Recommended Agency

text controls: text only | A A A

Sorry, our twitter status is currently unavailable, posted about 1 hour ago

RSS feed icon What is RSS?


Displaying articles 71 - 80 of 384 in total

Focus achieve ISO9001 certification

A very busy 2014 has ended with a very 'pat on the back moment' for the entire Focus team, with the arrival of our very own ISO9001:2008 certificate.

ISO9001 is something we've been working on for some time and provides our customers with reassurance that the management systems we have in place are followed consistently, that they are effective and that quality assurance is something integral to each project that we do.

The work was essentially two fold - the first being the design and refinement of our policies and procedures and ensuring these were documented clearly and in a meaningful way. Secondly, an external ISO approved auditor spent the day in our Bristol office, and sat with various team members as they went through their daily work. I am delighted to say that our auditor was particularly impressed with our organisation of projects, and a few days later the certificate was delivered to the office!

A massive thank you to Susie Amey, our independent ISO consultant and also a massive well done to everyone at Focus who managed to squeeze this all in between the project work - you've earned your Christmas break....

Simon Newing

Created on Monday December 22 2014 04:21 PM

Tags: iso9001

Comments [0]

Google's new "Mobile Friendly" label

If you've been doing some Google searches on your mobile phone recently you may have seen a new "Mobile Friendly" label turn up as part of the search result pages.

The global rollout of this new feature started in late November 2014 and is designed to highlight to the user web sites that are optimised for viewing and using on a mobile device, and those that are not. This is quite important - some of our client sites receive up to 40% of their traffic through mobile phones, and optimised web sites are also favoured by Google themselves in terms of search rankings.

Google used a number of automated tests to determine the 'mobile friendliness' of a site including the detection of unsupported software (such as Adobe Flash) and ensuring that links on the page are sufficiently spaced so they can be easily 'tapped'. Google have also provided a handy online tool for checking to see if a web site would achieve the 'mobile friendly' label:

So if you find that Google decides that your web site isn't as mobile friendly as you'd like it to be, then please do give the Focus team a shout.

Simon Newing

Created on Wednesday December 17 2014 03:24 PM

Tags: website google

Comments [0]

Annette's a Rails Girl

Annette's a Rails Girl

Heard of Rails? Heard of Girls? What about RailsGirls?!

(Ruby on) Rails is, and I quote Wikipedia: "an open source web application framework written in Ruby". In layman's terms, it's what our clever web developers use to make our websites.

Girls are... well, insert your own answer here.............. (try wonderful, clever etc). But for me as a Girl, I didn't know much about Rails, or Ruby - and in fairness, I don't need to - but I was starting to want to.

Over the three years I've been here at Focus, I've seen and heard lot of code-y, tech-y stuff, like 'Gems', 'Frameworks', 'Scaffolds' and the like. I see black screens with white text on that looks like something out of the Matrix, and I am DEAD impressed. So when I heard about the latest Rails Girls event in Bristol, I signed myself up to find out more.

So a couple of Saturdays ago I headed over to At-Bristol (where loads of cool stuff was going on with kids flying drones and all sorts!), and got stuck in to a really informative, interesting and empowering day. The guys running the sessions all had different experiences with Ruby and Rails. We learnt some basic information, terminologies and the like, did some tutorials, had a yummy lunch, and then onto the highlight - building our own web application. With the assistance of several experienced helpers, I managed to set myself up a server and make myself an 'ideas application'. I made CSS styling changes, created new 'ideas' (headlines with text), I even made buttons that facilitated an image upload.

Back at work on the Monday after the event I proudly showed off my work. I think the developers sniggered into their sleeves a bit :-) but everyone was interested in what I'd done and how I'd done it.

Moreover, I now feel better informed; when talking to our developers and also hearing them talk, and seeing what's happening on their screen when I ask for changes to a website. I know what a Gem is, and what it means to create a new scaffold. And it helps talking to clients about their website work, I can better picture what might be involved with what sounds like a simple change...

So huge thanks to @RailsGirlsBriz - I enjoyed the day and learned lots of new stuff. And the fact they run these events for free I think is marvellous. Can I go to the next one?

Annette Ryske

Created on Wednesday December 10 2014 09:43 AM

Tags: website open-source web-development bristol rubyonrails ruby rails programming

Comments [0]

Web Testing on real phones & tablets

Web Testing on real phones & tablets

There are so many ways a website can be rendered on screen. Not only is there a huge variety of phone shapes and sizes but all of these can have multiple browsers (e.g. Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera and Internet Explorer). Then there's the fact that they can display in landscape or portrait mode. Users aren’t using a mouse but are instead using their fingers (some with 'digits' a little less delicate than others!).

It’s difficult for us developers and designers at web design agencies to predict just how our latest website might look online. There are of course websites that are meant to emulate how it will look but they're not always accurate.

This is where Open Device Lab steps in to make life that little bit easier. We headed over to their offices at Aardman to test one of the responsive website designs we're currently working on. We were able to test it on multiple popular devices from the iPad to a Blackberry. In doing this we could avoid the on-line emulators, we didn't have to pester friends with a different phone to ours to "borrow it for a second".
At ODL we could use a pretty handy piece of kit called 'Ghostlab'. Ghostlab synchronises browser testing. It scrolls, clicks, reloads and form inputs across all connected clients. So what you're testing is not the simple page load, but the full user experience. We also had the option to abandon that and fiddle with each device individually which is good for spotting usability issues that could possibly go unnoticed otherwise.

ODL Bristol are sponsored by the digital marketing agency 'Noisy Little Monkey', these guys made us feel super welcome and we were comfortable knowing we had coffee and support at hand (if required). More importantly, we left feeling we had done a thorough job of testing for our client.

So what did this cost us?... absolutely nothing. We're not sure if that's ever due to change but at the moment so long as you book ahead, you're welcome to pay them a visit. A the moment this gem feels like our little secret but you know what we're like at Focus, we promise to keep you guys updated with all things digital and this is definitely worth 'whispering' about.

Jordana Jeffrey

Created on Monday December 01 2014 04:42 PM

Tags: website technology web-development mobile-internet web-design ux responsive

Comments [0]

SSLv3 problems mean IE6 users won't be able to use our secure websites

Warning: IE6 users will be unable to access secure (https) websites

Due to a security problem found in SSLv3, dubbed “POODLE” (see for technical information), we’ve disabled SSLv3 on all our secure (https) websites.

In brief, the security flaw may allow (in certain circumstances) hackers to gain access to login accounts on secure sites, and “impersonate” those users.

The main effect this change will have is that if you have a secure website, users of Internet Explorer 6 on Windows XP will no longer be able to access the secure section of your site by default.

However, our statistics show that IE6 usage on our sites is now very, very low - around 0.2% or less; and as Microsoft ceased support for IE6 on XP in April 2014 we think the decision is justifiable. Major sites such as Twitter have been making the same change.

If your users are unable to upgrade their IE6 to a newer browser, it is possible to enable TLS 1.0 (the successor to SSLv3) by going into Internet Options, choosing the Advanced tab, and ticking the “Use TLS 1.0” box. After this change, the secure sites will then work for them again.

If you have any questions about aspect of this change, please do get in touch with us.

Neil Smith

Created on Friday October 17 2014 12:53 PM


Comments [0]

Business Development Manager

Focus, one of Bristol’s longest established digital agencies, are looking to recruit an experienced Business Development Manager to join their team based in Temple Quay, Bristol. This role will be dedicated within a division of our business – focusgov – which provides digital solutions to local authorities and primary health care trusts.

You can find out more about focusgov at our web site:

We’re looking for someone to work with senior management and have genuine input into our sales process – you’ll have lots of ideas about how the business development area of focusgov should operate. This isn’t a role for someone who wants to spend the day making cold calls – this is about building relationships with key people and being an expert in local authority procurement.

We’ll need you to learn about our products and services quickly so you can speak confidently about them. That means that a background in selling digital / web solutions may be an advantage – although we are open to receiving applications from varied sales backgrounds. Also, this is a senior position within our organisation, so will suit someone looking to be a key part of the management team going forward.

Key tasks for this role: 

 - designing and implementing a sales process which may include establishing and running a CRM system, research into the market, setting sales targets, managing the pipeline and forecasting.
 - learning how local authority procurement works, identifying key times when customers buy, ongoing research into the market and input into new product design and specification.
 - building relationships and networking with key contacts, ensuring they come to us at the right time during the tender process. Meeting our existing customers to cross sell products and services into other departments.
 - being the customers main contact throughout the procurement, attending meetings with support from the focusgov team, ‘closing’ the deal.
 - attending appropriate exhibitions, trade shows, networking events and conferences, both as an exhibitor and for research.
 - raising awareness of our products and services within key sectors by promotional activities including emailing, blogging, offline marketing, PR opportunities, webinars and other methods as appropriate.
 - regular reporting to the board and senior management.

As mentioned this is a senior appointment and so we’d expect applicants to show some / all of the following experience:

- several years proven sales or account management experience; preferably in digital, or selling to local authorities / health care trusts / government.
- experience / knowledge of establishing a sales process.
- some knowledge of the web site development project life-cycle would be an advantage; if the terms web site accessibility and responsive web design mean anything to you, that would be good.
- the ability to possess up to date knowledge of digital technology.
- proven ability to communicate at a senior / decision making level.
- excellent communication and presentation skills.  


Salary will be based on experience including relevance of existing skills. We expect the starting salary to be above £30k and there will be a generous commission scheme for sales bought into the business. A car allowance may also be discussed.

Modern office facilities next door to Temple Meads Railway Station, subsidised restaurant and other on-site facilities.
We may consider some remote working for the right candidate.
23 days holiday and Christmas / New Year shutdown.
Latest Mac hardware including dual screen and choice of MacBook / iMac.

To apply:

Please send your CV and details on your experience and background by email to:

A more detailed job advert is available on request.

Absolutely no agencies whatsoever.

Simon Newing

Created on Friday October 10 2014 04:01 PM


Comments [0]

Web / Rails Developer

Focus, one of Bristol’s longest established digital agencies, are looking to recruit an experienced web developer to join their team based in Temple Quay, Bristol. We’ve been providing web sites and web applications since 1996 and today we’re working with the likes of Bristol City Council, Scottish and Southern Energy, the Department of Health, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland and London Borough of Camden.

This is a varied role with a primary focus on the ‘back end’ development of web sites and web applications in Ruby on Rails, you’ll also be involved in product research and design, database implementation and ‘front end’ development. We’re looking for someone with solid experience in development with Ruby on Rails and front-end technologies such as JQuery, HTML5 and CSS3.

This role is part of our expansion plans; we have a number of products and services which we are launching into specific markets and sectors, so you’ll be joining an ambitious, friendly team and a growing business. You’ll bring lots of enthusiasm and passion for digital and creating effective and engaging web applications and you will also have genuine input into the technical direction of the business and will help choose / develop the tools we use.

Key tasks of this role include:

- Development work in on new and existing web sites and applications, starting projects from scratch or adding new major / minor features.
- Front-end build of sites and applications using responsive technologies.
- Working with business development staff in time estimation, project planning and preparing quotations and proposals.
- Some server maintenance / deployment.
- Writing and running automated tests and other functional / cross-browser testing.
- Mentoring junior technical staff.

We are looking for people with the following skills / experience:

- web site / application development in Ruby on Rails – some commercial experience would be an advantage. Being able to demonstrate a solid portfolio of Rails work.
- experience of Subversion / Git / similar for version control, and Capistrano / similar for automated deployment.
- strong front-end knowledge is required - HTML5, CSS3 and JQuery as a minimum, any exposure to CSS / JavaScript frameworks may be advantageous.
- knowledge and experience of MySQL / PostgreSQL / similar – must be familiar with database creation, SQL queries and indexing.
- good knowledge of W3C validation, browser and mobile testing.
- knowledge of Linux-like environments (we use RedHat / CentOS), be comfortable at the command line and confident editing server configuration files, installing software and similar tasks.  


Salary will be generous and based on experience including:
- relevance of existing skills.
- demonstrable commercial experience.

Discretionary bonus scheme based on company performance.
Modern office facilities next door to Temple Meads Railway Station, subsidised restaurant and other on-site facilities.
23 days holiday and Christmas / New Year shutdown.
We may consider some remote working for the right candidate.
Attendance at relevant conferences / exhibitions.
Latest Mac hardware including dual screen and choice of MacBook / iMac.

How to apply:

Please send your details including a summary of your experience, and links to any web sites you feel are appropriate, by email to:
Absolutely no agencies whatsoever please.

Neil Smith

Created on Friday October 10 2014 01:11 PM


Comments [0]

Shellshock Update

Shellshock is a vulnerability affecting the “Bash” shell which is installed by default on most Unix-based systems, such as Linux and Mac OSX. More details are available here:

To begin with the "executive summary" of the current situation: We don’t believe your This is Focus website would have been susceptible to Shellshock at any point, but all systems are now patched with the relevant security patches in any case.

To go into a little more detail; certain specific conditions need to apply in order to be able to trigger the Shellshock vulnerability, and the information currently available to us about the potential exploits suggest that This is Focus-created websites would not be a possible vector of attack. However, this is a moving target, and information will likely continue to come to light on the subject in more detail over the coming weeks, so it’s impossible to state this categorically.

Even though we suspect your website was safe all along, all servers that we maintain were (and continue to be) continually patched whenever the vendors release security updates for them; we specifically tested all our servers against Shellshock on Friday 26th September 2014.

We currently have no evidence to suggest that any servers we maintain (or any websites we host) have been compromised by the Shellshock vulnerability in any way.

If you have any specific concerns or questions, please don’t hesitate to get in contact with us.

Neil Smith

Created on Tuesday September 30 2014 11:12 AM

Tags: security

Comments [0]

Three simple ways to make more progress with Google Analytics

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.webmaster tools

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...Secordary dimension

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.shortcut

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?

We'd love to hear from you, whether you'd like to share some of your own tips, or you have questions you'd like answering: email us or send us a Tweet @focus_tweets #googletips

Annette Ryske

Created on Friday September 19 2014 02:34 PM

Tags: website charity google analytics

Comments [0]

Come and join team Focus

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.
- Javascript including JQuery.
- 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.


Simon Newing

Created on Tuesday September 09 2014 01:13 PM

Tags: web-development ux rubyonrails

Comments [0]