OSU Extension has programs for Oregonians at every stage of life, from young children participating in 4-H Cloverbuds to seniors taking Walk with Ease or Better Bones and Balance classes. With this diversity of programming, it is no surprise that people of all ages visit and utilize the Extension website.

It is difficult to make generalizations about people’s web use based on their age, since it is often influenced by factors such as socioeconomic status, education, location, etc. that vary tremendously within one age group. Despite stereotypes, a teenager growing up in a rural area without regular internet access will probably be less “tech savvy” than a retired person who spent much of their career as a software engineer in a big city. However, because it’s our mission to serve all Oregonians, it is useful to look at analytics for visitors in different age groups to ensure that the website is serving them all effectively and determine if there are particular topics or methods of content delivery that are more effective for certain groups.

In this post, we will take a high-level look at this information. All analytics data provided is for the period January 1, 2020 to October 15, 2020. Note that Google Analytics is able to determine age data for about 36% of visitors to the site.

Under 18

For legal reasons, Google Analytics does not provide data about users that it determines to be under the age of 18.

Check out these articles on creating web content for children and teens:

Ages 18-24

A significant segment of this age group on the Extension website is made up of college/university students, as evidenced by the relatively high popularity of “academic” content used as citations or references in papers, such as items in the Botany Basics collection, as well as the fact that this group has the highest percentage of visitors from Corvallis.

Ages 18-24 user data

This is the age group that is reported to visit the Extension website the least, making up 11.6% of users for which we have age data. (Note, though, that this age group contains the shortest range and therefore the lowest number of individuals who could visit.) It also has the highest bounce rate (71.65%) and lowest average pages per session (1.44). This means that they are the most likely to visit a single page on the site and leave before visiting any others. They are also the group least likely to use the site search feature.

However, this group also spends more time on average on individual pages (2 minutes 51 seconds) than any other age group. This suggests that they are interested in the content on the site and are spending time to read it through. They are the group who least often leaves feedback on content (“Was this page helpful?”), but from the data we have their responses are almost always positive.

Contrary to what you may guess, visitors in this age group are more likely than visitors in any other to be using a desktop computer rather than a mobile device (this may be related to the number of students doing school work). However, for all age groups, a majority of users do use mobile devices. Even though this is the group most likely to be using a desktop, only 46.7% do.

Additionally, all groups of visitors are most likely to find the Extension website through an internet search through Google or another search engine. However, the 18-24 age group is the least likely to find the site through other methods (links on other sites, social media posts, etc.).

In terms of the content visited, this age group represents the widest diversity of interest. For the most part, a large majority of visitors to the Extension website are interested in gardening, food preservation, and (particularly over the last couple months) emergency preparedness topics. However, visitors in the 18-24 age group are the ones who most often visit content about other topics, including Sheep and Goats, Beef Cattle, Fish and Aquatic Life, Field Crops, and Business Management.

Takeaways:

  • To encourage visitors who get to the page from a search engine to visit more than one page on the site, be sure to include a “call to action” or other links on your articles and other content.
  • Be sure that your content includes information about author(s) and date published, etc. so that students (or other researchers) can create a citation for it.
  • Look for opportunities to create and promote content targeted at people in this age group who aren’t college or university students.
  • Consider targeting this age group when promoting content or programming that is new or uncommon in Extension.
  • Look for ways to promote relevant content to this age group beyond relying on them finding it through an internet search.

Ages 25-34

Visitors in this age group are the most common on the site, making up 23.19%, nearly a quarter, of all visitors for which we have age data. They are “middle of the road” for most statistics, including bounce rate, pages per session, and time on page, as well as for the devices they use and the ways they find the Extension website.

In terms of content interests, analytics suggests that visitors ages 25-44 are more interested in livestock-related content than other age groups, particularly beef cattle, sheep, and goats.

Takeaways:

  • Although this age group represents the largest group of website visitors, they are commonly thought to be underrepresented in “in-person” Extension programming. Think about ways you can utilize the web to increase participation from this group.

Ages 35-54

Google Analytics splits this into two groups, 35-44 and 45-54, but the statistics for these groups on the Extension website are so similar that it is easier to talk about them together.

This age group shows a significant drop in visitor numbers from the previous group. Numbers pick up again somewhat for visitors 55 and over.

Extension visitors by age

It may surprise you to learn that it is actually this age group that is the most likely out of all visitors to be using a mobile device. Over 70% of visitors in the 35-44 age group use a mobile phone or tablet to visit the Extension website.

Additionally, the 45-54 age group is the one most likely to find the Extension website through social media (12.7%). Facebook is the most common platform people arrive from.

In addition to the interest in livestock topics mentioned above, this age group shows a relatively high interest in crop production topics, particularly Field Crops, Hazelnuts and Nut Crops, and Tree Fruit.

Takeaways:

  • Think about reasons why visitors might drop off in this age group. Do we have programming appropriate for people who may be busy with family and/or career obligations? If so is it well represented online?
  • Don’t assume that only young people are visiting the site on a mobile device.
  • Make sure your social media strategy isn’t targeted solely at young people.

Ages 55-64

This is the second most common age group for visitors to the Extension website. Most statistics for this group are somewhere in the middle of the stats for the previous age group and the next.

One notable fact is that visitors in the 55 and over age group are much more likely than other age groups to leave feedback on content. The vast majority of all feedback is positive, but this group leaves negative feedback most often (55-64 ~7% negative and 65+ ~13% negative).

The 55+ age group also, perhaps unsurprisingly, represents visitors who have a relatively high interest in healthy aging and physical activity topics.

Takeaways:

  • When looking at feedback on content, keep in mind that certain groups of visitors may be more likely to leave feedback than others.
  • If you are making content targeted at older adults, look at examples like Better Bones and Balance or Walk with Ease as examples of effective web content for that audience.

Ages 65+

This age group is only the third largest group of visitors on the Extension website, but they spend the most time in a session visiting the site and tend to view the most pages. However, they spend the least amount of time on individual pages on average (2 minutes and 8 seconds). This behavior may indicate that this group has a harder time finding what they need on the site and so end up visiting many pages pretty quickly while they look. This idea is further supported by the fact that this group utilizes the site search feature much more than any other age group.

Contrary to what you might expect, this age group is not particularly likely to be using a desktop computer (in fact, slightly less than the 18-24 age group). The 65+ group is the one that most often uses tablets to access the website (~17% of visitors in this group use one). This age group is also the one most likely to find the Extension website from a link on another site.

Takeaways:

  • Make sure content is written to be easy to scan and read, so people can easily tell if what they need is on the page.
  • Tag your content with relevant keywords and topics so that visitors can find it through the site’s search feature.
  • Don’t assume that older adults are always using a desktop setup to access web content. In particular, don’t assume that they are using technology that can easily download/view PDFs or other documents.

Website updates

As natural disasters affect many communities across Oregon, people contact Extension and search online to get quick answers, to learn more on the subject and to get more expertise in it.

During the peak time during recent wildfires, visitors to the Extension website more than doubled to 18,000 daily compared to the usual 7,000 daily in the weeks before and after. It was also a slight increase in those viewing from mobile devices (65% vs. 57%).

The information people needed did not just come from Extension’s Forestry and Natural Resources Fire Program (627 pageviews) and their events, but also content from Extension’s other program areas. Extension Communications worked with Extension leaders, content team leaders and faculty and staff to coordinate coverage online.

Where can we direct people to find current information?

Topic pages

Already having topic pages that curate content in one place on the Extension website helped with timely turnaround needed.

A quick review of existing topic pages helped to add new calls to actions and feature relevant content. New content produced also automatically appeared under latest resources and news. The relevant topic pages included:

  • Fire (1858 pageviews in September)

Fire topic page with Announcement about Post-Fire Webinar Series and below that a call to action box "Learn what is happening in your community" with link to the Fire Program

Family Emergency Preparedness topic page with announcement about community emergency Wi-Fi access and a call to action box for Oregonians to stay safe and informed with link to State of Oregon resource hub

Community Disaster Preparedness topic page with Announcement for Livestock hay and feed donation request at top and a call to action with link to "real-time map of fires in Oregon"

New content related to smoke and ash information also could easily be tagged to show on related livestock, gardening, health outreach, food safety and wine grapes topic pages.

Announcements

Similarly, ways to easily tag announcements to show across the Extension website helped with quick notifications to communities no matter where they enter the site.

Extension Communications coordinated with Extension leaders and county web coordinators on announcements to appear on county pages and any related topic pages. These included:

  • Livestock hay donations (289 pageviews in September)
  • Safety alert closures of offices (198 pageviews)
  • Emergency community wi-fi access (55 pageviews)
  • Disaster relief support and mask distributions (44 pageviews)

Employee intranet

The employee resources website also provided a place to share internal information on administrative and communication questions that arose on the wildfire issue.

Updates to the wildfire information resources for Extension employees webpage had 160 pageviews in September. It offers expense tracking, activity reporting and volunteering information that will be useful to know for any emerging issue.

Top page of the Employee Intranet Wildfire Information - shows smoke image with box with link under heading "Stay safe and informed"

How do we get new content that our audiences need online quickly?

Most visitors to the website arrive directly on our educational content. Extension faculty crafted multiple new articles and answered Ask an Expert questions to publish on the Extension site during the peak of the wildfires.

It’s great when we have original, trusted content to promote and that our educators are taking time to do that. Here’s some of the results for month of September:

  1. What should I do about the wildfire ash covering my yard and garden? | new Featured Ask an Expert question – 45,334 pageviews
  2. Take precautions when wildfire ash falls on fruits and vegetables | new News story – 30,439 pageviews
  3. Is it safe to eat my garden produce affected by wildfires? | new Featured Ask an Expert question – 16,972 pageviews
  4. What effect will the 2020 fires have on bees? | new Web article – 4734 pageviews
  5. After a wildfire | existing Web article – 1671 pageviews
  6. Fire-Resistant Plants for Home Landscapes and Fire-Resistant Landscape Plants for the Willamette Valley | existing Catalog publications — 1531 combined pageviews
  7. During a wildfire | existing Web article – 1214 pageviews
  8. The Home Ignition Zone: Protecting Your Property from Wildfire | existing Catalog publication – 1180 pageviews
  9. Fire FAQs—Who owns Oregon’s forests, and how does that matter when it comes to fire? | existing Catalog publication — 977 pageviews
  10. Impact of Smoke Exposure on Wine | existing Catalog publication – 752 pageviews
  11. Animal exposure to wildfire smoke | new Web article – 627 pageviews
  12. Fire FAQs—What is forest fuel, and what are fuel treatments? | existing Catalog publication — 533 pageviews
  13. Improve indoor air quality from wildfire smoke during COVID-19 | new Web article – 512 pageviews
  14. OSU Extension assists with livestock rescue efforts as Oregonians flee fires | new News story – 473 pageviews
  15. Once the smoke clears: A guide to safety start working and riding your horse | new Web article – 403 pageviews

Also added were key “online resources” from government sources or other Extension colleagues, especially bilingual content on evacuation safety, wildfire smoke, and fire prevention.

Where time is of the essence, some of the most timely ways to publish content are:

  • Ask an Expert question/answer (Extension Communications monitors and can add timely, relevant content as “featured questions” to the Extension website.)
  • Publish a new article, or revise an existing one (Post through your content team.)
  • Add an online resource through your content team (Link to a credible outside source.)

You may also be interviewed for news stories published by Extension Communications writers.

Later, your team may also want to revise or create a new peer-reviewed Extension Catalog publication.

People are taking the time to fully read this information too – often spending over five minutes and more on each article. Together all this online content captured ways Extension educates, collaborates and supports efforts in the state when natural disasters happen.

How can we best let people know about our useful resources?

If you create content based on questions you’re hearing from our audiences or other trends, then there will likely be more interest when you share it. The pieces of content that attracted most pageviews also had about 45% who arrived via Facebook social media referrals.

Sometimes how you present it on social media helps too. One piece of wildfire content had over half its views come from Facebook. This could be because of the post’s creative photo slideshow about 4-H assistance with rescued livestock.

During this time, the most popular Facebook post shared urgent tips right in the message if they clicked to see more.

Post with infographic "When the fire nears you... Anticipating an evacuation? Steps to take now" with steps listed. Shared 747 times and 29 comments.

Direct referrals to the online content, such as from your email distribution lists, also increased. During this wildfire peak time, 34% arrived from a direct URL compared to around 13% other weeks in September.

While we featured this new and timely content each day on the Extension homepage, the OSU Alumni website also featured our information on their site too. What other partners do you know of that highlighted our content on their sites?

When the next natural disaster comes to Oregon, such as a water-related emergency, keep in mind these ways that your content can be nimble and ready to go when needed.

In the face of the worst pandemic in the last 100 years, maintaining strong ties within the communities we serve can feel like an uphill battle. Even with social distancing, it’s important that we continue to meet the needs of Oregonians and to maintain strong ties with each other as we face this public health crisis together.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us in Extension are faced with a dilemma: how do we continue to offer vulnerable community members the opportunity to continue engaging with the event-based programming they want to attend, but can’t?

Recently, 4-H and the FFA were planning the Grant County Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit. The necessary Covid-19 related precautions were planned, including social distancing and limiting attendance. But, the reduced attendance posed several drawbacks to the viability and effectiveness of this event and future ones like it.

Bonni Booth, the 4-H Program Coordinator for Grant County, learned about a local church that was successfully live streaming their service to those who couldn’t attend in-person. The church offered Bonni and her team a laptop, camera, and WiFi access to stream live video from their event onto YouTube. To leverage OSU Extension’s YouTube subscriber following, she reached out to Extension Communications to see if we had an official YouTube channel for streaming live events.

We didn’t have such a channel, but now we do. We present to you: OSU Extension Live, a YouTube channel dedicated to broadcasting your event quickly and to a large audience.

screenshot of the live video image with analytics graph below

How OSU Extension Live works

It’s accessible from practically any device with an internet connection, even a mobile phone or a smart TV. People who prefer to quarantine can connect with their Extension communities. Those with scheduling conflicts can rewind the stream to watch the parts they had missed. Bonni told me after the event that grandparents of the 4-H youth who lived across state lines thanked her for letting them watch their grandchildren show their animals. Expanding our services to reach underserved audiences is a great perk, pandemic or not.

Bar graph showing desktop was most used to watch and most on Thursday. TV and mobile were next popular and tablet and game console not as much.

The Modified Youth Livestock Exhibit was six days long and included an array of activities that took place at different times. YouTube’s in-depth analytics shows which activities gathered the largest virtual crowds, and can even give a general sense of who is tuning in. These data points can help you determine which parts of the event were the most popular and which didn’t hold the audience’s attention.

line graph of live concurrent viewers by time of day

This isn’t just a piece of the solution for social distancing, this is a paradigm shift for offering accessible content to people with all sorts of reasons for not attending an event in-person. All the while, accessing powerful feedback to help you shape your future programming.

How you can get started

We are working to make live video streaming to OSU Extension Live as easy as possible, but there are some extra considerations.

  1. You will need a data connection. Streaming won’t work without a stable connection to YouTube.
  2. University policy for youth programming states that a model release must be completed by all youth present on-camera. Most youth programs have a model release as part of their enrollment process, but make sure to bring extra forms to the event in the case that a youth without one wants to participate on-camera.
  3. If you elect to open up the live stream to comments, make sure someone is available to moderate those comments.

Let’s say that an event you are hosting is coming up and you want to determine whether to host a live video stream. What makes an event ideal for live streaming?

  • Is your event intended for a public audience? If not, perhaps a video conferencing platform like Zoom is more appropriate.
  • Do you have a way to advertise the event to your audience? Sharing the streaming link in an email or on social media with your audience and drumming up excitement days or weeks in advance will ensure the best turn-out.
  • Is this a recurring event? Perhaps there is an unserved audience of prospective members who would like to see what your event is like from the comfort of their own home.
  • Is there someone available who can periodically check on the webcam?

Traffic ration by source shows 40.1% external link, 32.1% direct url entry, and less than 10% for each of the other 5 sources

 

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about live video streaming, contact Alan Dennis or Victor Villegas.

You are also more than welcome to learn more by attending our Extension Annual Conference session titled, “Virtual Program Delivery with Live Streamed Video” which is slated for Monday, December 7, 2020 from 10:15 – 10:45 AM.

The Extension website’s analytics are powered by the Google Analytics platform. One powerful feature of Google Analytics is the ability for administrators to configure tracking of visitor actions (called “events”) that are more complex than simple page views. These include actions performed by visitors such as clicking a link or submitting a form. In this post we will cover the actions that are tracked on the Extension website and how to access data about them.

Actions tracked on the Extension website

The following are the categories of actions that are tracked on the Extension website:

  • Content CTA: A visitor clicks on the “call to action” (CTA) link at the end of a piece of content. This CTA can be customized for articles, otherwise it defaults to links to the landing pages for the topics the content is tagged with.
    • During August, 8,116 of these events occurred
  • Downloads: A visitor clicks on a link to download a file (e.g. a PDF or Excel document).
    • During August, 25,402 of these events occurred
  • Feedback: A user selects “Yes” or “No” in a “Was this page helpful?” form.
    • During August, 3,056 of these events occurred
  • Mails: A user clicks on a linked email address to send an email.
    • During August, 1,229 of these events occurred
  • Outbound links: A user clicks on a link that directs them to an external website (i.e. a website that doesn’t start with extension.oregonstate.edu). This includes clicks on the “Share” button on pages that visitors can use to share the link to social media.
    • During August, 135,661 of these events occurred
  • Search: A user performs a search using the site search function that doesn’t return any results.
    • During August, 479 of these events occurred

Note that a single action by a visitor might be counted for more than one category. For example, if a call to action at the end of an article links to the Extension Catalog website, that will be included in both the “Content CTA” and “Outbound links” categories.

Note about tracking document downloads

Note that Google Analytics can only track clicks to the document that happen on the Extension website. This means that if you email someone the link to a document, post it on social media, etc. Google Analytics will not track those clicks. If tracking these numbers is important, we recommend:

  • Converting the document to a web page
  • Storing the file in OSU Box, which tracks downloads from everywhere. To see this information, log in to Box and view the file. On the right-hand side of the screen, there is an icon to open the “Details” panel for the file. Here, you can see the number of times the file has been previewed and downloaded.
  • Creating a shortened beav.es link for the document that you share. Then you can log back in and see how many people have followed that link.

Accessing data about visitor actions

Content authors can access some data about visitor actions through the on-site analytics dashboard.

  • Downloads: in the lower-right corner of the “Top Content” section, follow the “Search Document Data” link. This will take you to a report of all events in the Downloads category. You can use the filter at the top to find data for a specific document.
  • Searches: follow the “See analytics for all of Extension” link in the top-right corner of the dashboard. In the “What visitors look for” section (last on the page), you will see data for terms that visitors have entered in the search box on the site.

To get data for the other action categories at this time, you will need access to the full Google Analytics back end. Submit a website support ticket to request access. We have created basic instructions for using the full Google Analytics back end. You can also see our recent professional development webinar to learn how your colleagues use analytics.

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.)

This spring, we launched a feature on the Extension website called “focus areas”. These allow counties to highlight the work they do around a particular topic or topics, and were intended to serve as a link for visitors between the statewide educational content on topic pages and locally relevant events and programming on county pages. Now that focus areas have been live for a few months, we took a look at analytics to see how effective they have been in meeting the goals we had for them.

Here are the basic stats for focus area pages, for the period of March 20, 2019 – August 7, 2019:

  • Pageviews: 3,655
  • Average time on page: 1 min. 17 sec.
  • % Entrances (views where it was the first page viewed on the site): 26.59%
  • % Exits (views where it was the last page viewed on the site): 28.78%
  • % New visitors: 61.53%

These stats (the low time on page, entrance, and exit rates) suggest that visitors are using focus area pages as a navigation tool on the way to the content they want to see. This is what we want to see. Additionally, the percentage of returning visitors to focus areas is significantly higher than for the site as a whole (38.47% vs. 13.12%). 

Here is a graph showing how visitors get to focus areas:

A majority (~57%) of visitors to focus areas click on focus areas from a county page. Of those, around 35% do so on the county’s landing page. The second most common way people get to focus areas is by searching on Google or another search engine, which makes up a majority of the “Entrances” in the graph above.

On focus area pages, counties can:

  • Select topics to direct visitors to and related experts to contact in their county. 
  • List programs and events offered in the county related to that topic. 
  • Highlight individual pieces of educational content that are especially relevant to their county, such as newsletters. 

Here is a graph describing where people go from focus areas:

We see that 37.86% of visitors find content of interest and click to it from the focus area – if this type of information has been featured. Watch or read how to do this in our Website User Guide.

Finally, here are the top 10 visited focus areas up to now:

  1. HAREC Plant Pathology Diagnostic Laboratory Services
  2. Douglas County Home Garden and Landscape
  3. Benton County Forestry and Natural Resources
  4. Douglas County Forestry and Natural Resources
  5. Deschutes County Home Garden and Landscape
  6. Lane County Home Garden and Landscape
  7. Washington County Home Garden and Landscape
  8. Lane County Forestry and Natural Resources
  9. NWREC Berry Crops
  10. Douglas County Livestock and Forages

Ideas for improving county focus areas

Here are some things you can do as a member of a county group to improve your county focus areas:

  • If you offer services at your office, make sure to add them to the website. Some of the more popular focus areas are those that give information about services for the public, such as laboratory services, pressure gage testing, and supplies for checkout.
  • Make sure to tag your county events with a topic. Events are displayed on focus areas based on the topic(s) they are tagged with. Analytics show that a lot of visitors to focus areas are interested in the events listed there.

EESC will also use this data to make design and functionality improvements for focus areas, which may potentially include making them more visible on topic landing pages or linking to them from content pages themselves.

Recent website updates

OSU recently updated the version of WordPress used for their blog platform. If you use an OSU WordPress site you will see some changes, including a new text editing interface called the Gutenberg Editor. Links to training instructions have been added to the OSU WordPress instructions. Please contact us if you need any help with the new editor, including turning it off.

This summer the OSU Extension website turned one! With one year of analytic data on how people are using the site, we have more insight into how the site is performing and how things have changed since launch.

Basic site stats

June 1, 2018 – June 1, 2019

  • Pageviews: 2,826,166 (up 107% from previous year)
  • Document downloads: 314,605
  • Average time on site: 1 min. 34 sec. (up 71% from the previous year)
  • Bounce rate: 66.77%

Content type stats

Content type Views/downloads/clicks Avg. time on page
News story 481,653 5 min. 53 sec.
Article 344,624 4 min. 39 sec.
Program landing page 312,666 1 min. 2 sec.
Program subpage 278,857 1 min. 46 sec.
County landing page 155,697 1 min. 51 sec.
Featured question 141,128 5 min. 18 sec.
Topic landing page 136,122 1 min.
Catalog publication 128,372 N/A
Event 112,987 2 min. 21 sec.
Program resource 111,952 N/A
Collection 54,827 1 min. 38 sec.
Focus area/county subpage 38,953 1 min. 11 sec.
Online resource 36,396 N/A
Announcement 21,679 1 min. 33 sec.
Educational document 20,107 N/A
Social media link 19,308 N/A
Newsletter 16,854 1 min. 59 sec.
Newsletter issue 14,922 1 min. 16 sec.
Project 7,850 3 min. 3 sec.
Video 4,721 2 min. 22 sec.
Project subpage 562 1 min. 21 sec.

Top 10 visited pages

  1. Small Farms landing page (75,663)
  2. Home page (75,159)
  3. Are there male and female peppers? (61,318)
  4. Don’t be timid when pruning grapes (33,179)
  5. Programs list (28,647)
  6. What are short day and long day plants? (25,163)
  7. Monthly garden calendars (23,910)
  8. Locations list (23,665)
  9. State Master Gardener landing page (23,315)
  10. Gardening topic landing page (22,952)

How visitors get to the site

  • Search (e.g. Google): 839,379
  • Social media: 68,809
  • Links from other sites: 56,815
  • Other (email links, bookmarks, typing URL from printed material, etc.): 173,528

Top search terms

What people search for once on the Extension site:

  1. 4-H or 4H: 832
  2. Soil testing or soil test: 719
  3. Compost tea or compost tea brewer: 673
  4. Horse: 384
  5. Jobs: 345
  6. Master Gardener: 330
  7. Canning: 297
  8. Forms: 275
  9. Calendar: 262
  10. Blueberries: 230

What people put into search engines (e.g. Google) to arrive on the Extension site:

  1. OSU extension service (or similar): 1,195
  2. [county or city] extension: 944
  3. Feeding bees dried sugar: 212
  4. Maggots in compost: 131
  5. What do quail eat: 107
  6. Pruning apple trees in summer: 76
  7. Food preservation 68
  8. What do robins eat: 67
  9. Glycemic load chart: 53
  10. Fungus gnats: 51

Changes since launch

As more content has been added to the site, the number of people visiting the site has increased. In June 2018, 81,755 users visited the site, while 109,065 visited in June 2019 (70% increase).

People appear  to have an easier time finding what they need. Usage of search was slightly lower June 2019 than June 2018, meaning people are having more success finding what they need through browsing. Additionally, the number of pages people visit in a session has gone down, while the average time spent on a page is up. This suggests that people don’t need to view as many pages to find what they are looking for.

Going forward

Over the next year, EESC will continue to collect data from web analytics. We will also begin to collect qualitative information through usability testing, site surveys, feedback forms, interviews, and more.

Thank you

A sincere thank you to everyone who has helped make the website a success by: entering content, reviewing documentation and help materials, asking questions at webinars and trainings, meeting with us to discuss content strategy, or any of the other ways Extension faculty and staff have contributed to our web presence. We hope  this time next year we will have even better results to share with you.

Use topic pages and tags so visitors find educational content

When visitors come to the Extension website, they want to see what information we have to answer the question on their mind or to discover what’s new. Topic menu pages (which include the landing page and the “Browse all Resources” pages for each topic) are a primary way for them to browse educational content.

  • Topic landing pages: 122,450 pageviews, 78% of visitors clicked on a link
  • Topic “browse all resources” pages: 15,038 pageviews (since rollout in October), 86% of visitors clicked on a link

The data shows that content is much more likely to be seen if it is tagged with a topic. On average, a piece of content on the site has received 57  views/downloads/clicks since November 2018. However, pieces of content tagged with at least one topic have received an average of 69 during the same time.

This effect is even greater if the content is featured on a topic landing page. Pageviews/downloads/clicks of content increases threefold (average of 319%) while the content is featured on a topic landing page compared to the period before it was featured.

What you can do to make sure visitors see your educational content:

  • Make sure to tag educational content with a topic. For most content types, the field where you can select the topic is in the second collapsed section on the edit screen.
  • If you tag content with a topic, be sure to also tag it with useful keywords so it is easier to find on the topic’s “Browse all resources” page. See the Tagging Guidelines in the Extension website guide.
  • Work with the topic’s committee to feature content that is especially important to audiences or seasonally relevant. Learn more about topic committees.

With more than one way to add a program application to the Extension website – as an announcement, a program resource, an event, or text on a sub-page – how does one decide the best approach? One case example could help give insight into this question.

We took a closer look at 16 Master Gardener training programs* that had an electronic application (printable PDF or online form) linked from the website to see the audience’s actions.

What did we find?

  • Application links were seen more than 10,000 times and were clicked/downloaded nearly 2,000 times. This is a good 20% conversion rate (i.e. the number who downloaded or clicked on the application, divided by the number who viewed it).
  • Among the Master Gardener programs, 8 uploaded the application and 7 linked to it (1 did both). The applications available for download performed better.**
  • Only one program put a direct link to the application on their main program landing page, but they didn’t have higher success in conversion rate than anyone else.
  • However, programs that had an “announcement” showing on their main program landing page had higher average conversion rates. We could interpret this to mean that people who are specifically looking for applications with the intent to fill them out, find them through announcements.

  • Links to applications that were shown on a sub-page (usually the “How to Join” page) were seen more often than those that were only shown in an announcement or event. We could interpret this to mean that people who are not yet decided about applying or who are learning about it for the first time, find it through the sub-page menus.

Recommendation

Add the file or link to the application as a “program resource” that displays on a “How to Join” sub-page. Then create an announcement that references that program resource or the page itself.

Do you have other questions that you want to see if analytics can answer about your audiences? Get in touch with the web team to ask your question.

 

* The remaining Master Gardener programs asked visitors to get in touch with a person to apply or receive application materials, so these need to be tracked off-line.
**It would be useful for all the programs to see how many people actually submitted applications once they clicked to an online form or downloaded a PDF application. In the future digital strategy, online forms may be preferable for ease of processing and tracking applications.