Hello Extension friends,

While it might not feel like spring (I wore gloves and a scarf to work this morning. Gloves!), the calendar does tell us that April is here.

Project timeline update

For those of you who have been tracking this project closely, you know that means  our new Extension website did not “launch” in March, which was our original goal.

We are still aiming to launch “phase 1,” a minimum viable website with essential features and priority content, this spring. Based on input we’ve received from program leaders and content teams, and on our project team’s assessment of remaining priority tasks, we will set a new target launch date this week.

In other news:

  • Content strategist: The content strategist recruitment is in the final stages! This person will serve as a key link between the project team and content teams. We’ll announce our new team member with a blog post, when it’s official.
  • What’s happening this week: The work plan for this week continues as outlined in last week’s post. We continue to prioritize support for content team leaders with office hours/open labs, and as-needed meetings. As a result, we are not as far along on our programming and design work. (Again, we are VERY excited for the content strategist to join our team. Can you tell?)
  • Resource update: We’ve made updates to the “managing program content” guide.

This update outlines new resources,  progress updates, and next steps.

Resources

Progress updates:

  • Program leaders provided input on their content teams’ progress and general “readiness for launch.” The project team is also compiling our list of remaining priority content, features, and functions necessary for a minimum viable Phase 1 launch.
  • Based on this information, the project team–in collaboration with Extension leadership–will set a Phase 1 launch date.
  • We have decided to wait to re-engage with county leaders and office managers about county landing pages until the “events” content type is ready, and content teams have had a chance to enter some events.

The plan for the next two weeks

  • Content teams continue content entry
  • Project team continues work on search functionality, event content type, theming/design, homepage content, and consultation with content teams
  • Project team adds centrally-managed content (e.g., news, general “about” info) and select content migrations/imports (per agreements with content teams)
  • User testing (focusing on navigation, homepage, search)

 

This update outlines what’s planned for the next two weeks, as well as new and “coming soon” resources.

Here’s the plan for this week (March 19):

  • Content strategist interviews
    • OSU Extension Collaborative and content team leaders invited to participate in open presentations and Q&A.
    • Recordings will be emailed to this group when available.
    • Feedback is due March 23.
  • Content teams continue content entry
  • Project team continues work on search functionality, event content type, theming/design, homepage content, and consultation with content teams
  • Collect input from program leaders to help set the phase 1 launch date.
    • Program leaders should expect an email from EESC director Jennifer Alexander on Tuesday, March 20.
    • Remember, the phase 1 launch will be a minimum viable product. Not a perfectly polished site with all the bells and whistles.

And the working-draft plan for next week (March 30):

  • Re-engage with county leaders and office managers about county landing pages.
  • Continue content entry, programming, and content team consultation
  • User testing (focusing on navigation, homepage, search)
  • Add centrally-managed content (e.g., news, general “about” info)

Resources

 

Last week marked one small step for our content teams and the project team, and one giant leap for Extension’s new digital strategy.

We opened the back end of our new website for content teams to begin initial content entry. This is HUGE. It means that we are–for the first time–working together as an organization to provide access to the breadth and depth of what OSU Extension offers. And that we are collectively focusing more on our audiences’ needs and preferences than on our own. This is a big, but important, shift. And we are getting there together.

Thank you

Thank you to the content team leaders who took time last week to view the training docs and videos, and to everyone who stopped by during our office hours/open labs, asked a question, or simply logged in to check things out. You know who you are! : )

Tips for content teams

Based on what we’ve seen and questions we fielded over the past few days, here are some tips for content teams.

  • Expect functionality, not fancy. As teams begin to enter content, the project team continues to work on design and layout. If you see something funky, make a note and share it with us. But please don’t let that be a hangup as you keep working on content.
  • What goes where? The quick start guide provides a short overview of available content types (e.g., article, announcement, collection, resource link). Note that the “events” content type is coming soon. The quick start guide provides information on when to use announcements vs. events.
  • More training videos? Yes, more training videos are coming. We started with the basics. Next on the list are videos for program landing pages and collections. We’ll add more videos, and update the quick start guide as more content types and features become available. Thanks and kudos to Victor Villegas for creating the videos, and for assisting with training and content team support.
  • Slow and steady. Everyone is eager to add content and see our new web presence take shape. So far, we’ve seen content team leaders be very successful when they (1) taking time to review the training materials, (2) start slowly–adding a few pieces of content to get the hang of it, and (3) ask questions before getting too far along. This is working well for us, too. Better that we talk through questions and examples early than get a whole lot of content added and then find out something isn’t working as expected.

Please keep asking questions. We’d love to “see” you during office hours/open labs, and we’ll respond to other questions as soon as possible.

 

 

Our new site is open for content teams to begin adding content and working on program landing pages! Woot!

Content team leaders received an email this afternoon with “getting started” information and resources. For reference, we’ve also added a new page on this site with links to training resources, plus the schedule for office hours/open lab help sessions.

Thank you to everyone for your contributions, time, and collaboration that allowed us to reach this milestone.

As you read in last week’s project blog post, we are on track to open up the new website to content teams this week.

This is that moment when we are just about at the top of the first big hill on a roller coaster. That moment when some of us are getting a little excited about what’s to come, some of us are thinking, “what did I get myself into?”, and a few are silently screaming, “I want to get off!”

There are some ups and downs ahead. Let’s pause for just a moment to exchange some virtual high-fives for all we’ve accomplished together to get us to this point! Thank you!

This week

For content team leaders: Here’s a heads up about what you can expect this week.

  1. On Wednesday, we will email you instructions for signing into the site and getting started with content entry, links to basic training documents and videos, and a schedule for “office hours/open labs” with the project team. We’ll also link to those training resources on this blog, for reference.
  2. Working in collaboration with Victor Villegas in ECTU, our team’s priority for the next couple of weeks is supporting content teams. In addition to the office hours/open labs, we will also respond to questions as soon as possible. As needed, we can schedule time with individual content teams to work through examples and questions.
  3. Please keep in mind that the basic site structure and functionality is in place, but design continues. Expect the look and feel to change, and the functionality to be fine-tuned in the coming weeks. This is an iterative process and depends, in part, on having more real content in the system to work with.

For everyone: Remember, if you have a question about specific content that you own or manage and haven’t yet had a conversation with the relevant content team, now’s the time!

Looking ahead

We are asking content teams to get started first with entering content and working on program landing pages (if applicable).

Later this month, we will re-engage with county leaders and office managers about county landing pages and county-specific, non-program content. This work will be most useful to do after there is more real content in the site, tagged with counties as appropriate.

We’ll continue to share updates on this blog. Please stay tuned!

Greetings good people of OSU Extension:

Thank you

We’ve said it before, and it’s worth repeating: Thank you to our colleagues who are serving on content teams, and especially the content team leaders.

In the long run, our new web strategy will support us to have the right people focused on the right things, from programming to local relationships to website management. In the short-term, we’re working through issues and challenges together. And content teams are doing a lot of the initial heavy lifting–assessing, organizing, evaluating, and making decisions about content–with support from our program leaders.

Remember: If you have a question about specific content that you own or manage and haven’t yet had a conversation with the relevant content team, now’s the time!

Thanks also to anyone who shared the content strategist job posting with their networks. We have a strong applicant pool, and the search committee is now in the screening phase.

Why are we doing this?

We’re in the midst of a busy phase of the project–preparing for initial content entry. This involves detailed web work, a lot of meetings and emails, and in-depth discussions with (and within) content teams. We know there is some uncertainty–anxiety even–about how certain things will look or work on the new site.

Let’s press pause for just a moment, and revisit the “why” for this project.

OSU Extension helps Oregonians–and Oregon–thrive. You help that happen. Your partnerships, community relationships, programs, information, and expertise help that. Our current web presence and digital strategy hinders it.

We can do better. We start now.

Learn more:

Timeline update

The project team is preparing to open the site for content teams to begin initial content entry the week of March 5. We will provide more details to content team leaders via email.

This week we will focus on back-end usability fixes, other programming and basic design, and creating basic training materials for content teams.

A couple quick announcements:

Content team leaders: As we approach the initial content entry phase, we’d like to check in on how you’re doing. Please review the content team checklist in last week’s blog post, and then take 10 seconds to respond to this 1-question survey.

Revised FAQ: We’ve revised the following FAQ based on progress OSU has made on the new OSU calendar system: How will events work in the new system? Will they integrate with OSU’s calendar?

User testing

Thank you to the four individuals who helped with back-end usability testing last week: Rita Bauer (Outdoor School content team), Adriene Koett-Cronn (Sea Grant content team), and Sandy Reichhuber and Chris Branam (both of EESC).

This testing involved asking each of these four brave souls–who had not previously seen the inner workings of our new website–to complete a variety of content entry tasks. They attempted to edit content, add content, update landing pages, add announcements, and more. And they talked out loud while doing it so we could follow their thought process. We watched.

It sounds awkward and little creepy, right? But it’s actually incredibly helpful.

Their fresh eyes and perspectives helped us identify improvements to make the back-end content content management forms and views more intuitive, less frustrating or confusing, and quicker.

Up next

This week the project team will focus on preparing to open the site for content entry. This includes:

  • Making  changes identified during usability testing
  • Creating basic training guides and short videos for content teams
  • Scheduling office hours/help sessions
  • Continued programming and basic design
  • As-needed advice and Q&A with content teams

Here’s a quick update on what’s happening in the next two weeks, plus a checklist for content teams.

Status and timeline update:

  • Launch: We are still aiming for initial launch in March. Working toward this goal involves all of us–especially the project team, content teams, content owners, and program leaders. The ultimate “go live” decision will be made by Extension leadership, with input from program leaders and the project team.
  • Content entry: Our goal was to open the site to content teams for initial content entry in late January or early February. We’re pushing that to late February to ensure the experience is as productive and hassle-free as possible for content teams. The basic framework and functions are developed. We are taking extra time to be sure the back-end forms and front-end displays are clean, simple, and user-friendly.
  • This week, the project team is working on:
    • Permission testing (making sure content teams will be able to do what they need to do, and not see extraneous information and settings)
    • User testing (Four meetings with alpha testers are scheduled. These individuals will test the content entry process. We will note what works well, or is challenging or confusing, and make adjustments.)
    • Continued programming and basic design
  • Next week, the focus will be:
    • Creating basic training guides and short videos for content teams
    • Continued programming and basic design
    • As-needed advice and Q&A with content teams

Are you ready for content entry?

Content teams

Content teams are continuing to work together with colleagues statewide to organize content in preparation for initial content entry. We know several teams are in a holding pattern, having done as much organization and planning as possible until being able to see actual content in context in the new website. Here is a quick checklist for content teams.

Signs your team is ready for initial content entry

You have:

  • Identified primary audiences and goals for your content
  • Inventoried your content (You know what you are creating and where it “lives” now.)
  • Started to evaluate content (e.g., current, accurate, user-focused, relates to program goals)
  • Started to categorize content (e.g., type of content, related topics and keywords)
  • Set priorities, and have a general sense of what content is most important to have in the new system at launch

Everyone

If you have a question about specific content that you own or manage and haven’t yet had a conversation with the relevant content team, now’s the time!

Last week, Punxsutawney Phil proclaimed six more weeks of winter. But we took little note of the pomp and circumstance surrounding our mammal friend in the Northeast. Being the industrious Beavers that we are, the project team was hard at work getting the new website ready for content entry. And our fellow content teams are continuing to work together with colleagues statewide to organize content in preparation for that.

But in the spirit of looking ahead, let’s pause for a quick update on what the next six(ish) weeks look like for this project and our work together.

Status and timeline update:

  • Launch: We are on track for a March launch.
  • Content entry: Our goal was to open the site to content teams for initial content entry in late January or early February. We’re pushing that out by 1-2 weeks to ensure the experience is as productive and hassle-free as possible for content teams. The basic framework and functions are developed. But we are taking extra time to be sure the back-end forms and front-end displays are clean, simple, and user-friendly.
  • What’s next? Our team’s focus for the next two weeks includes:
    • Continued programming and basic design
    • Permission testing (making sure content teams will be able to do what they need to do, and not see extraneous information and settings)
    • User testing (asking a couple brave souls to serve as alpha testers (guinea pigs, canaries…you get the idea) for content entry)
    • Creating basic training guides and short videos for content teams
    • As-needed advice and Q&A with content teams, and a kickoff meeting with the Community Vitality team (welcome to the party, Mallory!)

Other updates:

  • The content strategist position posting closes February 11. Please share the posting with your networks, and encourage interested and qualified candidates to apply.
  • We’ve been working with site managers for Extension association websites (OSUEA, ESP, and OAEA) to transition to the OSU WordPress platform and provide basic training. Those new sites will be live within the next couple of weeks, and current URLs will redirect to the new sites.

As always, let us know what questions you have (and check the FAQs!).