Virtual Extension

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

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

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

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

OSU Extension Professional Development & Connection Opportunities

Starting this week join us for daily Zoom training sessions.

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

 

Extension Website Training

Wednesday April 8  8:30-10:30

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

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

Join via Zoom   Add to calendar

 

Kudos

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

 

Zoom Security

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

 

Web updates

The events content type has two new features:

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

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

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

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

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

Where is content shared?

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

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

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

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

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

What this means for you

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

What kind of content is shared

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

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

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

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

What this means for you

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

How effective is sharing content

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

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

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

What this means for you

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

As you think about ways to engage the public from a distance, there’s new visual features on the website to try out. If you need quick ideas to fill out your newsletters, then a tool coming soon will give you ready-to-go content teasers and photos to use. Finally, we give a few tips about sharing coronavirus updates and content on the website.

New tools to try out for digital delivery of information

You often get asked how to identify a plant, a spider or many other things that people encounter in their homes or fields. Or how to build a raised bed or landscape wall. Content teams that need to share identification photos and descriptions, or step by step instructions, can do so in the new virtual “educational gallery” content type.

Learn more about how to set up an educational gallery in our web guide.

If what you need to share is more text than visual-based, then programs and projects also have the option to add collapsible page sections to their subpages. This helps people see the process at a glance, and expand to read more.

Here’s information in our web guide on how to add page sections.

In the coming weeks, our outreach may rely on our social media and newsletters for ways to engage with and deliver information to our communities. If you postpone or cancel an event, maybe there’s some good content online on the same topic to share in the meantime. When you log in to the Extension website, you will soon be able to access a “content bank”.

This will be an easy way to find existing web or video content that meets a need (e.g. blueberries is the top search on our site this week), and be able to download a photo, URL and short blurb you can share. This directs people to read the full article online.

Once this is ready, the content bank will be found on your My Groups page when logged in.

Also, check out the Virtual Extension webpage for other ideas. It is a growing resource! EESC will continue to solicit from across Extension more shareable content and engagement suggestions to share on this page. We’ll also continue to add tutorials, such as on how to do a video from your smartphone or set up Facebook Live, and the best situations to use those tools.

Adding web updates related to COVID-19

An emergency announcement appears in red across the top of Extension website pages to let the public know of recent decisions.

If you have specific updates for your county or program, then you can add a regular announcement that will show in an orange bar across your page. Make the title specific, so when people search the site the announcements are distinguishable.

Your county pages office hours now indicate that offices are not open to public traffic but that you can be reached via phone or email during regular business hours.

On event pages, you have a standard COVID-19 statement too that you can change as you know more about if the event will be postponed, canceled or done virtually.

The homepage directs people to the CDC fact sheets on handwashing and other important information in English and Spanish. If content teams add videos, web articles, or online resources from other places on hand-washing and topics related to Extension’s work, please select the keyword “COVID-19” so it can be compiled in searches. We may add a new tag, collection page or other ways to gather the information down the road.

You can always contact us through our beav.es/extension-support request system if you have a question along the way.

Oregon Master Naturalist is an excellent example of a statewide program using the website layout. Kudos to Jason O’Brien!

Let’s take a look:

These are some of the things we love

The landing page has:

  • A lush and inviting photo
  • Engaging information about the program.
  • Titles and text are user-friendly and help potential participants identify if they would enjoy and benefit from the program.
  • An enthusiastic testimonial video
  • Stories sharing the heart of Oregon Master Naturalist
  • Straight-forward sidebar navigation

Other pages

Become a Master Naturalist

Volunteer

  • Great impact statistics for Master Naturalist volunteers. These were added using the new “impact stats bar,” available for programs and counties.
  • Easy to find exciting volunteer project ideas

What is the cost?

  • Easy to understand the cost and financial options.

What you can do now

Review your program pages. Is there anything you can do to improve the text or images based on the example above? See instructions for updating program content.

Please contact us with any questions.


Web updates

These are some new features:

  • You can tag an event with a project. Then add a “project events list” to your page to display them.
  • You can add a “project faculty/staff list.” Contact us to add users to display on a project.
  • You can override the title of a piece of content selected for a “highlighted content item” page section.
  • You can now specify what text shows when county event lists have no events to show.

The about us section on the website has new information, including a new career opportunities page.

 

We write so that others will read.

No matter what we write — an email, a newsletter article, a research paper — we want people to read it and understand.

The key to understanding isn’t some complex formula. It’s actually quite simple: a form of writing called “plain language.” Plain language conveys meaning in short, spare sentences and simple words. Plain language is:

  • Accessible. Plain language helps us reach everyone, including people with learning or other disabilities, people whose first language is not English, and people who may be reading online while feeding a toddler and waiting on hold with the cable company.
  • Active. In active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action: “The mouse ate the cookie,” not “it is believed the cookie was consumed by the mouse.”
  • The law. Government agencies like the IRS and the state of Oregon have adopted plain language guidelines. OSU websites should follow web accessibility guidelines, including those on readability.

There’s an app for that

Oddly, it’s hard to write simply.

Thankfully, some great new tools can help us measure and improve the readability of our text. One we like is called Hemingway Editor.

Start with a rough draft. Call up Hemingway in your browser, and copy and paste your text into the home screen. You’ll see a screen like this:

Zero in on the figure that denotes the reading level of your text. If it’s ninth grade or higher, start working your way up the Hemingway rainbow:

  • Clean up everything in light red. Cut unnecessary words. Divide complex sentences in two. Sub in some active verbs.
  • After pink, tackle yellow.
  • Re-check the reading level. Is it lower? Good job.
  • If the reading level is nine or above, keep working. Most audiences — including academics — prefer to read at an eighth grade level or below. Great writers like Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway and J.R.R. Tolkien all wrote at the seventh grade level or below.

Make reading easy

Many readers today don’t read but instead scan written material. They’re looking for solutions in a hurry. Here are some ways to help these readers out:

  • Avoid long paragraphs. Long blocks of gray text turn readers off. Limit your paragraphs to one topic — about three sentences.
  • Use bulleted lists instead of long sentences filled with commas.
  • Use bold-faced lead-ins and subheads to help readers scan your text to find what they are looking for.
  • Read it out aloud. Before turning in anything to an editor or colleague, read it out aloud. You’ll be surprised how many awkward phrases you’ll find to revise.

Writing is hard, but reading doesn’t have to be. Use the tools of plain language to tell your story, and your readers will thank you.

Editor’s note: This article is written at a fifth-grade level.

More blog posts to come:

  • Science writing simplified: improving the readability of complex topics
  • The ABCs of acronyms
  • Tempting titles that click with readers

Authors: Janet Donnelly and Jim Sloan

Add a new “RFI” form to web pages

RFI stands for Request For Information. An RFI web form is a place where users enter their own personal information that is then sent to a database. For example, users can provide their name and email address and the process will add them as a new subscriber to one of your newsletters.

How is this useful?

A web form allows us to collect and manage information from constituents easily and efficiently. The forms are embedded right into relevant places on your website, which makes it easy for your audience to provide their information.

As soon as somone completes the RFI form, their information is stored until it’s ready for analysis.

Meanwhile, in the same step we are able to offer a chance to subscribe to some type of digital communications, such as newsletters. This can become a crucial tool for you to obtain new audience members eager to hear what you have to say.

What we’re poised to learn about our audiences

We can use the Extension website as a quick case study for how to employ RFI forms, however the premise works similarly on other websites.

When a visitor to this Oregon Master Beekeeper Program page stops and takes the time to fill out our RFI form on this specific page, we consider it an opportunity to infer some small bits of information about this person.

In the actual, real-life implementation of this premise, we would in fact engage directly with the right people inside each program to actually be very thoughtful about what inferences we’d plan to make about any one visit to any one particular page—for example, an analysis of the content of the page will support being able to draw certain conclusions or not.

For example, if the page content includes info on bee colony health, but does not have any info at all on honey production, we would want to consider if the visitor’s interest in this page revolves around bee colonies due to the ability to produce honey or, rather, in terms of bees as pollinators.

Clearly, we want to consider our options very carefully when forming these types of conclusions.

 

AND… What about a page that has a specific call to action?

Well, I am so glad you asked! 🙂  Let’s look at a page that’s aimed at cultivating interest in a specific thing—like an event.

To the right, you see a page I navigated to from the Events tab on the Master Beekeeper program page. If a normal website visitor made their way to this page, we can begin to make inferences about them at another level of specificity and accuracy.

We know the ultimate goal of this event’s organizers is to have viewers click on the “Register” button, but what about anyone who is feeling interested in the event while still not being quite ready to register? What can we do for that person?

The answer would be to provide an RFI form—simply a second button which would allow them to ask any question about the event for which they don’t already have an available answer.

After submitting this RFI form, the inferences we can make about their interests are far more specific. We know they want to attend an event. And not just any event, but this particular event with this event’s specific content. Arguably, there’s a lot to work with in this use case.

The impact on newsletter subscriptions

The question, then, is how does this help to build up our list of subscribers? The exact details of the plan continue to be sorted out, but the goal is to begin to understand how the inferences we were just talking about can help us point people to digital communication options—newsletters being one of those options—that are of significant interest to them.

Soon as the data lands in our database from the successful processing of an RFI form, we know for certain we want to send that person an email with a simple “thank you” message, because we want to provide an immediate reward to them for taking the time to fill that thing out. It’s important to do this.

In addition to our “thanks” message, there’s room in the body of that same email to appeal to them with a subscription (opt in) opportunity to newsletters. Thus, taking into account the opt-in opportunities that already exist, then adding in all of those people who submit RFI forms, we can see that as a pathway to adding more contacts to our lists.

Example of an RFI form

Check out this straightforward example of an effective web form.

It is true that the form can be designed to ask additional questions, however we know from numerous usability studies that the shorter a web form is the more likely our average website visitors will actually stop and fill them out.

Our #1 goal will be to increase our ability to engage with our target audiences, which means that simply garnering their direct email address—thus facilitating being able to digitally communicate with them—is our top priority.

Conclusion

An RFI web form will help you add new contacts to your contact lists, track topics in which people are interested, follow up with constituents, enhance users’ experience, and provide Oregonians with the information and expertise for which they are searching.

A web forms should be straightforward, simple, and visually appealing. And it should communicate to the viewer exactly what they can expect to receive in exchange for their valuable time they will spend filling it out. This is how you will ensure a professional, user-friendly experience on your website.

A successful RFI form will lead to an increase in your number of contacts and engagements. So, why not get started working with the Navigator team to help you grow and expand your network today?

 


About the Navigator digital engagement team. For months now, many of you have heard from me as I produce a long-term CRM strategy for OSU Extension and non-credit learning. 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.

  • People in county and program groups can tag or untag themselves from events entered through other groups. Go to the event page and go to the “Modify tags” tab at the top of the page.
  • All users can now tag themselves with languages they speak and have it shown on their profile. The language options are fairly limited right now initially, but you can submit a support ticket to get other ones added.
Posted in CRM.

In Extension we work in a variety of fields and with many great folks all over Oregon and worldwide. If you’re looking to reach people where they are at, video is an excellent medium to consider. YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine(1), and an excellent way to reach 18-49 year-olds. 80-90% of that age range uses YouTube monthly(2)!

With all of these billions of questions being asked on a regular basis, we need some help to find out what those questions are and how to best address them. We are regularly looking at the analytics from our Extension YouTube channel to harness our past data to help inform a better future.

Knowing how people search

If you’re curious about what the world is looking and searching for check out Google Trends. This is a great place to start when thinking about creating a video. You can break things down by region, look at related terms or topics, view seasonal popularity, and more. It’s useful to think about the terms that your audience will be using and not what you might use in academia.

Here are some of the search terms that have brought viewers to our YouTube channel recently:

 

  • Blue: how to get rid of moss in your lawn (and other variations)
  • Light Green: insect collection (and other variations)
  • Purple: plant pathology (and other variations), quinoa (and other variations)
  • Dark Green: small farm (and other variations)

All of these are terms and phrases used to search on YouTube. These are just for videos we currently have, there are many search terms where we have either no videos or we could use something more recent. Consider entering some search terms your audience would be looking for into YouTube, Google, or Google Trends. You very well could find some gaps in relevant content or perhaps a topic that needs refreshing.

Some of the most popular uses of video, in the case of YouTube, is for How-Tos and trying understand the world or products(3). This is right in Extension’s wheelhouse! Here are some videos that are currently harnessing curiosity well on YouTube:

From left to right:

  • Pinning Butterflies and Moths,
  • How to Identify a Plant or Weed
  • Collecting Insects with Traps and Lights
  • Collecting Insects: Tools and Supplies
  • Sweep Net Technique
  • Using A Plant Press.

All of these were in the top 12 for views in 2019, and as you’ll see below they are also some of the best at holding the audience’s attention.

Holding the audience’s attention

Think about your current audience. What are the questions that are being asked on a regular basis? What kinds of skills or procedures could you show through video?

While explaining the research and science behind topics are great, most viewers are looking for a solution to a problem. Get to the point and then explain the reason behind the solution. Looking for the “I-want-to-do ___” moments in your area of expertise is a great place to start.

We use the Audience Retention metric to see how a video is doing at getting to the point and meeting the viewer’s needs. Views tend to have a steep drop-off after the beginning. It’s important to hook the viewer in right away and prove that the video will meet their expectations. The first 15 seconds are the most crucial. These videos are doing well at holding viewers’ attention:

From left to right:

  • Scotch Broom Removal
  • Income Opportunities from Logs
  • How to Make a Trap to Catch the Spotted Wing Drosophila Fly
  • Sampling for Varroa Mites from a Honey Bee Brood Nest
  • Sweep Net Technique
  • How to sample a lot of hay
  • Collecting Insects with Traps and Lights
  • Managing Moss in Lawns.

All of these have over 60% viewer retention (very good), and you’ll notice that each one does a good job at directly addressing a problem or showing how to do something.

Audience Retention is also important for another reason: Google uses this in their algorithm when showing related videos at the end of a video. Having a high retention rate increases your chances of showing up in viewers’ feeds.

How to approach creating your video

Video is an amazing tool at reaching audiences, but because it is so widely used, it’s important to approach creating a video with a strategic plan otherwise you risk being drowned out. Here are some questions to ask if you’re thinking of getting into video:

  • Who is my audience (both existing ones and new ones you hope to attract)?
  • What kinds of questions are you hearing regularly, and what does data from sources like Google Trends say about your topic?
  • Do any of these questions work well as a How-To or to help someone in that “I-want-to-do ___” moment?
  • Is this a topic that can be shown well visually?

Something else to consider is to use YouTube as a social media platform. If you are willing to check the comments and to make your video interactive, it can be a good space to have conversation and address other questions that might come up. These interactions can also inspire future video topics.

Author: Stephen Ward

 

(1) 54 Fascinating and Incredible YouTube Statistics

(2) The latest video trends: Where your audience is watching

(3) Many Turn to YouTube for Children’s Content, News, How-To Lessons

Occasionally, we still hear from Extension faculty or staff worried about people not being able to find things on the website. Extension does have a lot of content on the site, and we do care what audiences think. This year EESC will continue our work on website usability and use analytics to help improve the visitor experience. Yet, the design solutions may not be what you thought, and focusing on content may be a better approach.

Where you can worry less: the changing design trends

Forget the “three-click rule.” The idea that web visitors will get frustrated if they have to click more than three times to find a piece of content has been around for the last couple of decades. Logically, it makes sense, but how many times they click doesn’t matter(1) and can make for unruly menus. What matters is each time they click, the page should deliver something to get them closer to an intended goal.

Also, our home page isn’t as important as you think. Visitors to our website are less likely to land on our home page than in the past – approximately 3% of visitors. This is a common trend happening across all websites. Search engines and social media are a big factor, as they will link to whatever page is relevant on our site. People go to a page of interest and don’t see the homepage.

A greater focus on organized, well-titled content and landing pages (vs. home page and navigation) can give you more visitor retention opportunities.

What to focus on: the content most asked for or that meets your goals

Give people the good stuff upfront when it comes to landing pages. What do they often ask about? Feature it prominently anywhere on the page, and then direct them to related content that may be less intriguing but still critical information. EESC can work with you on how to surface these top tasks.

One Nielsen Norman Group study(2) found that, like general web readers, the professionals we serve want content easy to scan and digest. They differ in that most are looking for detailed facts, verifying the credibility, and comparing data or related findings. Overstating outcomes or having out-of-date content diminishes credibility.

Two types of information particularly attract their attention:

  1. New information that they haven’t considered or heard of
  2. Contradictory information that is contrary to their existing knowledge or beliefs

This may be one reason a web article, Branding: OSU working to settle the debate of the ages, surpassed others in the high number of pageviews recently.

Do you have emerging research to share on a long-standing issue or trending topic? Share with your content team to get their input and then add as an article online. Web visitors can leave you feedback on the article, and then you could potentially develop the article further into a catalog publication or journal submission.

After reading these popular articles on the Extension website, the majority of people then leave the site. What action would you want visitors to take or what could they read next to further their engagement? How can we work together to improve that?

If you find when looking at the new analytics dashboards that a piece of your content does not reach people as hoped, then let’s look into it. What can we try with the content or on the landing pages, or in the promotion of it, to help? Also, assess your goals (e.g. attracting new participants) and ask how your online content can help to better meet them.

These actions keep content, and the related strategy, at the center of what we should be worrying about on the website, and helps us to better support people in our online communities.

 


Extension website updates

Are people still having trouble finding information online? Tell us on our beav.es/extension-support form (click the last option).

Newsletters now have a button link that goes to a “past issues” page, so the list on the main page only shows the 6 most recent issues. This will happen automatically once you reach more than six back issues.

Want to see who all the members are of a specific content team? What about contacting all web group leaders, or reaching out to a specific member of your web group? You will be able to do this now through the content management system when logged into the website. Just look for the link to this on your My Groups page.


(1) The Three-Click Rule for Navigation is False, Nielsen Norman Group 2019

(2) Writing Digital Copy for Domain Audiences Nielsen Norman Group 2017

Hoping to avoid accessibility mistakes? Check out our top 10 things to avoid.

Accessibility means all visitors can access and use content regardless of disability. As a federally-funded institution, it is legally required that all our web content be fully accessible. We all have a part to play in fulfilling this obligation. These are the top ten mistakes we see on the Extension website that hurt accessibility.

10: Writing with the assumption visitors are using a certain device

Examples: Instructing users to right click on a link, scroll down a page, press a specific key on a keyboard, etc.

Why this is a problem: You can never know what kind of device visitors will be using to access your content. Many will not be using a mouse or keyboard because they are on mobile devices. Others will be using screen readers or voice commands.

How to fix: Use more generic terms for actions you want visitors to take. For example:

  • Instead of “click on the x option”, use “select the x option”
  • Instead of “right click on the file name and select ‘save’”, use “download the file”

9: Referring to the appearance or position of elements on the page

Examples: “Use the gray links to the left to explore options”, “click the orange button above to register”.

Why this is a problem: Elements on the page appear in different places depending on the type of device the visitor is using. Some visitors will not be able to see them at all.

How to fix: Avoid referencing other elements on the page. For example, include a link instead of pointing visitors to where it is already on the page. If this isn’t possible, use a label that doesn’t rely on appearance or position.

8: Writing in all-caps

Examples: “This event is FREE to the public”, “ALWAYS WEAR GLOVES WHEN DOING THIS”

Why this is a problem: Screen readers may assume a word in all-caps is an acronym and read each letter individually.

How to fix: Don’t type words in all-caps unless it is actually an acronym. To emphasize text, make it bold.

7: Relying on YouTube’s automatic captioning for videos

Why this is a problem: YouTube’s automatic captioning does not include capitalization or punctuation. Remember, many people using captions can’t hear the pauses where punctuation would be. They also can’t tell when a new speaker starts talking. YouTube also has trouble recognizing proper nouns and specialized terms (such as “agritourism”). 

How to fix: Use YouTube’s automatic captioning for a starting point, but be sure to check them and clean up as needed.

6: Opening links in new windows/tabs

Why this is a problem: Screen magnifiers are some of the most common assistive technology used on line. People with low-vision use these to zoom in very closely on a small section of the screen. In these situations, it is difficult to determine when a new window/tab opens. They may think they are still in the same tab and be confused why they can’t use the back button. It also takes more time for them to close out of the new tab/window and get back to where they were. 

How to fix: Avoid creating links that cause new windows/tabs to open (the most common are file download links).

5: Uploading content as a PDF when not necessary

Why this is a problem: Web browsers include accessibility features which programs that open files often lack. It requires more training to create accessible PDFs than web pages. Additionally, PDF files are generally larger than web pages. They are often slower to download, especially on a slow connection.

How to fix: Whenever possible, enter content into the website as text instead of (or in addition to) a file upload. E.g. articles instead of educational documents, subpages instead of program resources.

4: Using unclear link labels

Examples: “click here to register”, “download the paper here: https://oregonstate.box.com/s/jwq15kn7d5swzfma564ggzvk55cqhudg

Why this is a problem: Almost all visitors to a website will prefer to scan rather than reading everything on the page in order. Sighted people do this by looking at headings or section breaks. People using screen readers have other methods. They often have the screen reader pull out all the links on the page so they read through only those initially. If the links that get pulled out only say “click here”, “learn more”, or a raw URL, this functionality isn’t useful. Additionally, voice command software may allow people to “click” on a link by saying the label. If there are links that are unpronounceable, this functionality doesn’t work.

How to fix: Use link labels that describe what the visitor will go to if they click that link. For example, a link saying “download registration form” makes it clear what you’ll get when you click. On the other hand “click here” doesn’t provide any context for the link.

3: Not providing alternative text for images

Why this is a problem: Screen readers can only read “true text” (i.e. text you can highlight with a mouse). Therefore, any text included in an image is invisible to screen readers and the people who use them.

How to fix: When you upload an image on the Extension website, there is an “Alternative text” field. You should include all text and other content in the image in this field. If an image contains a significant amount of text, it is better to convert it to an accessible PDF or web page.

2: Not checking the reading level of content

Why this is a problem: Hard-to-understand text content is the #1 accessibility problem over the entire internet. It affects everyone who accesses web content. This includes:

  • people with learning or other disabilities
  • people who don’t primarily speak English
  • young people
  • people with low literacy
  • people in stressful or frustrating situations which may impair their reading comprehension temporarily.

How to fix: Put all your content through a reading level checker such as Hemingway Editor. You should aim for a level of 6-8. It is, generally, a myth that more complex subjects require a higher reading level. There are two methods that can improve readability without changing the actual contents.

  • Shorter/simpler sentences: Avoid run-on sentences at all costs. Every comma can be a point to at least consider splitting one sentence into multiple.
  • Breaking up chunks of text: Use headings, short paragraphs, bulleted lists, etc. to break up longer chunks of text. This makes the content easier to read and helps people skim to find what they need more quickly.

1: Using (or not using) headings appropriately

Examples: Using the “Format” dropdown on entire paragraphs. Separating sections of text with bold section titles without using the “Format” dropdown.

Why this is a problem: Incorrect use of headings is a huge accessibility issue for screen readers. More often than not, visitors using screen readers will pull out all the headings from a page first thing. This allows them to skim rather than read everything on the page in order. Formatting text as a heading when it isn’t gets in the way of this technique. Not formatting text as a heading when it is one will cause the technique not to work.

How to fix: Only use the heading options in the “Format” dropdown of the text editor for actual headings. However, be sure you do use them for all actual headings in the text.


For help implementing any of the fixes described above, submit a support request with the EESC web team.

The Web and Content Strategy team is committed to website accessibility. Accessibility means that content is available to and used by a diverse variety of visitors. This refers to making a site useable for people with physical and situational disabilities. But, it can also apply to others, including:

  • People using small screens on mobile devices
  • English-language learners and automatic translators used by non-English speakers
  • People of diverse ages
  • Non-human visitors to the site, such as search engine crawlers

As an institution that receives federal funding, we are legally required to make content and services accessible.

Many accessibility features are built-in to Drupal platform. We promote accessibility best practices in our workshops and training materials. But what about people who speak a non-English language?

The Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion recently added a document translation service. The TRANSPORT translations portal is a tool you can use to submit documents for translation, or to get a price quote to help with your program planning. This tool is available to all Extension employees.

Non-english speakers in Oregon
Source: https://datausa.io/profile/geo/oregon#languages

In 2018, the most common non-English language spoken in Oregon was Spanish. 9.36% of the population of Oregon are native Spanish speakers.

Website analytics over the past year show that the percentage of users who have their browser language set to Spanish, 0.16%.  This is a sign that the Extension website is not meeting the needs for the majority of Spanish language speakers.

We are in the process of adding Spanish language translation capabilities to the Extension website.

This is an ambitious project and will be developed in 3 phases over the year.

Phase 1: Manual individual page translation

  • Over the next few months the web team will be configuring a set of multilingual modules to enable translations. Once this is in place, you’ll be able to add an Español translation to your content.
  • If a page is available in another language, users will be able to switch from English to Español by clicking the Español tab.

Phase 2: Google Translate integration

  • When a new version of an English page is saved, the system will make a call to Google Translate to create a  Spanish translation. Translations will have a moderation process, so only reviewed translations will be available to the public

Phase 3: Fully translated website

  • All content, tags, topics and menus translated

Extension & Experiment Station Communications (EESC) has some history with multilingual websites. Back in 2014, the EESC publications team produced two spiral bound, pocket-sized “flip books” for Christmas tree management. Each book has a side written in English and when you flip it over, you have the same content in Spanish. The authors were also interested mobile version for workers in the field. Using the multilingual capabilities in Drupal, we recreated each book in both English and Spanish. Users switch between English and Español by clicking a button. These are a fully translated websites, where there is a matching page for each language.

Below are some screenshots of the flip books showing both the  English and Español versions.

Mobile phone:

Mobile side-by-side comparisons

Desktop browser:

preview of EM 9093 website

preview of PNW 659 website

Website updates

  • “Languages spoken” field was added to user profiles for listing other languages that you speak.
  • An “impact stats” section that shows as an orange bar across the page has been added for program pages. You can see an example of this on the Extension homepage.
  • Added a new “podcast” content type for sharing podcasts. For more information see the Podcast chapter on the Extension Website User Guide.