Scottish Web Folk

Lauren Sykes
Tuesday 12 March 2024

The Digital Communications team popped along to the Scottish Web Folk conference and enjoyed a day discussing the latest trends and challenges in web development and digital strategy with web professionals from across Scotland’s universities.


Our own University web folk, the Digital Communications team, spent a day at the Scottish Web Folk conference at the end of last year (November 2023). The event, hosted by Dundee University, brought together web professionals from across Scotland’s universities to discuss the latest trends and challenges in web development and digital strategy.The conference, also known as Higher Education (HE) Digital Scotland, was a sellout, with more than 100 people from across 17 different institutions converging in Dundee’s Dalhousie Building to hear from a host of HE speakers and meet suppliers.

For the first half of the conference, staff from the Universities of Edinburgh and Stirling shared their digital experiences. Catherine Munn from the University of Edinburgh explained how to empower colleagues to adopt user-experience methods in their website design process and Alice Austin shared how web archiving can support a healthier web estate.

Emma Bathgate from the University of Stirling outlined how she applied principles from her experience with cultural venues to a higher education online events calendar in The show must go on. Her colleague, Alex Cochrane, informed delegates that the internet produces 3.8% of global carbon emissions and that communications technology emits more carbon than most countries – something to bear in mind next time you’re sending an email. He also told attendees that the power needed to operate the technology that brings content to our screens is responsible for more carbon emissions than the airline industry. To help us mitigate this, Alex shared tips on how to make websites greener and more productive.

In the afternoon, a number of companies shared tips on how to optimise web presence and digital communications in HE. Storm ID addressed the challenges of data collection and analysis in higher education, while TPXimpact propounded the need for centralised digital services and content and looked at the role of universities in a digital-first world. Website engagement management company, cues.ai, explained how to apply behavioural science to improving conversion rates, while Gecko tackled the ‘AI revolution’ by redefining efficiency in university solutions with chat bots.

Across the team, the digis also heard from LittleForest about web and manual accessibility testing, CIVIC about the design principles established for the College of Art at the University of Edinburgh, and Acquia on the key challenges in offering personalised digital experiences, including disconnected strategies, limited resources, and unidentified goals. SiteImprove, a company the University already works with, shared the latest tips on search engine optimisation and analytics.

The digital team all agreed the presentations provided valuable insights into improving web practices, particularly in the realms of accessibility, user experience, and digital strategy. All of the speakers underscored the importance of an inclusive, user-focused approach in web development and highlighted innovative solutions to contemporary challenges in the digital HE landscape. Everyone learned something new to bring back to St Andrews.

The day wrapped up with networking and drinks at Dukes Corner in Dundee, where delegates, speakers and suppliers met to continue to share valuable digital expertise over a few drinks.

11 members of the Digital Communications team: Nick Mullen, Richard Rooney, Peter Woodhouse, Steve Evans, Lauren Sykes, Beth Andrews, Tommy Oldfield, Teo Udrea, Mike Berry, Dinorah Imrie and Daniela de Leon
Pictured at the Scottish Web Folk conference (from left) are Nick Mullen (Web Developer), Richard Rooney (Content Editor and Trainer), Peter Woodhouse (Web Developer), Steve Evans (Team Leader), Lauren Sykes (Content Editor), Beth Andrews (Senior Content Editor), Tommy Oldfield (Web Developer), Teo Udrea (Front-End Web Developer), Mike Berry (Web Developer), Dinorah Imrie (Content Editor), and Daniela de Leon (Data Analyst and Content Editor)

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