Agriculture Communication

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Goal: Up-to-Date, Mobile-Friendly Web Pages

Don't you get frustrated when you find web content that you need -- but it's 9 years old and you don't know if it's still accurate? Or if there's no date on it so you have no idea if it's up-to-date information? Or when you click on a link and get that "page not available" notice? Or when you're using your phone and can only read a small corner of a PDF at a time?

Of course, we want to make NDSU Agriculture and Extension web pages as user friendly as possible. Major points to doing that are:

  • Chunk information on web pages. Write in shorter sentences and with the information broken into more paragraphs than most writing. Use subheads and bullet lists. Add graphics to illustrate points.
  • Keep information up to date. In this day and age, two or three years is eons ago. Put a date on the content you upload so people know when it was accurate, and review it regularly. If the content is still good, change the date to "Reviewed April 2019" or whatever. If the information no longer is up to date or accurate, unpublish it. We don't want to give people wrong information.
  • Run your URL through a link break checker such as https://www.deadlinkchecker.com/ to find then fix broken links.
  • Avoid PDFs, Issu, Word, Excel and other programs that make your content less readable and usable on mobile devices. Or at least have an html page with the content first then a packaged option. For example, Extension numbered publications are in html with a "Download PDF" button in the upper right. About two-third of our users are getting to our web pages through organic searches, such as from Google, from mobile devices, and we want them to get directly to the information that's easiest for them to use on their phone or tablet.
  • Ergot pub
  • When someone leaves your staff, use the Google Custom Search on Ag CMS pages to search for their name and maybe their specialty content area to see what should be deleted or unpublished.
  • Also, use the Google Custom Search occasionally for your subject matter to see if there's information online that you've forgotten about that should be updated or unpublished.
Focusing on quality rather than quantity of information on our websites will get searchers to the information they want more quickly rather than giving them a long list of irrelevant links that frustrates them.

, Ag Communication Director, 701-231-7875, 4/4/19

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