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articles tagged with: userexperience


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7 ways to maximise online donations

7 ways to maximise online donations

When I was asked to write an article about UX for the Fundraiser – the publication from Charity Choice providing practical advice and insight to the third sector – I wondered how on earth I was going to take such a huge topic turn it into something bite size.

UX and UI are expansive subjects, so rather than try to cram them into a side of A4, I decided instead to compile a list that would hopefully get the readers to try out some simple UX testing methods for themselves. 

For charities, encouraging visitors to donate and to keep donating is paramount, and ultimately good UX = more conversions which means more donations. Good UX really is as important for charities as it is for ecommerce.

The list is by no means exhaustive, but hopefully it will inspire some readers from the third sector to think more about UX, to utalise its potential and to try out some simple UX tests for themselves.

7 ways to maximise online donations

Jenny Corfield
Jenny

Created on Thursday September 22 2016 01:23 PM


Tags: website charity technology web-design userexperience ux usability


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Top 10 accessibility mistakes

Top 10 accessibility mistakes

When Tim Berners-Lee invented the world wide web, he intended it to be an open platform for society to connect, improve communication and build knowledge. It was a way to provide everyone with vast amounts of information, not just some or a select privileged few. It is said that building accessibility was his vision for bettering the globe.

If you want to stay in Tim's good books, you might want to avoid these incredibly common accessibility mistakes: 

1. Alt text for images

Images are often not properly marked up with alternative text for those who can't see images, or separated so that only the relevant images are relayed to the user, or conveyed. 

2. Keyboard Accessibility

Users can find themselves 'trapped' inside of a page's content and be prevented from interacting unless they're using a mouse. 

3. Dynamic Content Focus

Content appears based on a users action without any indication to those who can't see it. This could be form errors or a date picker: Equally frustrating for those who can see it but can't use it. 

4. Focus indicators

No knowledge of where a user is on the page when they're only using a keyboard. Making it very difficult to navigate the site. 

5. Data tables

Tables that have corresponding column and row heading associations that cannot be deciphered with ease. 

6. Poor heading structures

Undetermined list content where it's conveyed like a list but not structured like one. 

7. Colour cues

Using colour alone to convey a part of the page, for example 'For further information select the red button below'. Those with a colour deficiency are going to struggle. 

8. Multimedia

Missing captions from instructional or informative web experiences. 

9. Skip to content

Someone who is unable to use a mouse is forced to repeat their steps if there is no skip to content option. This would be extremely tedious on pages containing unchanging content such as a content heavy main navigation. 

10. Page titles

It's a small but very important element that is the very first thing users hear on a page. It indicates what the user is about to discover. Without it, users don't know what to expect.

Get accessibility right and it can even better your business. We'll tell you how in our next blog - so watch this space!

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Tuesday March 22 2016 01:27 PM


Tags: accessibility userexperience top-tips


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Making Information Accessible

Making Information Accessible

"We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge" - know who said that? You have two guesses... if neither of them were author John Naisbitt, you don't win a prize (well you don't win one either way but it feels good to be right doesn't it?)

Accessible Communications Consultant, Katie Grant, kicked off her engaging talk with that very quote. Katie quite rightly pointed out that information often comes at us faster than we can make sense of it, regardless of disability. So if you're the one dishing out all that know-how, you might want to consider whether it is meaning as much to your audience as it is to you. You should be thinking about:

Language - keep it clear and simple.
Tone of voice - is it appropriate to your audience and your organisation?
Message - should be clear and targeted.
Structure - have a clear intro and overview of the subject.
Content - keep complex data separate.
Readability - pitch at the correct reading level.

Web accessibility should focus on people with all types of disabilities - visual, auditory, physical, speech, cognitive, and neurological disabilities - including older people with age-related impairments.
Potential audience groups who may benefit from an accessible website also include:

- people with long term health conditions.
- those for whom English is not their first language.
- people with low literacy levels / poor social access.
- people with neurodiversity conditions such as autism.

Some say what has caused a lack of awareness is a lack of empathy. Hearing from those who require accessible websites is so valuable and there was a lady present who kindly shared her needs and preferences with us. She has a few conditions including dyslexia and favours websites with accessibility bars that have the option to change the background colour (you can see this on many sites designed by Focus i.e. www.afclocaloffer.org.uk)

Focus work with many charities and enjoy enriching the lives of others through our technology but there are benefits to be had by all when accessibility is considered seriously. Legal & General spent a lot of time and money making their website accessible. In doing so they experienced many side benefits: visitor numbers almost doubled, maintenance costs halved and there was a huge increase in traffic to the site. Even though it's a few years old their case study is an inspiring read and you can view their case study online.

The message is simple. It's a pretty good idea to make accessibility the aim behind communicating any information. Whatever your reasons are for doing so, the benefits are countless.

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Monday June 01 2015 12:18 PM


Tags: website charity technology userexperience usability accessibility


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Accessibility & The Web

Accessibility & The Web

Sure, I was hungry but I wasn't just there for the sandwiches. When I heard Accessible Bristol was hosting an event for anyone interested in the web and accessibility, I saw it as an opportunity to ensure our clients get what they want. Here at Focus we work with a lot of local authorities and for websites such as theirs, accessibility is key.

I was keen to hear from one of the most recognisable and respected people in the web accessibility industry; Steve Faulkner (pictured). An enthusiastic man who has dedicated 15 years to web accessibility. In 2001 he started his career with vision Australia. Today he has kept his accent and is Principal Accessibility Engineer at The Paciello Group as well as being co-editor of the W3C HTML5 specification, and a contributor to other specifications including Accessible Rich Internet Applications (ARIA).

Sitting excitedly in the front row I was pleasantly surprised when the casually dressed, relaxed man sat amongst us took to the stage. This immediately likeable character delivered a highly knowledgeable presentation and although it was very much focused at developers rather than designers such as myself, I still felt included despite being somewhat outnumbered by the 'techies' in the audience.

Steve went through an alphabet themed slideshow; A is for ARIA, B is for Button, C is for Canvas and so on (view slides). Admittedly it was like learning a new language but I always strive to be a better designer, and if learning 'techie talk' and understanding ways I can work more in sync with the development team will help towards that, then count me in.

Once the sandwiches were scoffed and the slideshow slowed to a stop, it was question time. I plucked up the courage to ask a design focused question and felt all eyes on me, then a few more of us admitted to being in the design 'camp' and conversation started to flow. Talk ranged from not knowing where to begin with a blank canvas, to a woman with dyslexia and dyspraxia expressing her frustration when surfing the net.

When it all came to an end, the message that stood out for me as a designer was this;
“Think about accessibility first and foremost, because if you get it right for disabled people, you get it right for everyone.”

If you would like to know more about accessibility, Steve recommended the website http://webaim.org. On there you can find a simple checklist that presents Webaim's recommendations for implementing HTML-related principles and techniques: http://webaim.org/standards/wcag/checklist

You can keep up to date with all Steve has to share by following him over on Twitter @stevefaulkner

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Wednesday January 28 2015 12:09 AM


Tags: web-development accessibility web-design userexperience disability


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It's play time!

It's play time!

The BIG launch! The new-look "Go Places to Play" is here - an online park finder that makes it easy for you and your family to enjoy fun and exciting play opportunities in and around Bristol.

We've recently redesigned goplacestoplay.org.uk for Bristol City Council so that it not only looks better than before but it works better. "Go Places to Play" is now even more intelligent so that you can find parks and play areas far more quickly and efficiently. We understand that you live busy lives and need information at your fingertips - wherever you may be. The site is now responsive so it is easy to use on smartphones, tablets and laptops. This means you can quickly  find your nearest park when you're out and about. You can click on map points to get further information about the park or site you are interested in, or you can use the postcode search to bring up sites in your area.

The online calendar means you can search for local events that suit your requirements and interests. You'll be provided with results if you search using a relevant keyword, or you can find something more specific using the handy advanced search which allows you to search by event type, location and distance from your chosen postcode.

There are also some great ideas for play featuring tips and suggestions from our Play friends and partners - a particularly good resource for the school holidays. Plus, our brand new FAQs section answers many of the common questions we get asked.

As before the option is there to register as an event organiser which means you can upload your own events to feature on the events calendar. Once approved you will see them published.

People like to feel as though they are a part of a website and the 'community' that use it. Interaction is key so if you find something you like on Go Places to Play you can "Share with a friend". Regular news updates also ensure that everybody is on top of all that's going on. It's a site that seems to have people talking, if you want to be a part of the excitement please like the Go Places to Play Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/goplacestoplaybristol or better still, go and check out the site to see for yourself!




Sneak preview just for you!

Sneak preview just for you!

We can't contain our excitement, we simply have to share with you what's bubbling away in the studio!

Improvements are being made to our current online park finder "Go Places To Play" - a website that forms a part of Bristol City Council's campaign to encourage children to play outdoors.

We don't want to give the game away but here are a few snippets of what to expect.

Mobile friendly - We've added more functionality that is based on your current location i.e. your closest park is. It is also a mobile first build; usually mobile sites are designed as a result of a desktop design that is scaled down. Not this site. We've started with the mobile design and scaled up! The build is responsive; meaning you get an optimised view on desktop, tablet and mobile.

User friendly - Much easier to navigate the site. You're guided through it and it is clear to see all it can do and how it can benefit you.

Age appeal - Adults often view the site with their children in mind. The site is much less childlike and now appeals to a wider age range so that it is great for parents to navigate, but still has a family, child-related feel.

Search to suit you - We want people to be able to find personalised information based on where they are and what they like to do rather than just general information.

We've put some serious effort in to not only making the site look good but in making it a useful tool that you feel you can go to and rely on. It's not yet a finished product but we can't wait until it is and you'll be the first to know about it!

If you would like to see the online park finder as it is now, please go to http://goplacestoplay.org.uk/




10 Web design trends to watch for in 2014

10 Web design trends to watch for in 2014

Trawl the web for long enough and you'll begin to notice patterns occurring, it becomes clear what is growing popular in the world of web design. Here are 10 design trends that I spotted and have a sneaky feeling we'll be seeing much more of in the coming year…


1. Flat design - OK, so this has been popular for much of 2013 but it's still going strong! Flat design removes all unnecessary elements so the content is the main focus - providing the best user experience. Initially, flat design developed as a solution to simplify Web layouts so that they were optimised across different devices but it's not just popular for practical reasons anymore. I can't get enough of this simple, clean style.

2. Grid-Style Layouts - Page elements are scattered to look like a grid. One familiar example of this would be the Facebook timeline. The grid-style provides a solid visual and structural balance. This sophisticated layout structure gives more flexibility and improves the visual experience of visitors as they can follow the consistency of the page much more easily.

3. Endless scrolling - The good thing is, browsing on our mobiles has gotten us used to it. Scrolling through a website is faster and easier than having to click through links upon links to get where we need to be. It's not content-cluttered either as new design techniques means all information is organised and formatted in such a way that it’s easy to digest. The layout often changes as you scroll, creating sections resulting in the user forgetting they're looking at one long page.

4. Simple Colour Schemes - I have a feeling there will be a lot more websites using only one or two colours. A new trend seems to be to use one bright and clean background colour, such as red, orange or teal, and to include images or black or white text over it. This creates a seriously minimalist and user-friendly effect.

5. Video - Instead of the usual written piece about what the company do, businesses are beginning to opt for short videos. This is most likely due to the fact that videos are easy to produce and share on your site as well as on social media. They also appeal to the short attention span many of us have adopted these days, we want everything now! Videos are an effective way of communicating with an audience and having an impact.

6. Fun with fonts - Designers are once again enjoying 'playing' with typography. Fonts seem to be getting bigger (and in my humble opinion, better!) and siting amongst a variety of others. Also, responsive typography should become a bigger part of responsive web design.

7. Mobile-First Design - Here, a higher priority is placed on the mobile experience which then becomes the foundation of the entire layout. The idea is to first mock-up how the website should look as a responsive layout on smaller screens. To make this work 'fancy' design considered unnecessary excess is removed and we are left with the bare essentials.

8. Mega-Navigation Menus - These menus that expand to hold large blocks of content and links, and can often contain product images seem to be particularly popular with e-commerce or news websites. If done well, this type of navigation can be extremely effective, they allow the user fast access to information located deep within the site.

9. Expanding search bars - Building semi-hidden or expanding search bars into your layout is definitely growing in popularity. When the user clicks a magnifying glass icon or clicks into the bar itself, the search bar expands wider allowing for more text input. This can be seen in a lot of responsive layouts.

10. Parallax Scrolling - That nifty technique that lets background images move slower than foreground images to make visuals appear more dynamic certainly makes for an interesting browsing experience. Handle with care though as too much of it can have quite the opposite effect!


As a designer here at Focus I am super excited about applying some of these trends to our work. Throughout the year I'll be looking out for emerging trends so that I can see you back here in 2015 with a whole new list! 

Jordana Jeffrey
Jordana

Created on Thursday January 16 2014 11:04 AM


Tags: website mobile-internet web-design internet userexperience ux web 2014


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Accessibility and the Olympics

Accessibility and the Olympics

World Usability Day 2013 at the M Shed this year had a host of great talks from usability professionals and enthusiasts from around the world. One talk really caught my attention and that was "BBC Olympics: An Accessibility Study" by Alistair Duggin the lead front-end developer at Money Advice Service. The talk looked back on the BBC Olympics website and the huge task taken on by the BBC to cover the Olympics in the digital age They wanted to make 24 HD live streams, over 2500 hours worth of video coverage as well as huge amounts of stats and data available world wide to a massive audience across mobile, tablet, PC and connected TV.

By the end of the project there had been 37 million UK browses, 66% of the adult population had visited the website as well as having 57 million global browses with 111 million video requests across all available platforms. These numbers were not the only difficulties of the project, the team at the BBC had an immovable deadline of a huge profile event and were working with teams of mixed knowledge in terms of accessibility. On top of this for added pressure the Australian olympics had been sued for being inaccessible.

So the team had one page for each of the 10,000 athletes, 205 countries, 36 sports, 304 medal winning events and 30 venues that they had to make usable and accessible for people with a range of visual, auditory, motor and cognitive abilities. This is where I was really surprised by the talk, I was expecting a full range of teams running huge usability studies and endless testing to make sure everything was perfect deploying more resources than is possible in a normal sized project. In reality the methodology and practices followed by Alistair and his team were reusable on any scale and in fact should be used on all web projects. It is not spending a lot of time changing designs and code to make it accessible, if you have accessibility in the back of your head when creating websites then you should only have to do it one time.

They had a library of common html widgets and reusable components that could be dropped into any page promoting the reusability and consistency of their code. Then for content, html, css and javascript they had a few simple rules to help create usable websites. For content having alt text for images, captions for tables and full text for abbreviations as well as having content in a logical order. Using appropriate html elements, not duplicating links as well as coding forms and tables to the correct standards helped create markup that was accessible for users using screen readers or navigating with a keyboard. For css having a non javascript layout, setting style on focus as well as hover, not using !important and checking for colour contrast were all very important. Feature detection in javascript as well as making sure the javascript generated valid html and there were no keyboard traps that stopped a user being able to navigate past certain points with a keyboard were all employed throughout the pages.

These are all the kind of coding practices that we can all follow on our websites but not necessarily something we check as often as how a page looks in IE7 or displays on a mobile device. I learned a lot from Alistair's talk, especially coming from the view point of a front end developer it showed me how important accessibility is for users, we should not be thinking about making it better for a minority of users but instead creating universal accessibility. He also talked about having a website that is one hundred percent accessible as not being realistic and that we need to prioritise in real world projects but that accessibility does not have to compromise design or ingenuity in websites.

Steve Fenn
Steve

Created on Monday December 09 2013 10:00 AM


Tags: accessibility conference userexperience ux usability


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User Experience Lecture

User Experience Lecture

Recently myself and another previous student of UWE returned to the User Experience module of the new Digital Media degree to talk in one of the first lectures of the year. We were asked by Praminda and Paul, lecturers at UWE we were previously students for, to do an introduction to User Experience and to try and talk about what we had learned in our first years as graduates. My partner in crime was Richard Foggin who is working at True Digital, we sat down before hand to try and work out what we would have wanted to learn about User Experience in our introductory lectures and what insights we could give as students who had been there before.

It was a hard decision to either talk about primarily what they would need as students of that module to pass, or what they would need as young professionals going out into digital and web work. User experience is such a vital part of our industry that it is almost certainly going to be part of their job in some way no matter what specialisation the students decide to go into. Rich and I decided that we would give an introduction to ourselves, the subject and what it meant to us but that we would need to get practical in order to give the students a real taste for UX work.

We decided to run the students through a practical that Rich and I had taken part in during a talk at UX Bristol by John Waterworth. We had the students design mini user interviews picking subjects they had an interest in and then took it in turns to be the interviewer and facilitator / note-taker. This was to give the students a feeling for all of the skills required to gain insights and collect requirements from user interviews. I think at the end of this process we had probably learned more than the students, I had not fully understood how hard it would be to run a workshop, keep everyone on track and making sure they got the most out of their time there.

We finished off our talk a bit exhausted with our collection of cheat-sheet / hacks for student life, little techniques and lessons we wanted to pass back as previous students to try and make it easier being a student! It was definitely a real experience going back to UWE, brushing up on our public speaking skills and really surprising just how much information you have that you want to share, it isn't until you start planning your time you realise the extent of the user experience subject. I would definitely recommend to any other professionals to go back to their universities and offer their services, it is a lot of fun and could be a good excuse to meet up with old university friends to work on something together.

Steve Fenn
Steve

Created on Friday October 25 2013 01:19 PM


Tags: userexperience ux usability youngpeople


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Digital Love

Digital Love

The trouble with being dead busy and heads-down-cracking-on is you get a bit inward-facing... which is great for the here and now, but means you can lose sight a bit of what's happening out there in the big wide world of Web. So yesterday was a great opportunity for me to raise my head up, and spend the day at a conference in Bristol City Centre - On The Edge Digital. It was a really inspiring event - the speakers covered a range of topics, some of which we know, some we think we know and some we can learn a lot from!

The subjects included:

  • Content - matching it to your sales process, and your target audience
  • Localised SEO (search Engine Optimisation) and Searches - what does it mean to be Local?
  • Email Marketing - some easy methods to try to get improved results
  • PPC (Pay Per Click) - quick wins and Google's new Enhanced campaigns
  • Social Media - strategy, common mistakes and what channels to use
  • RWD (Responsive Web Design) - understanding more about why, and when to make the change to give the best user experience
  • Social Networking for B2B - making it the right fit; and fitting it in!

And I do love the Digital World. It's inspiring and jaw-dropping and infuriating and exciting and keeps on changing ALL THE TIME. I love learning about latest developments and trends and news and views, forming opinions, putting them into practice, and then applying new developments and trends and news and views to make ongoing improvements... and so it goes on.

If you think it's about time to review your website or digital marketing strategy, please do get in touch. There's some exciting new developments happening right now, and it's all fresh in my mind - so let's have a chat and see what we can do to get you a bit of Digital Love too :-)