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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.

Audience

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.

Analytics

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.

Inspired?

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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Using Office Mix for Recorded Presentations

Recently, I worked with Extension family science specialist Kim Bushaw on a series of presentations on Teaching Adult Learners. The goal was to produce some pre-recorded presentations that Extension professionals view on demand.

There's a number of tools available to reach that goal, including Tegrity, Skype for Business, or simply adding audio to PowerPoint, but we decided to try Office Mix, a relatively new, free plug-in for PowerPoint.

Office Mix helps you create and share interactive videos from within PowerPoint. Although Kim and I did not take advantage of all the capabilities of Office Mix, it did allow us to add video of Kim and digital ink on top of her presentation slides. Kim also found it easy to work with and was able to produce the presentations herself.

Here's one of the videos from the "Teaching Adult Learners" series.

Completed Office Mix presentations can be uploaded to Microsoft's Office Mix site, which supports the polls and interactive apps available in Mix. We exported the "Teaching Adult Learners" presentations to video and posted them to YouTube.

Let me know if you have questions about how Kim and I used Office Mix. I hope you'll give it a try.

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

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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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Using Skype for Business

The archive of the first Ag Comm Webinar Series webinar is below. It was presented on Jan. 20, 2016 and covers the use of Skype for Business for instant messaging, audio calls and video calls at North Dakota State University.

If you have questions about using Skype for Business, please feel free to contact me.

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

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Managing Multiple Google Accounts

Dena Kemmet, NDSU Extension - Mercer County, emailed me to ask for help "understanding how to use Google now with the personal/professional accounts." Although I can't offer an official best practice for managing your Google accounts, I can share a couple of strategies I use.

Many of us have personal Google accounts. If you have an Android smartphone, you have a Google account. All NDSU employees and students have an NDSU Google account (here's more info on accessing your NDSU Google account). Many NDSU Extension staff also have another Google account through eXtension.

So, how do I manage my personal, NDSU and eXtension Google accounts? I use Google Chrome.

The Chrome web browser allows me to create separate profiles within the browser (Here's how). This feature was designed to help you share your Chrome browser with other people, but it works well for managing multiple accounts. Each profile can be associated with a different Google account, so I set one up for my personal Google account, my NDSU Google account and my eXtension Google account.

Once I had created the profiles, I could switch between them by clicking a small tab at the top-right of my browser window.

Switch Profiles in Google Chrome

Select Profile in Google Chrome

When I select a new profile, it opens in a new browser window. With all 3 profiles open in separate windows, I can jump between them to access the Google Drive associated with each account. Any browser tabs that you have pinned in a Chrome profile will be saved with that profile, so they will still be pinned the next time it is opened.

Using profiles in Chrome has saved me a lot of time spent logging in and out of Google accounts. If you have questions or want to share your strategies for managing multiple accounts, please email me.

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

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Choose an Image When Posting Links to Facebook

Facebook recently changed the options you have for selecting an image to accompany a link you are sharing when posting to a Facebook Page. Extension associate Stacy Wang clued me in to the change when we were discussing strategies for getting the best possible photo to appear with a link when one of our webpages is shared in a Facebook post.

As of today (10/2/2015), this option is not available on individual Facebook profiles, but only when posting as a Facebook Page.

When you type or paste the address of a webpage you want to share into a post, Facebook will display all the images on that webpage that are large enough to be included as part of the post. Below that, you'll see smaller versions of the first 3 images with blue boxes around them to indicate they are selected. If you publish the post, all 3 of those images will be displayed as part of your post with each of them linking to the webpage you shared. You can deselect any or all of the 3 images or even add an image from your computer to the post before publishing.

Choosing Images When Posting a Link on Facebook

This is a great addition to Facebook Pages, but what about when individuals share a link to your webpage? Are the best images appearing along with the link to your webpage?

NDSU Ag Communication software developer Roger Egeberg has some tips for including images in your webpages that will work well in Facebook posts.

Make sure you have at least one high-quality image that is at least 200 pixels in height AND width. That's the minimum size of image that Facebook will detect.If you don't include at least one image of that size, your link will appear without an image at all.

If you include an image at least 600 X 315 pixels, Facebook will display that image above your link rather than displaying a smaller image as a thumbnail to the left of the link. For images displayed above links, Facebook favors images that are about twice as wide as they are high (a 1.91:1 aspect ratio to be exact). Using images with landscape orientation minimizes the amount of cropping Facebook does when displaying these images.

In general, images have a positive effect on social media engagement. Including a Facebook-friendly image on your web page could make people more likely to share it on social media, and increase the number of clicks that post gets once it is shared.

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

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So You Think You Want To Make an App

More than 150 million American adults have a smartphone and on average U.S. smartphone users spend more than 37 hours per month using apps. We should definitely consider how we can leverage apps to reach out and engage the people we serve. Unfortunately, app development can be complicated and costly.

App developers at the NMSU Learning Games Lab and Ed Techs from Ohio State University developed this flowchart to help people think through the app development process.

So You Want To Make an App

The flowchart is really helpful. However, based on our experience with NDSU Extension Service apps, I'd make a couple of changes.

First, I'd add the question, "Does your app leverage the unique capabilities of a mobile device?" Many apps are no more than mobile websites, giving access to information, but not taking advantage of a mobile device's camera, GPS, audio recorder or other capabilities that could add context and functionality to the app experience. If you answer "no" to this question, you should strongly consider building a mobile-ready website rather than an app.

Second, I'd adjust the cost. Development costs vary across the country and when using internal vs. external developers, but I'd start with a budget of at least $15,000, especially if you plan on developing your app for more than one platform (Android, Apple iOS, etc.).

If you are interested in developing an app, please contact me. I'd love to share what we've learned.

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

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Liking Your Page's Post on Facebook

Over the years, Facebook has continued to make it easier for a Facebook page administrator to like or comment, as themselves or as another page they admin, on a post from a Page they administer. Confused? Let's walk through how to do it, and hopefully it will become clearer.

I am an administrator of the Nourishing Boomers and Beyond Facebook page. I also liked that page using my personal Facebook profile, so the posts from Nourishing Boomers and Beyond show up in my newsfeed.

If I see a Nourishing Boomers post in my newsfeed and want to like it or comment on it, I need to know whether I am liking/commenting as Bob Bertsch or as Nourishing Boomers and Beyond.

Shows a post from a Facebook page I am an administrator of, indicating the icon in the lower right which shows which page or profile I am using to like or comment on the post.

In the image above, the arrow shows you where to look to tell which profile or page you would be using if you clicked "Like," "Comment" or "Share" on the post. Because I see the image associated with the Nourishing Boomers and Beyond page, I would be liking, commenting or sharing as Nourishing Boomers. To change that, I just need to click that image.

Shows you can change the page or profile you are using to like or comment on a Facebook post by clicking the icon in the lower right corner of the post and selecting another page or profile.

Once I click the image, I can choose my Facebook profile or any of the Facebook pages I administer. Once I have made the selection, I can like, comment on or share the post from my Facebook page as the profile or page I've selected.

Facebook Page Post Commenting

That's it. Liking or commenting on the posts from Facebook pages you administer is a great way to reach new audiences. Give it a try and see if it improves your reach and engagement.

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

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Screencasting with Skype for Business

A couple of weeks ago, Amelia Doll, NDSU Extension Service - Burleigh County, asked me about a tool to use for screencasting. She was looking for a way to show families how to complete various 4-H forms.

I suggested she use Skype for Business (formerly Lync), since she already had it on her computer. Here's one of the screencasts she did using Skype for Business and posted to Facebook. It's a great example of meeting client needs in an innovative way!

Check out the short video below to learn how you can record your own screencast using Skype for Business.

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


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