in order to receive a newsletter or other specially delivered content. 

The Coronavirus situation has also given us reason to utilize features of the Extension website that facilitate strategically “broadcasting” or pushing out content to many places with minimal effort on the part of most content authors. These strategies have included the following:

  • To provide website visitors with locally relevant information about COVID-19 and Extension’s status, two focus area templates were pushed out to all counties: Online resources and activities and County COVID-19 resources. These are able to pull in resources mentioned in the previous section while providing local context. Combined, these focus areas have received more than 500 pageviews.
  • We also pushed announcements out to counties as they enter different resumption phases (default/phase 1, phase 2). In total these announcements have been viewed nearly 1,800 times. These both point back to the page describing OSU Extension’s resumption status and plan, which has been viewed over 2,000 times.
  • Extension Communications has been continuously publishing news stories that highlight the impactful work Extension has been doing throughout the COVID-19 crisis. Through tagging, these stories automatically show up on topic and county pages where they are relevant. 
    • Please share these news stories on social media and in newsletters too — use the content bank to get the link, photo and teaser to share.

Special thanks

We would like to thank the following people, who have been particularly active in both using the website and taking the time to learn and think strategically about the most effective ways they can use the Extension website.

Whether you are writing an online article or a publication for the Extension Catalog, the title you craft goes a long way toward helping readers find your content.

Most readers go online to find specific information, and most use some kind of search engine to help them. Your title is what they use to decide whether to read your full article. The Internet is crammed with content, of course, but your headline is a way to separate yourself from the pack.

Your title should be an accurate and concise description of your publication. A good headline is essential for social sharing and understanding. Anyone who clicks on your publication or article did so because the title compelled them to or convinced them that your article has what the reader is looking for.

Title tips

  • Your headline should never use puns or clever wordplay.
  • Your headline should focus on the most important element in your publication or article. Vague, overarching titles like “All you need to know about tomatoes” will not be as effective as a precise headline like “Growing great tomatoes in western Oregon.”
  • It’s a good idea to run a Google search for your topic before you write your title. That way, you can make sure your title is distinct from others and reaches the readers who will be searching for it.
  • Keep titles to six to eight words.
  • Ask a critical question in your headline. “How can I defeat the slugs eating my broccoli?”
  • This free Headline Analyzer measures your title’s readability, sentiment and SEO and gives you a score for each and an overall score. Try revising your headline in the tool to increase its overall score. Another great option: the free online Headline Optimizer.
  • Put your keywords at the beginning of your title and integrate as naturally as possible so your title sounds like people talk.
  • Avoid technical terms or jargon, even if you feel your audience will understand. Instead, simplify your title by using clear, unambiguous language.

For example, if you wrote an article about the best organic fertilizers to use on tomatoes, your title should accurately convey the topic of your article and use words a reader might use to search for that topic. You could title the article, “Use lots of fertilizer and water to grow big, beautiful tomatoes,” but an even better title would put the keyword ‘tomato’ closer to the beginning: “Want beautiful tomatoes? Feed and water them on schedule.”

Google will display only the first 50 or 60 characters of your title. If you go over 60 characters, your headline may not display properly on the search results. This bad situation can be made worse if you put crucial keywords toward the end of a long title. When that happens, your prospective reader won’t know for sure that your article contains the information they want, and they’ll go to a different web page.

Headings

Headings — those short titles, or subheads, that appear between sections of your story — don’t have the same direct impact on search as your title. But they offer several indirect benefits. For example, they make your text easier to read, and better text attracts readers, which then improves search results. If you’re trying to get featured on Google for a how-to process, use subheads to specify each step.

Clear, relevant headings are also vital for quickly skimming content by people who listen to what is on a webpage using screen readers or voice assistants. Good accessibility can also improve your ranking when a search engine returns results.

Good headings also reduce your bounce rate. If people can’t quickly find what they are looking for because your headings are vague or unenticing, they’ll bounce to another website. However, helpful headings ensure they will stick around longer. Search engines value that.

In the end, the proof is in the analytics. If your web article isn’t drawing the kind of traffic you think it should, consider a new title and headings. This is called “optimizing” your headline, and there’s nothing wrong with running a few tests to find what clicks with readers.

You can do the same thing with your newsletter, sending different versions of the subject line to different groups of subscribers to learn what readers respond to. If you use an e-news tool like Mailchimp, it has a way to do this called A/B testing.

We spend a lot of energy trying to inform readers. But when it comes to titles, sometimes readers inform us. It pays to listen.

Author: Jim Sloan

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.

UPDATED 7/17/2020.

We have added a new focus area template to each county. Here you can share information on accessing food, health care, and financial assistance in your county.

Please change the information in the template to the relevant resources for your county. Then publish it. See details on how to make the updates below.

Screenshot of the focus area template:


To find your local focus area:

  • Login to the OSU Extension website
  • Visit your county landing page
  • In the sidebar towards the bottom, click the orange button “Return to group content list.”
  • Under the heading “manage content” — find “type” and select “local focus area.”
  • Click “apply.”
  • Look for “[count name] COVID-19 resources.”
  • Click edit

To customize your local 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:

  • Visit the “What we do” page on your county’s landing page
  • Under “Highlights” click “[Reorder Focus Areas]”
  • To change the order, click and drag the arrow icons in front of the focus area names to the desired location. The first five focus areas will show up on the county landing page.

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.