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‘Bridging the digital divide’ with the Commonwealth’s new website

By Chris Lewis | Client services director

Cyber-Duck

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February 10, 2022 | 7 min read

The Commonwealth Secretariat has launched a new website, showcasing its commitment to inclusion and sustainability. Chris Lewis is client services director at Cyber-Duck, the digital agency behind the new website.

As a vital part of its global connectivity and sustainability strategy, the Commonwealth Secretariat has launched a new, inclusive, accessible and sustainable, mobile-first digital hub.

The new website aims to ensure vital services (e-learning, funding and campaign information) are fully and centrally available for its broad and diverse audience, some of whom are in the hardest-to-reach places in the world.

The new Commonwealth Secretariat website

Cyber-Duck were the digital partners of the Commonwealth Secratariat on the creation of their new website / Image via Cyber-Duck

The Commonwealth Secretariat delivers projects, technical expertise, and tools to overcome some of the most crucial challenges of our time, such as adaptation to climate change, reducing inequality, and recovery from the global pandemic.

Accessibility and performance

Delivering on this strategy, the new website’s improved accessibility and faster performance ensures that users in less-developed countries with poor internet speeds, often accessed through mobile phone networks, will now be able to better access content such as a new Commonwealth training database that boosts ocean learning for government officials.

Features such as automated data visualisations will also provide users in Commonwealth states with accessible and easily understandable information such as social and economic data in real-time.

Environmental impact

A critical goal of the project was to reduce the website’s environmental impact. The Commonwealth is committed to helping member states tackle climate change and adapt to its worst impacts and has been pushing for greater climate action since 1989 when Commonwealth leaders committed to protecting the environment in the Langkawi Declaration.

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Recent research from Lancaster University shows global emissions from computing and ICT are greater than that of the aviation industry, so as a digital agency committed to making digital experiences better, we relished the opportunity to work on this project.

Combining strategic UX design and open-source technology allowed us to tackle this issue in two ways – create seamless user journeys that enable people to more swiftly and easily achieve their tasks and build these journeys in a way that minimises their environmental impacts. In doing so, not only were we addressing the Commonwealth's strategic priority of tackling climate change, we were also achieving their goal of improving digital inclusion - issues which we are also deeply committed to as an agency.

Commonwealth stakeholders

Commonwealth Secretary-General, the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland QC emphasised the Secretariat’s dedication to improving digital inclusion across the Commonwealth: “our family of 54 nations, with different needs but shared interests, is home to 2.5 billion people. Promoting a sustainable digital transformation that broadens affordable and high quality digital access is a key goal of the Commonwealth Secretariat. Our own website is a vital tool. We identified a clear need for our digital strategy to help address issues of digital inclusion, sustainability and the speed of communicating with audiences especially during potential crises.”

Speaking about the new website, Phalguni Sundaram Biswal, from Kolkata India and a Youth Ambassador of India at the recent G7 Youth summit (2021) said: "As a young Indian working to reduce inequity and increase opportunities for young people in my community and globally, I’ve seen first-hand the impact of digital exclusion. The new Commonwealth website is interactive and informative. It provides users with a good level of interface and has information for the members and broader stakeholders.”

To better understand the digital barriers and opportunities involving the Commonwealth’s work, the Commonwealth Secretariat and Cyber-Duck conducted interviews with individuals such as His Excellency Dr Kevin Isaac, St. Kitts and Nevis High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, who said: “the new mobile-friendly Commonwealth Secretariat website has a much-improved design, and is far more interactive and informative for users such as myself who are looking to quickly and easily find the latest information about various programmes and member countries. Now accessible to all Commonwealth citizens, the new website is a celebration of the shared values of the Commonwealth family.”

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Established in 2005, Cyber-Duck is a leading digital agency that works with exciting startups and global brands such as Cancer Research Technology, The European Commission and Arsenal FC. As a full service digital agency, Cyber-Duck offers creative, technical and marketing services all under one roof. The company blends an ISO-accredited user-centred design process with lean and agile management principles, drawing on investment in creative R&D.

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