Ok, no laughing please. Yep I've seen you before on twitter, Leeds based designers, mocking Wakefield and it's tiny web design agencies that you didn't think even existed. But Wakefield, like any decent sized city has an inevitable dependence on the digital sector, and, I feel, this is something that needs to be promoted.
Experience of the Leeds Digital Festival
But I'm asking a serious question here. In the last month I've been to a few of the events at the Leeds Digital Fesival, and I found it an amazing festival with lots of interesting events to see and do. There was something for everyone - "digital lunches" where a panel of experts discussed anything from ecommerce to geolocation, awards nights where the best of the Leed's digital scene celebrated their successes, and get togethers at the pub where people in the industry just did a bit of socialising. I've found it really inspiring and thought provoking.
But Wakefield can't be compared to Leeds
Leeds is the 3rd largest city in the UK, its prosperous and has developed a really strong digital sector. It has a vast array of good size digital agencies - I can easily think of a few of the bigger ones - Twenty 26, England Agency, Fuse8, Propoganda, Branded3, Made By Pi, Outside the Box to name a few. Wakefield is much smaller than Leeds, less than half the size, and does not have the same big business presence and level of prosperity. It just hasn't got that agency prescence, that's obvious - there are a few agencies but they are all pretty small, certainly there are few with more than 5 staff. But it does have some good things going for it digitally - as I say its a got a few good design agencies, some well known gaming organisations, and marketing organisations both on and offline. It's also got a great web design course at Wakefield College, the FDA in web design, which is outputting some excellent talent.
What events could it have?
There's lots to learn here from the Leeds Digital Festival. As I said it was very well organised with an eclectic mix of events, something for everyone whether you worked in the digital industry or were a business seeking to know more about promoting yourself online. One thing I noticed though was that it was a partnership of both the public and private sector, with plenty of community thrown into the mix. It had the backing of Leeds City Council, both in terms of finance and marketing, but was driven by a community of passionate volunteers. If Wakefield were to have a festival it needs to derive alot of its ideas from Leeds. I can see it having events such as...
- Digital lunches - where local businesses can come and listen to a panel of experts discussing issues such as how to promote yourself online, sell products online and promote yourself through email and other marketing methods
- Workshops on search engine promotion, adwords etc - "fast track digital marketing"
- Gaming competition night for a fun element, perhaps involving well known local games company Team17
- Plain old social events, drinks down the pub for designers and web types to meet and mix
- Awards night, though I am not sure there is enough digital prescence in Wakefield for this?
- FDA course event, open night, meet the designers
- Photo/digital art event
One of the things I liked about the Leeds festival was they had a competition between local designers to decide on the brand and web site for the whole event, I think this would be important also. In terms of duration, I couldn't see a festival in Wakefield lasting a month (like the Leeds one) by any stretch, but I think a week could easily be filled with some pretty interesting and well attended events.
Any thoughts or ideas, please add a comment.