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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 20 days ago

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5 year old vs Hackers

I spend a large part of my evening juggling jobs, making tea, helping with homework and finding swimming goggles - amongst other things - so when my 5 year old daughter wanted to play some games on my laptop that she had played at school that day, I was glad of the brief sit down to look at them with her.
 
After 5 minutess of realising these games were just on the school computers, up popped a Barbie game which immediately took her interest away from "educational" games! With only 10 mins 'till dinner I left her happily sitting at the table, dressing Barbie in different outfits and thinking that I had found something else to occupy her in those few minutes in between other activities.
 
This morning whilst looking at the news I came across an article on the BBC website about hackers targeting children’s websites; the example they use was a Dora the Explorer cooking game (which I would say is aimed at 4 to 6 year olds). The article was basically saying we need to teach our younger kids about hackers - but at what age do they think children understand this? My 8 year old already has a list at home from school, which we have to fill in every time he learns a "responsibility" about the internet. I am not convinced he totally understands but at least he has an idea - a 5 year old is something else!

So now as well as learning to read and write, does she need to learn about hackers too? Or can that go on my ever increasing list of things to do...

Kirsty White
Kirsty

Created on Tuesday January 17 2012 01:32 PM


Tags: website youth


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What is Digital Strategy and how does it work?

What is Digital Strategy and how does it work?

Digital strategy is something which every company should be considering, but what is a digital strategy and how do you go about developing one?  

According to Wikipedia a digital strategy is……'the process of specifying an organisation's vision, goals, opportunities and initiatives in order to maximize the business benefits digital investments and efforts provide to the organisation.'

At Focus we have worked on a large number of digital strategies for our clients as well as our own. If we had to explain a digital strategy to a client we would say that it is the initial and ongoing development of processes that will achieve set goals and aims using digital technologies and channels.

We’ve put together our thoughts on the process involved in developing a digital strategy.

The initial thoughts that need to take place when developing a digital strategy is reviewing your current processes and procedures, digital channels currently utilised and results of these activities over a period. Of course you may not currently be undertaking any at the moment. 

Once you looked at how you’ve done things – it’s now time to look ahead. Working out a list of goals that you aim to achieve is key part to the process of developing a digital strategy. This may include some of your current business objectives.

It’s then all about understanding how to achieve these objectives, is it through SEO, social media, development of your website? Once you’ve understood what is it you want to achieve and how you’re going to do it – it’s about the process and procedures to achieve your desired objectives. Another key element to remember is measurement – you’ll want to measure your return on investment.

Once you’ve spent time implementing these ideas into practice you’ll need to continually evaluate the results and ensure you evolve your strategy over time – we here at Focus love the phrase ‘continuous improvement’. It a methodology which is extremely important in the world of digital. 

Created on Tuesday November 22 2011 12:56 PM


Tags: website web-development seo social-networking focus digital digitalmarketing


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How, What and When to Blog?

How, What and When to Blog?

At Focus we love to blog and we’re sometimes asked by clients how often should they be blogging on their site, what should they be blogging about and how long should the blog post be?

We don’t think that there are any hard and fast rules for the above but all are genuine questions that should be asked by website administrators.

First thing would be to identify your goals of blogging in order to develop a clear strategy. Why are you blogging?....is it to provide information, content or SEO?

Best practice decitates that you should try to blog as often as possible, we would say once a week is a minimum, but it’s important to make sure the content is relevant to your audience, current affairs and time of the year. Don’t blog for the sake of it – make sure you have a point to each post and ensure it will engage your audience.

Blog posts can be any length but we would suggest something short and snappy if your posting something more general (a few paragraphs) and a bit longer if you trying to enforce a point, provide information or engage your audience.

One other key point we would say is spread the load between employees – one person only has so many ideas and it can be a great to get different writing styles and opinion into your blog posts. 

Created on Monday November 14 2011 03:41 PM


Tags: website blog


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Are you Mobile?

Are you Mobile?

There have been a large number of articles over the last few months on the rise of mobile internet with more people now using mobile devices to view websites. This is something which interests us a lot here at Focus Towers as we’ve always believed mobile phones and tablets would become a key way for people to access the web.

I also read yesterday about how social media is helping to maintain the interest in TV shows such as X Factor and Strictly Come Dancing on a Saturday. I would imagine the people using social media while watching TV are using a mobile phone or tablet to ‘tweet’ or ‘comment’ about what they are watching. I for one was on Twitter (on my iPhone) last night while watching Young Apprentice and chuckling at some of the comments which were made and observations made by people which I had also noticed.

“Almost half of UK internet users are going online via mobile phones, according to the Office for National Statistics.”

Source: BBC News, 31 August 2011

It’s not just TV shows, you can now use your mobile phone to check prices of items online before purchase in store or using your phone to find the closest coffee shop.  There is a huge buzz around app currently and I have 100’s downloaded to my phone, but I’m using mobile sites more and more for things like banking, shopping, checking out the latest film or train times. I even used Heathrow’s mobile site to check on arrival times for a friend’s flight. I also use the Amazon mobile site rather than the iPhone app because I find that it’s quicker and easier to make a purchase.

A recent study commissioned by Barclays Corporate found that almost 63% of all mobile owners use their device during the online purchase process at present but that this still accounts for just 5% of total ecommerce spend (£26bn) for 2011. However, the research predicts that this figure will rise to £19.3bn a year by 2021 due to the growing popularity of smart phones and tablet devices, sales of which are set to hit 6m by the end of this year alone.

Building a mobile version of a web site isn’t complicated and doesn’t require extensive additional coding (as the same data sources can be used for both ‘standard’ and ‘mobile’ sites) - but it does require some thought due to the reduced processing power and screen real estate of such devices.

We find the key is to focus on your ‘call to action’ and ensure it can be completed easily within the given restrictions. One of the other main differences is that smart phones tend to rely on touch screen for interaction with the user - so the design should lend itself to big graphical buttons that can be viewed and ‘clicked upon’ easily with the finger - rather than a cursor.

 

If you want to see our own mobile site just type www.thisisfocus.co.uk into your phones browser and you’ll see how we have made our desktop site an easy to use and view mobile version. 




The humble beginning of the world wide web

The humble beginning of the world wide web

It's 20 years since the web became a publicly available service on the internet. So I thought it would be interesting to take a look into the humble beginnings of a service which now has over 200 million websites, over 1 trillion unique URLS and 1.6 billion users.

The web was created by the british engineer and computer scientist Tim Berner-Lee in the late 80s early 90s whilst working at CERN in Geneva. Believe it or not this was the first ever web site published by Berner-Lee in 1991 and almost a year later this was the first photo ever published online to advertise the CERN music club.

At the beginning the web was slow to catch on with only scientists publishing pages, in 1993 there were only 130 websites. Amusingly one of the first uses Cambridge University scientists found for the incredible tool they now had at their disposal was to set up a video capture board that took a picture of their coffee pot in the kitchen every second, so they would know if it was worth leaving their labs and walking down 3 flights of stairs for a break. But that did lead to the birth of the web cam, so maybe we should be grateful! 

We've all recently lived through the next evolution of the web - the use of broadband and high speed internet connections. Five years ago only 7% of us had a broadband connection now that is 95.1%, which means more multimedia content has been able to take off - hence YouTube's recent spike in popularity in the last 5 years. 

And what about the future of the web? Well we'll have to wait and see, but at the moment there are still 9 million people in the UK alone who've never used the web. Race Online 2012 and BBC Connect are working to try to change that but we can all help to share the amazing resource Tim Berner-Lee created so that it can keep getting bigger and better!

 

Created on Wednesday June 01 2011 04:19 PM


Tags: website digital uk


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1 Big Database gets 1 big bit bigger

As most of us know, local authorities throughout the UK face making decisions that will affect the way they provide services and interact with stakeholders and citizens. Whilst budgets may be changing, legislation and statutory requirements remain.

One of the areas we at Focus have been working closely with local authorities since 2004 is making information available online - from promoting positive activities and events for young people through to information about service providers for families. In fact 1 Big Database, which has been developed on behalf of Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils, is now the leading online resource for parents, carers and families throughout the West of England.

1 Big Database is a successful example of three local authorities joining forces to provide a relevant, up to date - and crucially local - directory of family information, supplemented by an events diary that lists hundreds of one off or regular activites taking place in the region. The partnership project has helped the council's save money and resource (such as administration) whilst maintaining control of the directory and keeping data within it in their hands.

March saw us launch a new version of the framework behind 1 Big Database - which included a number of new features and enhancements to existing functionality. The main development is a new dedicated section for managing and publishing Childcare data - and we've already hooked it up for automatic integration with Capita's ECD management software.

And because we understand the pressures that local authorities face with capital expenditure, we're making the directory and it's family of additional modules available under a 'software as a service' model - that is it's paid for on an ongoing basis as it's used. There's no up front development costs, just a regular affordable monthly amount that is paid for as long as the software is used - with no limits on numbers of records in the database or users administering it.

The team at Focus are happy to talk you through it if you've got any questions.
 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Monday April 11 2011 03:24 PM


Tags: public-access focus website technology youth


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IE9 Launch - is it time for you to break up with your browser?

IE9 Launch - is it time for you to break up with your browser?

A browser can be like that comfy pair of old slippers, it’s your friend, to take your walks around the internet in. It can be hard to break the habit of those old comfy slippers though, and try a new pair of slippers, even if they may allow you to walk a bit faster and trip you up less. You might not know your way round in them so well at first, they might not be the right fit for what you need or they could be a great improvement; maybe those old slippers are holding you back? With the launch of Internet Explorer 9 last week it’s time for us all to consider if our current browser really is the best fit.

For those less technical savvy amongst you, you may be shocked to know that there is more than one way to view the internet. You may still be using Internet Explorer thinking that that is as good as the internet can get, but let me introduce you to my friends, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. These different browsers offer different functionality some are better for macs (Safari) some are faster (Chrome) and some are safer (Firefox). 

Internet Explorer has dominated the browser market for many years; in 2002 95% of web users were browsing through it, now that’s more like 45-50%. This is because the browser market has revolutionised in the last couple of years with the invention of browsers like Chrome and Firefox which offer faster web browsing, better functionality and a more intuitive web browsing experience. Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s latest offering that is trying to win back its market share. It offers integration with Windows 7 to make browsing your favourite sites easier, and gives larger screen space to site contents by reducing the tool bars. 

It’s free to download any of these browsers, so why not find out which is the right fit for you? 




Opening the door to the new Trade Store!

Opening the door to the new Trade Store!

It's been a very busy month for us all at Focus Towers! We've had a number of client websites going live and excitingly today we have launched the Trade Store for our long term client Barriers Direct. This has been a great project for us to sink our teeth into; it's given us the challenge of creating a sub brand which is part of the Barriers Direct family whilst having a sense of being its own entity. We've also had to tailor the site to a very specific audience making it as useful as possible for our target audience to get the service they need. The technical demands of the project were also high - grouping all the many, many products into easy to navigate categories was a great challenge. We're really pleased with the result! Take a look and let us know your thoughts.

Created on Tuesday March 22 2011 02:24 PM


Tags: website blog bristol focus social-media trade-store construction site-launch


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Thinking Ahead!

Thinking Ahead!

The studio has been very busy recently wrapping up some new projects, one of which is Thinking Ahead - created on behalf of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland.

NAI is the national advocacy umbrella for neurological care in Ireland, made up of over thirty statutory organisations working with people who have neurological conditions. The new web site was published in time for Brain Awareness Week, running from the 7th March 2011.

The web site includes a facility which allows users to find their local TD and send them an email or letter - lobbying for their support towards the campaign - and already over one thousand people have signed up.




 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Tuesday March 15 2011 04:49 PM


Tags: website charity ireland new-web-site


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All Wrapped Up

2011 has started with a bang in the office with lots of new projects kicking off - amongst them a brand new web site for Sharpak, one of the UK's leading plastic packaging manufacturers.

Sharpak, who's clients include Sainsburys, Tesco and Asda, were recently acquired by French company Groupe Guillin and this is the first web site within the group to get an overhaul. We've created a fresher, cleaner design and an improved product enquiry system.

More news to come on our other work very soon - including three new web sites for our friends in Dublin, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland and new digital marketing campaigns for both Scottish and Southern Energy and Marks and Spencer.

 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Friday January 14 2011 05:40 PM


Tags: website new-web-site


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