The implementation requires collaboration between EAS and IT organisations. When implementing a web portal for extensionists and farmers, the following steps need to be followed:
- Selection of content: The content needs to be decided on jointly by selected users, subject experts, and web developers.
- Designing the portal: A well-arranged and user-friendly design is the most important part of a web portal. Since a web portal is much more extensive than a website, it needs to be much more thought out to specifically cater to the needs of novices.
- Identification of roles: Information needs to be constantly updated to ensure a quality and dynamic portal. To achieve this responsibilities need to be defined within and outside the organisation.
- Periodic technology upgrades: Frequently changing the user interface and portal design can make it user unfriendly, but upgrading the portal with new features to reflect evolving technology is very important to retain users.
Other features can be added to increase interactivity and sustain user interest: cookies to track user preferences (with their permission), chat or call options for help navigating the site, social media log in, bulletin boards, chat rooms, live search options, subject-specific content search facilities, discussion forums, opinion polls, and feedback and survey forms. Web portals for agricultural extension and advisory services are developed and hosted by many types of organisations, including agricultural universities (see Box 1), research institutions, extension organisations, professional networks, private agri-business firms, and others.
Governance and management
Web portal development and management is a collaborative task, involving many stakeholders. The developers need to continually upgrade, enhance, maintain, and support the site, and the EAS organisation needs to feed it with content and expert advice to keep the information up-to-date. The source of content also needs to be authenticated regularly to maintain quality. Clear allocation of roles when setting up web portals makes their governance and management easier.