After discussion with the project team, the O&E executive team (Scott Reed and Lindsey Shirley) approved the following essential commitments, guiding criteria, and web strategies for specific groups of sites in the OSU Extension web family.
This approach allows us to take the bold first steps in shifting OSU Extension’s overall web strategy from “site development and design” to “content strategy.” This is a major shift and also an opportunity for meaningful, positive change. We are committed to making it because it’s essential for our organization’s ongoing success and relevance.
Learn more about each element of this approach:
- Essential commitments
- Guiding criteria
- Strategy for Phase 1: Main OSU Extension web presence
- Strategy for Phase 1: Content on county and employee resources sites
- Strategy for Phase 1: Content on program and other sites
- Strategy for Phase 2: Developing and applying content strategy
- We are not our customers. Internal feedback and preference informs our decision making but does not drive it.
- We use the power of the Drupal 8 CMS—content management system—to manage content not sites.
- EESC’s primary web responsibility is initial development of the CMS, ongoing improvements and features, and security and maintenance of the CMS. EESC will lead collaborative development of a customer-focused web strategy based on content, not building individual sites.
- Extension faculty and staff won’t be responsible for “updating a website” or “webpage.” Extension faculty and staff will be responsible for adding/editing content in the CMS.
The following criteria guide will our decision making now (key strategy and technology decisions) and later (e.g., essential content, specific features, design, etc.). These criteria are based on discovery research, steering committee feedback, industry best practices, and expertise from EESC communicators and technologists.
Priority given to known customer/user preferences; features/content—especially on main site—should include option for users to engage in some way, such as call to action, give feedback/comment, ask a question, sign up/register, etc.
Theme/design will be mobile-friendly; priority given to retaining/creating content that can be delivered in mobile-friendly ways.
To the extent possible, we will use analytics and other available data (e.g., needs assessments, trends) to support content, design, and process decisions.
- Easy navigation/quick access
Menus/navigation based on what customers want to do, learn, or search for—not on an internal topic or label.
- Relevant information that can be easily updated frequently
Preference given to processes/workflows that make updates less work for people, are easier with appropriate training, are managed at the right level, etc.
- Engaging, high-quality online experience
Consideration given to videos, images, social engagement, and other interactive features.
- It’s about the content, not about the sites
Priority given to developing ways to integrate, use, or transition relevant, sharable content in OSU Extension’s CMS vs. fulfilling requests to design, develop, host, or manage individual sites.
- Right people doing the right things
Priority given to developing features and processes that allow Extension programs, faculty, and staff to focus on content development vs. website design, development, and management.
Strategy for Phase 1: Main OSU Extension web presence (“Dream house”)
There’s really only one option for upgrading the main OSU Extension web presence: Start fresh, and do it right (CMS with customer-focused design, simplified navigation, smart taxonomy).
This strategy is like building your dream house, but you get to move in before it’s fully finished. On move-in day (launch), you’ll have the essential features and the stuff (content) that’s most important, but it will take time to get settled, figure out how best to arrange everything, and select finishing touches. Some of your other stuff is in storage, until you decide if you really need it—and if so, where you’ll put it.
- EESC identifies essential features, content according to guiding criteria and existing analytics.
- Initially, the website will consist primarily of content that is already centrally available (much from EESC). Over time (Phase 2), content will be pulled from other OSU Extension sites, newsletters, etc. in consultation with program leadership, faculty, and staff.
- EESC will establish and model best practices for content strategy approach.
- EESC provides website design (look and feel), wireframes, development, and ensures website is compliant with Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) and Section 508 guidelines.
- EESC begins hiring process for content strategist/coordinator.
- EESC archives existing Drupal 6 site.
- Launch Phase 1 with essential feature and highest-priority content (“minimum viable product” approach).
Strategy for Phase 1: Content on county and employee resources sites (“Short-term rental”)
- For brevity, we use the term “county site” to refer to county Extension sites and combined research/Extension center sites.
- AES-only sites are moving to the agsci.oregonstate.edu domain to be coordinated and managed by the College of Ag Sciences web team, like other college departmental and center sites.
The bottom line: These sites are in Drupal 6, an aging and soon-to-be unsupported platform. They can remain as is for a limited time (fall 2017 at the latest). During this time, we may need to transfer them—as an interim step—to an isolated server for security reasons. But that won’t affect content or functionality.
This strategy is like being in a rental house while your dream house is being built. You also decide up front that you’re not keeping all your stuff (content), and you’ll review, sort, and organize your stuff before you move it to your dream house.
County sites and employee resource pages will naturally phase out over Phase 2 as the organization’s content strategy takes shape and dashboards in the OSU Extension CMS become more robust—with locally relevant, dynamically added content.
In Phase 1, there will be no major changes to county and employee resource content. Faculty and staff will continue to maintain their existing Drupal 6 sites until fall 2017 at the latest. If needed, EESC will work with OSU’s Central Web Services (CWS) to set up and maintain a temporary, isolated server. During Phase 2 (beginning winter 2017), EESC will lead collaborative development of a customer-focused web strategy, focusing on integrating or transitioning appropriate content from other sites (county, program, employee resources, etc.) to the new CMS.
- If needed, EESC coordinates with CWS to set up isolated temporary server for Drupal 6 sites in fall 2016.
- EESC updates site managers when move is complete, and notifies them of any small changes they need to be aware of.
- During interim phase, site managers continue to maintain sites and may begin content audits or analysis (with EESC guidance, in collaboration with program leadership/faculty/staff.)
- View the content strategy plan for Phase 2 (beginning winter 2017)
Strategy for Phase 1: Content on program and other sites (“Fixer-upper”)
The following strategy applies to non-county sites currently in the EESC Drupal 6 platform. These include:
- 4-H (program/subprograms)
- FCH (program/subprograms)
- Ag (a few subprograms only)
- Extension association sites
- O&E division site
- Special circumstance sites (See Appendix A in the Strategy Report for list of special circumstance sites, with associated notes on existing customization that may limit what can be migrated, hosted, and maintained going forward.)
Note: Extension content for Forestry, Sea Grant, and Open Campus is hosted and managed separately, and not included in Phase 1. In Phase 2, we can discuss how content on these sites can be integrated going forward.
The recommended strategy for these sites in the OSU Extension family is to migrate them—to the extent possible—to OSU Drupal 7. The migration could be interim or longer-term, depending on how much of the content is relevant, sharable, and appropriate to integrate in OSU Extension’s CMS.
This strategy is like moving to a new house that needs some work. You also decide up front that you’re not taking all your stuff (content) to the new house, and you’ll go through your remaining stuff again if you move in the future. We recommend migrating only a portion of content (e.g., no files added before 2013, for example). Site managers, faculty, and staff will need some re-training and support to learn how to work in Drupal 7; CWS and ECTU can provide this.
EESC will serve as a “realtor,” coordinating with OSU’s Central Web Services (CWS) and site managers to migrate sites to OSU Drupal 7. If a program/team decides to stay in the new house long-term and wants to remodel, they’ll need to employ an on-site “architect” who will help make repairs and custom improvements.
During Phase 2, EESC will lead collaborative development of a customer-focused web strategy, focusing on integrating or transitioning appropriate content from these sites to the OSU Extension CMS.
Note: Standard migration will work for most sites, but some have customization that may limit what can be migrated, hosted, and maintained going forward (will require case-by-case discussion and decision with site managers and decision makers).
- EESC plans hosting/migration with CWS and site managers.
- EESC develops, tests script to migrate content.
- EESC migrates and proofs sites (one at a time), working with site managers/decision makers.
- EESC archives existing Drupal 6 sites.
- Sites migrated—to extent possible throughout 2017.
Strategy for Phase 2: Developing and applying content strategy
During Phase 2 (beginning winter 2017), EESC will lead collaborative development of a customer-focused web strategy, focusing on integrating or transitioning appropriate content from other sites (county, program, employee resources, etc.) to the new CMS. Remaining Drupal 6 sites will naturally phase out over Phase 2 as the organization’s content strategy takes shape and dashboards in the OSU Extension CMS become more robust—with locally relevant, dynamically added content.
Activities likely include:
- Develop articulated content strategy (development, delivery, governance)
- Includes defined roles/responsibilities, workflows, best practices, accountability, etc.
- Identify site managers/decision makers (if unknown)
- EESC and content teams (members tbd) collaborate to audit existing content and identify relevant, sharable content appropriate for the new CMS
- EESC develops additional features/functions for OSU Extension web presence
- Faculty, staff, and communicators continue to develop content, adding to the CMS as appropriate
- Provide or participate in training, as needed
- Develop evaluation plan (goals, metrics, monitoring and reporting plan)
- Assess need and identify resources for additional central hires (e.g., content coordinator, data analyst)
- Programs employ site architects, if needed (for long-term OSU Drupal 7 sites)
- Architects would become part of web community, working closely with EESC, CWS, ECTU