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Find out more about Google's changing stance on secure sites in our latest blog post https://t.co/Jfw1kYy2hR #SSL https://t.co/0s3dYMos6R, posted 3 months ago

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Google's changing stance on secure sites

We posted at the end of last year about Google’s preferential treatment of secure sites and in 2017 they have extended their public warning system a step further. 

 

 

As of January 2017, Google is now clearly marking all websites that do not have an SSL certificate with an information icon (i) that informs the user that the website should not be used for entering personal details (below). 

 

 

 

 

On any pages that do have fields for entering payment details, personal information or passwords but the address is HTTP not HTTPS, this message changes to NOT SECURE with a warning symbol. As you can imagine this can make visitors to websites wary, especially as Google specifies that this information “could be stolen by attackers”. 

 

 

 

 

Chrome plan to eventually display a Not Secure red triangle on all HTTP pages, whether they contain sensitive input fields or not. Ideally all sites will have migrated to HTTPS for all pages by the time this happens.

 

It is not certain how the other market leading browsers will monitor SSL certificate usage but so far it looks as though Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer and Opera are all rolling out a very similar systems.

 

Although there is no real threat to the user if no information is entered into the website, the only real way to avoid triggering these messages is to acquire an SSL certificate from a reputable supplier, and make sure that any pages that deal with sensitive information (passwords, financial details) are secure. Fortunately this is quite straightforward and not as daunting as it may at first seem.

 

If you’d like to have a chat about SSL changes and what they mean for your website get in touch.

 

You can see Google’s original post on the changes.

You can find out more about SSL, what it means and how it’s monitored
here and here 

Frances Smolinski
Frances

Created on Monday August 21 2017 09:08 AM


Tags: blog google ssl http


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So Fresh and So Clean

My name is Frances and I’m new around here. 19 days ago I started working at Focus as the new Account Executive. 

I was very excited to succeed in not only my first but also my second interview and to get that all important job offer email. Having learnt about Focus and met a few members of the team I knew Focus were the ‘experienced yet still excited’ company I had been looking for to transition into Account Management. 

 

After my first walk to work (2.7 miles, six floors worth of stairs  - I’m calling it ‘Focusise’) I reached the dizzying heights of Focus HQ. To start, I was working on classic New Girl tasks such as signing up, signing in, stocking my desk drawer with a ludicrous variety of teas, getting my MacBook just the way I like it and reading all the documents to keep me both healthy and safe. Then it was on to the fun stuff and I got to immerse myself in the world of analytics, reporting and tracking down bugs (the purely digital kind). 

 

Previously I’ve worked as a Studio Manager, a Production Manager and a somewhat Jack of all trades so it’s been novel to be able to zone in and focus (pun intended) on one job at a time. Focus really know what they’re talking about and it’s been great learning processes from the ground up. In a few more weeks I’m hoping to be to be fluent in Focuspeak and throwing acronyms around like a pro!

Frances Smolinski
Frances

Created on Monday July 31 2017 09:13 AM


Tags: website focus news new accounts clientservices


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The 3 U's in designing for the user

The 3 U's in designing for the user

You could be forgiven for thinking usability, user experience (UX) and user centred deisgn (UCD) are all pretty much the same thing. Kind of like Ant & Dec: You're not sure which is which but understanding the difference matters very little. Well you'd be wrong! (In terms of design I mean - not whether or not Dec is the shortest).

Understanding the user is an absolute requisite for successful design. Here's a very simple breakdown of the 3 U's you may have heard being thrown around:

Usability is how easily a user can do what they set out to do.

User Experience is a combination of usability and and how much the user will enjoy themselves along the way.

User Centred Design is a case of keeping usability and user experience in mind from the very start of the design process.

There are various requirements of a succcessful product, these include:

Learnability - it should be intuitive so that there's essentially nothing to learn.

Efficiency - it should serve a purpose or assist in achieving a goal.

Memorability - it should encourage visitors to return. Popularity grows through word of mouth, people talk about what they remember.

Errors - it should have a low error rate. Evaluate and test the design, especially on the intended user.

So next time you tune in to 'I'm a celebrity get me out of here' you might not be able to tell which one stands on the left but at least you can confidently create a user focused product that will get people talking!

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Tuesday June 20 2017 10:05 AM


Tags: website ux ucd usability


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Top of the league!

Top of the league!

A big well done to Focus-sponsored Axbridge Saxons Under 14s, who have been crowned Woodspring Junior League Division 4 champions.

The team were unbeaten this season, led by manager Mark White, who must be in the running for the England job after this performance.

High fives all round.
 

 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Friday June 16 2017 02:28 PM


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Numerous council websites fail disability access test

Numerous council websites fail disability access test

Nearly a third of council websites failed an accessibility test for people with disabilities, such statistics prove digital access is ‘an ongoing challenge’.

Socitm, the society for IT/digital leaders, reported that 69% (134 of 195) of council websites have passed their Better Connected stage two accessibility test.

Meaning people with disabilities, including those using the keyboard only or assistive technologies like screen readers, can access their website's content.

In Decemeber 2016 all 416 UK council websites underwent a limited stage one test designed to identify sites that would fail the full test. 275 sites (two thirds) passed that test.

Socitm say this year ‘a different, and arguably more difficult’ set of tasks were set which could explain why 69% of councils who passed stage two represents an 8% drop on last year.

Results of the more directly year-on-year comparable top pages tasks, covering home, contact us, and one top page covering council, business, and resident services shows that 88% of the stage two group passed this task, compared with 82% in 2016.

The Better Connected process tests sites against 14 criteria that are in line with the World Wide Web Consortium’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0.

The Digital Accessibility Centre (DAC) also carry out tests, their team members each have a disability, among them visual impairment, dyslexia, mobility impairment and learning disabilities.

Socitm congratulated 60 councils from the group of 195 tested this year that have passed the accessibility test for the past three years.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Thursday May 18 2017 01:48 PM


Tags: website accessibility


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Careers at focus

Come and join one of Bristol's longest established and trusted digital studios - we are busy and growing!

See below for current roles we are recruiting for:

Business Development Manager
Specifically working with our local authority clients. See full details on our focusgov web site.

Account Managers
We are looking for account managers with a range of experience and skills, see more details on the Bristol Media web site.

Web Developers
Our tech team is expanding! We have opportunities for developers, experienced or less-so. See more details on the Bristol Media web site.

 

Applications due to end 31 May 2017. 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Thursday April 20 2017 03:48 PM


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How to encourage user feedback on your website

How to encourage user feedback on your website

There are the obvious surveys that can work on entry and exit but what about other ideas? If you're tired of repeatedly finding old hat suggestions like prize draws, we've put together thirteen ideas (hope you're not superstitious!) for collecting user feedback on your website...

1. Organise focus groups to test and discuss. Participants could include:

- Target audience
- Disabled users to test accessibility 

 

2. A well timed overlay screen containing minimum text requesting feedback. Look at exit behaviour in your website's analytics to decide whether to feature it:

- on popular exit pages
- just before user reaches average time spent on site
- just before user reaches average pages viewed per visit 

 

3. If, like most websites, yours contains a search, a good place to suggest leaving feedback is after a user receives a ‘Your search did not bring back any results.’ message. At that point they may feel leaving feedback benefits them more than you.

 

4. Include a ‘Tell us what you think’ section in teh footer so it appears on all pages. It can include a free text box so user can type feedback instantly without clicking a link and disrupting their 'journey'. There's also no unpleasant surprises like a gruelling form to complete. You could provide two submit buttons: ‘Send anonymously’ and ‘Send & request reply’, the latter will take you to further required fields i.e. name/email.

 

5. Catch the users eye with movement such as:

- Blinking feedback faces in the header: happy, neutral and unhappy
- A playful gif on the ‘Tell us what you think’ section mentioned previously

 

6. Be more humorous with language to encourage engagement i.e. “Don’t like us? Don’t leave! Tell us how we can make you stay”

 

7. A ‘floating’ feedback tab always in view at the side of the page, once clicked a ’fly-out’ appears containing a small feedback form.

 

8. Community Groups / Discussion Boards - Encourage users to talk among themselves and ‘listen in’ to what they have to say. You'll have to decide how this will be monitored.

 

9. Can people login / create accounts on your website? Email a feedback request to those already registered with the site.

 

10. Live chat facility. Someone/a team could be responsible for feedback / support.

 

11. Use social media i.e. Facebook / Twitter to encourage feedback, monitor and engage in social listening.

 

12. Feature ‘Quick polls’ i.e. What would you like to see more of? News / Events / Helpful documents etc.

 

13. Display customer feedback - encourages other customers to provide feedback, they see that it won’t go unattended.

 

I hope these ideas have inspired you and contribute to the success of your website. Feel free to get in touch if you think we can help you with your project!

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Tuesday April 18 2017 09:39 AM


Tags: website feedback encouragecomments


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Top online retailers tested for accessibility

Top online retailers tested for accessibility

A lack of accessibility on the high street is costing retailers billions of pounds and is losing them valued custom from disabled shoppers. econsultancy.com carried out tests to see if the same was happening online and the results were surprising…

Picture the scene: You’ve managed to get to the shops, you’re excited you know what you want and you’ve got the money to pay for it. You’re in a wheelchair and there’s only steps, no ramp in to the shop. How do you feel? Pretty deflated at the very least I expect.

The ‘digital high street’ is a convenient way for disabled shoppers to shop without having to tackle the barriers they face in store. What better time than now to review the online accessibility of some popular UK retailers including Boots, Tesco, House of Fraser and more.

To evaluate a website’s online accessibility, they were audited against the Web Consortium Accessibility Guidelines from the W3C (WCAG 2.0) A typical shopping journey was followed to understand how the retailers approached accessibility and they looked at things such as keyboard accessibility and screen reader compatibility. Other major aspects considered that feature in WCAG 2.0 Level AA, include:

Use of headings
Alt text for images
Availability of skip links
Inclusion of a visible focus
Access to forms
Use of ARIA to provide greater context
Access of pop ups / modal windows
Colour contrast
Content ordered logically
Meaningful links that describe their purpose

All sites failed to meet Level AA of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines making it difficult for disabled users to even purchase a product. Half of the websites totally blocked users at certain points on their online journey.

Tesco and House of Fraser provided clear and consistent visible focus - a navigational technique informing the user of where they are on the page visually. Essential for sighted users who rely on visual cues to navigate with a keyboard.

House of Fraser highlight the selected navigation item with a pink underline,
clearly detectable from the text around it.

Only half of the websites implemented ‘skip to’ links so keyboard and screen reader users could also share the privilege of skipping lengthy navigation menus and going straight to the main content. House of Fraser excelled here too. Joules’ skip links were designed to be hidden for sighted users but consequently, sighted keyboard users were unable to take advantage of this functionality.

All retailers were pretty good with use of alternative text with appropriate and descriptive alt tags on images allowing users with visual and cognitive disabilities to access the same content as everybody else.

Providing context to screen reader users is fundamental for those who are not able to visually group information or comprehend it’s meaning from how it’s been presented visually. All retailers at one point or another had links that did not make sense out of context such as Mothercare.com’s use of links such as ”remove” and “edit”.

Those unable to see the visuals that the links ”remove” and “edit” sit beneath
would struggle to know what these prompts relate to. 

Generally, retailers have a visual indication when sizes are out of stock but often there was no verbal notification that this was the case, all sizes would be read out, implying they are available. A screen reader user would be unable to choose a product size, at which point they’d need to either give up or request assistance.

Online retail could be the ideal solution for those who suffer physical difficulties when shopping in store. Most retailers had a reassuring accessibility statement full of good intentions but they need to act further on this by implementing WCAG 2.0 to significantly improve accessibility. They should also consult with accessibility and UX experts to fully understand the needs of disabled customers and the technical solutions required to provide accessibility.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Tuesday February 28 2017 05:39 PM


Tags: webaccessibility


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Dev jobs at Focus

This is Focus are one of Bristol's longest established and trusted digital studios, trading since 1996. We provide accessible, content managed web sites and bespoke web applications to a wide range of sectors including local government, commercial organisations and charities. 

We are looking to expand our technical team who are responsible for creating and maintaining our products and systems. We have a number of opportunities for web developers with different levels of experience to join our friendly and enthusiastic company. We are keen to hear from people who might have several years of relevant programming experience including time spent in an agency, or experienced developers who might be looking to move into a supervisory / management role, or people who are looking to start their career in web development and digital.

Whatever your experience you must have a genuine passion for all things digital and a keenness to be part of an expanding and progressive agency who are increasing their market share within local government. We have a casual but professional office environment and you'll have access to the latest spec machines to work on. We run our projects using elements of agile and we are ISO9001:2008 certified.

We are delivering innovative and outstanding digital products and services to our customers; with the user experience and quality of our work at the heart of everything we do. The sort of things our tech team get stuck into include:

  • coding up complete projects from specification through to deployment.
  • new product design and development.
  • maintaining existing sites with updates, upgrades and fixes.
  • product design, including our own content management system and development of new / enhanced functionality.
  • working with business development teams on quotations and preparation of proposals, some liaison with key clients.
  • automated testing and web site optimisation.

Independent of your technical experience we're looking for people with:

  • a genuine interest in digital and a desire to join an enthusiastic, experienced team creating great products.
  • ongoing learning of new skills, techniques and technologies.
  • excellent communication skills and a demonstrable ability to manage your own schedule of work to meet deadlines and priorities.

We are interested in hearing from developers that cover any of these bases; so if you are experienced in a few of them, but have an interest in learning the others, we would be interested in talking to you - we don’t expect you to have experience in all the technologies we list:

  • we are exclusively Ruby on Rails for all back-end development.
  • we find ourselves doing more and more front-end scripting including Ionic / Angular (for hybrid app development), jQuery, vue.js, and others.
  • responsive site build in HTML5, CSS3 and Bootstrap and also some Sass.
  • MySQL.

We use Git and Gitlab to manage process and version control.

  • Servers are Linux, mainly RedHat / CentOS, running Passenger on Apache.
  • Development machines are either OSX-based, or Vagrant on Windows.
  • Elasticsearch for data searching / filtering.
  • CouchDB / PouchDB for data replication / offline applications

Benefits we can offer include:

  • generous starting salary dependent on skills and experience with regular salary reviews.
  • 23 days holiday, increasing 1 day with each full year of service, additional and extended Christmas and New Year holiday.
  • company pension scheme (from July 2017).
  • based in new offices located in Temple Quay, three minute walk from Temple Meads train station.
  • subsidised restaurant on site and other facilities.
  • attendance at relevant events and conferences.
  • choice of PC / Mac platforms, latest kit.
  • some flexible / remote working for the right candidate (for more experienced roles)
  • everyone makes a contribution and can make a difference.

If you are interested in finding out more or would like to log your interest with us, then please email us (using this link) in the first instance, with some summary details about your background and level of experience, the sort of role you are looking for and what's important to your working life.

We are likely to be arranging informal Skypes / chats over the phone initially and we are looking to appoint several roles over the next few months.

Agencies - please do not contact us about these or any roles. Please do not ignore this request to not contact us. Please do not cold-call or spam us about these roles, you will be wasting your valuable time.

Neil Smith
Neil

Created on Tuesday February 21 2017 02:15 PM


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Today's Top 5 Accessibility Tools

Today's Top 5 Accessibility Tools

My tilted reflection stares back at me as I ponder whether I’ll ever get around to hanging this full length mirror up on the wall. For months it has been leaning there next to the canvas prints that long for a nail to sit upon, far away from my clumsy footsteps.

Realistically, that isn’t likely to happen until my toolbox pries itself from between the lawnmower and empty shoeboxes I’m convinced I’ll find a use for.
What I want is for someone to bring my toolbox to me, hand me the best tools for the job and show me how it’s done.

If monitoring and assessing the accessibility of your websites is your mirror to hang, I’m about to bring you your tools.

Whether you’re just getting in to the accessibility swing of things or you’ve got a few clients relying on you to make their site accessible, this responsibility can be very daunting. There are so many reasons a website could become inaccessible and they’re not always easy to keep on top of.

Here’s where the tool talk comes in! There are plenty of accessibility tools available online. The W3C publishes a list of these at https://www.w3.org/WAI/ER/tools/ Currently there are 88 tools displaying for me but I’ll ease you in gently with a Top 5: 

Colour safe palette generator
Really nice site where you can create stylish and accessible colour palettes based on WCAG Guidelines of text and background contrast ratios http://colorsafe.co/

 aXe Chrome extension
The free aXe Chrome extension is an accessibility testing tool that returns zero false positives. You can run audits in the browser and it will show all accessibility errors along with an explanation of the broken rule (from WCAG 2.0 and section 508) and the corresponding standard http://bit.ly/2a1W6oJ 

Accessibility Checker
Accessibility Checker is an innovative solution that lets you inspect the accessibility level of content created in CKEditor and immediately solve any accessibility issues that are found https://cksource.com/ckeditor/services#accessibility-checker

Dashboard for automatic accessibility testing
This web dashboard automatically performs daily tests of web pages. Graphs help you track improvements and regressions over time. It’s especially useful for non-developers to see how your sites perform https://github.com/pa11y/dashboard

Accessibility visualisation toolkit
tota11y helps you to visualise how your site performs with assistive technologies. Great or those with no prior accessibility knowledge as it help you to visualise accessibility violations (and successes), while educating on best practices http://khan.github.io/tota11y/

The best tool though? User research. There’s no better way of finding what needs fixing than by watching someone navigate your site with the use of a screenreader or other assistive technology. Just like looking in a mirror, you'll never be able to see what someone else does.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Thursday January 26 2017 03:54 PM


Tags: accessibilitytools


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