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An excellent day of planning our 2018 yesterday followed by great pizza and beers, a big thank you to… https://t.co/DBIWxvckKo, posted about 1 month ago

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Why a website accessibility checklist could work for you

Why a website accessibility checklist could work for you

There was so much excitement around the invention of the world wide web, an online platform everybody could go to for information, to communicate and so much more. If you don’t access the internet you risk being left behind by society. Many people accept that and actively choose to avoid it while others long to experience it and can’t. So why risk making people feel excluded and depriving them of what your online presence offers them? In doing so you would not be meeting your social responsibilities, there are legal issues surrounding accessibility and it’s bad for business. Accessible websites are easier to navigate, more intuitive and better optimised for search engines so people find it, use it and spread the word.

Despite this, reluctance remains and we can understand that, it's daunting. There’s this assumption that accessibility is terribly expensive and complicated to implement, particularly from those unfamiliar with digital accessibility. There are also concerns that it’s not visually appealing and it negatively effects the online experience of the user. None of this is true, especially with focus' accessibility provisions that are advanced and thorough compared to others offering seemingly similar services.

So many websites still contain barriers for people with disabilities, so how can you check your website is free of these? One appealing approach to improving your online accessibility is with the help of an accessibility checklist. Typically, a checklist is easy to use and understand and covers many of the most common problems and how to resolve them. You can find trusted checklists online or create your own. For more extensive technical information you will want to refer to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 published by the World Wide Web Consortium

A checklist is a manageable step towards bringing your website into compliance with accessibility standards. It will give you a general idea of your current level of web accessibility and help you familiarise yourself with essential components of an accessible website - really useful especially if it’s all pretty new to you.

Make sure you show consideration for various disabilities such as low vision or blindness, hearing difficulty, functional disabilities of the arm or hand. Visitors using assistive technology, visitors suffering seizures and so on. There is a lot of information out there so don’t allow this to overwhelm you, you don’t have to incorporate every bit of it in to your checklist. Anything that promotes or enhances website accessibility is worthwhile.

At focus, we’ve been championing accessibility for years and pride ourselves on our high standards demonstrated in our work to date. We endeavour to make our websites accessible to the widest possible audience and to aim towards UK government accessibility guidelines. As strong supporters of accessibility we urge you to to put it at the forefront of your digital plan. If you think that’s something you would like our help with, please feel free to get in touch for a chat.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Thursday February 08 2018 05:12 PM


Tags: website accessibility


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Christmas Closure - see you next year!

Christmas Closure - see you next year!

We’ll be closing the studio at 5pm Friday 22nd December - back and raring to go from 9am Tuesday 2nd January 2018.

We will be running our emergency email address for urgent support issues - as in previous years, we can’t promise an immediate response but we’ll do our best to help.

Please use: rudolph@thisisfocus.co.uk

Team Focus wish you all a fabulous festive break, and we’ll look forward to catching up in 2018!

Annette Ryske
Annette

Created on Friday December 22 2017 09:24 AM


Tags: christmas new-year


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Co-designing with children and young people

Co-designing with children and young people

When it comes to designing a website for others it feels far quicker and easier to just get on with it yourself but there are a couple of downsides to that.

1. Often not quicker.

2. Often not easier.

I know it seems like it should be but  chances are it won’t feel that way anymore once the endless amends come rolling in.

The alternative? To involve the intended user in the design process. That way you know exactly what they want and what they need. What you create will be a lot closer to that than if you attempt things without their input. You’ll save yourself time and money in the long run.

We here at focus have created multiple websites for young people and the best results always come from working directly with them. Listening to what they have to say, understanding what they want and how we can give them just that to enhance their online experience.

Hosting a workshop is a great way to find this out. If you aren't used to working directly with young people, here are a few tips. They may not be your typical google answers but they are tried and tested methods that work for me so I hope they can help you too.

After a brief overview of why you’re all there, what you want to achieve and how it will benefit those who have attended (essentially the end user) that’s when you want to get them talking. What they have to say is invaluable so make sure they feel comfortable enough to share it with you. A relaxed atmosphere makes all the difference. There are subtle ways to create this:

1. You may need to stand initially to get their attention and make them aware of where their focus should be but don’t stay that way, it screams classroom. Sit with the young people to listen to their opinions, preferably avoiding forming a ‘head’ of the table. King Arthur had the right idea with his round table!

2. Dress smart but casual so you appear professional but not overly authoritative. When people feel comfortable, they are more likely to be forthcoming with ideas. Please don't try to dress like them if that's not you, do I need to explain why?

3. Go in with a plan but make sure it’s one you’re willing to ditch should it appear to not be working. It’s an idea to have a few back up topics or activities should that be the case. There are a lot of different attention spans to cater for.

4. Remember teenagers are just as socially aware and intelligent as adults, don’t confuse naivety with a lack of intelligence.

5. Remember how things felt when you were that age; will people think my ideas are silly? how much longer do I have to be here? I don’t want to talk in front of everyone… and so on. Consider ways to approach these insecurities.

6. Many teenagers are still trying to find their own identity so they take things they associate with themselves quite seriously. They can be easily influenced so may give the opinion they think will impress others and not what will please them. Perhaps some things could go to a vote such as colours and fonts and this could be done anonymously, throwing their answers in a box.

7. When working with young people there’s a tendency to attempt to be ‘cool’ but as long as it’s a well-thought out, hands-on, and active workshop you can do without the slang and graffiti graphics.

Co-design means service users (in this case, young people) and designers working together to create something that takes into account the different views, needs and wants of the community. The best way to create services for young people, is in collaboration with them. Put the user at the heart of the design process and you’ll create effective and innovative solutions.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Friday November 24 2017 04:00 PM


Tags: co-design children youngpeople workshop


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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


Tags:


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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


Tags:


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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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