UPDATED 7/17/2020

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

  • Login to the OSU Extension website
  • Visit the “My Groups” page
  • Click on your group
  • Find the new “Analytics” tab at the top of the page. This tab will take you to the analytics dashboard for the content in that group.
  • Explore your dashboard. There are tips on understanding the data on the right hand side of the dashboard.

See how your content compares to other content on the OSU Extension website: 

  • On the top of the dashboard, there is a link to “See analytics for all OSU Extension.” 
  • Click the link to expands the data displayed on the dashboard to include all content on the Extension website.

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
  • Click the “Feedback” tab under the content’s title. It is one of the blue links 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).
  • Click the “Feedback” tab under the group name. This will take you to a list of all content with feedback in the group.
  • To see the comments left for a particular piece of content, you can click on “Details” in it’s row on this page.

Seeing audience behavior

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

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

Takeaways and lessons

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

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

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

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

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

Sample positive feedback

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

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

(Some comments have been edited for readability.)

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

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

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

Cleaning the content

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Web updates

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

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

The website brought a lot of content together from all different parts of Extension, created for different purposes, at different times and sometimes published by non-Extension faculty. Everyone has come across an article or two where they wonder “Is this content accurate, useful information for Extension’s audiences?”

Content teams, along with the program area leaders, have started discussions that can help to shape content quality decisions. Questions touch on process and guiding principles, such as:

  • Should we put everything we write on to the website? If not, how do we decide?
  • Who should be involved in the review process, and at what stage in content publishing?
  • How do we determine what makes for “quality content” for our diverse audiences?

An articulated content strategy helps content teams to identify a roadmap to follow.

Step one: establish ownership and roles

Half of Extension faculty and staff can publish content, which is coordinated through content teams or web groups.

Use the content overview tool to search a content title and see what team or group a piece of content belongs to, and contact the team leader or group coordinator if you see questionable content. Your feedback can help them to see other perspectives and their response inform yours.

Roles and responsibilities, outlined earlier in 2019, clarify how people fit into the content development cycle and their relationships to each other.

Among those roles, teams and groups need to discuss who controls the content quality, holding relevant content authors accountable to content guidelines, standards and policies that will be explored in the next steps.

Step two: design and document content processes

Content may be written by author(s) but it is the content teams and program leaders that need to work together to plan, review, publish, and revise the content. It helps to share a common set of tools and expectations in this content process.

Plan

Statewide planning meetings can set the stage for a participatory process. Together you can review audience analytics and determine the content purpose, gaps to fill, and plans for the year. It can also help decide what content isn’t needed based on strategic priorities. Set up a content planning spreadsheet in Box to keep track of content to be created.

Review

A peer review checkbox and name field appears on all articles if your team wants to use this as part of the publishing process. It currently means at least one other colleague looked at it, but does not mean the same level of scrutiny as catalog and journal peer reviews. Content that is questionable can also be put “in review” by the team or group to keep it from public view until the issue addressed.

Publish

A team needs to decide if they will independently upload articles, appoint an uploader on the team, or find program/research assistants or students to support this. These people need to be aware of the guidelines, standards and policies discussed below. An editorial calendar can help schedule content to be published at key times.

Revise

Many are familiar with the EESC directed process to review and update Extension catalog publications more than four years old. Content team leaders need to coordinate a similar process for their team’s articles and educational documents; EESC can help by setting up automated notifications and maintenance reports to use.

Step three: produce supporting documents and tools

Ground rules for doing content right can help to address differences in opinions. EESC has outlined some key recommendations or requirements below. Content teams and groups can adapt and expand on these to establish what makes for “quality” content.

Guidelines that EESC provides and encourage you to use include:

  • Messaging maps to create consistency of voice and tone depending on the audience
  • AP style and plain language guidelines for standard language and format of content
  • Readability formatting for a web page (which is different than a print publication)

Standards mean there’s a correct way to do things, and an expectation this will be followed, such as:

  • Web instructions of what content goes on the Extension website, and how to enter and tag it in the content management system; see the quick start checklists to make this clear
  • OSU and Extension branding requirements

Since these guidelines and standards can be a lot to learn, EESC will help by reviewing content after it is published and making minor changes or suggestions on how to improve. More information is in the content requirements and best practices section of the web guide, or request a specific training.

Policies are critical to follow to be inclusive, ethical, or not put us at risk, this includes things such as:

  • Copyright rules
  • Non-discrimination and accessibility laws
  • Personal data protections

Information about this is in the legal requirements section of our web guide. Also OSU’s Web and Mobile Services is offering “Accessibility Basics for the Web” trainings, including information about the OSU Policy on Information Technology Accessibility. Offered Oct. 3, Dec. 5, 2019 and Feb. 7, April 15 or June 4, 2020.

Destination

Teams and groups need to keep a pulse on what is going on with their online content and scrutinize not only if it is accurate but also if the overall quality meets our expectations.

Keep those discussions going, work with EESC to set up some shared tools and communicate the guidelines, standards and policies to group members working on the website. Then before you know it, you will have arrived at a functional content strategy.


Extension website updates

You can now see all featured questions on a single page.

The “seasonal” tagging field now allows multiple options to be selected for a piece of content.

Minor fixes have been made in the display of phone and email on county landing pages.

Collections now have the formatting options: standard teaser (thumbnail image, title, short description), grid format (3 card size images and descriptions next to each other), and plain list without images. After adding a “collection section” see the settings tab.

Thanks to Joseph Phillips, Content Strategist for the Examined Web, for ideas from his article “A four step roadmap to good content governance” for this blog post.

The past couple of weeks sparked some new possibilities to test out, in hopes of resolving ongoing requests from content teams. Everyone has a role in making this possible. What then is the role of the content strategist? It involves listening for commonalities, looking for bright spots, and asking questions to facilitate people thinking about strategy.

Currently, group conversations have generated insight into:

  1. Facilitating workflows that can support a new way of doing things.
  2. ­­Creating a way to share human interest stories that show the value of Extension’s work.
  3. Improving access to resources in ways that audiences want.

1) Workflows

A lot goes into identifying, writing, reviewing and tagging content that only experts in the subject can do. Entering, coordinating and managing educational content by the content team, however, needs further discussion.

Events, announcements, newsletters, and county focus areas can all still be managed by the county office groups. Educational content, however, shifted to the program areas. Regardless of where faculty are stationed, the content is valuable regionally and statewide, and no longer seen as tied to a county. Who then is best to enter and manage this content of the statewide teams? How do we leverage existing resources to do so?

Some new ideas include:

  • Write into your annual work plan 5% of website responsibilities that go beyond creating and updating content, so that your time as a team member is acknowledged and supported.
  • Shift responsibilities and offer incentives, so a champion wanting to spearhead this innovative change can take time to set up topic pages and tagging guides as needed to organize and maintain content.
  • Leverage support professionals from the program area, such as education program assistants or research assistants, to learn the entry, tagging, and coordination processes.

2) Stories

“We need to capture the essence of who we are as a community in Extension and how we meet the needs of our communities,” said Anita Azarenko recently at the Quarterly Conversations. She asked, “How do we put feeling back into our website?”

Content analysis published in the Journal of Applied Communications* found the majority of awareness campaigns on agricultural websites used logical appeals with education-based and fact-based content. However, content with emotional appeals can be more effective in connecting with and being remembered by web visitors.

Stories showcase the value of what we do for the public by putting a face to our work. Publishing stories ourselves in addition to media coverage can increase the longevity and reach of our stories, and help show people how they too can benefit by being engaged with our programs. EESC is moving forward to capture these stories and to find the best way to showcase them online.

3) Audience navigation

Technology can level barriers for some, and be a learning curve for others. Audiences come with all different preferences and skill levels. The new content management system helps to customize how content is displayed, even for the audience that just wants a straight list of resources in one place.

Topic landing pages came out ten months ago so teams could organize the content based on audience needs and interests. The “custom topic sections” can gather similar content under easy to skim headings. Keywords (which are now easier to modify) can help filter less relevant content. Links to these resources can still be reached from county page focus areas if people enter the site that way, and topics continue to evolve based on content developed and how audiences look for it.

We’ll continue to work with faculty on improving audience access to resources they depend on in the coming months.

Web updates

  • A recording is available from Quarterly Conversations on Extension’s digital strategy.
  • Updates to the faculty and staff directory fixed filter functionality, added new filters and fixed links to county, program and unit/department on profile pages
  • A pesticide safety disclaimer is now an option to add in English or Spanish on articles (just check the box on relevant content)
  • Content that appears in web-based newsletter issues and or collections now have an attribution stating this connection.

* Assessing the Content of Online Agricultural Awareness Campaigns Joy N. Rumble, Quisto Settle, and Tracy Irani, This research is available in Journal of Applied Communications: https://newprairiepress.org/jac/vol100/iss3/10

Google Insights analyzes search phrases people use when searching the Internet, and found one trend they call the Age of Assistance. This fits well with what we do at Extension. Audiences come to the Extension website to find helpful resources, and in today’s online world they skim the content to quickly see if it meets their needs.

Google Insights discovered people are increasingly researching everything to either know what to expect or to make decisions.

People ask for:

  • Specific ideas (e.g. recipe ideas)
  • Things to avoid (e.g. pesticides to avoid),
  • What is best for me in my situation (e.g. best with my soil type).

They expect to find these answers online. Did you write your content in a way to come up in these type of searches?

Writing for the Web vs. for Print

Once on our website, will they decide to stay? When an article looks difficult to read, it sends a message that the topic will be difficult to do. By applying some simple changes to your content, you can make it more readable, and it will also encourage visitors to dig in and use it.

Some examples include:

  • Lead with the most important point
  • Break content into short, readable chunks

Many have done this already with content online; see a comparison table for even more user-tested guidelines when Writing for the Web.

Highlighted Points

You may have seen pull quotes in magazine articles, where an important or interesting sentence is enlarged and stylized. You can now do this for articles on the Extension website to catch the attention of browsing visitors. Just copy the sentence you want, paste on a separate line, highlight it, and click the “insert pull quote” icon in the tool bar.

Social Media or E-News Blurbs

If you took the time to write and post an article, then take a second to think how you can promote it so people want to click and read more.

The Teaser section of the editing screen includes a description field that shows up in search results and can be used for e-newsletters. On articles and videos, there’s also a new place to craft a Facebook post or short tweet, which will come in handy in the longer-term digital strategy.

Getting Started

For new content added to the website or when you’re reviewing existing content, keep the above suggestions in mind. However, for the several hundred articles already published on the Extension website, the EESC publications team will copyedit articles using the EESC style guide and apply these practices along the way. The content stays published while EESC and the Content Team leader work on revising and approving it. It will not affect the publishing process nor visibility of the content to the public. Here’s the process for content team leaders and links to learn more:

Read the full details of this EESC Copyediting process in the Extension Website User Guide under Managing Content.

List of changes to the web guide

When we have updates to the website, we will let you know at the end of all our future blog posts. Here’s one not already mentioned above:

There are new tagging fields on educational content to be used for internal reporting and sorting as part of the future digital strategy.

  • Season – is there a specific time of year this article or video is about?
  • Marketing Category – is there a specific theme this content fits?
  • Audience – is this content meant for a commercial or home audience?
  • Language – is this content in a language other than English (this was an existing field)?
  • Diversity and Inclusion checkbox – is this article or video specifically representing or addressing equity or social justice issues?

On the Extension website, we share practical educational resources that puts science into the hands of people across Oregon and beyond to help meet their local challenges.*

One of the essential commitments of this website change underway is to facilitate collaborative development of a customer-focused digital strategy based on content. Educational content on the website is driven by and managed by program area leaders (via faculty on content teams), and the content strategy is based on audience needs.

Priority is given to developing relevant, sharable content in OSU Extension’s new content management system. This content can then be shared many places, including the website.

Facilitate content strategy workshops

As faculty experts gather this summer to share projects of interest with each other, consider adding a content planning workshop to your agenda. What would this look like and what tools can you find to help facilitate this?

Extension’s content strategist** can work with content teams to facilitate interactive and reflective workshops, or develop templates for content team leaders to guide your own working groups. To plan, begin with three basic questions:

  1. Why are you doing this workshop?
  2. What do you need to get out of this?
  3. How will you get that?

The content strategy toolbox includes ideas such as:

  • Ways to define the top priority content you want to develop
  • Mapping your existing content to align it with audience questions
  • Creation of an audience journey map through the seasons
  • Development of a roles matrix and workflows to improve processes
  • Card sorting for tackling consistency in content keywords

If you would like a facilitated workshop, so the content team leader can fully participate in the activities, reach out early to collaborate on what would work best in the time and setting available.

Also, starting this summer the web and content strategy team will be looking more closely at your audiences’ experiences with the online content, both through direct user research and by digging into the analytics. Questions that have come up through discussions with content team leaders will be explored, and we may ask you to connect us to people you serve, while we reach out to those new to Extension. We want to learn what the public is looking for, and how that matches to what we provide.

Interested in a content planning workshop or want to explore more your audiences’ experiences? Contact the web and content strategy team to get started.

*This happens thanks to the faculty who work with Extension and Experiment Station Communications (EESC) to produce multimedia and catalog publications, and the also the new development of 38 content teams that create articles and share educational documents directly on the website. These include: Family and Community Health, Sea Grant, Forestry and Natural Resources, 34 Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources working groups, and a collaboration of three program areas focused on Youth Development.
**Michele Scheib

When a change happens, there’s a lot of fluidity in roles with some people pitching in where needed. At a certain point into the transition, clarity is needed to outline current expectations and responsibilities. This helps working relationships and goals be more defined, and taps into the strengths and interests of each member of a group.

Last week we shared our new guide on working on the Extension website, and it included updated roles for all who are involved with the web project and the long-term digital strategy. These roles are shaped by the guiding criteria of the “right people doing the right things”.

Roles and Responsibilities

Focusing in on just a few responsibilities at a time may make the way forward more manageable. Some of the suggested focuses for 2019 are highlighted in “Getting Started with Content” in the new guide. Full roles and responsibilities are also outlined:

Everyone in a content team or program or county office group can learn how to add content to the website. The team or group can also designate a member to be “publishing editor” who does the entry or this assignment can rotate. There is flexibility in how the roles fit for your team or group (see the points of contact for each team or group).

Working on the website can be more effective when you meet as a group and discuss, for example, “How does your content address the questions being asked by your audiences?” This collaborative inquiry can make your content more engaging too.

EESC can facilitate interactive workshops for your team this year to define your website goals, plan your content strategy, or map out your process in making the roles fit for your team or group. Contact the web team with your ideas and requests.

How can you keep content fresh on the Extension website? By repurposing what you are already doing. Also, by taking another glance through what you have and edit it with a readability or diversity lens.

Tapping into current efforts

Taking a newsletter or blog piece you have written recently and turning that into an article can be a straightforward way to add new content to the website.

Other content teams have latched on to an idea of locating and revamping older catalog publications as a way to avoid starting from scratch.

When you find yourself answering the same questions, providing familiar advice, or doing another standard presentation — turn these into quick articles or videos that you can refer people to online in the future. Short answers to featured questions are popular with web visitors.

Similarly, when you publish new research in different places, such as a journal article or  association report, take a new slant or go more in-depth on one aspect to write a web article that speaks to Extension audiences too.

Adding content with purpose

It’s not just enough to add content when you have it. To make this effective, you need to add content for the right reasons.

These include meeting programmatic goals and audience needs, which we will be working more with teams to better define this year, and then map out content with this in mind.

It also means taking time to think about how people skim content on the website, and about all audiences we are trying to include. A couple tips in our guide on our training page can help you take a fresh perspective on your existing content:

If you have questions or other suggestions, please reach out to our web team to let us know.

Keeping content fresh, current, and accurate on the Extension website means knowing the tools to keep existing content maintained. In certain cases, you may want your content to be invisible to visitors if it becomes out of date. Or, you might want to review the content another person updated before it gets published.

There are three ways to make content unpublished:

  • Draft: The content needs to be finished/reviewed before it gets published.
  • In Review: The content was published, but has been taken down for review.
  • Archived: The content was published, but is now out of date or no longer needed.

At the bottom of any edit screen, you will see these options in a drop down field above the Save button.

You can also see the status of all content at a glance on your group’s list of content.

Note that if you “Edit” a piece of published content and set its state to “Draft”, the previous version of that content will remain visible. To hide all previous versions, set the state to “In Review” or “Archived” instead.

To see the public version of the content, click on “View” tab. To see the latest draft of the content, click on the “Latest version” tab. These tabs are visible below the title on the content’s page. You can also see a “Revisions” tab, where all the past published versions can be found and reverted back if needed.

When you save a piece of content, you can enter a “Revision log message” to describe the changes you made or why you made them. These messages get displayed in the Revisions tab.

It is recommended for educational content or annual events to “archive” rather than delete. Deleted content will no longer be accessible and cannot be restored. Archived content can still be found on the Group Content page when logged in if you want to update it and republish. It also helps avoid the content being inadvertently added again, since the reason it was “archived” can be noted in the revisions field for future reference.

Read more in the user guide under Managing Content. As you do some housekeeping of your group’s content, reach out to the web team if questions come up. Thanks for your work to keeping the quality of content reflecting the valuable service OSU Extension provides the broader community.