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Decarboni.se at 7 months

Seven months ago we launched the Decarboni.se web platform with the hope of making a big impact on how information is shared on solutions to climate change.  We set ourselves some lofty goals when launching the project and we’ve been working hard to reach them.  

While there are plenty of areas for improvement, so far things are looking good.  Interestingly, 7 months after launch a lot of our stats relate to the number seven – 700,000 monthly pageviews for October, over 75,000 Facebook likes and 7 new sites on the same web architecture.   Continuing on with that theme of the “lucky 7”, here is what I see as the 7 most important aspects of our approach.

  1. A significant increase in information dissemination – we’ve had a 15000% increase in traffic since 2010 and 700% since last 2013. 
  2. Increased awareness of CCS – Decarboni.se is an initiative of the Global CCS Institute and we’ve helped position CCS within a portfolio of clean energy solutions which has led to  a dramatic increase in readership for CCS content.
  3. A clearinghouse for clean energy solutions – over 500 organisations now publish through our hub.
  4. An engaged community – much better online engagement with our community, with insights receiving hundreds of comments and many more people engaging through Facebook.
  5. Engagement in new markets – we’re reaching a wider audience than ever before through the web – including people in developing countries that are critical to the future of climate change solutions.
  6. Improved information findability – a re-architecture of our platforms has meant an improved user experience – with a 250% improvement in pageviews / session on the site.  
  7. A platform-based web architecture – much lower total cost of ownership for new development, support and operations and a hugely improved model to build web platforms for other organisations.

To learn more about the approach, check out the following pages

READ MORE: What have we done to reach a much wider audience?

Increased information dissemination

A few years ago the Institute had a really basic website which would only get a few thousand pageviews / month.  Before our web re-architecture and the launch of Decarboni.se in March, we typically only had a bit more than 100,000 pageviews per month on our corporate Global CCS Institute website.  Our target audience for knowledge sharing (the CCS professional community) was fairly small so we weren’t too worried about these numbers.  The area where we knew we had to do better was in reaching the audience that didn’t work directly in the CCS space.  That was one of the key reasons for the change in our approach and the launch of multiple sites.


Decarboni.se pageviews since launch

After the re-architecture (Decarboni.se launched in March and other site in May), we’re reaching a much wider community.  Last month in September we had 520,000 pageviews and we’ll hit well over 700,000 this month.  Due to changes in our engagement approach (more on that below) we’re also reaching audiences in developing countries much better than before.  This big uplift has us feeling good as its what we set out to do and the trajectory is going in the right direction.

READ MORE: Are we helping to accelerate CCS?

 

Increased awareness of CCS

One of the issues for CCS is that even though its seen as a critical technology by many of the leading energy and climate agencies around the world (and of course my company the Global CCS Institute) it’s not very well-known compared to other solutions.  A key aspect of our approach to Decarboni.se is to provide information on CCS to an audience that is interested in climate change solutions but is probably more aware of technologies like solar, wind and nuclear.  We don’t push a technology agenda but we do promote a portfolio based approach, similar to the IEA.

In addition to the professional community around energy and climate, a key audience we are trying to reach could be referred to as the “technocracy”.  Here we find people that are excited about the technology behind climate change solutions.  We hope with Decarboni.se we can bridge the gap that exists between motivated enthusiasts and climate change professionals.   To do this, we complement the in-depth information used largely by the professional community with higher level pieces written more in a style of science communication. Brian’s weekly Decarboni.se 5 post is a good example.  The growth we’re seeing in terms of information dissemination is coming primarily from this audience group and for two reasons: it’s a much bigger audience group and they are very active on the web. 

Decarboni.se is for the professional community and interested tech enthusiasts

READ MORE: Who is part of the publishing hub for clean energy?

 

A clearinghouse for clean energy solutions

One of our biggest accomplishments has been to build a strong list of publishing partners.  At this stage, we have over 500 organisations publishing on Decarboni.se, all with their own microsites.  It’s a model that just keeps growing every week with new organisations.  In some cases we’re helping organisations share dozens of publications and helping to building external websites that pull information from Decarboni.se like we’ve done with the European Commission’s CCS Project Network.  Through some of the web optimisation techniques we are using we provide incentives for organisations to publish through the platform and reach a much wider audience.

Hundreds of organisations publish on Decarboni.se

What this provides is a “go to place” for information on clean energy with lessons learned from the key projects and policy initiatives worldwide.  Readers can also trust they will find high-quality information, as all content that is published goes through a significant review processes.

READ MORE: Are people just here to read?

 

An engaged community

We used to struggle to “get the conversation going” on our blog posts and social media channels.  Not anymore.  A number of our Insights have turned into lively discussions and our community has shown some real expertise.  We’ve had Insights with over 150 comments and discussions on social media that have really taken off around the world.   Our Facebook page has over 75,000 likes and in particular allows us to reach people in developing countries much better than ever before.

But the most important aspect of our community engagement has been the expertise that’s been shared.  In a number of cases we’ve gotten excellent feedback – including pointing out things we might have missed.  That’s the real benefit of engagement at such a global level. 

READ MORE: Where is our audience?

Engagement into new markets

As mentioned above, we’ve been getting much better engagement into developing countries than we have in the past.   This is certainly important for climate change solutions as projected growth in emissions over the next few decades in primarily expected in the developing world.  

Decarboni.se content relating to clean energy from around the world

There have been a few factors that have allowed us to make dramatic improvements in reaching an audience in the developing world.  Changes to our promotion approach through use of social media has enabled us to get much better engagement with actual individuals, regardless of location.   The other aspect has being able to direct users to content most relevant to them.  In the map above (you can reach it here at http://decarboni.se/browse/locations) we’ve used the automatic linking and classification capabilities of our web architecture to show whenever content appears on our site from a country and make it easily browse-able.  Particularly in the case of smaller developing countries we make a point to make people aware of the content related to their country.  We’ve also written some specific posts on countries such as this one on Africa that summarises the more detailed information we have on the site.  

READ MORE: With all this information, can people find it?

 

Improved information findability

One of the key issues with our previous web architecture was that it was just too hard to find information.  This was the initial driver for the project – we wanted to make it much easier for our end-users to find what they were looking for and to make sure we were reaching the right people with the right information.   

Improving information findability meant a number of changes.  We moved to an architecture with multiple sites and a platform-based model (described more below) so users would be presented with the most relevant information.  With tens of thousands of pages of content, a traditional navigation model wasn’t going to work well.  We re-designed all of our sites around a search-based paradigm (even for browsing) to give users much more powerful ways of finding information.  We also took a major focus on web accessibility and moved out of the traditional PDF model for reading reports.  

Finally, we implemented what we think is the right balance between automatic classification of information and a human-driven approach to make sure people found the most relevant and important information on our site.  Information is classified by topic, organisation, location and projects.  Over 1200 terms have been created and new terms are added all the time, and with our mix of human and manual classification the model scales very well.  All of this comes together to provide a better web architecture in terms of user experience and a much improved journey for finding information.

To read more about the details of the architecture, check out Jason’s post.

READ MORE: What's the technology bringing it all together?

 

A platform-based web architecture

The platform-based architecture of Decarboni.se enables the system to be a central ‘hub’ of information resources.    As I mentioned above, information relating to over 500 organisations is already hosted on Decarboni.se in a microsite model.   We also have seven sites now using the same web architecture and a model that can quickly scale up into the future to build sites for other organisations.

Despite this new model being quite advanced, we’re actually spending significantly less money in development, operations and support that ever before.  We’ve also streamlined things so that building new sites is really easy and we’ve got a content management model that allows us to do things that would normally take a much larger team.   It’s an architecture that serves us well and lets us now focus even more on providing the best content and actively engage our community.

 

Seven months in and going strong

As I said at the onset, we’ve got plenty of areas for improvement but we’re happy with where we’ve gotten to in just 7 months.  We’ve got more reach than ever before and we’re engaging with particularly important audiences from a clean energy perspective.  
We’re providing information that we hope people will trust and get value from as we only publish high quality publications and insights that have been through a well-defined review process.  It includes lessons learned from the key projects and policy initiatives worldwide and covers the full scope of decarbonisation technologies.   

Finally, our platform changes and web techniques allow us to optimise dissemination of information.  We’re now at the point where we have a very cost-effective and efficient knowledge sharing model and a web architecture that enables rapid development of new knowledge platforms.  

So for the Decarboni.se team, after 7 months and now hitting nearly ¾ of a million pageviews we like where we are headed.  We’ve got a number of improvements in mind but want to hear your views as well.  We’d love to get your feedback – please contact us and let us know what you think!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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