Agriculture Communication


Let's Communicate

| Share

Drought Website Has Majority of Views Coming from Mobile and Tablets

holding a cell phone
Photo by DodgertonSkillhause at
In running some Google Analytics on the Drought website for an impact statement, I noticed that most of the views (56 percent) came from mobile and tablets. Typically we see more desktop views on Ag CMS sites, but that is changing as mobile and tablet views are continually increasing.

With more people viewing our sites from mobile and tablets, it’s important to keep your content in a mobile- or tablet-friendly format. If people have to download a PDF or can’t access your content because it’s only available in a specific program, that's a barrier for them to get your information.

Over the past two years, Ag Communication staff have converted nearly all of the 700+ Extension numbered publications into HTML/mobile-friendly pages. People still have the option to print out the PDF publication, but in an HTML format, the publications can be searched and accessed more easily.

Another example: Janet Patton from the Central Grasslands REC wanted to make their newsletter more mobile-friendly. Their latest newsletter (Fall 2017) is both mobile-friendly and PDF-printable.

For tips on how to make your website all-device-friendly, see Ag Comm’s recent webinar Testing Your Webpages for Mobile Devices.

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

| Share

Check Those Mailing Addresses

If you are doing a mailing project, please send me your list so we can run it through the mailing software to correct any incorrect addresses. This process costs just $10 for mailing lists up to 199 names and addresses but helps you feel confident that your mailing is reaching your intended receivers.

For 200 or more addresses, this process may qualify your mailing for bulk mail rates, which are considerable less than first class. The charges incurred for this service will depend on the quantity of addresses to check. Most projects run $40 for this service.

Print and Copy Services also can print and mail the documents for you addressed, tabbed, etc. to ensure the best postal rates. Contact Diane for more information

In addition, the Ag Communication Distribution Center can help you with business reply mail. If you want to send mailings that have surveys, donation letters or other business reply mail returned to NDSU, contact Sharon. She can coordinate the printing of your project and the business replies.


Since the U.S. Postal Service charges annual fees for the permit and for maintenance, plus there’s a postage cost for the mail pieces sent to campus, to cover expenses, the cost of this service is $1 per first-class letter in standard #10 envelopes or up to 11 ½ X 6”. Larger or heavier envelopes require an additional cost.

Diane Ness, Print and Copy Services Customer Service Manager, 701-231-2000; Sharon Lane, Distribution Center Manager, 701-231-7893

| Share

Write the Right Word: Why Waste Words?

In today’s fast-paced life, people don’t want to take time to read a lot of text. So why waste their time and your effort on unnecessary words by overstating the obvious?

Most readers know May is a month, red is a color, North Dakota is a state, Williston is a city and 2019 is a year, so you don’t need to modify them with phrases such as “the month of” May, “the color” red or a red “color,” “the state of” North Dakota, “the city of” Williston or “the year” 2019.

Keep it simple:

  • North Dakota generally has its last frost in May.
  • His face turned red.
  • The population in North Dakota is growing.
  • Williston has a new forester.
  • The next conference will be in 2019.


, information specialist, 701-231-5391

| Share

Testing Your Webpages for Mobile Devices

The amount of web traffic coming from mobile devices has been increasing. In just the last two years, the percentage of mobile device website traffic has increased from 28.7 percent to 43.05 percent (Statista). We've seen a similar trend in the traffic coming from mobile devices to the websites on our Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS). That's why we think it's important to optimize our websites for mobile devices.

We create webpages in Ag CMS on our desktops or laptops, so it is not surprising that sometimes our pages do not translate well to mobile devices. However, it's really easy to check your pages on a mobile device. Start by viewing your pages on your own mobile device. Just open your browser and go to the web address of the page you want to test.

The mobile theme we have for all Ag CMS sites will take care of a lot of issues, like repositioning certain elements and resizing images, but there are things you can check for as well. Does the main point of your page come across on your mobile device? Is the most important content visible without scrolling? Does formatting like centering text or aligning text and images make sense on your mobile device?

Of course, not all mobile devices are the same, so you also may want to test your site on other mobile devices. Emulate what your webpage will look like on multiple mobile devices from inside Firefox (

In Firefox:

  • Go to the page you want to test. Your page has to be published and live.
  • Open the Firefox menu and choose "Web Developer," then "Responsive Design Mode."
  • Click at the top of the smartphone-sized window where it says "no device selected" and choose a device.
  • If you choose a smartphone-sized device, you should see our Ag CMS mobile template applied to your page.

If you want to see how it works, here's the recording of the Ag Comm webinar: "Testing Your Webpages for Mobile Devices."

If you have questions or have any trouble using Responsive Design Mode in Firefox, please contact me or Sonja.

Bob Bertsch, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-7381
, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

| Share

Reminder to Upload a Picture to Your Skype/Outlook 365

Back in May I wrote a How-to about how to upload a picture to your Skype/Outlook 365 account. The importance of this is because we often work very distant from others, but we want to feel connected and familiar. Looking at a recent email, there's still quite a few staff who haven't uploaded their pictures yet. I challenge you to upload yours today for better connecting in 2018.

Add a Profile Picture to Outlook and Skype

(note: it can take up to 24 hours for the picture to appear).

Skype pics

If you need help uploading your picture, please contact Bob Bertsch or me.

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

| Share

Write the Right Word: Plurals of Numbers

Forming plural numbers is a lot easier than forming plural words. You simply add an “s” to numbers.

The other key rule to remember is that you do not need to add an apostrophe before the “s.”

Here are some examples:

  • Years: The insect wasn’t common in North Dakota until the late 1980s.
  • Temperatures: Temperatures are expected to drop to the low 30s tonight.
  • Sizes: All the shoe store had left were two pairs of size 7s.
  • Designations: Delta Airlines is phasing out its 747s.

If you are making plurals of numbers that are spelled out, then the rules for making plurals of words apply. For example, sixes (add an “es” to words ending in ch, s, sh, ss, x and z).

701-231-5391, Information Specialist

| Share

Ag Comm Webinar: Office Mix

Bob Bertsch leads a walkthrough of Office Mix, a helpful PowerPoint add-on for recording audio and/or video narration on your slides. Office Mix makes it easy to turn your PowerPoint into an engaging video.

| Share

On the Menu

Unlike presents under the tree, there can be too many items in your website navigation. For years, web design has been guided by the "rule of 7 +/- 2," which hypothesized that people could not process chunks of information containing more than 9 items. Although that reasoning may not be entirely sound, the idea that long navigation menus can be annoying for users has merit. As we approach the end of the year, take some time to do some navigation menu maintenance.

Remove Unnecessary Items

Because the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS) automatically adds new items to the navigation menu, it's easy to end up with items in your menu that don't need to be there. Check your menu for items that shouldn't be there. Sometimes items end up in the navigation menu on your home page, when you intended them to be inside one of your subfolders. Move those items to where they belong.

It's also easy to end up with items in your site's menu that shouldn't be displayed at all. Images and other files, like PDFs, can be stored in folders that are set to be excluded from the navigation menu. Individual items can be set to be excluded from the navigation as well.

Check you menu for images and other files that shouldn't be displayed and set them to be excluded from the navigation.

Prioritize Menu Items

The Ag CMS put the newest items at the bottom of the navigation menu, but you have control over the order of your menu items. Many sites in Ag CMS order menu items alphabetically. That can help users find items in an especially long menu, but for most menus it would be better to put the most used items first.

If you're not sure which items your users view the most, Ag Comm Web Services can check your site's Google Analytics for the most viewed content on your site. Another way to look at this would be to prioritize the content you'd like people to use more. By putting this content near the top of your menu, you are telling users it is important.

Take a look at the order of your navigation menu and put the most viewed or most critical items first.

Think About Your Menu in Mobile

When users view Ag CMS websites on a mobile device, the navigation menu is collapsed under a "hamburger button" at the top-right of the screen. A "hamburger button" is a button with three stacked lines that indicates a menu or "more." If there is an item that you want to make sure every users sees, you need to do more than just add it to the menu.

hamburger menu on Ag CMS

The Ag CMS mobile view prioritizes the "content area" of your web pages. That's the center portion of your pages, excluding the left and right columns.

If you want to make sure mobile users see something, put it in the content area at the top, so users don't have to click the menu button or scroll to see it.

If you have any questions or need any assistance with your Ag CMS site, please email me.

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

| Share

Holiday Computer Tips

Here are some tips to help keep your computers safe during the holiday season:

  • Avoid leaving any electronic device with an LCD screen, such as notebook computers and cell phones, in a cold vehicle or other unheated area. During the winter, temperatures can drop to levels that can cause permanent damage to the screens.
  • When bringing electronics from a cold environment to a warm one, give them plenty of time to warm up before turning them on. Turning them on early can cause condensation to form on the internal boards. This can short them out or cause corrosion that will bring problems down the road. 
  • Travel can be rough on electronics. Carry your computer in a bag designed to protect it.
  • When traveling through airports, have some type of label on your computer to help prevent it from getting mixed up with others when going through security checkpoints.
  • If you plan to use Wi-Fi service at an airport, be wary of the free offerings. Check with an airport information counter to find out what Wi-Fi networks are legitimate.
  • As our email inboxes swell with greetings and sales advertisements, they also fill with phishing emails attempting to imitate these holiday messages. Be wary of any email you receive, even those that appear to be from friends or family, that encourage you to click on a link or open an attachment.
  • Keep a backup copy of your important files at home. You never know when your computer might get lost, stolen or damaged.

, IT Systems Specialist

| Share

Write the Right Word: Plurals

Are you confused whether to add an “s” or an “es” to make a word plural?

Here are some tips:

  • Most words – Add “s.” For example: boys, ships, villages
  • Words ending in ch, s, sh, ss, x and z – Add “es.” For example: churches, lenses, glasses, boxes
  • Words ending in is – Change “is” to “es.” For example: oasis/oases, thesis/theses
  • Words ending in y – Change “y” to “i” and add “es.” For example: army/armies, city/cities
  • Words ending in o – Most require “es.” For example: buffaloes, potatoes, echoes, heroes One exception: pianos
  • Words ending in f – In general, change “f” to “v” and add “es.” For example: hoof/hooves, leaf/leaves, self/selves. An exception: roof/roofs
  • Proper names ending in es, s or z – Add “es.” For example: Charleses, Joneses, Gonzalezes
  • Proper names ending in y – Generally, add “s.” For example: Duffys. Exceptions: Allegheny Mountains/Alleghenies, Rocky Mountains/Rockies
  • Figures – Add “s” and do not use an apostrophe after the figure. For example: 747s, size 7s, temperatures in the low 20s
  • Single letters – Add “’s.” For example: mind your p’s and q’s, the three R’s
  • Multiple letters – Add “s” but not an apostrophe after the letters. For example: ABCs, IOUs

, Information Specialist, 701-231-5391

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.