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SciDev.Net’s new website incorporates a range of features to improve usability, enhance access to its content, and encourage greater feedback from users.

We are delighted to announce the launch of a new version of the SciDev.Net website. The site has been completely rebuilt in order to increase its usability and overall effectiveness in reaching those concerned with the application of science and technology to the needs of developing countries.

As you will see, the direction of the website remains virtually identical to what it was when SciDev.Net was launched in December 2001. In particular, we retain our emphasis on providing news, feature articles, and opinion and analysis about science and technology in the developing world, complemented by a wide range of notices and background information.

We have, however, made several changes in the way the material is presented.

First, in addition to grouping material geographically into six separate regional gateways, we are now bringing the material together into six new topic gateways. These cover agriculture and environment, climate change and energy, health, new technology, science and innovation policy, and science communication.

Furthermore, topics are divided into subtopics, each bringing together news, features, opinion and analysis relevant to a specific issue (replacing the dossiers that sought to do this in the past).

The second major change is the increased accessibility of the website to non-English speakers. The site now appears in four different language versions (English, Spanish, French and Chinese), as do the headlines and summaries of all new material. In some cases, the full text is also available in these different languages (as indicated by the two letters immediately following the date of posting).

One important goal of the redesign, reflecting the conclusions of an independent evaluation carried out in 2006, has been to increase the opportunities for interaction with users. In particular, readers can now post comments on all articles, an innovation aimed at stimulating debate about the issues we cover.

The only requirement is that anyone wishing to post a comment must be registered with us. The benefits of registration, however, have been significantly increased. In particular, in addition to the standard weekly email, you can now receive a wide range of alerts listing new material posted on the website, related to particular regions or topics.

Those with limited Internet access can also choose to receive material in full-text emails.

Every registered user will receive a password, allowing greater security of access to their registration details.

Building on the new opportunities that have opened up for sharing material with other Internet users, we now provide a number of social networking options, such as, Digg and Facebook. And a reduction in the bandwidth of individual pages will result in a faster download time, and thus greater accessibility from developing countries where access is still limited.

We have also introduced a significantly enhanced search function. Given that our archive contains more than 10,000 separate items, there is growing evidence that many users –– particularly those engaged in policy-related fields — are finding the website an increasingly valuable resource for researching issues from climate change research to innovation policy. The new search engine will make this considerably easier than it has been in the past.

Rebuilding the website has been a major undertaking. Parts of the site are still under reconstruction, and we ask for your patience while the work is being completed. At the same time, we also hope that those familiar with the old site will rapidly become familiar with the new way in which the material is presented. To assist, an improved site map is available.

We are grateful for the support we have received not only from our three main core donors, but also from two development agencies that have made grants to help cover the redevelopment costs — Canada's International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and the Swiss Development Agency (SDC). We are also grateful to our website developers, Rawnet, and designers Classic Studios for their commitment to the project

We hope that you will share our belief that the new website will boost our capacity to deliver on our commitments. At the same time, we look forward to your comments on the new look website and on how it might be further improved.

David Dickson
Director, SciDev.Net