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Excited to put into practise some of the advice @ValuableContent gave at their workshop for @Bristol_Media yesterda… https://t.co/25ATyDykJC, posted about 1 month ago

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New site for Connexions West launches

New site for Connexions West launches

We've just set the new Connexions West site live (now a part of Learning Parterhip West), and we're really proud of it.

The Connexions site is a place for young people, their parents and employers to go to find information, advice and guidance on finding their way into the world of work and career choices.

With an updated job vacancy section, complete with CV builder, and video case studies offering young people an insight into different career options, we think that the new site will serve to help, teach and inspire young people across the South West!

Created on Thursday September 16 2010 11:20 AM


Tags: website youth web-design connexions young-people lpw learningpartnershipwest


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Designing on spec

One of the current debates in our industry is the practice of producing speculative designs to support proposals and pitches - often a tender will include a requirement for a creative or two from our design team to illustrate how we would envisage the 'look and feel' of a new web site.

In April influential blogger Paul Boag announced he was stopping this practice, and the arguments he presents feel quite valid. The design of a site is a consultative process - with users, the client and our designers - and that consultancy is missing if we've got to "whip a few designs together" based on what's written in a tender. It's also something that has stung us in the past - a number of years ago we supplied some creatives to support a pitch that one of our competitors won, only to find that the web site produced was pretty much an exact copy of our work! (which resulted in a swift change to our terms and conditions.....)

Another factor, in a small agency such as ours, are the costs and resources required to produce this work - all on a speculative basis, and I think this is something that gets overlooked by those issuing the tender. We were recently asked by an unnamed local authority to supply three separate and original creatives as part of an open tender which had a value of just under £7k - that's just not cost effective for an agency like us. With heavy heart we turned the opportunity to pitch down, but it made business sense to do so.

I think the best point that Paul Boag makes is that it may be more useful for those issuing the tender to look at an agency's existing portfolio and to talk to their clients. We're lucky - everytime I ask a client to act as a reference for our work I get a really enthusiastic response, which is testament to the the team at Focus. 

So what's our decision? We're going to sit on the fence slightly and take each project on a case by case basis. But it might be worth  noting that this is a hot topic amongst agencies and that some clients might come across those who have decided to act a little more forcibly than we have.

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Wednesday September 08 2010 10:29 AM


Tags: website userexperience usability


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BCC and Focus join forces for the ENGAGE_YOUTH workshop

BCC and Focus join forces for the ENGAGE_YOUTH workshop

I have had the pleasure this morning to support Les Compton of Bristol City Council with presenting our website Go Places Do Things at the Engage event at the Watershed.

The workshop was arranged to discuss digital tools for participation and active citizenship with participants from the UK, Germany and Denmark.

ENGAGE is a continuing professional development programme for European youth workers who wish to understand the new ICT-enabled culture and explore how web 2.0 and social media tools can help to extend and enhance their practice.

Les and I went along to talk about our participation with young people while developing and evolving the GPDT site, as well as discussing the challenges that we have faced and the plans for the future. We discussed the access we have given to youth workers and other activity providers for adding their own events and direct feeds that have been set up from the BCC events online and 1 Big Database.

After Bristol the programme will move to Aarhus, Denmark and then on to Hannover in Germany where participants will continue to develop their understanding of how developments in ICT and online technologies can amplify and extend the voice of young people in European society.

The session was really interesting and we had the opportunity to discuss the other online solutions that people have set up, as well as talking about how to get young people to participate and engage as young editors on website content.

I will certainly be following the progress of the programme via the Engage website and will be looking to keep in touch with some of the participants at the workshop.




Learning Partnership West website live

Learning Partnership West website live

As we announced previously Connexions West of England is now called Learning Partnership West and we have just launched their new website.

This is the first phase of the project set up to promote the new brand and services. Additional phases are in the pipeline that will see the introduction of user accounts for access to additional features and a whole new area for the Shared Commissioning Services.

You can see the website here and LPW would love to receive your comments on the site and/or questions about their service.

The new Connexions West website (a delivery branch of LPW), which will be purely tailored towards their young service users, will be launched at the beginning of September. It will include a new website design and tools such as an online CV builder and eConsultations – making the organisations online offering far more interactive.

Created on Friday July 02 2010 10:40 AM


Tags: corporate-brand connexions website web-design


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Top 4 sites for live world cup scores

Top 4 sites for live world cup scores

If you're like me then you get very excited about the World Cup for a very short amount of time, and it's a great way to feel patriotic and part of something bigger than your daily life. 

So in honour of the possibility of England staying in the World cup long enough to give us something to shout about, here's my 4 favourite websites to see live scores (especially when you're at work during the matches):

No.1 : Yahoo Sport

Colourful and bright, this is a good option if you want photos and articles to distract you once you've glanced at the scores.

 

No.2 : Soccerway.com

Whilst the live matches are clearly laid out and pleasant to look at, the rest of the information on the page is a bit oppressive.

 

No.3 : Flashscores.com

Minimal and clean, this layout gives it to you on a plate...if you don't mind ignoring all the advertisements.

 

No.4 : Google.com

Last but not least, Google have been kind enough to reward anyone searching with anything relavent to the 'World Cup' the latest scores for matches on at the moment.  With a clear and instantly readable layout, good old Google have sneakily given us everything we've ever wanted....again.

Created on Tuesday June 22 2010 03:00 PM


Tags: website ux fun


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Bristol's Deputy Lord Mayor helps to launch Bristol Parenting Hub!

Bristol's Deputy Lord Mayor helps to launch Bristol Parenting Hub!

As part of National Families Week, Emily went along to the launch event for Bristol City Council's Bristol Parenting Hub website last Wednesday, and met the Deputy Lord Mayor!

The site, designed to signpost parents of children and young people of all ages to key pieces of information regarding their children's upbringing, had a great response, and we hope to see user numbers grow over the coming months.

We're always looking to add to the information carried on there, so take a look and let us know what you think!




Play in Portsmouth launches!

Play in Portsmouth launches!

Today sees the launch of Portsmouth City Council's Play in Portsmouth website, to showcase play areas and adventure playgrounds across the city, funded through the Government’s Play Pathfinder project.

It was a great project to work on, and the site really reflects the principles of ‘play’; that it should be bright, fun and inclusive. Having worked on similar projects for Bristol City Council (Go Places To Play), we were in a really good position to understand their requirements and use our experience to deliver a site that not only looks great, but does everything it needs to.

One of the tenets throughout the project has been that: “Play is one of the defining characteristics of a good childhood and all children and young people have a right to play.” Judging by some of the big kids we have in our office, I’m not sure I’d limit it to just children and young people! Web developers like to play, too... 

Created on Friday May 07 2010 01:09 PM


Tags: website new-web-site youth fun games web-design play portsmouth playpathfinder


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RVoice website launch event

RVoice website launch event

On Tuesday evening Emily and I attended the launch event of the Bristol City Council Pledge to Children in Care, which is supported by their new RVoice website – designed and developed by Focus.

We had lots of positive feedback from people at the event including Annie Hudson, Strategic Director for Children, Young People and Skills, who gave us a special thank you in her ceremonial cake cutting speech – which was much appreciated.

The site and The Pledge document have all been created with the same graphics and style – created by Simon Mosse our designer.

Now that the site is up and running we’ll continue to work closely with the Children in Care Council, Bristol City Council and Reconstruct to ensure that the content is kept up to date and interesting, as well as reviewing the usage, stats and goals for the site to keep it moving forward.

Created on Wednesday April 21 2010 03:01 PM


Tags: website youth web-design rvoice bristolcitycouncil


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Focus goes mobile!

Focus goes mobile!

Today sees the launch of our mobile site – a pared down version of the main website with all the essentials on there, including contact details, how to find us and our latest blog articles.

Of course, you’ll still be able to view the full site through your handset if you need to, but will have the option of mobile optimised browsing for when you’re out and about.

We’ve noticed the number of people accessing our site through their mobile has been steadily increasing over the last 6 months or so, and with many of our clients using iPhones, Blackberrys and other PDAs, we thought it was about time we tailored the site to their needs.

Morgan Stanley have predicted that mobile browsing will overtake browsing from a desktop as soon as 2013, with mobiles already overtaking desktops for gaining access to social networking sites. 91% of mobile internet users socialise online(!) compared with only 79% desktop users, according to the ecommerce journal.

Gone are the days when it was reasonable to assume that people would be viewing your site in 1024 x 768 resolution. With an estimated 16 million users in the UK alone using their mobiles to gain access to the internet, we wanted to ensure people could view the site in a format that’s most suitable for them.

We don’t think it’ll be long before everybody else is doing the same...

So, please take a look, and as always, let us know what you think!

Created on Tuesday April 06 2010 10:25 AM


Tags: website new-web-site mobile-internet focus


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A digital budget?

A digital budget?

With the announcement of the launch of the Institute of Web Science (headed up by king of the internet himself - Tim Berners-Lee) and confirmation of the 50p 'Broadband Tax', many are hailing Alistair Darling's latest effort as a truly digitally minded budget.

Not that this is without its controversies - the desire to roll out 'superfast' broadband across 90% of the UK by 2017 may be a noble one, but not everyone wants to pay the 50p per month it's going to cost them to do it.

I guess the real question is whether broadband's a luxury or a utility? We think nothing of paying taxes to maintain our gas pipes - is there a great deal of difference between these and fibre optic cables? I'm not so sure.

The success of the Institute of Web Science remains to be seen, but with a promise to invest £30 million in it, you'd hope it would be worthwhile! It's going to be a collaborative project, based out of Oxford & Southampton Universities, designed to 'bridge the gap between businesses and commercialise web technologies' and put the UK at the forefront of the digital revolution.

It's a bold mission statement, but having Berners-Lee at the helm can only help!

 

Created on Thursday March 25 2010 11:57 AM


Tags: website budget-2008 investment broadband budget digital webscience berners-lee


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