Lately, people have been wondering how to share their recent Zoom recordings and handouts, and how to let communities know we’re still providing useful activities and resources. The website can play a part in this communication, alongside your emails, social media, newsletters and outreach to local media. We have some guidelines and examples and considerations to get you started and coordinated related to: Prepping recordings, Program pages, County pages.

County pages

The county landing page already is a spot to feature your current events, your newsletter and feature a few new pieces of content either from your county or statewide news and resources. You can also use announcements to share resources like Lincoln county.

This action of keeping your landing page fresh shows you are active. Featuring a couple pieces of new content could be done at the same time you are pulling together your newsletter.

If you have a lot of new resources, then keep your focus areas under “What we do” updated too. In addition to announcements, Lincoln county added a new focus area to encourage supporting local food, for example.

We’ve also had requests from other regions that they want one place to showcase all that’s happening across their program areas. In this case, an “Online resources and activities” focus area can be featured at the top of your What We Do section on your homepage.

Here’s an example that we will push out to counties later this week, which you can customize.

We want to elevate visibility and awareness of OSU Extension’s work with Oregon communities with particular focus on local and county-level impact and resilience in the face of COVID-19. Next week we’ll share another focus area template to help you in directing people on where to find local food, health and financial assistance too.

Program pages

Other than the event lists, program subpages are a good place to communicate with participants and volunteers in your program what new resources you have that they can do at home. The key is coordinating how these resources are added, although the design on the page can vary.

Here’s a short decision tree.

  1. Is the new resource only relevant to your local program in your county?
    1. Yes, add as a program resource to your local program group.
    2. No, see below.
  2. Is the new resource of interest to or being duplicated by other local programs in other counties?
    1. Yes, add as a statewide program resources and tag for the local county programs. This way it only needs to be updated in one place.
    2. 4-H Jackson county is an example that could be done this way since they have good resources that could be of interest to other 4-H county programs that are also adding new home activities subpages.
  3. Is the new resource of interest to other statewide programs and the general public?
    1. Work with related faculty to add through a content team as an educational material and tag for the program(s). This way it can show up on topic pages too.
    2. Oregon Master Naturalist is an example that shifted to this way.

Prepping and sharing your recordings

Content teams have shifted to giving virtual programming since the pandemic started. When giving your programming as a scheduled webinar, the recordings are posted in OSU MediaSpace within hours. You can use this recording in several ways, but there’s a few things you need to do first.

Make sure that you have informed attendees it is being recording and received the needed permissions from those attending. Please remember that recording meetings or events with youth is prohibited without express consent from their parent or guardians. See specifics on the Virtual Extension program delivery page.

To ensure we meet our ADA responsibility, please request captions for your Kaltura video, and proof and fix any issues. This will ensure the recorded content is as widely accessible as possible.

  • You may need to edit your Kaltura video to snip the beginning or end of your recording. You can find instructions here.
  • Check in if you have any branding for pre and post-production to be added.
  • Lastly you will need to share your video.

Once you have completed these steps, you can post the video on the website.

  1. Add the recording link to the event page (which can still be found by searching on the website after the event) along with any handouts. However, don’t share publicly “meetings”, especially that contain youth in the recording, on the website. See program delivery info on Zoom safety and security on our Virtual Extension website.
  2. Get the attendee list from your Zoom Oregon State report dashboard afterward and email it to them. Contact us for any questions on getting that list.
  3. Add the video on the related county focus area if the content is a webinar not meant for broader distribution (check with the appropriate content team first). See a Coos county example.
  4. See if faculty want to edit portions of the webinar to add as educational content through their content team. Visitors to the site often want quick answers not whole webinars when they find videos on the site.

You still want people to attend the program, rather than just wait to find the recording. The value of people attending the webinar live is that they can engage with you and other participants – a chance to ask questions and network. However, analytics on numbers of views of the recordings could be included in your Digital Measures reporting.

Web updates

It is important for our learners, stakeholders and funders to know that OSU Extension continues to actively serve, engage, respond and innovate during the COVID-19 pandemic—even while locations are closed and employees are working remotely.

To align with the current way we deliver services, we adjusted small but meaningful wording on the site:

  • We adjusted the emergency announcement from emphasizing we are closed to we are still here for you with related resources.
  • We made it clearer on the homepage how we are offering many online events from across the state.
  • We made sure that postponed events are now separate from active events.
  • We shared information on wearing a face covering on county sites.
  • We feature new resources on the homepage and COVID-19 topic page, like the new “Sewing cloth face coverings for beginners” educational gallery.

We also improved the speed at which you can enter and update content behind-the-scenes.

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.

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.
Posted in CRM.

“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.

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.)

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.
Posted in CRM.

1. Reuse events from last year

Events on the Extension website automatically disappear from lists and search results once the date has passed. However, the records still exist in the system, so if an event occurs annually, you can reuse the content from the previous year. This has several benefits:

  • You can save effort now by reusing work from last year. All you need to do is update the dates (and flyer if there is one).
  • Visitors who may have bookmarked last year’s event (or find it through Google) will see current information if they visit the page again.

Instructions:

  1. Go to the group content page for the group that you originally entered the event in.
  2. If you remember the title of the event, you can search for it. Otherwise, you can select “Event” in the “Type” filter above the list of content.
  3. Once you find the previous year’s event, click the “Edit” button next to it and update the dates. This will put it back in event lists and search results.

2. Store files in Box

Box is OSU’s file storage platform. Anyone with an ONID account can store unlimited files on Box and share them with other employees or the public. Box was created specifically for file management and has many useful features, including:

  • File versioning – if the document changes each year, you can easily replace the old file with the new one without changing the link.
  • Privacy settings – you can set files up so anyone (the public) can access them, only people who know a specific password, or only people with an ONID account

Instructions:

  • There is documentation about using Box on OSU’s Box page and our Website user guide.
  • Some tips for effectively setting up files in box:
    • To share a file or folder with the public, click “Share” next to it. Then, turn on the “Enable share link” toggle. It is very important that you set the dropdown below the share link to “Anyone with the link.” Otherwise people will need to log in with an ONID to see the file.
    • There is a link near the share link box for “Link options”. This is where you can set a password to protect the file or get the “direct download” link (which allows visitors to download the file directly without seeing it in Box first).
    • Be sure to set one of your coworkers as a co-owner or editor of the file, in case you leave or otherwise can no longer access it someday.
  • When you have the “share link” for the file, create a program resource and select “External website” as the resource type. This will give you a field to paste the link.

3. Break up long pages

If you have long pages that are difficult to scan, there are options to make it a little easier: page section settings and nested pages.

Page sections:

For most page sections, you can configure:

  • Background color (alternating background colors is a good way to break up the page)
  • List style (you can make lists more condensed by using a “Text list” style, which doesn’t display images with items in the list)
  • Section id (you can use section IDs to create a “table of contents” at the top of the page that links to sections further down)

Instructions:

  1. Edit the page
  2. At the top of where page sections are configured on the edit screen, there are two tabs: “Content” and “Settings”
  3. When you switch to the settings tab, you can configure options for each section

Nested pages:

One of the best ways to help a long page is to break it up into several shorter pages. Then, to prevent the sidebar from getting unwieldy, you can nest the new pages under the original, so they only appear in the sidebar when the parent is selected.

Instructions:

  1. Go to any program page that shows the sidebar and click the “Reorder Pages” button at the bottom.
  2. On the next screen, you can drag the pages into any order you want. To nest one page under another, drag it under and to the right. When you’re done, click “Save order”.

4. Look at peers for ideas

One of the best ways for you to get ideas for your own pages is to look at pages from programs similar to yours. Here are some programs that have been set up with some of the website’s new design features and serve as good examples:

5. Think about all your audiences

Programs produce content for many audiences, including:

  • Prospective members
  • Current members
  • Volunteers/leaders
  • Program faculty/staff

It is, in general, usually best to organize content according to audience, and depending on what audiences your program serves, we may recommend options outside of the Extension website for content (e.g. the Extension Employee Intranet or an OSU WordPress blog).

Another audience that all programs have but that often gets overlooked is the general public. There are many reasons why the public would be interested in content produced by a program, including:

  • They utilize the services provided by program volunteers (e.g. MG plant clinics)
  • They are affected by the program’s outcomes or impacts
  • They want to learn the information taught to program participants, but for whatever reason can’t participate themselves

However, visitors often perceive program pages as being only for active participants in a program. So, if you produce program-related content for the general public, make sure it can be found through topic and county pages, where the general public is more likely to look.