What’s New in the 2016 Website Updates?
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The new design for our Extension websites rolls out today! Our new web theme gives our sites an updated look. It is also a step toward adoption of our new co brand with NC A&T and introducing our new NC State Extension logo for our campus-based web sites (*see below).
The state extension site, www.ces.ncsu.edu, and all portals will display the new logo in the header. County websites will continue to display the current N.C. Cooperative Extension co-brand logo until the new co-brand is finalized. Our N.C. Cooperative Extension partnership is important to our identity. All of our sites will continue to display the co-brand logo in the footer of every page.
*Note about Branding:
In order to meet the target rebranding launch timeframe later this fall (for both NC State Extension and the N.C. Cooperative Extension updates), it was necessary to roll out these initial changes to the sites now.
While the NC State Extension logo is already included on some sites, these web updates do not represent the full launch of the brand updates. We will proceed with a broader, official introduction once we’ve finalized the co-brand details for the N.C. Cooperative Extension partnership.
At this time, we have not released any updated brand resources or toolkit (you’re not missing anything). The rebranding launch for Extension will include employee trainings and presentations, which will provide a comprehensive update, details about specific materials, and guidance for utilizing the new resources moving forward. Stay tuned!
Improved, Simplified News Stream
The News section of your pages will display…
- Up to 20 articles per page that were either authored by your site or cross-posted to your site
- The five most recent posts from any external blogs you’ve added, so long as they are newer than five weeks old. These also only appear on the homepage.
- For county sites that subscribe to one or more topic portals, the overall five most recent posts from your subscription pool.
New “Promoted Posts” replace Spotlights
Any news story you write can now be marked as “Promoted,” either until a specific date, or indefinitely. When a story is marked as “Promoted” it stays pinned in one of the top news story positions on your homepage. When a promoted post reaches its “promoted until” date, it will fall back into the flow of your homepage, based on its original post date. You should automatically see the new option to Promote a post on the same screen you use to create or edit a post in WordPress.
What happened to existing Spotlights? EIT used their best judgment in converting existing spotlights to promoted posts for you. All of the converted spotlights will be promoted for the next 30 days by default. Plan to login and adjust these dates on a story-by-story basis.
New Tabs on the Search Page
There are two new tabs on the search results page for “People” and “Events.” Note: It will take a little while before Google catches up with us and the “Events” tab shows meaningful results; however the “People” tab should work as expected from day one.
More Intuitive Menu and Navigation
Previously, each Extension portal site could have as many as three menus on the page: a State-wide menu of tertiary links, a sidebar menu and in some cases a drop down menu underneath your banner image. We moved the sidebar, tertiary and dropdown menus into one single menu identified in WordPress as the secondary menu. We’ve added a new dedicated link to our popular “Publications & Factsheets” repository and added the ability to hide the “Meet Our Staff” and “Events” pages from the menu on a site by site basis.
Using the secondary menu simplifies editing menus. Modifying the secondary menu is accomplished in the Site Settings option of the WordPress dashboard.
The Directory Got Smarter
The directory search no longer requires you to spell someone’s first or last name exactly right. By leveraging some fancy “sounds like” algorithms (among other things), we now do our best to find the person you are searching for regardless of what you enter. The new directory even enables you to search using other pieces of data, such as a phone number, email address or department name.
Larger, More Compelling Banner Image and Content Region
We’ve pre-selected a new high quality banner image for your site. You can choose an alternative banner image from WordPress admin (if you desire). There are roughly 100 banners in the system now, and that number is growing. The new size is roughly 2.5 times as large as the previous, measuring 1170px x 366px (a 16:5 ratio). The content region grew by roughly 25%, enabling us to add a sidebar full of additional content.
Other Small Improvements and More Coming
- We’ve mapped all of our topic-based portals to one or more of our program categories (Agriculture & Food, Community, Lawn & Garden, Home & Family, etc) and put them in a more clearly labeled drawer (at the top of the screen) named “Topics.”
- The County Centers page is also a drawer now, however you can still link a list of county sites with the url, www.ces.ncsu.edu/local-county-center/
- On any given county’s event page, we use the sidebar to suggest “Near By” events from the four next closest county extension offices (determined by driving distance).
- Sometime after launch, we plan to add a high-quality, professional photo library (specific to NC State and Extension) into the WordPress backend for you to use when creating new posts and pages.