Agriculture Communication


Web Services

| Share

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

| Share

Put a Map on Your Website

Google Map examplePeople were always asking how to get to the Agronomy Seed Farm, so they asked if there was a way to add a map and driving directions to their Contact Us Page. This is easy to do through Google Maps - see my 2 minute video.

If you have more than one location, such as the maps we did for the RECs and County Offices sites, it's easier to import a spreadsheet of addresses vs. doing a one-off.

Maps not only add a visual to your site that makes it more appealing, but Google Maps are interactive so you can input your current location and it will give you driving directions to your destination.

If you want to learn more about how to make a Google Map, please contact me or .

, Web Technology Specialist, (701) 231-6403

| Share

Focus on Mobile

NDSU Extension web site on laptop and on mobile.

A good web strategy should focus on mobile design and usability first. Our priority should be to make sure our websites work well on mobile devices, even if that means the desktop version suffers.

Globally, web traffic from mobile devices has exceeded traffic from desktop devices, but does this hold true for our NDSU Agriculture and Extension sites? The answer is no, not yet.

We looked at traffic from all Ag CMS sites (Extension, REC and academic sites) for 2015 and found 22.27 percent of that traffic came from mobile, 8.1 percent came from tablets and 69.63 percent came from desktop/laptop computers. So why are we encouraging such a strong focus on mobile?

We are encouraging a focus on mobile because of the trends, not just globally, but on our own sites. In 2015, mobile traffic on our sites was up 6.5 percent as a percentage of total traffic from the previous year. Both desktop/laptop traffic (76 percent in 2014) and tablet traffic (6.24 percent in 2014) were down in 2015.

That trend has continued in the first two months of this year.

Desktop MobileTablet
Jan.-Feb. 2015 73.14% 18.67% 8.19%
Jan.-Feb. 2016 68.65% (-4.49%) 23.77% (+5.10%) 7.67% (-0.52%)

This reflects traffic from across all of our sites. Your site may see even more mobile traffic.In 2015, 28.47 percent of traffic that included a visit to a county Extension site came from mobile. Our mobile traffic will continue to grow. We need to organize our web pages to work on mobile devices first, so we are prepared to serve this growing audience.

For help making your website work better on mobile devices, contact us.

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

| Share

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.


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.


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.


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

| Share

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

| Share

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

| Share

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

| Share

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

| Share

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

| Share

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

Document Actions

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.