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August 2019

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Building a Website from scratch

Building a Website from scratch

Building a website from scratch can be a daunting prospect. Here are some simple tips to help you create something that fits the brief and you can be really proud of.  

The problem  

You know what the website is for and what you want it to do, but you don’t know how to get there. 

What tech will you use? How will the site look and behave? How are you going to make sure it's been thoroughly tested before it goes live? Finally, how long is this all going to take. 


 1. Whether you’re working as part of a team (I was) or on your own, one of the most important tips I can give is communication. Before you begin designing or building anything, everyone involved has to be on the same page. As developers we can be known for our lack of communication and our enthusiasm for getting building as soon as  possible. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to have a kick-off conversation before you start doing anything. In this conversation you can cover all of the questions above and make sure that you have a clear process and timeline in place.

 2. This one is a team-specific one but if you’re working with a designer make sure you involve yourself in the design process. Sit with the designer and discuss the ideas that they have and how they will work from a dev perspective. I didn’t do this enough on my first project and it created some very annoying issues further down the line.

 3. Keep things simple. Don’t fall into the trap of trying to make your site do too much. Often the simpler things are, the better they look to the user. This is also true when it comes to ease of use. If a site has too many moving parts it can often be confusing to use.

 4. When it comes to testing have a plan. If you don’t have a clear plan of how and what you are going to test then you will miss things. Get a clear idea of the devices, browsers and screen-widths you are going to test. If you’re part of a team then plan out who is going to test what and where the feedback is going to be collected. 

 5. Finally, make sure you give it to the client for testing with plenty of time before go-live, I would recommend at least 2 weeks. There will be things that didn’t come up in internal testing that the client will notice or want to change.

The above is not a complete list, just some tips to include in your process. However if you include them I can promise that things will become easier, and you are more likely to create a site that everyone is happy with. 

Tom Bale

Created on Friday August 23 2019 02:30 PM

Tags: website

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A Macmillan Bake Sale

A Macmillan Bake Sale

A Macmillan bake sale in the office was a huge deal for me to organise as the newest member of Focus! I knew that I wanted it to be building wide to be able to fundraise as much as possible but I had no idea if I'd be allowed or how a bake sale would go down in the building.

I got it organised with the office manager and then popped a message around the team to let them know my plan and in true Focus fashion they all rallied around and offered to bake some goodies and spend their pennies at the sale.

Monday night baking

Monday night baking turned into very late night baking, after I'd declared enough was enough when fantastically simple recipe of three ingredients including eggs - ended up catapulting across the kitchen. Luckily the majority of my mixture remained completely unscathed. The rest of my kitchen however was plastered in egg and chunks of cottage cheese, including myself. I cleaned up the mess and waited for the mini savory muffins to bake, swearing that this was a bad idea!

Tuesday night baking 

Determined to finish day two's baking on a high, I hopped back into the kitchen and started with rolling out the cookie dough I'd prepared the night before. The team started sending through photos of their baked goodies, spurring me on throughout the evening. The cookies were baked, the cupcakes came out well and the flapjacks were looking good. With just decorating and topping to do I was feeling positive. As I began piping the chocolate fudge icing onto the cupcakes I couldn't believe how well everything was going, then I had a sudden realisation.

Yes, all the baking was done but how was I supposed to transport it all to the office the next morning!?

I started rambling through my tupperware cupboard pulling out every viable tub and container I could find. Those, plus, a huge amount of greaseproof paper and tin foil saw me packaging my baked goodies ready for their journey on the train with me in the morning!

The big day!

Coming into the office, carrying my height in baked goods, was a challenge but seeing that the team had their contributions to the sale in hand made my morning. We had choc chip cookies from Frances, brownies from Dan, cupcakes from Annette, Shaun the sheep and cookie monster cupcakes from Jordana and Simon had sent a lovely cookies and cream cake to add to the collection too, it was a fantastic spread and a great display of teamwork.

Cookie monster and shaun the sheep cupcakes

As 11 o'clock approached the team and I took everything downstairs to the communal area to set up. 11 o'clock hadn't even swung by before people started arriving, we didn't even have time to grab a pre-sale set up photo. It was great - for the first 45 minutes people kept flooding in and we raised over £75 in that short amount of time - incredible. As the turn out slowed down I set up an honesty box as my replacement, it was after all, a working day.




3 tiers of lovely bake sale cakes

Later, in the afternoon, I went down to check progress. After a slow lunchtime, I brought the rest of the sale up to our floor making the last of our baked goodies a little more exclusive for the final hours. It was definitely the right thing to do, as the cakes began to fly again as everyone on the floor seemingly emerged for their midafternoon coffee, realising they could also do with a sweet snack.

We started the day with 3 tables full of various baked goods and finished with just one box. When all the goodies were we finished on a whopping total of £154.07, I couldn't have been happier - what an event - what a great example of teamwork.

Steph Liddington

Created on Thursday August 15 2019 12:00 PM

Tags: macmillancancersupport fundraising officefun adayatfocus bakesale

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Hex colour codes explained the quick way

Hex colour codes explained the quick way

When I tell people I’m a graphic designer the most common response is an enthusiastic “So you design logos and stuff?” - always the logos, what’s up with that? Much less interest in the digital solutions provided with websites and apps but at least they’re excited about my job.

It beats the common assumption many make: that I can fix computers. You should see the disappointment on people’s faces when I can’t tell them why their laptop won’t turn on. Umm… is it charged? Yes? Then I’m all out of ideas.

Similarly, as the designer at focus, I felt like a bit of a let-down when I could only loosely answer a question from a curious colleague: “How do you think they decide on the hex colour codes?”

Turns out staring at someone blankly then googling the answer is a conversation killer. But now I’m armed with that knowledge should someone ask me again. What’s that you say? How do they decide on the hex colour codes? Allow me to explain as quickly and clearly as possible. I hope you’re sitting comfortably, this might be a bumpy ride…


So what is a hex colour?

Hex is short for hexadecimal. You might recognise these, #0000FF for example represents a shade of red. There are sixteen possible characters, these are 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, A, B, C, D, E and F.

Each of the characters represent an integer (a number that is not  fraction) from zero to fifteen. Here’s how we go about converting integers in to hexadecimals.

As an example we’ll convert the number 255 to a hexadecimal. To do this we first divide 255 by 16 (the number of available characters). The result is 15 with a remainder of 15. If you look at the chart above 15 is F.

We put aside the remainder figure (15) for a moment and divide the resulting 15 by 16 which is 0 with a remainder of 15. We already know 15 translates to F.

So now we have nothing left to divide, these figures we’ve been putting aside go together in reverse order (please don’t ask why, I’m not sure either of us could handle the answer to this too) and you get FF.


What is RGB?

To help you understand the rest I’ll have to briefly summarise RGB value. At this point I have to hope you’re even still with me but for those of you who are, I promise we’re getting somewhere with this!

RGB stands for Red, Green and Blue. The RGB value of that same red used in the hex example above would look like this: rgb (255, 0, 0) the first number represents red, the second green, and yep you guessed it the third, blue. The values range between 0 and 255.

Simply put, the hex code is created by applying the swanky little mathematical method I just explained to you, to each individual RGB property.  R = 255 which we now know translates to hexadecimal as #FF. You’d then do the same calculation for green (G) which is zero so presented in two figures is 00, value of B is also zero, so that’s 00. Giving us hex colour #FF0000 which is the exact same red as rgb (255, 0, 0).


Stop the clock!

How did I do? If you have any questions about this article you’re not the only one, I mean, please feel free to get in touch.


Jordana Jeffrey

Created on Wednesday August 07 2019 08:00 AM

Tags: webdesign design

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