Criteria for Programs on the Extension Website

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

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

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

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

Criteria for Projects on the Extension Website

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

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

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

Criteria for Collections on Topic Pages

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

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

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

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

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

Benefits of the new site

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

Challenges of the new site

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

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

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

Excerpts summarized from OSU Extension Website Strategy Report, July 2016

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

Assigning the responsibility

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

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

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

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

Importing the content

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

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

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

Culling the content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Subpages

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

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

Topics

The top ten visited topics since launch are:

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

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

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

Topics should:

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

Criteria for requesting a new topic:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

While some people may be kicking back to relax in the summer, this season keeps the Extension Service and combined Experiment Stations busy with fairs, field days, harvests, and lots of engagement from our communities. The EESC web team also pushed ahead through June and July to complete tasks mentioned in the June 11 blog, and continues to field and respond to requested changes to the new website. Here are a few new improvements that have rolled out recently:

Print, Email, and Social Sharing

Like an article or interested in an event on the site? Web visitors can now share it on social media, print it, or email it to others. Look for the new action icons on each content page.

Find Us Faculty and Staff (A-Z)

Searching the breadth of faculty and staff in the Extension directory is now easier by clicking on the A-Z menu at the top of the page.

See All Latest Content

New content added by EESC and content teams occurs daily and scrolls across the home page. Now visitors can access all recent content by clicking a homepage button or going to the direct link to see all recent content on one page.

Entry Changes

When editing or entering new content, the web groups can now see revisions made and use the revision comments field to make internal notes.

Additionally, when you type in the title field of a new piece of content, on the right side of the screen will appear any links to existing content that may be similar to help identify duplicates.

When adding a photo to the website that has limited permissions, mark the “Don’t allow reuse of this image” checkbox that appears when selecting the image.

Also, when saving content as a “draft”, “in review”, “archived”, or “published”, you can now sort by this status, and by author, all the content entered by your group. This helps to monitor content entered as needed.

Coming Next

  • Improved text and spacing on desktop computer screens
  • Design changes for different sections of the website
  • Behind the scenes development that make future features possible

Keep sending us your questions or changes that you see needed through our Web Support.

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.

Many teams are working hard to add content to the new Extension website, but need just a little more time. The decision to move the deadline from August 1 to November 1 for accessing the archived Extension content gives more time for content teams to review and assess what is needed before the old content goes completely offline.

The migration process centers around collaborating among team members and learning how to manage content in the new site structure, and that coordination and education can take time.

Persisting in the effort through the summer may be needed to get through all the archived content and to tap seasonal student workers to help with the content entry. Some teams may also decide to prioritize entry of resources that need to be available during this busy summer season. If there is content you are waiting on, contact the content team leader to learn its status.

Other changes this week

The OSU events calendar will start showing Extension events this week. Once you enter events into the Extension website, they will automatically get exported (except attached flyers) to the OSU events calendar so you only have to enter it once. This provides additional outreach for Extension events as they get highlighted university-wide. Any new events or updates on the Extension website are transferred to the OSU calendar at the start of each day.

Other changes this week include the EESC web team reducing our office hours, since the number of people attending has tapered off post-launch. People can still inquire during office hours on Fridays 2-4 pm, or email to set up an individual meeting time during the week. You are always welcome to contact us as needed.

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 the most recent content listed first to keep these pages fresh, although we’re open to hearing how else you might prioritize content. Sometimes content is mis-tagged or duplicated and it’s easier to spot on these auto-populated topic pages. If you see something out of place, log into the site and use this new 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” or from a “button link” on their main county page. It will also show on program pages that have a section for “Program tagged content list” if tagged for that program, such as the Regional Gardening Information section in Master Gardener county 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 too. If you have questions about this, then reach out to the EESC web team.