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RT @focusgov: We are previewing the new BathNES Local Offer web site at the Bath Parent Partnership event today #localoffer #send, posted 18 days ago

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Up, Up and Away....

Up, Up and Away....

We’ve been working with Bristol Balloons for five years now, and designed and built their three websites Bristol Balloons, Bath Balloons and Ballooning Network. You could say it’s a close relationship - fortunate, as our offices are up the stairs from theirs!

We revamped the design of all three sites last year, updating the look and feel of each, assigning each site its own identity within an overarching brand umbrella. We helped the team there to develop their online booking system, enabling people to check availability and book flights online as well as being able to being able to book flights as gifts for others.

We’ve yet to check out the flights themselves (I don’t have a head for heights!) but from what we’ve heard, the weekday dawn ones are pretty impressive!

Created on Tuesday January 26 2010 10:39 AM


Tags: new-web-site bristol focus balloons bath e-commerce onlinebooking


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1 Big Database - Ahead of the game!

1 Big Database - Ahead of the game!

The new Family Information Direct  programme (until 20 January 2010 the Parent Know How programme) has been set up to provide information, advice and support to all parents, carers and families on issues they may face with bringing up children.

All Local Authorities are required to submit their family information and childcare data to the national directory which can then be searched via a number of sources such as Direct Gov and now
1 Big Database.

The programme was officially launched in London on Tuesday 19th January where the DCSF recognised 1 Big Database as being ‘ahead of the game’ as it can already accommodate a search of the national information via the local system.

The Family Information services at Bristol City Council, Bath and North East Somerset Council and South Gloucestershire Council all keep their local information up to date via the 1 Big Database system, which has an automated feed to the national directory.

We’re dead chuffed that the hard work has paid off and been recognised on behalf of us and the whole 1BD team.

Created on Wednesday January 20 2010 04:04 PM


Tags: public-access web-development youth


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Opt-in/Opt-out trickery and confusion

Opt-in/Opt-out trickery and confusion

I am becoming far more aware of large brands trying to deliberately mislead their users into opting in to receive future communications.

An "opt-in" generally refers to a tick box which, if filled in by the user, indicates that they would like to be contacted by a particular form of communication. Unless the user ticks the box then the organisation cannot use their details for the form of marketing listed. This is in contrast with an "opt-out", where the default position is that the user will be contacted by that form of marketing, unless they tick the box to indicate that they would prefer not to be. The benefits of opt-out over opt-in are obvious, whereby the assumption is that the user wants to receive future communications, meaning more emails can be sent to more people.

People already receive enough SPAM or unsolicited emails so it should be best practice to make it as easy and clear as possible to the user that if they wish to opt-in to future communications then they can do so.

The All Party Parliamentary Communications Group (ApComms) said the internet advertising industry's self-regulation on behavioural advertising was inadequate, and that a law change was necessary.

"We do not believe that it is at all appropriate to consider the deployment of any type of behavioural advertising system without explicit, informed, 'opt-in' by everyone whose data is to be processed, and whose behaviour is to be monitored and whose interests are to be deduced," said ApComms in a report on its findings.

"We do not believe that 'opt-out', however commercially convenient, is the way that these systems should be run. To that extent, the Good Practice Principles promoted by the Internet Advertising Bureau are insufficient to protect people," it said.

"We recommend that the Government review the existing legislation applying to behavioural advertising, and bring forward new rules as needed, to ensure that these systems are only operated on an explicit, informed, opt-in basis,".

A technique I've also seen used is to include a combination of both opt-in and opt-out, one after the other. For example, when recently applying for a credit card from a leading brand they say:

Using the boxes below, please specify whether you want to hear about these offers, and, if so, how you want contact to be made.

Please DON'T CONTACT ME with offers from:
XXXX and XXXX companies:
by post ❑ by phone ❑

Please DO CONTACT ME with offers from:
XXXX and XXXX companies:
by email ❑ by text message ❑

Let’s hope that the existing legislation is reviewed and the rules will be made clear for businesses and consumers alike.

Created on Monday January 11 2010 12:34 PM


Tags: opt-in opt-out emailmarketing spam emails campaigns


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Welcome to 2010!

So... it’s all over again for another year... no more turkey, mince pies or mulled wine for another 12 months. We’re all agreed here that this is not entirely a bad thing! With Christmas over and done with, it’s time to look forward to the New Year!

Things we’re looking forward to in 2010:

  • Google’s Nexus One Phone. Launching today – likely to well and truly divide the camp here. So long iPhone? The jury’s out as yet.
  • Celebrity Big Brother. Or the backlash anyway. At the very least, we can be pleased that it’s the last one. EVER.
  • Real – time search taking off. Still not sure whether I need to know everybody on Twitter’s opinion on my desired search term, but could be a giggle to start with.
  • Onwards and upwards for Focus. We’ve had a great 2009, with a bit of a team reshuffle, and we’re looking forward to a cracking 2010. 

Created on Tuesday January 05 2010 01:00 PM


Tags: christmas new-year technology google realtimesearch googlephone focus


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Happy Christmas from Focus

Happy Christmas from Focus

The big day is nearly upon us so we would like to wish everyone a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from the Focus team.

Created on Thursday December 24 2009 09:23 AM


Tags: christmas


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Social Media and why you should care about it

Social Media and why you should care about it

2009 has seen the proliferation of a whole range of words and phrases that may have left many business owners scratching their heads. It's seems like it's no longer enough to surf, to click or to blog. We're now expected to Twitter, to LinkIn and to 'poke'.

All of these strange terms are generally thrown under the umbrella of “social media”, for which (as with most things in life) lots of people offer lots of different definitions. But one of our favourites comes from Andreas Kaplan of ESCP Europe, who says:

“Social media is a group of internet based applications that build on the ideological and  technological  foundations of web 2.0, and that allow the creation and exchange of user  generated content.”

For now lets ignore the “web 2.0” side of things (as that's another story) and concentrate on that last sentence as it mentions a key aspect when thinking about social media – user generated content. Consider the old days where one of your customers may have experienced a bad ice cream from their local parlour. They may have told a friend or two, who in turn may have told a couple of their friends – but on the whole the damage to the brand may have been fairly minimal.

But times have changed. That bad ice cream could now be blogged about on a web site for the world to see. Or through a social networking site such as Facebook, where with one status update all that user's friends and contacts would know all about the ice cream based trauma. And even worse, the sight of that ice cream could be vividly captured and shown to the world on photo or video sharing sites such as Flickr and Youtube.

In general these applications – and the use of them to spread 'word of mouth' – sums up social media nicely. It's the use of these modern techniques to share opinion, thought, comments and – this is where it can get interesting for businesses – recommendations, ratings and referrals. But why should you care? Because if you're not using these applications to talk to your customers, it's a fair bet they're already using them to talk about you.

Let's get away from our negative ice cream experience and instead look at the positive way that some of the most fundamental elements of social media can be used by businesses to communicate with customers and colleagues:

  • social networking sites such as Facebook. They might have a reputation for only being useful for keeping your grandmother up to date with your life (females aged 55+ is currently the biggest growth sector for Facebook usage) but Facebook now has over 300 million users and a business profile page can help some of them become “fans” of your organisation or your products. Nike currently has over 825,000 fans. Fans include links to your profile page as part of their profile, which can then spread to their friends, and their friends – you get the picture. For very little effort suddenly you've hit upon an effective 'viral' method of spreading awareness of what you're up to.
  • Twitter is a popular 'micro-blogging' service that essentially allows you to climb to the top of a big hill and yell things at those who have chosen to listen. Helped by celebrities such as Stephen Fry and Jonathan Ross, Twitter usage has risen dramatically this year and will continue next year as brands truly discover how they can use this tool effectively. At Focus New Media, we have just over 310 'followers' who always get our latest news and announcements – lucky things! And Twitter also includes useful built-in tools that help you identify when your organisation is being talked about and by whom, really valuable marketing information and helping you connect with customers directly.
  • founded in 2003, LinkedIn has become a leading site for online networking – acting much like a Facebook for businesses, but without the updates for grandma. LinkedIn now has over 53 million users in 200 countries and it can be used for connecting with past and present colleagues, posting projects and business opportunities, finding industry experts and according to some reports has become a crucial resource for HR departments, with 80% of US companies saying they use LinkedIn as part of their recruitment process.

That's just a very quick overview of some of the core blocks that make up this strange new world of social media. They form only a part of your organisation's digital strategy – but it's a crucial part at that, and in these times when online spend has now overtaken spend in traditional channels such as television, radio and print, it's important for you and your business to understand them and take advantage of the new opportunities they may bring.

 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Tuesday December 22 2009 04:59 PM


Tags: social-networking twitter


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BBC iPlayer stats

It's one of the most used applications on the web and a few weeks ago, John Linwood the BBC's Chief Technology Office released some interesting statistics regarding iPlayer usage:

http://thenextweb.com/uk/2009/11/27/unmissable-bbc-iplayers-success-numbers/

Not only do the stats make interesting reading, but I'm liking the way they're presented as well!

There was talk earlier this year about ISPs wanting to charge the BBC due to the amount of traffic that iPlayer was generating - interesting to see what 2010 will bring.

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Friday December 11 2009 04:36 PM


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New Recruit

After two years at Bray Leino working on accounts for clients such as WIRSPA a Caribbean rum producer’s trade association and The Royal Mint she fancied broadening her skills in the digital field and it just so happened that we had the perfect role for her here!


Emily will be working closely with me to expand our range of services available to our clients including offering more strategic digital marketing advice and guidance, search engine optimisation and usability audits.


All of the Focus team will be out at the Living Room on Thursday 17th for our Crimbo meal, so if you would like to come for a drink or two, meet Emily and say hello, it will be lovely to see you.
 

Created on Wednesday December 09 2009 05:44 PM


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Mosse climbs walls

Congratulations to our own Simon Mosse on his recent promotion to Senior Creative.

In his new role Si will continue to be involved 'hands on' in the design side of our business - but he'll also manage our creative resources and be spending more time on the usability aspect of our projects - meaning getting clients and users involved in workshops and interactive sessions.

Currently he's knee deep in a rebranding project for a special customer - us! More on that exciting news soon - but in the meantime well done Si!

 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Wednesday December 02 2009 12:00 AM


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The elements of simplicity

This video presentation by BJ Fogg from Stanford University really caught my eye today.  Whilst it's simple to say not everything is simple, from a User Experience point of view, it's not always simple to say why that is, in a meaningful or quantitative way.

I found this psycological framework, 'loose' as Fogg insists it is, to be pretty interesting as a way to enter into the realms of why 'less is often more'.  

Link to Vimeo video ».

Created on Wednesday November 18 2009 02:27 PM


Tags: userexperience ux usability simplicity


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