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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.

Headlines
Image credit: Headline by Gracey, http://mrg.bz/42b920

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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Ag Comm Webinar: Online Surveys

Online forms are a great way to gather registration information, participant feedback and more. In this Ag Comm webinar shows you how to create online forms using Excel Surveys and Microsoft Forms in Microsoft Office 365. We also talk about Google Forms and Qualtrics, and share some ideas for using online forms in your work.

The notes from the webinar are available in a Google Doc that you can edit. Please feel free to add your own tips and insights to the notes.

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Internet Trends in 2016

The Internet Trends 2016 report released last month shows interesting insights for people in all kinds of business.

The report consists of 213 slides that I think are well worth the read. Here are some interestinWi-fi symbolg things I found:

  • Video Evolution is accelerating (slide 76)
  • Messaging for Customer Service (slides 104, 105)
  • How to Reach Your Audience (slide 107)
  • Day in the Life of a Mobile User (slide 109)
  • Voice as Computer Interface (slide 116)
  • Voice Assistance Rises (slides 120-122)
  • Search using Voice (slide 125)
  • Why and where using Voice (slide 127)

2016 Internet Trends Report

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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Two Great Tips for Your Smartphone

Bookmark for Your Home Screen

Is there a website you visit often or is there a page that takes forever to get to because there’s so many taps you must do?

Like your desktop PC, bookmarks can be used on your smartphone too.

smartphone screenshot with folder and bookmark

Bookmarking a favorite page can save you much time, tapping and scrolling and most importantly, get you to the information you’re seeking right away.

Here’s a great how-to from one of my favorite tech blogs I follow, How to Geek.

Organize Your Apps

You can use folders on your smartphone to organize your apps. For instance, you could have a social media folder that houses all your accounts.

Folders can also give you more “real estate” on your home screen, because you can add up to 4 apps in a folder.

All you have to do is tap and hold one app and then move it on to another app and a folder will be created. On Androids, you can have up to four apps in a folder. On iPad, you can do many more.

Contact me if you have trouble with either of these tips.

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

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Ag Comm Webinar: Detecting Engagement in Google Analytics

We use Google Analytics to collect, compile and report data on the use of all websites created in the Ag Content Management System (Ag CMS). On the June 15, 2016 Ag Communication webinar, I shared information on how we might use some of the data we collect to detect engagement.

There is no way to determine if a website user found information they could use or if they ever used it from the data alone, but we may be able to infer engagement from some of the data points. If a user spends more time on a page, we might guess they found something they were interested in. If a user returns to a website multiple times, we might guess they found a tool that helps them or instructions they use repeatedly.

These and other metrics we can get from Google Analytics can give us some insight into the effectiveness of our websites.

If you'd like to see Google Analytics data for your Ag CMS site, or .

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Collaborative Calendars

An agent called to ask if there is an online calendar that people from several agencies in her county could add events to and would be posted on a city website. The website doesn’t have a built-in calendar and the administrator is only part-time.

Google Apps

Google Calendar
When Bob and I get requests for online tools to help people in their work, we always start with the resources we already have. I tried testing out Google calendar, but NDSU doesn’t allow the calendar functionality in our accounts so you would have to use a personal Google (Gmail) account to manage this. Not everyone has a personal Google account, so you would need to sign up for one.

In the example below, you can see that options like Calendar and Google+ are available in my personal Google account, but not through my NDSU Google account.
NDSU Google vs. personal Google accounts

(If you want to check out all the options available to you in any Google account, just to to the upper right on your screen and click on the 9 boxes, which means “Menu”).
Google menu


Google Docs or Sheets (Documents or Spreadsheets)
A county administrative assistant said she uses Google Docs as a collaborative calendar. There’s a Template Gallery with many styles and formats to choose from that gets you started quickly. I mocked up what she did using a Doc for a calendar. Test adding an event on a Google Doc here
While this option works well for that county, at the end of the day it is just a Doc and is missing some functions of a calendar. You only have one small line in a Doc to get all your information in. There’s no option to add repeat events and you can’t insert any images or files that might go along with the event.

Microsoft Office Calendar

One agent suggested using Microsoft Outlook calendar. I tested this out by going to Office 365, creating a new calendar and sharing. The problem is, you must have a Microsoft login to edit the calendar. Not everyone has one of these accounts: Outlook.com (formerly Hotmail), Skype, Xbox or OneDrive, so you would be required to sign up for one.

TeamUp

I reviewed and tested several online collaborative calendars. I like TeamUp because there’s no login required, it’s free and easy to use. It’s also available in the App Store. I did a test calendar on the Ag CMS site. Go there to enter a test event.

It’s easy to add an event and there are templates available that make it easy to get started. You can have repeat events and add images or files or a map to the location.

TeamUp add event screenshot

 

When you're done creating the event, you can share via email, social media or link. People can add events to their personal calendars.

TeamUp Share options


Next Steps

If the agent finds this solution will work, she can create the calendar and share with all those in her county who will be contributing to it. She can ask the city’s webmaster to embed it on the website like I did with my test calendar on the Ag CMS site. Hopefully this will make it easier on the part-time webmaster who has been managing getting events online and easier for people to quickly and easily add an event, and keep their community informed with this easy to use and access collaborative calendar.

If you need help with collaborative calendar options, please contact me.

, Web Technology Specialist, 701-231-6403

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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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