ECHO exists to reduce hunger and improve lives through agricultural training and resources. Working through the internet and regional impact centers around the world, ECHO connects small-scale farmers, and those working to eliminate world hunger, with essential resources and each other. These resources include a knowledge-base of practical information, experienced technical support, and an extensive seed bank focused on highly beneficial underutilized plants.
The world wide web promises cost-effective access to its more than 3.2 billion users, with more than 2 billion of these users coming from developing countries. As internet penetration improves in the developing world, agriculture extension stands to benefit from its reach and rapid growth. For every internet user in the developed world there are two in the developing world. More than 95% of the world’s population is now covered by at least a second generation mobile data network (International Telecommunications Union 2015).
As internet access has grown in both the developed and developing world, the need for more sophisticated online tools for agriculture extension has become apparent. In 2011 ECHO launched an online collaborative membership community called ECHOcommunty.org. Since that time, more than 10,000 members worldwide have accessed technical resources, participated in online discussion, registered for events, and requested trial seeds from ECHO seed banks.
In 2014, ECHO saw the need to upgrade the capacity of the ECHOcommunity website to provide a solid foundation for its continued growth. The re-design called for the native support of nine languages key to its current areas of impact, and the ability to effectively deliver rich-media resources and communications tools to internet users with varying bandwidth capacities and devices. This document serves to illustrate the lessons learned in the process of improving the global accessibility of our resources. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of best-practices in website development for a global audience, but rather a look inside the decision making process behind one site.