WordPress helps techno-incompetent redesign our site

Stewart hard at workAs part of International Bring Your Luddite To Work Day we allowed our Content Marketing Director, Stewart Kirkpatrick, to redesign our site. 

Now, the boy can do words, pictures and what users like but, to be frank, couldn’t code his way out of a paper bag. In fact, getting him to make a cup of tea involves a map, a torch and painstaking discussions on the essential nature of the word “kettle”.

It does sound a bit of a risk entrusting the care of our corporate site to somebody challenged by the technical problems of turning on a light switch. But we had a secret weapon: WordPress.

WordPress is the free, open source, Web 2.0 content management system. It is so simple to use that if you can handle Microsoft Word documents (or not in the case of Stewart) then you can make WordPress work for you.

As well as offering simpicity it can also be as complex as you need. And this is where the rest of us weighed in with our technical expertise. This site uses a heavily customised version of the Atahualpa theme. To make it as sophisticated as we wanted it to be we’ve given it a cocktail of plugins that we have found to be particularly effective – though some  needed a tweak or two.  These range from SEO to mobile versions to video display and beyond.

As for how the new site looks, it’s less Stalinist than the previous version but remains true to web guru Clay Shriky’s dictum: “behaviour first, design second”.

w00tonomy on the radio

Our Content Marketing Director, Stewart Kirkpatrick, has once again graced the airwaves with his considered opinions. Mercifully for the eyes of the public, he was on the radio this time. (His appearance on BBC 1 Scotland’s Politics Show required teams of makeup artists working in shifts to cover the most appalling crevasses).

Stewart was on Lesley Riddoch’s programme talking about the Scottish media and public sector issues with SNP MEP Alyn Smith and the Leader of Glasgow City Council, Steven Purcell.

w00tonomy makes Scottish Government digital marketing roster

We are delighted to announce that, in conjunction with our consortium partners The Union and Conscia, that w00tonomy has been selected for the Scottish Government’s digital marketing services framework.

This is a major achievement for a young agency and we are delighted. Along with our consortium partners, we look forward to providing the Scottish Government and other bodies using the roster with our services:

Turbocharge content to optimise appeal to online customers.

Creating messages that interest customers rather than messages they ignore.

We make online spend work harder. We deliver higher returns on online investment through the use of targeted, quality content to build a lasting relationship with your target audience.

If you’d like to know more, please contact us.

Content Marketing Watch – why the public sector should blog

Content Marketing Watch is our weekly piece on the latest industry news; covering the areas of content marketing such as analytics, online marketing, content optimisation, search engine marketing and digital communications.

To blog or not to blog is a contentious issue for the public sector. Supporters see it as a way for Government to engage in dialogue with people and bring a human face to what is often perceived a souless bureaucracy. The more skeptical see it as communications minefield.

At w00tonomy we believe that blogging is right for the public sector.

Having worked for years with people in the public sector we are always been struck by the disparity between the portrayal of the public sector as impersonal and the passion that many people in the sector feel for their work.

Online we believe one of the main reasons for this is that public sector bodies seek to manage all communications through corporate sites. These sites clearly serve a purpose by providing us with a single source of facts and information but by their very nature they speak with only one voice. The price you pay by limiting your use of the Internet in this way is that you loose engagement and personality.

Blogging provides a way for the public sector to bring that expertise and passion to the surface. It doesn’t have to be from a single person – it can be from a team or a department; you can also invite contributions from experts and interested groups in the field.

To illustrate, here are some “in the field” examples of how blogs are being used in major policy areas from across the pond.

  • Environmental. The Energy Savers blog is a vehicle for discussion and education around environmental issues for the home, workplace and travel.
  • Transport. A blog like this would be of great interest to those in Edinburgh who are trying to deal with the roadworks around the city; the Fast Lane Blog provides a forum for transport officials to discuss and explain public transport policy. The content is provided not only by the team but also by guest bloggers
  • Foreign Policy. Its not just the social issues that can be dealt with through blogs. Dipnote is website where participants are given the opportunity to discuss important foreign policy issues with senior Department officials.
  • Health. Secretary Mike Leavitt has set up a personal blog for his department in which he talks about the health challenges facing the States at home and abroad.

Mike Kujawski has pointed out there are key questions the public sector body needs to answer before setting up a blog

  • Which person or team can write/represent the agency?
  • Can you generate enough content of interest?
  • What is the level of commitment to the blog?
  • What content are you going to produce?
  • What are your review processes?
  • How will you mange comments?

If at the end of considering these questions you decide not to set up a blog, there are potentially thousands of blogs out there that may still be talking about you so you need to be listening and commenting

Content Marketing Watch: ScotWeb2, the web and the public sector

Content Marketing Watch is the latest feature section to be added to our interviews and opinion pieces. For those of you in the industry who are looking to maximise the most value from the content on your site each week we will have a piece on the latest industry news; covering areas of content marketing such as analytics, internet marketing, content optimisation, search engine marketing and digital communications.

Hotfoot from ScotWeb2 – a get-together of those with an interest in the public sector and the internet. Organised by Alex Stobart, a recovering civil servant, 

The highlights, apart from my workshop on making the most of content, were talks by James Munro of PatientOpinon and Simon Dickson of Puffbox.

James’s described how his site offered patient feedback on NHS services. He demonstrated that inviting the public into the conversation, even with negative comments, led to positive outcomes. He also demonstrated PatientOpinon’s automated tagging system for comment, which was one of my “wow” moments of the year.  

Simon Dickson caused everyone’s ears to wring with his revelation that the Foreign and Commonwealth Office website cost £19.2m, with the CMS alone costing £1.47m.  Staggered by this he set up a business that builds websites using WordPress, which costs zilch.

This event was a great start to the coming debate over how public sector websites embrace the future.

Chris Dempsey – content marketing cast

In this content marketing cast we talk to Chris Dempsey Head of Communications and Customer Services at Registers of Scotland about his work at RoS, the common misunderstandings about what RoS do and the challenges facing the marketing and internet agencies in Scotland. You can also watch the interview at w00tonomyTV.

ScotWeb2 unconference: the net, the government and Scotland

Web 2.0 tag cloudAt w00tonomy, we’re very excited by the upcoming ScotWeb2 unconference on Hallowe’en at Edinburgh University for “those interested in learning about Web 2 from practitioners, government and business users”.

It is “an informal, bar camp style event allowing participants to listen, network and share experiences with those who have designed and are managing Web 2 services. Speakers and workshop leaders from Health, Business, Web design, Colleges and Universities, Social Enterprises, Social Media, Journalism, Government and Civic Society”.

The event is being organised by Alex Stobbart of the Scottish Government (née Executive). Alex is an evangelist for the opportunities offered by the web. He is a giant floating brain who has recruited a coven of like-minded individuals within the SG who meet at the dead of night in cowled hoods, exchanging arcane passwords and sharing forbidden knowledge about tags, tweets and user content…

Actually we made that bit up – we got carried away with the fact the event is on samhainn. But Alex is an evangelist and does lead a high-powered group of colleagues who are keen to embrace the openness that the new web offers. Having worked closely on Scottish Government projects, we at w00tonomy have met many civil servants who “get it” and cheer Alex’s efforts to mobilise them.

However, ScotWeb2 is a separate project for Alex and BT are backing it. Tickets are available from Eventbrite.

The speakers include Simon Dickson: an e-government consultant and “Whitehall’s first full-time website specialist back in 1995”; Iain Henderson from personal data protector MyDex; Ross Ferguson from Dog Digital; and w00tonomy’s endlessly self-promoting Stewart Kirkpatrick, who will talk about how to optimise content to get messages across.