eXtension Content Evaluated by Brain Traffic

Content strategy consultants from Minneapolis-based Brain Traffic have completed their work with eXtension and developed a duplicated Content Appraisal process for all eXtension Communities of Practice to use.

In reviewing 180 pages on eXtension.org, Brain Traffic consultants found good, useful content, “eXtension is in a good starting position with clear and useful material.”

In looking at the patterns that emerged during the appraisal, the consultants noted some areas where there are opportunities to improve content effectiveness:

Content not well adapted for the web. “The weaker content was material that wasn’t written specifically as a web article, such as press releases and Q&As. By adding visual cues like subheads, bold type, and bulleted lists, you can better accommodate the way people read on the web—scanning, skimming, “foraging” for information.”

Insubstantial or isolated content within the CoP.
–“Many articles are brief “teaser” articles that link to an external site. Users get the real information once they follow the link—and leave the eXtension site. This drives traffic away from other CoP content.”
–“Articles often don’t provide links to other related content within eXtension, even when they’re part of a series. By adding these links, you can help your audience see eXtension and the CoPs as comprehensive information sources—not just a quick answer to one question.”

Brain Traffic also saw some real strengths on the eXtension site:

Clarity of writing. “It’s clear that Extension experts know how to write for their audience. We didn’t see the kind of dense academic writing that’s common in educational environments.”
Relevance. “Apart from some outdated news pieces, we found a lot of content that would be relevant, now and in the future, to a broad audience.”
Practical subject matter. “Extension content is about practical, real-world solutions. This lends itself well to writing actionable content. And people who find your site are likely to have a problem they’re trying to solve—so they’re motivated to learn.”

According to eXtension Associate Director for Content, Craig Wood, “With a solid content appraisal process developed by Brain Traffic, eXtension can address the problem areas and build on their strengths to make our content more usable and useful to our audience.”

For more information about Brain Traffic and this content review process contact Craig Wood at craig.wood@extension.org.