Big changes on their way for Croydon Digital

Rebooting the Croydon Digital brand and website with a much improved design, better content and new features.

Next month we’ll be rebooting this site with a much improved design, better content and new features.

It marks the beginning of a new phase for Croydon Digital, as the voice of Croydon’s tech community and a unifying brand to showcase Croydon’s vibrant and growing digital scene.

From alpha to beta

It’s 6 months since Croydon Digital first launched as an “alpha” – a quick and dirty prototype to test the idea of a shared, borough-wide platform to “celebrate, accelerate and document Croydon’s tech sector growth and the digital transformation of our public services and places.”

Alongside, we piloted events – also in alpha – settling on the names Croydon Digital Talks (presentations on topics the community cares about), and Croydon Digital Drinks (social meetups just for the lolz).

Thirdly, we experimented with listing all tech events and job vacancies across the borough to amplify existing opportunities for Croydon’s digital professionals.

And we’ve learned a whole lot along the way.

Most importantly, we’ve confirmed there’s an appetite for it.

Croydon Digital is something Croydon wants and needs. People are happy for the council to use its remit and resources to take a lead role, in the open and inclusive way we’ve been doing since December. And the community is keen to contribute, to see each other and be seen, and collectively bang the drum for all things digital in Croydon.

So we’re doubling down on it now – making changes based on feedback and what we’ve learned – to take the Croydon Digital brand, publishing platform and events programme all to the next level.

By the community, for the community

Our intention for the Croydon Digital site was always to be the voice of Croydon’s digital, data and tech community.

Think of it as your shared blogging platform – like Medium, but just for Croydon tech – to bring us together, share and learn, and show the world the great stuff we’re up to.

Only by working together will we change perceptions of Croydon, attract more companies to start or move here, and connect across our community to build a stronger ecosystem as the “Silicon Valley of South London”.

So in the beta release, we have:

  • made the site’s purpose more explicit, both through its design and by adding a clear strapline
  • made it much easier for the community to contribute content – be that written blog posts, video or audio content, job ads or event listings
  • developed the site with the community’s close involvement. 27 people took part in research sessions to help us understand their needs, test our designs and deliver a beta that better meets its stated aims. We think that’s pretty special.

Better tech, better features

As well as a new design, we have rebuilt the whole thing, moving from wordpress.com to our own cloud-hosted WordPress instance.

This means we’ve been able to make several, much-needed functional improvements. For example:

  • it’s now less painful to get folks set up as an author and manage the workflow of draft content
  • we now provide separate email alerts and search filtering for events, jobs and blog posts. (Make sure to sign up for the emails you want!)

Making it a success, together

As we continue to develop the brand, website and events programme, we plan to:

  • form a steering committee with selected leaders across the community, to plan what else we might collectively do to grow and sustain our tech ecosystem and solve the challenges we face
  • step up the editorial effort, to make sure there’s frequent and engaging content – on the blog and at our events – that both showcases and helps Croydon’s tech sector
  • find ways to make content generation and event-planning a more collective community effort, for example with guest editors and themed weeks/months
  • add lunchtime and breakfast meetups to the roster (we’ll call that Croydon Digital Eats, obvs) to be more inclusive to those who don’t do evenings, Fridays or alcohol

Get in touch to volunteer your help, or just get contributing right away! See here for ideas and how to submit stuff for publication

Promoting and connecting Croydon tech

One major addition to the beta site will be a new “Discover Digital Croydon” section.

We have big plans to grow this, with a range of material that showcases the terrific companies, talent and tech-friendly conditions in our town and district centres.

For example, over time we’ll be adding information about our brilliant co-working spaces and office accommodation, the help and support services available to Croydon SMEs, courses and resources for developing digital skills, digital tips for non-digital businesses and much more besides.

But best of all, we’ll be building a new directory of all the digital, data and tech organisations in the Cronx – from Crystal Palace to Coulsdon. We think it’s a crying shame that people inside and outside our fab borough can’t easily see the brilliant digital credentials we’ve got here, and all the innovative work you all do, and we want you to more easily collaborate and supply to each other. So we are fixing that!

Getting yourself listed is easy – just drop us a line.

Continuous improvement

We hope you’ll like the changes when they go live next week, and we welcome feedback (and offers of help!) any time.

The final thing to emphasise is that “beta” doesn’t mean finished – far from it.

We will continue to iterate and improve Croydon Digital, with your involvement, to tell the story of Croydon’s cool AF tech scene, grow it bigger and stronger, and keep on proving the world wrong about Croydon!

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