We have established a new approach to digital strategy. It will enhance and support our statewide presence by adding an improved, user-focused website run by a CMS (content management system) and, eventually will integrate with a CRM (customer relationship management) tool for wider, personalized engagement. Read more below and then learn more about how this works.

What will be different going forward?

  • The breadth and depth of content from across OSU Extension is now housed in one framework (not a network of separate sites), organized around topics.
  • Content will be driven by and managed by program areas (via content teams), based on audiences and goals.
  • Internal content (employee resources) is now on a separate site.

This is a major shift and also an opportunity for meaningful, positive change. It means new roles and responsibilities, and working together in uncharted territory. We are committed to making this change, and working through it together, because it’s essential for our organization’s ongoing success and relevance.

Learn more about each element of this approach:

Essential commitments

  1. We are not our customers. Internal feedback and preference informs our decision making but does not drive it.
  2. We use the power of the Drupal 8 CMS—content management system—to manage content not sites.
  3. Extension Communication’s primary web responsibility is initial development of the CMS, ongoing improvements and features, and security and maintenance of the CMS. Extension Communications will facilitate collaborative development of a customer-focused web strategy based on content, not building individual sites.
  4. Extension faculty and staff won’t be responsible for “updating a website”. Extension faculty and staff will be responsible for planning, writing, reviewing, adding, maintaining and assessing content in the CMS.

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Guiding criteria

  • Customer-focused
    Priority given to known customer/user preferences; features/content—especially on main site—should include option for users to engage in some way, such as call to action, give feedback/comment, ask a question, sign up/register, etc.
  • Mobile-friendly
    Theme/design will be mobile-friendly; priority given to retaining/creating content that can be delivered in mobile-friendly ways.
  • Data-informed
    To the extent possible, we will use analytics and other available data (e.g., needs assessments, trends) to support content, design, and process decisions.
  • Easy navigation/quick access
    Menus/navigation based on what customers want to do, learn, or search for—not on an internal topic or label.
  • Relevant information that can be easily updated frequently
    Preference given to processes/workflows that make updates less work for people, are easier with appropriate training, are managed at the right level, etc.
  • Engaging, high-quality online experience
    Consideration given to videos, images, social engagement, and other interactive features.
  • It’s about the content, not about the sites
    Priority given to developing ways to integrate, use, or transition relevant, sharable content in OSU Extension’s new web presence vs. fulfilling requests to design, develop, host, or manage individual sites.
  • Right people doing the right things
    Priority given to developing features and processes that allow Extension programs, faculty, and staff to focus on content strategy and development vs. website design, development, and management.

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Component 1: Main OSU Extension web presence, county sites, program sites

Our long-term vision is for the breadth and depth of content from across OSU Extension to be housed in one web framework (not a network of separate sites), organized around topics.

Phase 1 is now complete and involved:

  • Content/topic teams (organized by  program leaders) coordinating statewide to take stock of existing content, evaluate it, organize it, and begin entering it into the new framework. This included assessing:
    • Content on county sites (including combined Extension/AES sites)
    • Content on program sites
    • Other relevant content (including non-web), for example: videos, newsletters, blogs, social media, hard-copy documents
  • The Extension Communications based project team facilitating content teams’ content strategy work by providing—to the extent possible—content inventories/audits, analytics summaries, and tools for planning, organizing, and evaluating content. This will continue a primary focus of Phase 2 with the Content Strategist hired in April 2018.
  • The project team developed and designed the framework that allows all content to be in one place, and—importantly—how the site allows learners to view and access that content in the ways today’s audiences expect and prefer.
  • We launched our new public Extension web presence with essential feature and highest-priority content (“minimum viable product” approach) June 2018, and by the end of 2018:
    • The old main Extension website, county sites, and program sites that shared the same Drupal 6 platform were archived and redirected to the new site
    • Program and other sites that are housed elsewhere remain live until relevant content has been integrated to the new website. Content teams, program leaders, and the project team will develops transition plans on a case-by-case basis in Phase 2.
    • Read more about the project through to this point.

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Component 1: Internal content

Internal content (employee resources) moved to a separate website. This happened in advance of the new public Extension website launch.

  • In Phase 1, there are no major changes to internal content.
  • In consultation with the Extension administrative team, the project team made minor design and organizational changes for efficiency and user-friendliness.
  • The project team develops a list of needs/requests for a more robust internal platform for communication and connection (“intranet”) in Phase 2.

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Component 2: Content strategy and Customer relationship management

In the next phase of our digital strategy project, the Extension Communications based project team will establish solid workflows and governance for managing content. Also, through a ECTU-based project team, we will begin to do a needs assessment for a CRM (customer relationship management) system. OSU’s CRM is Salesforce. We’ll join the central OSU instance of Salesforce.

A high-level overview of the anticipated process:

Content Strategy

  1. Improve how to categorize content for efficient management
  2. Plan for new content and map out the workflow to create and maintain content
  3. Understand better how our target audiences are finding and using the content
  4. Discuss roles, responsibilities, and governance decisions to keep content fresh, accurate, and usable.


  1. Hired a Salesforce-focused position in March 2019 to provide necessary expertise (a programmer/architect)
  2. Assess needs, requirements, initial programming/setup
  3. Begin to consolidate Extension’s disparate contact data (mailing lists)
  4. Pilot using Salesforce to track interactions and communication and marketing scenarios.

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Component 3: Integration of CMS and CRM for Digital Engagement

This stage is focused on engaging a learner holistically (not in program silos). This means we are using data to inform and help us make better decisions about how to engage with our audiences and what content to create to meet their needs.

The data begins to guide learner engagement. As we integrate the CRM with our web presence, learners can begin to manage their profile, interactions, preferences, and subscriptions. This creates opportunity for a personalized digital experience.

By looking at the journey of audiences who engage with Extension, we can also see how content could be shared at the right time on whatever device they use. As we work to meet their needs, we can also invite them to collaborate with us and seek new ways to further learn or share their knowledge, such as taking an online course or becoming a volunteer.

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