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Delete Files in Deleted Items & Junk Mail Folders

Keeping Outlook clean by removing unnecessary files helps it run smoothly. As with any program, the more files or messages it has to track, the harder it works. As the number of email messages grows, Outlook can take longer to start and can sometimes be a little sluggish to use.

delete deletesIn the past, the NDSU email server automatically deleted all items in the deleted and junk email folders after 30 days. However, this is no longer the case. Because of this, we strongly encourage you to periodically check and clean out your Deleted Items and Junk Email folders. To do this, open Outlook and locate the appropriate folder in the list on the left side of your screen. Then, right-click on the folder name and select Empty Folder.

Permanently removing messages can be stressful for some people. The chance that an important message may have accidentally ended up in the Deleted Items or Junk Email folders can cause people to avoid cleaning them out from time to time. Fortunately, if you discover you accidentally removed a message that you still need, Outlook has the ability to recover messages that were recently removed. Just locate the folder the message was removed from, right-click on it and select Recover Deleted Items. This will open a window with a list of recently deleted messages. Select the message you want to recover, and at the top, click on the Recover Selected Items button (looks like an envelope). The item you recovered will be added back into your folder. If you have multiple messages to recover, you can do that, too. Just hold down the Ctrl key while clicking on the messages to recover or press Ctrl + A to select them all.

Jerry Ranum; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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"The Commons" - A Great Source for Images

I've written here many times in the past about how important images are in online communication. Images have a positive effect on user engagement on websites, blogs and social media.There are many sources for of images you can legally use for free (here's a list of some of them), but I want to highlight one in particular.

"The Commons" is a project started by Flickr and the Library of Congress in 2008. The project has 2 objectives, to increase access to publicly-held photography collections and to allow the public to tag the photos, adding important information like who is in a photo or where was it taken.

Today, nearly 100 other institutions have joined the Library of Congress and shared their photos on The Commons, including the Smithsonian Institution, the U.S. National Archives and the New York Public Library. The photo below was shared by the University of Washington Libraries.

Cooking in Home Economics Class

The Commons is a great source of images for your website, blog or social media posts, but it is also an example of public institutions openly sharing their resources and inviting the public to cooperate with them in adding value to those resources.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Write the Right Word: Avoid ‘Actual,’ ‘Actually’

“Actual” and “actually” are among the most overused words in the English language.

I’m sure you’ve heard something such as this: “I actually saw it happen!” or “What’s the actual situation?”

“Actual” and “actually” shouldn’t be used to suggest concepts such as at present, current, up to date, at this moment or now. If you saw something, such as an accident, all you need to say is, “I watched the cars collide.” Or if you want to know the latest news about a particular incident, just say, “What is the situation?”

Use “actual” or “actually” when you want to indicate something is a fact, not just a possibility, or you are attempting to correct a mistake or misunderstanding. For example, “The actual cost of the new building is $23 million.” Or this: “He actually attended NDSU, not South Dakota State University.”

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Tips for Long Forms

Ever get invited to complete an online registration or application but eventually you don’t submit it because it was just too many questions? People tend to have very short attention spans these days, especially when online. It’s always a good idea to make your survey as concise as possible, without of course compromising the data you really do need to collect.

Sometimes however, long forms are inevitable. I recently worked with a specialist who was using Google Forms for an online grant application. She narrowed down the questions as best she could, but really needed to ask quite a few to collect all the data that would be used to decide the grant's winner.

Here’s a few tips to help people through a long form:

1. Let them know what they’re getting in to.
Tell them upfront “This form has x # of questions and will take around x minutes to complete”. They might've started your form on their form in a waiting line but then dropped of when they got to the head of the line and completely forgot to go back to your form.

2. Add a progress bar on your form to let them know how far along they are in the process. Google forms and Qualtrics allow progress bars. Here's how you set it up in Google Forms:

progress bar in Google forms

 

3. Along the same lines, number your questions so they can see exactly where they are in the process.

4. Break up sections of your form by either using headers or page breaks. Let’s say you’re taking training registration. The first section of the form could be “Contact information” and ask for first name, last name, company name, job title, business address, phone and email. The second section could be “Training sessions” they want to attend.  The third session could be “Meal Preferences”. Breaking up each section should be a little easier for the form taker to digest.

section or page break in google form

Let me know if you need help making long forms less painful.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Images as emails are not user-friendly

When creating an email, it’s important not to have an image as the message because people may not be able to view it. Some emails come through where the message is an inserted picture as the message, vs. typed text in the body of the email.

The email client on the desktop may not allow you to download images, or the sender may not be on your safe sender’s list. Have you ever seen a blank email that prompts you to “Click here to download images?" That can be a problem because every extra step you make someone take to open a message is a risk in losing them. Delete.

Same goes for mobile. According to Litmus, 43% of all email opens were on a mobile device. That was of August 2013. Surely that nummobile no nober has risen by now as the adoption of mobile devices steadily increases. Look how this message displayed on my phone. There is no way to view the message. Delete.

It’s every emailer's dream to have the audience complete the call to action or share with others to increase your audience. Let’s say you were able to view this email because the sender is on your safe sender's list. But what if you wanted to share this email with someone else? Regardless of whether they open on mobile or desktop, they could run into the same problems because their settings may be different than yours. That's another lost chance to get your message across.

The desktop version of the email has a link that is underlined but not hyperlinked, so you're not taken any where by clicking on it. This is very confusing for the audience. I’m not even able to copy and paste the link into a browser to see where they want me to go. There’s probably not many people that are going to take the time to check out that URL by having to retype the web address. Again, you’re losing a potential “customer” by making it painful for access your information.

For readability purposes, it’s best to use text in your email to assure your audience can view your message. Don't type up your message and save it as a .jpg or .png and hit send.

 

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Creating Images With Canva

Creating images is an important part of online communication. Images make webpages and blog posts more attractive, engaging and shareable. Even creating a social media presence requires Facebook Covers, Twitter Headers and more.

Canva offers an easy to use, drag-and-drop interface for creating all kinds of images. Using their website or iPad app, you can use their templates, design themes, photos and fonts to create your own image.

Here's one I created with one of my own photos and a Canva layout.

An Image Created in Canva

Canva features templates for Facebook Covers, Instagram Posts, photo collages and much more. Once you choose a template, you can build on a blank slate or choose one of Canva's layouts. Like Canva's photos and fonts, some layouts are free and some are available for a small charge, usually $1. If you use elements that aren't free in your design, you'll be asked to pay for them before you can download the image you've created.

There are plenty of elements that are free, allowing you to create some really interesting images at no cost.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Don’t Fall for the Latest Facebook Hoax

A Facebook hoax from 2012 is being recirculated in reaction to recently-announced changes to its privacy settings. You may have seen people posting a “legal” notice that disallows Facebook to use your information or posts.

A snippet:

“By this statement, I tell Facebook that it is strictly forbidden to disclose, copy, distribute, broadcast, or take any other action against me on the basis of this profile and or its content.”

According to snopes.com, this declaration is meaningless:

“While (Facebook) does not technically own its members content, it has the right to use anything that is not protected with Facebook's privacy and applications settings. For instance, photos, videos and status updates set to public are fair game.”

The best way to protect your privacy on Facebook is to adjust your Privacy Settings to your comfort level. You can adjust who sees what, and even what ads you see. For the basics, see the Facebook Privacy page.

So if you see that Facebook post, be sure not to share it. Remember to apply the CRAAP test if you’re not sure about the accuracy of a post.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Mobile-Friendly Sites are Favored by Google

Google recently announced that mobile-friendly websites will stand out in search with labels and possibly, rank.

I tested this out by searching “ndsu ag comm”. Sure enough, mobile-friendly versions ranked higher than the non-mobile-friendly result.

 Screenshot of mobile-friendly search

Ag CMS sites have been mobile-friendly since March 2013. Roger did all the work designing the mobile template and had the foresight to know that more and more users are using the Mobile Web.  

Just take a look at our most recent Google Analytics for all Ag CMS sites:

Mobile analytics table

 

Note that desktop sessions have only grown by 3.67% so far in 2014, but our overall number of sessions is up by 22.5%, mainly due to mobile traffic. We have had nearly 5 times as many mobile sessions already this year than we did all of last year.

Without having to worry about design, you can concentrate on the content. Here’s some tips on writing for the Mobile Web.  

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Including

Despite the way “include” or “including” seems to be used these days, it does not mean “all” or “everything.”

Use “include” or “including” before a series only if you are not listing everything. For example: “The family has several pets, including three cats and a dog.” Using “including” in this case is OK because the family also has two hamsters and a parakeet.

When you list everything in a series, use “are.” For example: “The three color options for this model are white, green and light blue.”

One more hint: Do not tack “etc.” or “and more” to the end of a list when you precede it with “include” or “including.” The words “include” and “including” are a clear indication that the list is not complete, which makes the “etc.” or “and more” unnecessary.

Ellen Crawford, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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Lindquist Shares How to Own the Stage

Mark_LindquistMark Lindquist opened the Sept. 30 - Oct. 3 Extension/REC Fall Conference sharing how those of us who give presentations can use his acting and speaking tips to "Own the Stage."

Develop a rehearsal habit. Rehearse to an empty chair, and give it your all in practice. You can't control everything, but you can control practice. Amateurs rehearse until they get it right; professionals rehearse until they don't get it wrong.

Prepare short stories/vignettes to use as appropriate. Let somebody else tell the story for you.

Use images, not PowerPoint bullets. Photos and graphics truly are worth a thousand words, illustrating stories and leaving images with your audience. Don't read slides to your audience.

Establish your credibility. Share why you're qualified to speak on this topic.

Be confident, competent, compelling and charismatic.

In summary, Lindquist said, "Only 11 percent of people have passion for what they do. You have a story worth telling and a mission worth doing."

Becky Koch, Ag Communication Director, (701) 231-7875

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