Agriculture Communication


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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

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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

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More Organized Collaboration with Google Team Drives

Most of the collaboration and sharing happening on Google Drive or Microsoft OneDrive is file or folder based. Someone creates a folder or file, then they share it with specific people or create a shareable link.

This "file first" approach creates a file ownership challenge. The person who creates the folder or file is the owner, and if they leave NDSU things can get complicated. In OneDrive file ownership cannot be transferred, so when the file owner no longer has an account, collaborators may lose access to that file.In Google Drive, file ownership can be transferred, but it could be burdensome for an outgoing employee to transfer ownership of all their shared folders and files.

To get around the file ownership challenge, teams have created SharePoint sites in Office 365. Files shared in a SharePoint site belong to the site, not to an individual owner, so they can survive any one team member leaving the organization or team.

Google Team Drives

Now there is a similar solution in Google Drive. Team Drives allow you to create a team first, then share folders and files with them. As in SharePoint, the files belong to the Team Drive, not to any one team member. Team Drives also help with the organization of Google Drive folders and files. Team Drives appear in a distinct section of Google Drive.

To learn more about Team Drives, check out this helpful article in the GSuite Learning Center.

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

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Options for Sharing Your Skype for Business Recording

So you've recorded your Skype for Business meeting or webinar, but what do you do with it now?

In the video below, I share how to find your recording, and how to use your NDSU Google Drive or YouTube account to share your Skype for Business recordings with others.

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Sharing Images With Just a Link

Check out this how-to video on sharing a folder full of image with people inside or outside NDSU using Google Drive or OneDrive. Let me know if you have questions or need assistance. Happy sharing!

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

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Three Bullet Thursday

EdTechLNIf you're looking for a really easy way to stay up-to-date with innovation in Extension and education, subscribe to Three Bullet Thursday.

Each Thursday, the Ed Tech Learning Network sends out this short digest of articles, links, blogs, quotes and more for Extension innovators.When you subscribe it comes directly to your email each Thursday.

Recent issues have highlighted articles on artificial intelligence, how to avoid burnout and the 25 most innovative ag-tech startups. Every issue contains 3 short suggestions that can get you thinking differently about your work.

Check out the latest issue and consider subscribing.

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Need Website Help? Check the Ag CMS How-To Guide

The Ag CMS How-To Guide features several articles that can help you find your way around the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS).

The guide has step-by-step instructions for 22 common Ag CMS tasks, like "How do I insert an image on my page?" There are also articles on the different item types and portlets available in the Ag CMS. Under "Big Picture" in the guide, you'll find articles that have to do with more than one page or more than one area, like "Where to put files?" and "Left-Hand Navigation."

You can also find video instructions for some Ag CMS tasks on the Ag CMS How-To's playlist on the NDSU Agriculture Communication YouTube channel.

If you can't find the answer to your question in the Ag CMS How-To Guide or you just need a little extra assistance, please contact us. We're here to help!

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

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People Who Fill Out Google Forms Can Now Get an Emailed Summary

Google Forms has finally made it easy for people who fill out a form to get an emailed copy of their responses or what they call a "response receipt". It used to be you had to add some code, now they make it easy by just checking a few boxes. I've worked with many who have requested this feature. Check out my 2:08 how-to here:

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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You Headline Matters. Tips for Getting It Right

Last week I came across this excellent post on writing headlines for online content.

Image credit: Headline by Gracey,

Kurt Gessler, deputy editor for digital news at the Chicago Tribune, shared "18 Tips For Writing Engaging Headlines and 27 Makeovers That Saved Stories From Extinction." Gessler points out that newspapers often fail to write engaging headlines for online articles because they still think of stories in the context of a printed page, where a headline works in conjunction with the full story and maybe even a pullquote, graphic or photo. Online, Gessler says, the product is "unbundled." Online content needs to be marketed story by story, often only through the headline.

I think we often make a similar mistake. We think we are marketing our entire blog or website, but most people will not be exposed to a piece of our content in that context. Instead they will likely see our headline shared on social media, in an email or in their feed reader. We should be focusing on writing really good headlines; not in an attempt to game Google search results or to trick people with clickbait, but in an effort to get people to really engage with our content.

Here are a few of Gessler's headline writing tips that really stood out to me.

Be clear and focused, first and foremost.

Gessler says there is nothing more important than clarity in a headline. The headline should tell the reader "why they should care or how this affects his or her life." Sometimes that means stating what we might think is obvious.

Don't get too cute or punny.

As I said before, I like sounding clever, so I've written a few of these headlines. Gessler points out all the assumptions you are making when you write a cute or punny headline:

  • You assume everyone gets the joke
  • You assume there are no language barriers
  • You assume your pun hasn't been used many times before
  • You assume there is nothing more interesting in your content

Focus on impact and implications

I tried my hand at this in the headline for this article. Gessler says the key is to tell the reader why the story is important to them. He offers some suggested structures, including:

  • This is what XXX means to you
  • Experts offer advice on XXX
  • XXX is a problem. This is the solution

After reading Gessler's advice, I'm going to take more time to write my headlines. I often dash them off as an afterthought, but they really do matter. People are exposed to a lot of online information every day. More times than not, a person's decision whether to read a piece or not depends on the headline.

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

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Ag Communication Webinar: Building Community with Social Media

With the right approach, you can build a community of engaged learners. All you need to do is stop talking at people, start talking with them and open the door for them to talk to each other. We'll discuss the notion of social capital and share ideas and strategies for a more effective use of social media. Learn more from the webinar below.

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