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Findability Bristol goes Mobile!

Findability Bristol goes Mobile!

Another go-live during our busy Summer was the dedicated Mobile site for Findability Bristol, an online directory for disabled children and their families.

Since the main site went live back in March 2012, we're been monitoring the Analytics, and seen a month-on-month increase in visits from Mobile devices. The figures spoke for themselves - a 481% increase in Mobile visitors in May this year compared to May 2012 - and it was only increasing. This, along with a need by the Family Information Services team at Bristol City Council to make information available and accessible to as many families as they can, made the case for developing a dedicated Mobile site a compelling one.

Key figures:

  • The number of visits made using a mobile device had almost tripled compared to the first 6 months of launch.
  • A 21% drop in pages-per-visit suggests people have grown to expect websites to be mobile compatible - and are losing patience with those that aren't.
  • The average visit duration when accessing via a mobile device had dropped to less than a minute.
  • Almost a 10% increase in new visits being made using a mobile device.
  • 14.36% rise in bounce rate suggests users are getting increasingly deterred as soon as they see the site is incompatible with mobile.

So, we set about developing an easy-to-use site that kept the fundamental features of the desktop version, plus a couple of extras to make full use of the mobile environment - for example, smart phone users who have geolocation enabled, this plots your location and the nearest organisations to you from your search!

Key features:

  • The mobile home page features clear navigation to key area, plus keyword and location search of organisations and events.
  • Search results are displayed along with a Google Map - this links through to view full Google Map and associated functionality - including "show me directions from my current location".
  • The events calendar provides users with a menu offering 'view events for current week' - organised by today, tomorrow, remaining days of that week.
  • Clicking a specific event takes the user through to an individual page for that event, including a Google Map.
  • It's also easy to make contact, provide feedback, and visit the related Facebook (mobile) page.

It's only been a couple of weeks since go live, so we'll be keen to view the analytics in due course and report back on the difference having the dedicated Mobile site has made. We hope this will be more returning visitors, who spend the right amount of time on the right pages, finding what they need quickly and easily.

We'll report back later in the year!

Visit the Desktop site, or the Mobile site (using your mobile for the best experience!)

If you'd like to know more about dedicated Mobile sites, please get in touch.

Annette Ryske

Created on Tuesday August 06 2013 12:07 PM

Tags: accessibility bristol young-people online-tool iphone disability children mobilewebsite

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New eCommerce store launched for Roadcraft

Amongst our summer of new web sites is an eCommerce store for Roadcraft - manufacturers of safety products, road marking and paints for over thirty years.

The new site concentrates on Roadcraft's industrial paint product range and allows distributors and the public to purchase online. The site includes lots of best practice eCommerce features such as an isolated checkout to increase conversion rates, an auto-completing product search, integration with SagePay for processing online payments and of course, a complete administration system for managing all aspects of the store.

Web site activity is tracked using Google Analytics, so we can keep an eye on user behaviour and ensure the site continues to meet it's objectives and KPI's. 

Have a look at the new site at:

Simon Newing

Created on Friday July 19 2013 02:49 PM

Tags: e-commerce new-web-site

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A sporting way to fundraise

A sporting way to fundraise

One of the new web sites we've launched recently during our very busy summer is a very worthy one!

Run for the Future - a fundraising 5km fun run - has been staged by the Rotary Club of Bristol each September since 2006, helping to raise funds for the Bristol Urological Institute and their work and research into prostate cancer and post-operative care.

This years race takes place on Durdham Downs, Bristol on the 8th September 2013 - and we've given the Run for the Future web site a facelift and spruce in time to raise awareness and provide information about the event.

We're pleased to support such a great cause, and wish everyone involved all the very best.

* If you'd like to take part and help raise even more money to save men's lives you can register here  or call 0117 323 6328. 

** You can also make an online donation here.

Annette Ryske

Created on Friday July 19 2013 01:26 PM

Tags: charity new-web-site bristol

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Going places, doing things

Going places, doing things

Since 2008 we've been helping Bristol City Council promote positive activities through the web sites Go Places Do Things and Go Places To Play. In March 2013, both sites became part of Bristol Youth Links - a major project investing millions of pounds in to services for young people, and at that point the council commissioned Focus to take a much more 'hands on' approach to the day-to-day management and administration of 'Go Do' and 'Go Play'. 

This allowed our team to get far more involved with a specific group of end users - in this case, event providers throughout the region looking to publicise and promote their activities. As well as our ongoing design work - including seasonal updates and strengthening social media presences with regular Twitter and Facebook activity, the team at Focus now offer a first-point helpdesk for providers which offers guidance and training on web site administration systems, as well as helping to publish news articles and service announcements. 

We've also produced a series of regular reports and audits that have helped the Bristol Youth Links team identify gaps in service provision - vital for ensuring there are sufficient play groups, youth clubs and support organisations within the city.

"We are all really impressed with the level of support Focus are giving Bristol Youth Links. Their service is proactive, efficient and effective and it's great to have Focus on board".
Nikki Davey, Project Officer - Bristol Youth Links
Bristol City Council

Jordana Jeffrey

Created on Friday July 19 2013 12:54 PM

Tags: bristol bristolcitycouncil goplacestoplay

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Excited for UX Bristol

Excited for UX Bristol

With UX Bristol being two weeks away I wanted to talk through what I am excited about going to listen to and hopefully how it will help me back at Focus.

After attending UX Bristol 2012 I am looking forward to going again this year. Highlights for me last year would definitely be working with a team to think about mobile first design in Fiz Yazdi & Jesmond Allen's talk on having a pragmatic approach to responsive design. Joe Leech's talk on the dark arts of UX was a definite talking point for me and enjoyed discussing with friends how they implement some of these arts already without knowing it!

So what on the schedule am I most looking forward to this year? I wish there was enough time to see every talk but decisions have to be made. I think the first talk that I will make sure to visit will be with Sophie Dennis, in every day life we are often limited by time and budget yet want to deliver end products that have well thought through user experience. At other talks I have found it hard to identify how some of the visions and new ideas will relate to real world projects. I hope this talk will allow me to bring back a few new ideas on good communication with the team and stakeholders when it comes to the user experience of their websites.

Patrick Jordan's talk on positive psychology and UX, at Focus we are often designing and building web sites that empower people to find information and services that are relevant to their needs. These needs are often very different and learning how to use user experience to enhance users' levels of wellbeing. Identifying strengths and weaknesses of existing life enhancing services will hopefully enable me to think about possibilities of new functional requirements for future projects we do at Focus.

Lastly but definitely not least I am looking forward to hearing everyone's opinions and hearing great discussions about UX. Last year brought together a great mix of people from different job roles and experience levels to talk and learn from each other, I am hoping that this year will be the same. If you are going to UX Bristol hopefully I will see you there and enjoy the conference, I will talk about my experiences there in a couple of weeks.

Created on Monday July 08 2013 01:18 PM


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Web Analytics 101 - Bounce Rate

Web Analytics 101 - Bounce Rate

At Focus we are believers in keeping things simple - so over the course of a few blog articles I'm going to try and apply that approach to an area of digital marketing that can by it's nature get a bit complex - that being web site analytics.

The information you can gain from software such as Google Analytics (other analytics platforms are available!) can overwhelm - so we're going to pick a few more of the important KPIs and have a bit more of a delve and look at them - including their meaning and usefulness. (For the purposes of these articles I'm going to be referring to Google Analytics - or GA - as it's the most widely used analytics software and we happen to use it at Focus).

We start off with Bounce Rate - generally defined as the percentage of visitors who came to a page on your web site, viewed a single page, and then left - either to go to another site or by closing the browser. Bounce Rate (BR) is an important KPI that people get very excited about - especially when it's high, as this indicates lots of people are hitting your site and leaving straight away.

But is that a bad thing? It might not be - we'll explain more later.

Firstly, back to Google Analytics - which provides an overall bounce rate as part of it's 'Content' overview. But remember this will be for the whole web site, and for that reason, the overall BR isn't the most useful of stats. Instead it's best to focus on bounce rates for individual sections and pages - which is available in the list of pages seen at:
Content -> Site Content -> Pages.

To improve the accuracy of this list we also need to remove statistical anomolies that can skew the numbers (general good practice if you remember back to GCSE Maths). To do this, apply an Advanced Filter in Google Analytics to exclude these outliers - we tend to only include pages where the bounce rate is more than 10% and less than 95%.

Graphic showing Advanced Filters in Google Analytics

(See above 'advanced' surrounded in red - clicking this will allow you to apply a filter, of the type shown in green.)

Google Analytics also allows you to view bounce rates for different visitor types - by adding a Secondary Dimension. For example: if we add a Secondary Dimension of 'Visitor Type' we obtain seperate bounce rates for New and Returning visitors - this can give an insight into how engaging your web site is to different audiences.

There are other Secondary Dimensions - such as Keyword, Campaign and Landing Page - that are derived from your Google AdWord marketing activities. When applied correctly we now obtain bounce rates for individual pay per click (PPC) campaigns running from your AdWords account - this data is gold dust when looking at how successful paid-for campaigns have been (and where changes needs to be made).

So once you've got your bounce rate, how do you know if it's any good? When should the alarm bells start ringing? Whilst there are some general rules (see later), you need to bear in mind that bounce rates will vary between sites and use cases. At Focus we've built quite a few online directories for local authorities - and organisations listed in these directories tend to have high search engine rankings for specific key terms (such as their names). In this case, a user might want some contact information for an organisation - and having done a keyword search in an engine such as Google, they see the details they need in our Directory and leave the site having the information they require. In this instance - a high bounce rate, but the site has fulfilled the needs of the user.

eCommerce sites are a different story - generally we want users to convert, that is, land on a product page, move deeper into the site, use the basket and checkout. So high bounce rates on eCommerce sites are of poor value to the business and these pages need to be reviewed as priority.

Remember what was said before - look at the bounce rates of individual sections of your site rather than the site as a whole. If you are a charity, an overall bounce rate of 65% for the whole site will probably cause panic. What's more important though is to look at bounce rates for sections such as the donation facility - if 65% of users are leaving that section after one page, there's clearly some usability issues that need looking at. Taking each section at a time - with the most important sections addressed first - will help provide structure and reassurance, rather than trying to tackle the whole picture head-on.

Back to those rules then, and these are to be taken as general guides only:

  • bounce rates of 60% or over: take a snapshot, review your content as soon as you can and start planning some changes.
  • bounce rates of 25% to 60%: are generally the average, these should make up the majority of your report.
  • bounce rates below 25%: great, but don't ignore them. Make sure these pages are working really hard as clearly they are engaging the user, so ensure you include promotional news, or offers, or target them to really drive that 'call to action' and web site conversion.

Where you feel that your bounce rate is a bit scary, you'll want to consider making some changes:

  • review your content, is it out of date or innaccurate, does it engage the user? See our article on writing good content for the web, which is aimed at charities but has guidelines for all.
  • look at web site usability, is it obvious enough to the user where to go next? Does the site layout and navigation inhibit users from getting further into your site, and completing the desired 'call to action'? This is particularly crucial for landing pages used as part of PPC campaigns - literally money can be being poured away through poor design.
  • check how quickly your pages load, nothing whacks up the bounce rate like a slow loading web site.

It's also worth noting that Google Analytics allows you to check the bounce rate from mobile devices. If you've got a high bounce rate from iPhones, Androids etc the key reason could be users are hitting your 'non mobile' web site. With more and more people using their phones and tablets to view the web, having a site that's 'mobile-usable' is more important than ever.

So for starters, that's a whole lot of bouncing. We hope you've found the information above interesting and useful (well, about as interesting as stats can be....)

If you've got any questions then do get in touch, and we'll be publishing more web analytics blogs in the near future, so keep an eye out for more hints, tips and advice.

Simon Newing

Created on Thursday June 27 2013 08:25 AM

Tags: google ux usability analytics101

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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 :-)

Is Everything The Fault of Microsoft Excel?

Is Everything The Fault of Microsoft Excel?

I saw this article recently on CNN, implicating Microsoft Excel in the financial crisis, Europe's growth problems, the US' weak economic recovery, and the like:

It's an entertaining read, but of course blaming Excel isn't fair here - these are "people" errors, and they happened to have used Excel whilst making their errors.

It's no different to a calculator; if I type "10 + 100" when I meant "100 + 100", is that the calculator's fault? Of course not; so, if I type the wrong thing into an Excel spreadsheet, that's not really Excel's fault either.

But, having said that, there is the case of using the right tool for the job, and if tasked with monitoring (and limiting potential losses of) billions of dollars worth of trading, I can't help but think that a series of Excel spreadsheets that require data copying between them is not going to be the right tool for the job.

A system specifically written to do that task could have tests written against it, validation in place against unusual data, and alerts if things start to look...unusual.

Requiring a manual element to a process like this is always going to have the chance of the occasional human error.

Do you still update your website by manually copying data around? Drop us a line, and we'll see if we can help you automate the process - reducing both manual labour and human errors!

Neil Smith

Created on Wednesday April 24 2013 01:12 PM


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Abandon all hope that enter here....

Or rather less dramatically, why is online shopping littered with abandoned baskets and trolleys like a barren car park?

The answer, according to a survey from Liveperson, is chiefly:

  • unexpected delivery costs appearing from nowhere within the checkout, with 77% of shoppers saying that would cause them to run.
  • a lack of information about products, service or delivery caused 60% to leave their baskets behind.
  • 58% cited 'navigation difficulties' (which could be resolved with an isolated checkout).
  • 47% wanted to ask a question but couldn't find the answer.
  • and finally 33% wanted more help with their transaction.

Some food for thought over Easter for store owners....

Simon Newing

Created on Wednesday March 27 2013 02:46 PM

Tags: e-commerce

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Passwords - Part Two

Passwords - Part Two

In Part One, I dealt with what makes a good (or bad) password.

In Part Two, I'll talk a little about how passwords should be held behind the scenes. It's the most techie part of the series, but it sets us up nicely for Part Three, so please bear with me!

Most people don't give much thought to what Facebook/The Bank/Bob's Website do to store our passwords behind the scenes. We trust them to do a good job, but what does that mean?

Good websites (such as all ours at Focus, of course!) will never store a password in plain text. Even if my password was "password" - an exceptionally bad choice! - we'd never store in the database:

user: neil
password: password

Instead, we store the password with something sometimes called "one way encryption". In simple terms, it means it's really easy to take "password" and turn it into a seemingly random string like "5e884898da28047151d0e56f8dc6292773603d0d6aabbdd62a11ef721d1542d8" - but it's just about impossible to get from that string back to the original phrase "password". (*)

Then, if a hacker does manage to obtain somehow a list of usernames and passwords from the database, they don't see the password in plain text, but instead see this messy string - and there's no way to get the string back to "password" again.

When you login to the site, we (roughly speaking) take the string you've entered, use one-way-encryption to turn it into the messy string, and see if that matches what's in the database - if it does, then we've verified your password is correct without needing to ever store your password. (Clever!)

So, back to our example, say a hacker does obtain a list of encrypted passwords. We know they can't turn them back into password - BUT - if they know the method we're using to turn passwords into encrypted ones, they can try guessing passwords one at a time, encrypting them, and seeing if they match what's in the database. If it does, they've guessed your password.

This is a good reason you shouldn't use a common password; a hacker can (if they obtain one of the lists above), run a dictionary of common passwords through this method, and probably find some passwords quite quickly.

If your password is a good secure password, they will have to use "brute force", which is the password equivalent of trying to open a combination padlock by trying 111, 112, 113, 114, 115, etc. If your password is long, the hope is that it will take an incredibly long amount of time to break it.

If your password is upper and lower case letters, numbers and common symbols, and 8 characters long, it could take up to 23 years for a computer to "brute force" it, working 24x7x365 (**). Hopefully, you'll have changed it by then!

Now we know a little bit about how passwords are stored, in Part Three, we can draw some conclusions, spot bad websites, and learn why you shouldn't use the same password on different sites.

(*) Note for extreme techies: that's a SHA256 hash of password, which is simpler than I'd recommend using in real life.

(**) Source:

Neil Smith

Created on Friday March 01 2013 01:57 PM

Tags: passwords

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