Faceoff: Creative Stoke vs. Creative Central

Disclaimer: I submitted content to Creative Stoke between 2002 and 2008, first as a Millenium Volunteer and then fitting in what I could while working.

So, Creative Stoke – kicked off by David Haden in 2001/2002. David teaches at BIAD in Birmingham, and chose to relocate to Stoke as property prices there were not being influenced as crazily by Sarah Beeny and sub-prime lending as most other places in the UK. an early blogger, he started a mini-directory of Potteries creatives which grew and grew from there. Being a skilled designer and web designer kind of helps as well.

Come 2009 we have the launch of Creative Central. Designed to be a directory / portal for creatives in North Staffordshire, it all starts to sound a bit familiar, no? Funded by the local regeneration partnership, local councils and so on, and built by Fudge Studios. A North Staffs design agency, maybe? No, they’re in Bolton – which is no offence to Fudge, as I’ve met them and they’re a skilled, talented, friendly bunch. Why would they say no to the work? But it’s a strange message to the very same creatives the funders would like to see signing up to the site.

Looking into my crystal ball – admittedly a biased one – and I think Creative Stoke will easily outlast Creative Central. For very simple reasons: the latter runs on a fixed-cost model CMS. No extensibility, no modification. Everything you see is what you’ll be getting, full stop. No dedicated editor or tone of voice – apparently the community of users will drive it for vaguely-articulated reasons. Creative Stoke is hand-built, mainly with CSS, HTML and Photoshop, and all the better for it – it’s properly user-focussed and interactive, and search-friendly. Funding issues aside, there’s a lesson there for public sector commissioners of these networks, though they’ll be thin on the ground for the foreseeable future.

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6 Comments

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6 responses to “Faceoff: Creative Stoke vs. Creative Central

  1. Just an additional note on costs: I understand Creative Central cost around £50,000 of public money, perhaps plus some additional costs in terms of council Officer time over the two years that it ran for.

  2. I worked on this project up until a month ago and was brought in after the consultation, design and setup of Creative Central. I was given the title of online editor and my contract was asked to populate the site with content etc…
    As I’m sure David Haden will confirm, sites like this take a vast amount of time, energy and commitment to build up. I found myself in difficulty managing my own freelance career whilst also work on (in my personal opinion) a very limited contracted time of 8 hours per week.
    If projects like Creative Central want to progress and develop, not only will they need a flexible technical approach to change and shift, but they also need a strong team behind them focusing on method and delivery. I had no team and very limited support. This was one reason why I chose to end my contract early and why I decided not to continue with this project.
    Although, I do still feel that such a web platform is needed, but it is needed to be balanced with offline as well as the online.

  3. £50,000 – please tell me Mark’s wages are part of that.

    Thanks for pointing out Creative Central exists, if you hadn’t I really wouldn’t have heard of it.

    I’m a massive advocate of Drupal the open source cms/community/what ever you want it to be software. Just by adding a few social features to the site would have helped make it more popular and sustainable. As it is, it’s a resource that doesn’t really sell

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