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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.


  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.


  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.


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.


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.


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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NDSU Cloud Storage and Collaboration

The archive of the latest Ag Comm Webinar Series webinar is below. It was presented on Feb. 17, 2016 and covers using Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive and Sites (Sharepoint) for collaboration and storage. These free solutions from NDSU are a great option for saving files from your computer to the cloud, sharing files with others inside and outside of NDSU and collaborating on a single document rather than emailing multiple versions back and forth.

If you have questions about using Google Drive, OneDrive or SharePoint, please feel free to contact me.

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

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Giving Permission for Others to Use Your Photos

NDSU Agriculture and Extension uses a Creative Commons license to share our knowledge and some resources. Others are encouraged to use the information, photos, graphics and more as long as they follow our rules of use. These are:

  • Properly attribute the work (attribution)
  • Don’t make money from NDSU work (noncommercial)
  • Give others permission to use their version of the NDSU work (share alike)

Carl Dahlen, NDSU
So, for example, if someone contacts you and wants to use a photo that’s on your website or in your booklet, you’re welcome to explain to them that they may use it as long as they attribute NDSU and hopefully the photographer and they don’t sell the photo itself. No problem if they’re selling a book and this is just one of many photos in the book.

They’re welcome to use their own style for attribution: simply “NDSU” on or next to the photo, “photo courtesy of NDSU,” “photo by Carl Dahlen, NDSU,” whatever.

If, however, someone else sees the photo in their publication and wants to use it in a way that falls outside the permissions given in our Creative Commons license, the requester must come back to the original source – in this case NDSU – for permission. The person or organization that used NDSU’s photo cannot give permission for someone else to use it commercially or without attribution. NDSU is the copyright holder of the photo.

If an author must have more in writing rather than just a reference to our Creative Commons website, the request may be sent to

, Ag Communication Director, (701) 231-7875

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Upgrade to Office 2016 Available


Office 2016 has been tested and installed on new Ag computers since Jan. 1. This latest version of the Office Suite (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, etc.) includes the latest security updates and a few new features, plus it can fix a few issues some Office 2010 and 2013 users have had.

If you are on campus and use Office 2010 or 2013, you can upgrade to 2016 on your own. Sorry, but this option isn’t available for off-campus computers.

  1. Click on the Windows start button in the lower left of the toolbar.
  2. Click on All Programs.
  3. Click on Microsoft System Center 2012 R2.
  4. Click on Software Center.
  5. Select Ag Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2016, and click on Install in the lower right.

The installation may take a while, so you can select install before you leave your computer for the evening to let it run overnight.

The process automatically uninstalls your old version and puts Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, Skype and Outlook icons on your desktop.

The 2016 files still are in, for example, .docx format, and all the programs look very similar to the 2013 versions.

If you still use Office 2010, support will end this fall. We encourage you to upgrade, and we haven’t found problems jumping from 2010 to 2016.

The steps above only will work for supported computers on the NDSU campus. If you are in an off-campus office, contact the technicians to arrange for an upgrade.

The Office 365 cloud/online version of the software may be used for work or personal use since it’s not installed on a computer.

Home users with a non-NDSU-owned (personal) computer may either download a copy of Office Professional Plus 2013 from the online Web portal for free or purchase a copy of Office Professional Plus 2016 for $9.95 (digital download) or $24.95 (DVD). The Web download requires that your computer be connected to the Internet at least once a month to allow it to verify you are still an NDSU employee.

Learn more about these options for both NDSU-owned and personal computers.

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

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Facebook Page or Group?

Here’s some things to consider when deciding on a Facebook Page vs. a Group.

Facebook Pages are public and can be verified as “official”, while Groups can be private, public and even secret and rally around a shared interest. For instance, NDSU Extension Innovation Group is not limited to Extension employees. Anyone interested in Working Differently can join the Group. Since it is a closed group, those requests must be approved the Groups Administrator (Bob Bertsch).

Innovation logo.PNG
Groups can be open or closed, depending on how public you want your conversation to be.

Besides the innovation group, I’ve heard of agents who start groups for 4-H parents so they can share information and photos.

When deciding on a Page or Group, first you’ll want to consider if your audience is on Facebook at all. Chances are yes, as Facebook reported 1 billion daily active users last year.

Read more at Facebook Page vs. Group.

Sonja Fuchs, Web Technology Specialist, 231-6403

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Creative Commons License
Feel free to use and share this content, but please do so under the conditions of our Creative Commons license and our Rules for Use. Thanks.