Do you spend hours poring over Google Analytics, fascinated by all those numbers and pages being viewed?
Does it excite you, and empower you to make changes to your site? But you're not quiiiite sure what those changes should be, and wait a minute you've just found a new bit about Demographics, but oh that needs a UA upgrade, how do I do that? And then you decide you'll go back to it next week and make a proper plan... and next week you forget where you got to...
Sound familiar? Our (new) friends at OneSpace were in just that place - in fact quite well informed about Google Analytics, but felt they needed a bit of direction and guidance to get more out of it. So I took a trip out of the office to meet them. We enjoyed a few hours talking about their website objectives, and how they could take some stats from Google Analytics and turn these into some meaningful, achievable tasks.
These, I think, are three of the most valuable tips:
1. Link your site up with Webmaster Tools. Doing this gives you an insight into those '(not provided)' keywords that Analytics teases you with. Can be really handy for improving your content or setting up an Adwords campaign.
2. My favourite - always use 'Secondary dimension'. For everything. It brings a whole new meaning to so many stats. For example, Your top 10 landing pages are reasonably interesting, but add in the 'Device' as a secondary dimension, and suddenly you find that the top three landing pages are actually being viewed on a mobile... and your site isn't optimised for mobile...
3. Lastly, get to grips with Shortcuts. When you've got a really good secondary dimension view set up, save it as a shortcut. Makes it so much easier for next time.
Give these ideas a go, get stuck in and let us know how you get on!
Thank you to Paddy at OneSpace for his kind comments and biscuit supply:
"Thanks again for your time! We found that really helpful. [We've] talked to various SEO consultants in the past and not found it at all helpful, so we're very pleased with today's session."
So how do you work with Analytics? Do you get what you need out of it, and manage to make beneficial changes and developments to your website? Or do you dip in and out and not really have any direction?
Created on Friday September 19 2014 02:34 PM
We're looking to increase the technical team at Focus with the addition of an experienced front-end web developer, who will work on projects and campaigns big and small across a range of sectors for the likes of Bristol City Council, The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland, Scottish and Southern Energy and the Department of Health.
As well as technical excellence we're looking for bags of enthusiasm and a genuine passion for digital and for creating usable and innovative web sites and applications. The right person will have real input into the technology we use and the solutions that we create.
Candidates should have a good few years commercial experience in building accessible and responsive web sites, with an impressive portfolio of work. This is a technical position rather than design-based, so skills and experience should include:
- solid HTML5 / CSS3.
- Bootstrap and full knowledge of building responsive web sites using semantic HTML and CSS.
- experience of integration with back-end code – ideally any MVC database backed framework (we use Ruby on Rails).
- full understanding of cross-browser and cross-device testing and fixes.
- excellent communication skills: you’ll be meeting clients and talking them through projects.
Nice to haves:
- SASS and SCSS.
- UX / wireframing experience and the ability to create a clean, functional interface.
- SVN / Git.
- knowledge of W3C-WAI Accessibility guidelines.
Salary will be between £24k and £30k dependent on experience and skills.
Other benefits include great location in modern office facilities, subsidised restaurant, flexible working including work from home, minimum 23 days holiday and Christmas shutdown.
Applications should be sent by email to include your background and lots of information about yourself! Any work you can point to as your own would be appreciated as well.
Strictly no agencies please - we operate a 'name and shame' policy on those agencies that can't take 'no' as an answer :-)
Closing date for applications: 26th Sept 2014.
Created on Tuesday September 09 2014 01:13 PM
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!
Created on Tuesday August 05 2014 04:16 PM
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/
Created on Monday June 16 2014 09:00 AM
Each year our friends at MS Ireland take part in World MS Day, an international event to raise awareness about Multiple Sclerosis.
We get excited about creating microsites or campaign pages for MSI - there are a few throughout the year, which are always something different and fun to develop! World MS Day this year is no exception and you can view the landing page here.
Making your wish sends MS Ireland a notification, where they can approve the wish for publish. All approved wishes are then published on the 'Wall of Wishes', complete with an automatic #OneDayMS hashtag.
Make a wish and get involved!
Created on Wednesday May 21 2014 03:20 PM
For a good while now at Focus we've been talking around our need to shout more about the work we do for local authorities - as frankly, we do great work for them, and we have been since 2004.
Local authorities have said all sorts of nice things about our work: "revolutionary", "game-changing"; and in 2010 the then Department for Children, Schools and Families (now the Department for Education) said our Family Information solution should be considered 'best practice'. So in late 2013 a plan started to form in our collective minds for taking our solutions to local authorities, and giving them a damn good marketing thrashing.
The result of this is "focusgov" - our new sister brand, with a dedicated web site and new approach - but featuring long tested and tried solutions that have specifically found their place amongst Family Information and Adult Services teams. Our solutions have, and continue to, help local authorities communicate effectively with families and young people, they help meet government legislation, they save money, resource and they reduce administration. They are built on the latest web technologies and are driven by engaging and usable interfaces. We're very proud of them and we can't wait to get shouting about them.
We're starting that shouting at the NAFIS Conference in London on Friday 16th May, where we'll be bumping into some friends we've been working with for many years, and hopefully meeting some new friends. Our main focus will be an innovative and unique way to publish the Local Offer - we'll be on hand with demonstrations of our exciting software and applications that have already received really positive feedback from SEND reform groups and parent / carer forums that have been involved throughout the project.
Coming very soon will be the launch of the focusgov web site, and of course we will let you all know how we got on shouting at everyone at the conference.
Created on Wednesday May 14 2014 09:37 AM
Team Focus are very excited to announce our imminent office move!
After three happy years on Clifton Triangle, we are relocating to Temple Quay - next to Bristol Temple Meads station - and will be moving in on Tuesday 6th May 2014. We aren't anticipating anything other than the minimum of disruption during that day, and will be available to answer emails and calls as usual - please note that our phone number is not changing.
We'll send formal details out to our customers and suppliers very soon. Meanwhile, you're welcome to have a peek at our building here.
We're up on the fifth floor so looking forward to some cracking views across the waterfront!
Created on Tuesday April 29 2014 03:44 PM
By now, you may have heard of "Heartbleed", a security issue that was announced earlier this week in OpenSSL, which provides the https/SSL security to a significant percentage of the internet's websites (and email services etc.)
It's estimated that Heartbleed affected about 17% of all secure websites at the time of its announcement, and it's a bad issue - it theoretically means that someone can read secure SSL-protected data.
First of all, from a This Is Focus viewpoint, we can confirm that only a very small number of sites we host were ever affected, and those were upgraded within a few hours of the fix's availability - meaning that they're no longer vulnerable. Remember, this issue only affects you if you're running an https:// (SSL) website.
So what does Heartbleed mean? Without going into too much technical detail, it effectively means secure websites were potentially only as secure as non-secure websites - an attacker could see details passing between you and the website whilst they were "in transit" between them.
That's still fairly secure, to be honest - an attacker couldn't see your password unless they were either on the same network as you, your website, or somewhere in between. If you're on your own network (and not, say, on public WiFi), it's still difficult to achieve for a casual attacker - it's only practical for serious, large-scale attackers.
Having said that, the problem has affected a lot of very popular websites - including, but not limited to, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Dropbox and Pinterest - so it's theoretically possible that someone could have grabbed your passwords for those sites. All those sites have swiftly applied fixes, however. So it's not a bad idea (it's never a BAD idea!) to change your password on those sites, as well as any other sites where you use the same password. (Which ideally, you shouldn't!)
So in summary, everyone should have applied these fixes by now - we have, and all the sites mentioned above have - but it's worth asking/checking if you rely on the security of any other sites.
And this could be a good reminder to change your passwords!
Created on Friday April 11 2014 10:10 AM
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!
Created on Thursday January 16 2014 11:04 AM
Working with our friends at Pace, we've got a new responsive site live in super-quick time for the friendly folk at Woodland Court.
Part of BrunelCare, Woodland Court is a new retirement living choice, situated in a quiet area of Downend. The Woodland Court team needed a website that they could keep up to date, particularly with apartments that come up for sale.
Already having an established relationship with Pace meant that when they suggested we work in partnership to develop the website, Woodland Court were only to happy to go ahead. The new site features a Content Management System, so the Woodland team can update the majority of their pages themselves. There are also lightbox features, enabling users to view lots of (professionally-taken) photos of the apartments and surroundings. An editable slideshow means promotions and events can be shown quickly and easily.
More specifically, a customised 'Apartments' module means the team can list new apartments, add downloads and images, and mark them as 'sold'.
With accessibility features and fully responsive build, the site is ready to roll for 2014! Take a look here.
Fancy knowing more about mobile, responsive or any other features in this article? Then please do get in touch!
Created on Wednesday December 18 2013 09:31 AM
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