Electric Book Works Publishing reinvented for the digital age

Publishing accessible, interactive research

Most research disappears into PDFs that no one reads. Instead, we worked with WISER and FCFA to publish their community-based climate work as a fast, mobile-friendly website. It’s shareable and interactive, and we can track how readers engage with it.

The website for A manual for co‑production in African weather and climate services on a large computer and a mobile phone

This publication is the culmination of years of research into what’s called ‘co-production’: collaboration between those who create climate information and those who use it on the ground.

For instance, national weather services and universities create forecasts and analyses. Meanwhile, farmers and engineers try to use that information to make decisions every day. But often these information creators and consumers don’t work together. As a result, the information might not be what is really needed. And on the ground, those farmers and engineers might know important details that never reach university researchers.

There is tremendous value in bringing these people together when creating weather and climate information.

When WISER and Future Climate for Africa decided to publish their ground-breaking research as a manual, it was critical that it be widely used. Too much research ends up unread on bookshelves, or forgotten in our download folders.

Their team brought in Electric Book Works to produce a website version of their work that would be fast, mobile-friendly, and interactive. The starting point would be a colourful map of Africa that made any of their 24 case studies accessible with one click.

A website edition provides several advantages over print or PDF:

  • Search engines rank website content much more highly than PDFs. So a website publication would be easier for people to find in a Google search.
  • The interactivity of clickable graphics, pop-up definitions, a search function, and linked cross-references make a user’s journey through the work quick and easy.
  • Web pages are easy to share online: on Twitter, Facebook, and in essays and articles.
  • Using Google Analytics, the team knows exactly how many people visit the site.
  • The text can be easily read on mobile phones, which is critical worldwide, and in Africa especially.

Like all of our websites, we made sure this one was data-light, fast and mobile friendly.

Pages from A manual for co‑production in African weather and climate services on mobile phones

We build sites like this one with our open-source Electric Book workflow. The template lets us build web books quickly, and with accessibility front of mind – because we know websites must not exclude people with poor Internet connections, and those using assistive technology like screenreaders.

You can read A manual for co-production in African climate and weather services here.

20 September 2021