Archaeology Scotland – Digital Content Development

Profile photo of Dianne Laing By Dianne Laing
6 March 2014

Archaeology Scotland is a charitable organisation, which works to secure the archaeological heritage of Scotland for its people through education, promotion and support. This project formed part of a wider digital development strategy that saw the upgrading and redevelopment of our entire website.

Archaeology_Scotland_website_homepageThis is our new homepage, which may be found at www.archaeologyscotland.org.uk – Please feel free to visit us and take a look!

 We wished to create a background map of Scotland that would display information on new archaeological sites, work and finds as that work was reported. The map displays basic information to anyone accessing the Archaeology Scotland website. Members of Archaeology Scotland are able to login to the members section of the website and access more detailed information on each of the sites.

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The map has search options which allow people to carry out searches relating to their particular areas of interest. For example, geographical areas, types of sites, types of finds and archaeological remains from particular time periods. Accessing a particular site will also display any images that are available and show links to any other websites that contain further information.

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The site is loading new information as it is received and the webpage also provides links to the past copies of the Archaeology Scotland journal – Discovery and excavation in Scotland (DES), from 1947 to the current edition, allowing people to search for past events at the sites that are reporting new work.

We worked out our timescales, the specifications for the developments and working with a web designer and computer programmers created the new Archaeology Scotland website, followed by the new searchable map-based webpage, which we then linked to our new online reporting system. We had hoped to also investigate the possibility of creating an automated system for tweeting registered people to keep them up-to-date with activity and alert them when new information, relating to their area of interest, was entered on the website. It was not possible to incorporate this work within the available timescales and budget. However, all the mandatory aims of the project were completed on schedule, to the agreed specifications and to budget, and further development of the site to allow the creation of automated social media updates remains a future goal.

Since its launch in August 2013 Archaeology Scotland is delighted to be able to report that there have been approximately 14,000 visits to the Archaeology Scotland website. All of the people accessing the site have been able to carry out general searches on the map. A total of 114 members have logged in to the website and gained access to the members-only sections. As the map is its infancy it is difficult to judge its impact on project reporting; however, a total of 902 projects were reported to our journal in 2013, an increase of 5%, and some of this increase may reflect people seeing and wishing to contribute information to the new mapping system.

By utilising the established and tested skills of our in-house project manager, the expertise of two highly experienced computer programmers and an established web designer we were able to ensure that the goals of the project were fully understand and achieved. We would suggest that taking the time to develop a detailed specification and schedule of work, with clear deadlines, is a key to success. As is having a team that has excellent communication skills, the ability to work well together and has a willingness to go the extra mile to ensure success.

Our next step will be to roll out a training programme, to encourage people to use our new online reporting system and to publicise the new map-based webpage. We will also seek additional funding to further develop the site and investigate the integration of social media updates.

If you would like to see the details of our new webpage please view the slideshow.

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