Let’s ask ourselves: How do people find information about my Extension program? How do they find ways to participate?  Plus the critical follow up: How much do people like the interactions they have with my team?

Doing Extension work well is based on the answers to these fundamental questions. The answers inform how we plan any of our outreach and communication efforts.

To reach answers to the questions, everyone on your team must understand the essence of the experiences your constituents have.

Journey mapping is an exercise we use to shed light on that.

Shine a bright light on any areas where your constituents’ feedback says they have a less-than-perfectly-delightful experience… and your team can make a plan to turn that around!

What is a Constituent Journey Map?

A journey map is a type of diagram. It’s a visual representation of an experience as viewed from the direct perspective of one constituent (or constituent group) with whom your Extension program interacts. The important piece is that everything in the diagram is meant to capture the experience of your constituents themselves. This is not about your program team’s perspective.

While journey maps come in many different forms, commonly it is represented as a timeline of all the touchpoints between a constituent and your program—i.e. what they see from outreach efforts, materials they read, places they go, and people with whom they talk. This timeline contains information about all channels your constituents use to interact with you.

A user journey map template. Image: NNGroup

What are the parts of a journey map?

A journey map facilitates analysis of a journey in elements like:

  • Persona – what are the characteristics of an average program participant or constituent
  • Stages — does the journey proceed through distinct phases of interaction?
  • Incremental steps — such as those that help complete a specific process
  • Touchpoints — how does the person come in contact with your program?
  • Technology used (if any)
  • Amount of effort — is the constituent passively receiving info or filling out a form (or other task), e.g.

What design problems do journey maps help us solve?

Primarily, the goal is to visualize how a constituent interacts with our services and allows program design to occur in a way that takes a constituent’s point of view into account. The approach leads to:

  • Improved services to a specific audience
  • Helping discover ways to align audience’s experience with your program’s strategic priorities
  • Exploring potential problems that may have arisen in surveys or feedback
  • Planning for a transition or change in direction

This fosters a constituent-centric approach to designing our efforts, which ultimately leads to a better experience for them.

Example of a completed constituent journey map

The seven steps to create a journey map

1. Choose scope

The scope of the constituent journey map can vary from the high level showing complete, end-to-end experience to a more detailed map focusing on one particular engagement—for example, registering for a workshop.

2. Create a persona

Who is your constituent? In constituent-centered design and communication planning, personas are profiles of fictional characters created to represent the different types of Oregonians that have similar service needs. A persona should be created based on information you have about your audience(s). Having solid information about an audience will help prevent making false assumptions.

Tips for creating a persona:

  • Collaborate with team members who interact directly with this audience
  • Look for commonalities and patterns among various individuals
  • You may create multiple personas to represent different groups
  • Base your persona characteristics on data you have collected

3. Define the constituent’s expectations

It is important to define what expectations the people in the specified audience may have about the interactions described in the journey map. For example, one scenario may be a person using a Google search to find information pertaining to a workshop. Here, the expectation may be that the workshop’s title will appear in the search results and the link will proceed to a page full of detailed information on the webpage.

Meaning that in some cases, the expectation is fairly simple and straightforward. In other cases, more complexity is involved. The key is to be on the lookout for where things get more complicated. This can lead you to the source of frustration—one of the pain points mentioned below—some will feel when they’re trying to complete a task.

4. List all the touchpoints

Touchpoints are actions taken by the constituent and also interactions they have with your program. It is important to identify all main touchpoints to establish as much empathy as possible for how, where, and when your constituents add to the perception they have of your program and how it communicates out into the world.

5. Take constituent intention into account

What motivates your constituents to engage with your program, to view online content, or to sign up for newsletters? Another way to look at this is to ask what specific problems are people hoping to solve when they decide to reach out to you online? Different segments of your audience will have different reasons for engaging.

Let’s use an average e-commerce website as an example. There is a difference between a shopper who is just browsing through many options and one who wants to arrive to the website to accomplish a specific purchase. The design choices on how to display information or options—such as a “buy now” button—would take the differences into account.

For each journey map, it’s vital to understand:

  • Motivation – why are they trying to do it?
  • Channels – where are interactions taking place
  • Actions – the actual behaviors and steps taken by people
  • Pain points – what challenges arise as people are trying to complete tasks

6. Create a first draft of your journey map

Mark Kindred will work with you, guiding the process of filling in the components of your team’s journey map. Or simply start building your own map. Try to account for all the timeline elements that you can related to your program. This can be a fun exercise, and the idea is the results will have a positive effect on all the various types of communications you have with your audiences.

7. Perform an assessment and refine the map

It is important to point out that journey maps should result in truthful narratives (or as close as you can get).

You should plan to use information from the Extension website’s content analytics dashboard as evidence that your journey map resembles real use cases. Gather and analyze information about your audiences on a regular basis. For example, participant feedback (do you send out online surveys?) is something that can be used to improve your team’s understanding of their experiences.

Your journey map assessment yields:

  • Where are the opportunities to combine separate steps to produce a streamlined experience?
  • Which steps represent pain points people experience and how might those be changed to improve the experience?
  • Which steps require exerting the most effort and how might you reduce the effort?
  • Where do people encounter a “moment of truth” type of event that makes or breaks their experience or leads to different outcomes (perhaps different than intended)?

Conclusion

The most critical thing to remember is that the goal here is to create a journey map that helps everyone share the same vision for your program.

You may start collecting the parts of the map today and share them with your team or colleagues who are familiar with the audience you’re serving. Let them weigh in and make it more and more accurate.

Make it possible for everyone on your team to examine the entire experience from the constituents’ point of view then leverage the information while designing various aspects of your program.

 


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.

Extension website updates.

  • The Extension web team is aware of recent incidents of website pages that may load more slowly than normal and is investigating the issue to get it resolved. An important point is slow load times seem to be isolated to Extension employees who are logged in to the website content management system at the time. The web team does not expect average visitors to be impacted by this issue. If you have any questions, please contact us via the support form.
  • Information about Content Teams and Web Groups has been updated on the Content Teams/Web Groups page. Please review the information for a content team or group with which you are involved for accuracy.

“There are clear champions related to the digital strategy,” said Anita Azarenko at a quarterly conversation last summer. “Is there a way to capture that enthusiasm, that energy, to help the web and content strategy team help others? I’m not saying put more on your plate because some of you are already doing this, but how can you help others make this transition?”

At our Extension annual conference in December, our web team saw some champions at work. We observed Extension faculty coaching colleagues on producing peer-reviewed educational content. We heard people talking about how topic pages or journey maps function. And we had full rooms of people at our sessions hoping to learn more and get their questions answered.

We also want to recognize the 50 people who were most active in 2019 to keep the content current. They dove in and put things into the new content management system, so it could show up on the Extension website. Thank you!

Looking forward

As we start the new year, we will look for champions who share their best practices or how-to tips with others. Or, implement new processes as a team. Here are 3 ways you can contribute in 2020 to helping your colleagues:

  1. Convene your group or team to put together a content calendar or make decisions about recurring questions
  2. Subscribe to these blog posts to stay up to date, and share as a regular agenda item at your future meetings
  3. Join others to present a peer-based training or contribute your thoughts in a Navigator blog post

Jen Holt, who coordinates Oregon Master Beekeeper and Oregon Bee Atlas programs, shared her experiences with the transition.

“At first, I was a slightly unwilling participant. I had an established program with an existing website that had served us well for many years,” she explained during the Extension annual conference.

“Yet, once I got started I grew in my understanding and use of the new Extension website. I have been using this website for a year now, and the finished product greatly exceeds what we were using in the past.”

She admits the hardest part is learning the terminology, but that the help docs can be your friend. She likes that new pathways of involvement are now available online:

  • The interactive features for the general public to have their questions answered
  • The ability to highlight a list of their publications and events based on tags
  • A way to tie into the larger OSU and Extension community.

View her slides and notes for her presentation.

Would you like to share your experiences in a future blog post? Contact us to let us know.

Roundup of Web Updates during 2019

If you missed out on reading the posts last year or want a recap, this roundup will get you on track with what we did:
  • Launched new designs for county landing pages, local focus areas and the Extension homepage. We also made it easier to show different style formats.
  • Added many new tools groups can see when logged into the site. You can now see feedback from visitors and analytics dashboards to show their activity. Also, review any revisions notes from EESC copyediting.
  • Answered over 600 support requests from Extension faculty and staff throughout the past year. As a result, we made many iterative changes to existing features to make the site work for different situations.
  • Hired a new Salesforce programmer who has met with different groups. He shared how this new constituent relationship management system can apply to Extension’s work in the future.
  • Held trainings around the state, and taught how to use OSU tools like Box or Beav.es for file and link management. We also created new how-to videos to familiarize you with the website.
  • Outlined everyone’s content management roles, and how to count your web activities in Digital Measures. We also integrated your awards and publications from Digital Measures into your profiles.
  • Shared tips on sprucing up newsletters or catching the attention of web visitors. We also added tools or data-informed recommendations for improving content’s readability, accessibility and findability online.

This month, we released a content analytics dashboard for content groups on the Extension website. Now, the most useful data about your content is in a simplified interface that you can access directly from the Extension website. 

Many thanks and kudos to the EESC web team’s student employee Hawii Boriyo, who implemented the dashboard and helped greatly with it’s planning and design!

How to access the dashboard

When you log in to the Extension website and go to the group content page for one of your groups, you will see a new “Analytics” tab at the top of the page. Clicking on this tab will take you to the dashboard for the content in that group.

On the top of the dashboard, there is a link to “See analytics for all of Extension” that expands the data displayed on the dashboard to include all content on the Extension website, so you can see how your content compares.

In the future, we plan to implement additional dashboard views that can provide data about individual pieces of content as well as all content by a particular author and program area.

Data available on the dashboard

Dashboard screenshot

The dashboard is broken up into several sections:

  • Top content: this section contains information about
    • How often content from the group is viewed (pageviews)
    • How many people visit the group’s content (users)
    • How long on average that people spend viewing the content
    • The most visited pages in the group
  • How visitors find us: this section contains information about\
    • The way that visitors find content produced by the group (see the help text on the right-hand side of the dashboard for definitions)
    • Websites, both internal and external to OSU, that link to the group’s content  

Dashboard screenshot

  • About the visitors: this section contains information about
    • The approximate locations of visitors who view  content from the group
    • The preferred languages of visitors to the group’s content
    • The types of devices used by visitors to access the content
    • How many times visitors visit content in the group
  • Visitor navigation: if you are a member of a program group, you will see this section with information about the first and last pages visitors go to when they visit the group pages
  • What visitors look for: when you look at the dashboard for all content on the Extension website, you will see this section with information about the most common terms visitors enter in the search box on the Extension website. It also shows the most common terms people enter that return no results.

 

How to use the dashboard controls

There are several controls on the dashboard you can use to expand or restrict the data you see. 

  • Date range: at the top of the dashboard there is a dropdown widget where you can select the date range for the data shown on the dashboard.
  • Page title: in the “Top Content” section, there is a widget you can use to see data about only a specific page or set of pages. To do this, type in the title of the page and press enter. If you don’t know the exact name of the page, you can click on the box that says “EQUALS” to reveal a dropdown where you can select “CONTAINS” instead.
  • Search terms: in the “What visitors look for” section on the all Extension dashboard, you can filter to see if the search terms contain a particular word. To do this:
    • Click on “EQUALS” to reveal a dropdown and select “CONTAINS”
    • Type in the word you want to filter by and press enter

How to interpret the data

The content analytics dashboard provides quantitative data about content, meaning that you will need to do some interpretation in order to find actionable takeaways. These dashboards can be useful to see if outreach or content strategies you are trying lead to an intended change. Here are some tips for doing this:

  • Identify gaps and opportunities
    • The “About the Visitors” section may show you audiences that you may not be effectively serving up to this point. Do you have content relevant to the places they are from? Do you have content in the language(s) they prefer?
    • On the flip side, this section may reveal that audiences you have heavily focused on in the past are not using your content as often as you would like. If this is the case, you may need to do some outreach to figure out why this is or reconsider where you are directing your efforts.
    • In the “How visitors find us” section, look at the sites that are linking to your content. Is your content appropriate for people coming from those sites? Are there any sites you know of that you would like to link to you?
    • The “What visitors look for” section may identify topics visitors are interested in that your group has expertise in.
  • Look for trends and outliers
    • In the “Top content” section, look for pages that are more popular than others, pages where people spend more time than average. Then, you can see what about that content  could help to bring the rest of your content up to that level.
      • One way to do this for pages is to look at the feedback on the page.
    • Also look at the pageviews over time graph at the top of the dashboard for times when pageviews spiked. Do you know why the spike happened? Can you make that happen again?
      • If you don’t know where a spike in pageviews came from, try narrowing the date range for the dashboard to only that day and look at the “Where visitors come from” section.

In the new year, we will work to do some online tutorials or webinars to offer more suggestions on analyzing your content data, answer your questions, and hear from you on other analytics that may be useful. 

Web updates

  • If you are filling out your Digital Measures, read this blog post from earlier in the year about how to count your web efforts this year.
  • Events now can add related content. Using the new field, select existing content by title and it will be featured on the bottom of the event page. This can be useful for people to learn more about the topic or presenter.
  • Topic resources pages and search results can now be filtered by audience.
  • When creating an event, there is now the option to hide the address and instead display “Location details will be provided to attendees.”
  • County landing pages can now display up to 5 local focus areas.

If you saw something at the 2019 EAC you found especially interesting and I’m not covering it here… We encourage you to scroll down to the “Leave a reply” section. Please post a comment to describe how we can help.

On behalf of the Navigator team and others in EESC, just a quick “thank you” to all who had conversations with us, stopped by our table, or simply listened in on the exciting ways in which we have been working to empower digital engagement for Extension in 2019.

What is Navigator? Navigator is a customer-focused system to engage Oregonians and deliver information across multiple channels

In case you missed one of our teams’ sessions, or were looking for a way to rekindle some of the excitement building up around what was presented, here are some downloadable presentation materials we think can help you build ideas for digital engagement in your program area or office.

 

1. DIY Extension Marketing

Michele Scheib, Ann Marie Murphy, Chris Branum, Nicole Strong

Creating awareness of the value of Extension and recruiting participants and volunteers is often top of mind and can be a challenge for Extension offices and programs. This session shared tools, ideas and experience to help market Extension in your county and region from a variety of people and perspectives.

Download presentation

From the Extension Website User Guide

 

2. Extension Website Lightning Talks

Bryan Mayjor, Amerie Lommen, Michele Scheib, Jen Holt, Mark Kindred

The Extension website is more powerful than many realize. In this session, we presented short lightning talks on tips and tricks for using the Extension website and related tools, reporting impact (including Digital Measures), best practices and requirements for web content (including accessibility for visitors with disabilities), and news about upcoming milestones in Extension’s digital strategy, including CRM development.

Download presentation

Handouts

 

3. Building a CRM Practice in Extension Programs: the How & the Why

Mark Kindred, Carrie Berger, Daniel Leavell

The Extension Service is scaling up its use of CRM (Constituent Relationship Management) software as a digital tool to increase efficiency and strengthen productivity. For each program across Extension, the scope and scale of a CRM practice will differ. This presentation highlighted the steps undertaken to assess, plan, and implement a CRM practice using Salesforce. Learn what worked, what didn’t, and why this digital solution was necessary for helping the program achieve its goals.

Download presentation

 

 

4. Who Did What? Simple Secrets to Effective Writing

Jim Sloan and Janet Donnelly

This humorous, interactive session described the basic rules for writing for a general audience. We covered how to outline your material, how to structure sentences and paragraphs, and how to develop a writing style that engages and entertains readers. This session is helpful and inspirational to anyone in Extension who writes material for a lay audience.

Download presentation

 

 

5. Extension Efficiency and
Growth Opportunities

Amerie Lommen, Xenia Velasco, Mark Kindred, Jeff Sherman, KJ Knight, Kevin Leahy, Raul Burriel

A panel that helped foster ideas for social resilience and growth mindset, intergenerational marketing, community engagement, sustainable growth, keeping up meeting and event attendance within the community, reaching the next generation, and more!

Download presentation

 


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.

Last week we launched a new homepage design for the OSU Extension website. Additional design refinements for the homepage will be coming soon. Homepage updates include:

  • New feature to sharing three key statistics. (This will also be available to content groups for program subpages and collections.)
  • New footer for the OSU Extension website. This is the black section at the bottom of all pages on the OSU Extension website.
  • Easy ways to find information for local county offices, including a direct links to each county’s event page.
  • A new design for homepage featured content. This will highlight awesome content across OSU Extension.
  • Ask an Expert featured questions.

Check it out, we’d love to hear what you think! Share your feedback.

 

Come see us at the OSU Extension Annual Conference!

These are our sessions:

 

Extension Website Lightning Talks
Jennifer Alexander, Mark Kindred, Amerie Lommen, Bryan Mayjor, Michele Scheib
Wednesday, 9:15-10:00am

The Extension website is more powerful than many realize. In this session, we will present short lightning talks on tips and tricks for using the Extension website and related tools, reporting impact (including Digital Measures), best practices and requirements for web content (including accessibility for visitors with disabilities), and news about upcoming milestones in Extension’s digital strategy, including CRM development.

 

DIY Extension Marketing
Ann Marie Murphy, Nicole Strong (TBC), Michele Scheib, Erik Simmons (TBC), Chris Branam, Kym Pokorny
Tuesday, 1:30-2:45pm

Creating awareness of the value of Extension and recruiting participants and volunteers is often top of mind and can be a challenge for Extension offices and programs. This session will bring tools, ideas and experience to help you market Extension in your county and region from a variety of people and perspectives. Come prepared to share one of the most effective 2019 marketing efforts from your county or program!

 

Building a CRM Practice in Extension Programs: the How & the Why
Mark Kindred, Carrie Berger
Wednesday, 10:15-10:45am

The Extension Service is scaling up its use of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software as a digital tool to increase efficiency and strengthen productivity. For each program across Extension, the scope and scale of a CRM practice will differ. This presentation will highlight the steps undertaken to assess, plan, and implement a CRM practice using Salesforce. Learn what worked, what didn’t, and why this digital solution was necessary for helping the program achieve its goals.

 

Extension Efficiency and Growth Opportunities
Jamie Davis (TBD), Amerie Lommen, Mark Kindred, Jeff Sherman, Kelsey Knight, Kevin Leahy, Raul Burriel
Thursday, 1:00-2:00pm

Join us for a panel that will help foster ideas for social resilience and growth mindset, intergenerational marketing, community engagement, sustainable growth, keeping up meeting and event attendance within the community, reaching the next generation, and more! The panel will feature: Jamie Davis (Social Media), Amerie Lommen (EESC/Web Strategy), Mark Kindred (CRM), Jeff Sherman (non-traditional community engagement models), Kevin Leahy (holding meaningful meetings; getting community to attend Extension events), Raul Burriel (tech/media strategy)

 

Internet Productivity Tips & Tricks: Getting the Most Out of Your Web Browser and Online Search
Victor Villegas
Wednesday, 10:15-10:45am

Learn how to get the most out of your web browser, increase your productivity and find information faster online.

 

Information table at the conference

We will have a table on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Come find us and ask questions. We’d love to see you!

 

 

UPDATED 11/26/19: The new OSU Extension website homepage has been launched! Check it out, we’d love to hear what you think! Share your feedback.


A new design for the OSU Extension website homepage will be launching soon!

Updates include:

  • New feature to sharing three key statistics. (This will also be available to content groups for program subpages and collections.)
  • New footer for the OSU Extension website. This is the black section at the bottom of all pages on the OSU Extension website. This is viewable now.
  • Easy ways to find information for local county offices, including a direct links to each county’s event page.
  • A new design for homepage featured content. This will highlight awesome content across OSU Extension.
  • Added Ask an Expert featured questions.

Keep an eye on the homepage over the coming days to see the updates.

 

Come see us at OSU Extension Annual Conference!

As you plan what sessions you’ll attend, consider these:

 

Extension Website Lightning Talks
Jennifer Alexander, Mark Kindred, Amerie Lommen, Bryan Mayjor, Michele Scheib
Wednesday, 9:15-10:00am

The Extension website is more powerful than many realize. In this session, we will present short lightning talks on tips and tricks for using the Extension website and related tools, reporting impact (including Digital Measures), best practices and requirements for web content (including accessibility for visitors with disabilities), and news about upcoming milestones in Extension’s digital strategy, including CRM development.

 

DIY Extension Marketing
Ann Marie Murphy, Nicole Strong (TBC), Michele Scheib, Erik Simmons (TBC), Chris Branam, Kym Pokorny
Tuesday, 1:30-2:45pm

Creating awareness of the value of Extension and recruiting participants and volunteers is often top of mind and can be a challenge for Extension offices and programs. This session will bring tools, ideas and experience to help you market Extension in your county and region from a variety of people and perspectives. Come prepared to share one of the most effective 2019 marketing efforts from your county or program!

 

Building a CRM Practice in Extension Programs: the How & the Why
Mark Kindred, Carrie Berger
Wednesday, 10:15-10:45am

The Extension Service is scaling up its use of CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software as a digital tool to increase efficiency and strengthen productivity. For each program across Extension, the scope and scale of a CRM practice will differ. This presentation will highlight the steps undertaken to assess, plan, and implement a CRM practice using Salesforce. Learn what worked, what didn’t, and why this digital solution was necessary for helping the program achieve its goals.

 

Extension Efficiency and Growth Opportunities
Jamie Davis (TBD), Amerie Lommen, Mark Kindred, Jeff Sherman, Kelsey Knight, Kevin Leahy, Raul Burriel
Thursday, 1:00-2:00pm

Join us for a panel that will help foster ideas for social resilience and growth mindset, intergenerational marketing, community engagement, sustainable growth, keeping up meeting and event attendance within the community, reaching the next generation, and more! The panel will feature: Jamie Davis (Social Media), Amerie Lommen (EESC/Web Strategy), Mark Kindred (CRM), Jeff Sherman (non-traditional community engagement models), Kevin Leahy (holding meaningful meetings; getting community to attend Extension events), Raul Burriel (tech/media strategy)

 

Internet Productivity Tips & Tricks: Getting the Most Out of Your Web Browser and Online Search
Victor Villegas
Wednesday, 10:15-10:45am

Learn how to get the most out of your web browser, increase your productivity and find information faster online.

 

Information table at the conference

We will have a table on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Come find us and ask questions. We’d love to see you!

 

The last stop on this year’s regional website trainings concluded last week at the Coos County Office in Myrtle Point. I traveled across the state with stops at the Malheur and Union County offices (Eastern Region), Wasco and Deschutes County offices (Central Region), Klamath Basin Research & Extension Center and Josephine County offices (Southern Region), Marion County office (Western Region), Washington County office (North Willamette Region), and the Tillamook and Coos County offices (Coastal Region). Thanks to Amerie Lommen and Victor Villegas who helped out during the workshops. We live in an incredibly beautiful state. 

It was great seeing familiar faces, meeting people who I’ve only known through email, and getting to know many others. Overall, 72 people participated in the workshops. Kudos to the Regional Directors, office managers, and the others who helped schedule and coordinate the workshops. 

While I’m very familiar with the technical aspects of the Content Management System, seeing how users actually interact and create content was helpful. Thanks for sharing your process, questions and feedback! If you attended one of the workshops, and haven’t taken the post workshop survey, please do. Your feedback will help us as we plan next year’s workshops. 

If you didn’t have an opportunity to attend one of the workshops, or need more help, you can request an individual or small group Zoom web conference with me. Let me know if you are interested.

Topics that generated the most audience reaction

Box shared link settingsUsing Box for file management

Programs like 4-H have forms that change every year. In the past, to update a form, you would need to login, remove the old file, upload a new file, and change the link. Is there a better way? Did you know you can set up a shared link to directly download a file bypassing Box completely? Another great feature in Box is the ability to replace files without the link changing. This is a big plus. Users will always get the current version of the form. We recommend that you don’t include the year in your links. By not including the year, you won’t need to change anything on the website next year. The drawback of using Box  is that it takes longer initially to get things set up. The plus is next year all you need to do is replace your forms in Box and users will get the correct form, without you making any changes to the website. Box also allows you to password protect files and folders with a password you set. Creating a password protected folder is a great way to share information with volunteers. See the Extension Website User Guide for more information.

Page sections

Did you know that you can change how lists are displayed? We have multiple display options. In the Page sections area on the edit screen, click the Settings tab. There you can choose the list style. See the For Advanced Users: Page Section Settings for Custom Design page on the Extension Website User Guide for details.

The screenshots below show the same list of items but with different list styles.

List (search results) 

Grid (teaser cards)

Text (bulleted list)

For those of you who didn’t get an opportunity to participate in the workshops here are the handouts we provided to attendees.

Top 5 things you can do to help improve the Extension website

  • Simple ways you can improve the website.

Extension website help and support

  • Learn where to get website help and support.

Many of us use the Extension website mostly or exclusively for adding and organizing content, so we don’t always know how our audiences use or experience the site. Google Analytics records some quantitative statistics such as the number of visits a page receives, but it’s hard to imagine the actual human beings behind the numbers. When you say that a page got 10,000 pageviews, all that you know is that the page was requested that many times. If you want to actually improve the content on the page, you need to ask more “qualitative” questions such as:

  • Did these visitors find the information they were looking for?
  • What did they do most often on the page? 
  • Were they able to understand the content?

This summer, EESC implemented a few new features on the Extension website that collect qualitative data and answer these kinds of questions.

Collecting audience feedback

The first feature is a “feedback widget” on the right-hand side of every page:

When a visitor clicks on the widget, a small window comes up asking them “Did you find what you were looking for?” They then score a page on a scale of 1-5 (represented by smiley faces). After they score the page, they have the opportunity to leave a comment and, optionally, their email address if they would like a response to the comment.

Another way we are collecting visitor feedback is a “poll” we have set up on all 4-H pages. We can set up similar polls on other pages, but we decided to focus on 4-H for the summer because we knew 4-H members would be using the site heavily for fair season.

This window, asking “Quick question: How can we improve this page? Is anything missing?”, pops up from the bottom of the page after a visitor has had a chance to look around for several seconds. When they comment, they also have the option to leave their email address if they would like a response.

Finally, at the bottom of most pages, visitors see a small form asking “Was this page helpful?” They can select “Yes” or “No” and have an option to leave a (non-public) comment.

So far, through all three tools, feedback has been left 10,126 times. Of these, 8,659 (~86%) were positive. Comments were left along with the rating 1,175 times.

Finding the feedback on your content

Content authors and group members can view feedback on their content directly through the Extension website.  

To view feedback (including comments) for an individual piece of content, go to the content and click the “Feedback” tab under the content’s title. It is near the “Edit” tab.

To see an overview of feedback scores for all content in a group, go to that group’s group content page (the list of content in the group). Then click the “Feedback” tab under the group name. This will take you to a list of all content with feedback in the group. To see the comments left for a particular piece of content, you can click on “Details” in it’s row on this page.

Seeing audience behavior

EESC also has access to a tool to create “heat maps” of individual pages. A heat map is an overlay over the page that shows where visitors to that page click (or just hover) their mouse. Where people click more often (or hover longer), the colored overlay is brighter. For example, here is part of a heat map of a previous version of the home page:

Heat maps are very useful for figuring out what controls on the page people use the most. When you know that, you can prioritize what controls or links should be in these more prominent spots. If you have made changes to a topic page, county page, or program subpage and want to see what people are clicking on or how far they scroll down the page, please contact us and we can work with you using this tool. 

Takeaways and lessons

EESC has been using data from visitor feedback to plan several improvements for the site, including:

  • Several users left comments to the effect that they couldn’t figure out phone/visiting situation with our Portland office, so we are planning to make some small design updates for that page that will make it clearer.
  • We noticed that several visitors who left a comment saying they were unable to submit an Ask an Expert question were all using a particular version of the Android operating system. This gave us a clue about where to start looking for glitches in the system.
  • We used heat maps to help with designs for several program landing pages and the website home page.

Feedback, particularly comments, can also be very useful to content authors. Many times a visitor will ask a follow-up question or request further information that maybe wasn’t originally included, and they can reveal places where the information isn’t clear or is outdated. It’s useful to look at the “feedback” tab when updating your content.

Here are some general tips for improving content based on common visitor feedback:

  • Use high-quality, illustrative images. Many users comment about the images (or lack thereof) that go with an article. Most are asking for images on articles that don’t have any, and others compliment the quality of our existing images.
  • Keep your writing as short and clear as possible. When giving positive feedback about our content, visitors often use words like “succinct”, “concise”, “brief”, “clear” and “quick”. These are qualities that leave a positive impression on readers and make the information easier to understand and use.
  • Put important links on the main page (i.e., not just the sidebar). From heat maps, we know that when visitors first come to a page, they often skip over the sidebar and focus on content on the “main” part of the page. This is especially true on mobile, where the sidebar gets pushed to the top of the page before visitors can get any context. Quick link bars are a great option for highlighting important links, such as links to newsletters, event lists, or active social media profiles.

Sample positive feedback

The Extension website has an overwhelmingly positive rating from visitors, and it is important that everyone who has contributed it hears it. In that spirit, here are just some of the supportive and positive comments left by visitors to the Extension website. You may also want to look at these as examples to get ideas for your own content:

  • 4-H forms and events
    • “I really appreciate the details you have put here for us to have access to on the weekends! Thank you for helping our kids!!” [State 4-H record books pagekudos to the state 4-H team!]
    • “Thank You So Much. We don’t have enough info about Record Books and this helps outs Tremendously!” [Benton County 4-H record books pagekudos to the Benton County 4-H team!]
    • “Great page and really like that you can share the link with others!” [Horse judging and hippology contestkudos to the Clackamas County 4-H team!]
  • Educational articles
    • “Wonderful article! I would love to learn more in a part 2. We just bought a home with highbush blueberries in poor condition and are wondering how to best reclaim these plants.” [How blueberry plants develop and growkudos to Bernadine Strik and the Ag/Berries content team!]
    • “Thanks. Your comments are greatly appreciated. They have given me a new perspective on how to deal with Powdery Mildew early in the season.” [How to deal with a vineyard powdery mildew outbreakkudos to Jay Pscheidt and the Ag/Wine grapes team!]
    • “Thank you very much for the information provided in this article. I am just thinking about pasture and have no experience. This is a great start for northern pasture growers and I hope it will be beneficial to my starting out.” [Pasture and grazing managementkudos to the Ag/Dairy team!]
    • “Lots of information and the pictures really helped thanks.” [What are those worms in my firewood?kudos to the Forestry and Natural Resources team!]
  • Educational collections
    • “Thank you so much for making this information available, and all the work that went into it! I appreciate it very much! And thank you also for making it affordable, this is a huge help to me. Have a great day!” [Native plant gardeningkudos to the Ag/Home Hort team!]
    • “Thank you for making so much of your information easily available! So grateful for it.” [Poultry resources for small farmskudos to the Small Farms team!]
  • Educational videos
    • “I like them. Easy to try out, and following the steps well.” [Basic steppingkudos to the Better Bones and Balance team!]
  • Events
    • “We love the OSU Extension Service. You have provided a wealth of information to us over the years and we are so thankful. You are always gracious and kind and willing to share your knowledge, expertise and tips! Way-to-go, Beavs!!” [Master Gardener Fall Festivalkudos to the Lane County team!]
    • “I am hoping I can go!!! I currently do my own chili meat but have not had any formal education in pressure canning meat. This looks great.” [Pressure canning convenience foods workshopkudos to the Deschutes County team!]
    • “All of the information that I needed was on this page. Great job!” [Thinning and Selective Management in Mature Forestskudos to the Clackamas County team!]
  • Focus areas
    • “Moving in the spring to Salem. Looking forward to starting a new garden. I’ll be back to this site… (and back, and back, and…)” [Community Horticulture, Marion Countykudos to the Marion County team!]
  • Program information
    • “Excellent lessons for seniors! I will use them in my Cooperative Extension Classes in NJ Thank you!” [FCE Lessons, health topicskudos to the Family and Community Educators team!]
    • “I’m new to Oregon and hungry for any information about my new home. I have always wanted to be a Master Gardener and am delighted to have the possibility to combine these two goals. Thank you very much!”’ [Linn/Benton MG, How to joinKudos to the Linn-Benton MG team!]
    • “Thank you! You took the frustration out of finding the info. This was one of the main reasons I wait until the last minute to fill out my forms – to avoid the hassle. Now, it seems it will be easy, so I can and will do it right away in the future!!” [Metro MG 2019 volunteer log sheetkudos to the Metro MG team!]

(Some comments have been edited for readability.)

A trip to the apple orchard this past weekend led to rows of trees available for picking. Fallen apples lay scattered across the ground; low branches held a few ripe pieces in easy reach. This season, the website content is in a similar situation. Fallen apples represent the bushels of content that need to be cleaned up. The low hanging fruit is a handful of easy tasks to get started on.

If we want our visitors engaged and involved with Extension, then we have to be active too in providing relevant and current resources. If our online content becomes outdated, such as an article with crop statistics from 2002, then potential clients may begin to wonder about our advice. It’s easy enough to update, or leave out, time-dated information if it’s not essential to the article.

Updating your web content maintains trust and loyalty with Extension’s audiences. It also helps search engine optimization and builds the confidence of new visitors about our authority on the topics.

Cleaning the content

A year ago, the majority of archived county and program sites on Drupal 6 sites went away for good. The flurry in putting content on the new website meant some content didn’t get thoroughly reviewed. Others got left in Box unless someone asked for it.

Do you have content that needs a second look? Some of the low hanging tasks could include:

  • Look on your groups page, filter by “events” and archive any old events that no longer need to be visible to the public.
  • Ask EESC for a spreadsheet that shows all content for your group listed by publication date. Then start reviewing the oldest among them. If you’re unsure it’s worth updating, search around to see if there’s content that is similar or think about how it could be repurposed.
  • Look at the the Box files or content in your groups folder marked “draft” to see what could still be reviewed and published.

While you need to look for accuracy and completeness of the content, EESC is contributing to this process too.

  • The publishing team is copyediting your published content. Also, they are adding formatting that helps with website readability. They are currently 20% through all the web articles.
  • The web and content strategy team is fixing broken links and changing published content to correct content types. This mostly means changing educational documents to more accessible articles.
  • The administrative team is tagging catalog publications to improve findability. They are also helping with missing photos or image quality.

You can keep track of what we’re doing by looking at the “Revisions” notes tab of your content when logged in. If there are major changes, then we will email you directly with questions. Learn more in the web guide.

Keeping on top of content’s health is best managed when pruned a little each day over the winter months. Set a maintenance plan, and then come spring your resources will be fresh and ready for new growth. This will make our web visitors very happy.


Web updates

In case you missed it, last week’s blog post shared what Salesforce looks like to someone using it. This can help you in better understanding how a CRM (customer relationship management system) works.

Thank you to all the Extension program area leaders for sharing your goals with EESC in October. This will help inform our communications and content strategy over the next year. Stay tuned!

What I thought would be fun is to walk through a few actual screens people see when using the Salesforce CRM.

If you’ve never logged in to Salesforce (or any CRM) and have wondered what it is like to experience that work flow, this will be a brief window into the way this powerful software works.

There is too much to fit in just one post! But it’s worth it to try to reveal some of its features.

And not just any screens… What I will cover today is a few steps in the process of sending emails to Extension partners or constituents from directly inside the CRM and, furthermore, explain why that’s a good idea.

Let’s get started.

For a recap of posts related to Constituent Relationship Management (CRM) …

  1. What exactly is a CRM… and why should I care?
  2. Steps to build CRM capabilities for an Extension program, and how long will it take?
  3. How collaboration across Extension leads to effective use of a CRM

How it all begins…

The benefit of operating in a CRM is it provides the ability to make data-informed decisions. Check out the way this dashboard fills the screen with targeted details about an ongoing set of outreach efforts—emails, text messages, and the like.

With dynamic feedback in front of you, showing how your audience is responding to recent outreach efforts, you can step up the pace of new messages. Or perhaps the better choice may be to switch gears and reach out to folks by phone because their email response rate shows up as lower than everyone else’s.

The CRM provides the info you need to make the best choice on process and timing. Now, let’s review varying levels of email delivery.

A-B-C basics: let the CRM deliver your message

From Salesforce, sending a single email is handled on a screen that, once you take a look, bears a resemblance to any webmail software. You’ll feel right at home crafting all the parts of the message, just Salesforce does the work when you click the Send button.

Options for customizing the email message mean you have added flexibility here. It enables you to communicate with your constituents in ways that align with your team’s plans for providing support.

For instance, the email can be sent from you or from the organization and you can modify this aspect on-the-fly (right before you send). An example: if the person receiving your email chooses to reply, you may need that reply to go to a group mailbox—as it is reviewed by the team, there’s a greater chance of reacting to it right away—so in that case, send out from the team’s group address.

Not only can you customize, but the message is saved as an “event” right in the CRM. Read on to find out more about message tracking.

Step it up! Smart tools for bulk email delivery

We already know there are times when a critical message needs to be sent out to a wider audience. Think of advertising the opening of registration for a new workshop. Or an advisory committee meeting has a new start time and all committee members need to be notified right away.

In the below screen shot, we see a sample Salesforce screen showing a list that has been filtered to reveal five people set to receive your next message. The purpose of this Pending Approvals screen is to restrict the actual delivery of messages until details are fully approved by the right person on your team.

Using a special set of features in the CRM, not only can you quickly send all five people an artfully designed template-based email — a process that from this screen requires exactly two clicks — but, in fact, you can also choose to pause for a moment and add personalized comments of your own.

NOTE: we will cover email templates in more detail in a future post

So, you decide to add a personalized message to one recipient. You would use a screen like the one below. On the left side of the screen, a text box for Introduction above, and an open text box for Conclusion below it, permit personalized comments to appear at the very top and, optionally, bottom of your beautiful, HTML-format message.

Not every email can be handled in this way, but for parts of your communication plan that are incredibly repetitive, this technique can add a lot of efficiency. It’s time I am sure you would like to gain back!

Message tracking — measure the results, improve as we go

Of critical importance to us as the total number of messages we are expected to send and receive shows signs of increasing dramatically, is appropriate analytics we can use to better predict how our outreach efforts will perform.

For example, your team just used the CRM to send a message out to a large group. So far so good.

The first draft was a wall of text, a step-by-step guide instructing each recipient how to carefully negotiate a sign-up process. Your team waits to see if every recipient follows through on the steps. Do they open the email? Will they read it all thoroughly?

Or… you suddenly recall another team member’s brainstorm of placing a visually appealing photo at the top of the message. Nothing compares to a photo of OSU Extension faculty immersed in an engagement with smiling young people, who are excitedly learning about forest ecosystems. So, you wonder, would that have been a better way to engage with this audience?

Thankfully, you have the CRM dashboards you can turn to for answers to these important questions! Check out the sample screen above, offering up an Email Performance report.

This is another reason we use the CRM. Through the power of advanced analytics gathering, it collects up vital details of key performance indicators such as email open ratesclick rates — i.e how many times did the “Read more” button in that third paragraph receive a click — as well as the dreaded unsubscribe rates, which we all agree should never happen, because Extension info is just too fun and interesting!

NOTE: enhancing email message relevance as a means by which to prevent people from unsubscribing from emails is a critically important process. It is based on processes to which we can all contribute. More on this at a later time.

Conclusion and (a little) more to think about

If you are reading this far, I thank you for catching up on the power the CRM brings to managing message delivery and analytics data gathering.

Some related (and intriguing) features we haven’t yet talked about include:

  • The CRM can send SMS text messages. too
  • Pulling up one of your contacts in the CRM displays a history of messages you sent them via the CRM
  • Microsoft Outlook plugins are available to bring some CRM capabilities right into standard emails
  • Instead of manual delivery every time, certain messages can go out automatically, using customization options within the CRM

If you would like to hear more about any of these features, please reach out to me any time for discussion. I’m here to assist.

 


About the Navigator digital engagement team. In the coming months, many of you will hear from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension. I look forward to talking with you and ensuring the CRM plans are in alignment with the business needs of your unit and the long-term vision of the university. The Navigator team is looking forward to talking with you about how digital engagement is aligned with your work and can provide new benefits.