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Agriculture Communication

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Link to Another Website in Ag CMS

During the Ag CMS preconference training for Support Staff Conference, someone asked how to add a link to the Spring Fever webinars on their website.

Rather than making your own Spring Fever page with a link to the state site, you can link directly to the site by using the Add New>Link item type in Ag CMS. There's no need to re-create information that already exists. In fact, it can reduce your online searchability if you duplicate content that's already out there. Plus, why do all that work when it's already been done? If it's already online, link to it unless there's a compelling reason you need to localize it. 

There may be some instances where you want to make your own page to personalize and then link out to the main site. For instance, counties that do Nourishing Boomers programming add specific information about their meetings and contacts but link out to the main site for educational content. The Barnes County Boomers page is an example.

Other examples include:
Morton County website links directly to the Farm Management website
Extension website links directly to the Extension YouTube channel (“videos”)
Plant Sciences links directly to the Foundation Seed Stocks website

Linking to another website is more direct for the audience to reach and many times there’s no need to create your own page when you can link directly to information that’s already online.

If you have questions about how to add a direct link to your website, please contact me.

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

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New Portable Wireless PA System Available

Ag Communication recently acquired a new smaller and more portableWireless PA System
wireless PA system. The rechargeable PA speaker is less than 12 inches
tall and comes in a small carrying bag that includes two wireless lapel
mics, two wireless headset mics, a wall charger and a car cigarette lighter cable for charging on the go. 

For more information see the Equipment Checkout page.

, Administrative Assistant / Conference Coordinator, 701-231-7881

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Write the Right Word: Accept or Except

“Accept” and “except” are another case of two words that sound the same but don’t mean the same thing and can’t be used interchangeably.

Accept means to receive. For example, “I accept the nomination to run for treasurer.” It also can mean to understand or believe, and agree or consent to something. “I accept that I am not able to run as fast as I once did.” “I accept this agreement because it will settle our dispute.”

Except means to exclude or not count. For example, “I picked up everything from my desk except the vase of flowers.” It also can mean otherwise or but. “The dike is solid except for a 5-foot section near the left side of the house.”

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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Associated Press -- and Ag Comm -- Update Some Styles

Ag Communication in general follows the "Associated Press Stylebook" for news releases and publications. Since the general mass media want articles written in AP style, Ag Comm provides our news releases to them in that format. That's why we use sugar beet as two words, no Ph.D. or Dr., email without the hyphen and no comma before the conjunction (usually "and") in a simple series.

AP continually is updating its style, and here are a few we'll all have to remember:AP logo

internet -- no longer capitalized

oil field -- two words

voicemail -- one word

telephone numbers -- with hyphens rather than parentheses: 701-231-7875

web -- no longer capitalized

, Ag Communication Director, 701-231-7875

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Focus on Mobile

NDSU Extension web site on laptop and on mobile.

A good web strategy should focus on mobile design and usability first. Our priority should be to make sure our websites work well on mobile devices, even if that means the desktop version suffers.

Globally, web traffic from mobile devices has exceeded traffic from desktop devices, but does this hold true for our NDSU Agriculture and Extension sites? The answer is no, not yet.

We looked at traffic from all Ag CMS sites (Extension, REC and academic sites) for 2015 and found 22.27 percent of that traffic came from mobile, 8.1 percent came from tablets and 69.63 percent came from desktop/laptop computers. So why are we encouraging such a strong focus on mobile?

We are encouraging a focus on mobile because of the trends, not just globally, but on our own sites. In 2015, mobile traffic on our sites was up 6.5 percent as a percentage of total traffic from the previous year. Both desktop/laptop traffic (76 percent in 2014) and tablet traffic (6.24 percent in 2014) were down in 2015.

That trend has continued in the first two months of this year.

Desktop MobileTablet
Jan.-Feb. 2015 73.14% 18.67% 8.19%
Jan.-Feb. 2016 68.65% (-4.49%) 23.77% (+5.10%) 7.67% (-0.52%)

This reflects traffic from across all of our sites. Your site may see even more mobile traffic.In 2015, 28.47 percent of traffic that included a visit to a county Extension site came from mobile. Our mobile traffic will continue to grow. We need to organize our web pages to work on mobile devices first, so we are prepared to serve this growing audience.

For help making your website work better on mobile devices, contact us.

, Web Technology Specialist (701) 231-6403' Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-7381

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Marketing Minute: Sound Agriculture Advice

Sound Ag Advice logoWhen we think of providing education to North Dakotans, we often reach for typical resources such as an Extension publication, news release or research report.

Did you know that there is another way to receive weekly agriculture advice and education?

The NDSU Extension Service produces a weekly radio/podcast segment that features news and advice about agriculture topics that affect North Dakota producers. Sound Ag Advice is the name of the radio segment where we invite an Extension specialist or agriculture researcher to provide the latest industry news and education about his or her field.

The most recent radio segments include:

  • As North Dakota pig producers ride the highs and lows of the current pork market, NDSU Extension Service swine specialist David Newman offers his thoughts on the state of the pork industry and advises producers about risk management related to animal health.
  • How much snow has North Dakota received so far this year? How cold can it get in North Dakota? How does an El Nino weather pattern affect our weather? Adnan Akyuz, North Dakota’s state climatologist and professor of climatological practices at NDSU, answers these questions and more.
  • As the income tax filing deadline draws near for agriculture producers, NDSU Extension Service farm management specialist Ron Haugen discusses some important things to note when preparing your taxes.

Listening to the three- to five-minute segment is a great way to stay up to date on the most current information our NDSU Extension and research professionals are providing.

To receive a once a week email notification when a new Sound Ag Advice segment is available, contact me, or visit the Sound Ag Advice website and follow the Subscribe by Email instructions. Happy listening!

, Information Specialist, (701) 231-6136

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Technology Tidbits

*If you see a Windows 10 upgrade notice on your computer, do NOT click on it or attempt to upgrade at all. This can cause issues or even prevent software or hardware such as printers from functioning correctly. Instead, please contact us for more information and assistance.

*A number of people have been experiencing slowdowns or freezes with their Microsoft Office 2013 programs. In many recent cases, this is due to a bug in an update Microsoft released a couple of weeks ago. While the bug already has been removed from the Windows update server, a few people may have been affected. The issue can usually be reversed by removing the offending update (KB3114717). Here's how:

  1. Click on Start and enter Run in the search box at the bottom and press the enter key.
  2. In the command window type Appwiz.cpl and select OK.
  3. Select View installed updates.
  4. In the list, locate and select KB3114717, and then select Uninstall.

*Have you ever backed up your Favorites from Internet Explorer? All you need to do is copy the files out of your Favorites folder to a backup location, and you are done. But with Firefox and Chrome, it’s not that straightforward.

Here are the steps to make successful backup files for your bookmarks in these two browsers.

Firefox

  1. Open your Firefox Browser.
  2. Click on the bookmark button.
  3. Select Show All Bookmarks to open the Bookmark Library.
  4. Make sure All Bookmarks is highlighted in the left column and then, at the top of the window, click on Import and Backup > Export Bookmarks to HTML.
  5. Give your bookmark file a unique name and save it.

Chrome

  1. Open your Chrome browser.
  2. In the top right, click the menu button.
  3. Select Bookmarks > Bookmark Manager.
  4. In the manager, click the Organize menu.
  5. Select Export bookmarks.
  6. Give your bookmark file a unique name and save it.

In either case, we strongly recommend you give the file you save a unique name to identify if you saved it from Chrome or Firefox. This prevents confusion later if you need to restore your bookmarks. For example, instead of “John’s Bookmarks,” call it “John’s Firefox Bookmarks.”

For additional information, including how to import bookmarks back into your browser, see Saving Your Browser's Bookmarks.

Jerry Ranum, Jon Fry and Blair Johnson, Desktop Support Specialists; ITS Help Desk, (701) 231-8685

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Put a Map on Your Website

Google Map examplePeople were always asking how to get to the Agronomy Seed Farm, so they asked if there was a way to add a map and driving directions to their Contact Us Page. This is easy to do through Google Maps - see my 2 minute video.

If you have more than one location, such as the maps we did for the RECs and County Offices sites, it's easier to import a spreadsheet of addresses vs. doing a one-off.

Maps not only add a visual to your site that makes it more appealing, but Google Maps are interactive so you can input your current location and it will give you driving directions to your destination.

If you want to learn more about how to make a Google Map, please contact me or .

, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

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Write the Right Word: Because and Since

Despite the way “since” often gets used, it does not mean the same thing as “because.”

Use “since” to indicate the passing of time and “because” to refer to a cause-and-effect relationship. For example: “XYZ Co. has been in business since 1895.” “Because I have a cold, I decided to stay home from work today.”

The easy way to remember which word is correct is to use “because” if you are indicating a “cause.”  Thus, the cold caused me to stay home.

, information specialist, (701) 231-5391

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New Design for Center for Community Vitality Website

Lynette Flage, Center for Community Vitality (CCV) director, asked for my help in redesigning their website to make it more user-friendly and organized. I worked with her, administrative office manager Vicki Miller and graduate student Valerie Fechner. Here are the main points we adjusted to reach their goals.

Audience

When you work with Ag Comm, it’s essential that you tell us who your target audience is and what you are trying to accomplish. Lynette identified three main audiences for their website: people who are:

  • Enhancing Communities
  • Inspiring Leaders
  • Growing Economies

Graphic designer Dave Haasser made a button for each area to enable each audience quick access to their area of interest. Each button leads to a landing page where those programs are listed. The buttons are bold, eye-catching and prominently displayed at the top of each page on the site.

CCV logo and buttons.PNG

Homepage No Longer Static

The CCV team wanted something more dynamic so they made their previous homepage their About Us page. The homepage is the first thing people will see, and it now is in a blog-style format where staff will take turns contributing. Also, Google loves fresh content so will display this higher in search results.

Events Portlet

We added this because it helps the events stand out on the site. It’s also convenient for users because they can add the event right to their online calendars with a simple click. It’s also convenient that the event will unpublish itself after it’s done so you don’t have to go in and manually delete it. Consider adding Events on your website. They are easy to set up.

Link Checker

Since the CCV works with many partners and provides links to its resources, Vicki wanted to make sure all those links are up to date. She dreaded having to go into each one of the links to see if they still worked, so I had her install a Chrome add-on Link Checker, which pointed out that seven of the links were not working. She went in and updated them but saved a lot of time by not having to check each link. Also, Google likes it when your pages have no broken links.

Analytics

Each Ag CMS site has Google Analytics code on it, so we can get great information on how your site is being accessed and what happens when people get onto your site. I took a look at some of the data and found the #1 link on the CCV site is Reports, Permits, Notices and Forms Required by the State of North Dakota. Since this is a highly sought-after page, we made it prominent by not only displaying it in the left navigation, but also in a portlet where it can stand out by itself.

I’m eager to look at the analytics in another six months to see if and how the redesign affects visits, links clicked on, time spent on page, etc. Will the redesign show that visits increased? Are their new pages getting views?

Contact Us   

Lynette wanted to make sure it’s easy for people to contact them. The previous director’s name was still on the Contact Us page so instead of having to manually update this when a staff person comes or goes, or an office moves, we set it up to go directly to the Extension Staff Directory that is always up to date. (Thanks, Lori Lymburner!) It’s easy to embed this directory on your site in a Contact Us page.

Inspired?

If you think your website could use some work, check out my Building Better Web Pages presentation on Slideshare. If you need help with the How To links in this post or want to talk about your website, please let Bob Bertsch or me know.

, Web Technology Specialist (701) 231-6403

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