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.
Created on Friday January 14 2011 05:40 PM
Google announced on Monday that their increasingly popular browser Chrome will be dropping native support for the H.264 video format.
As the latest versions of browsers are being released there is increasing support for native video playback, ie. users will no longer need proprietary plugins such as Flash or Silverlight to watch video on the web. This means each browser has to support certain video formats themselves. The battle at the moment is between the proprietary H.264 (heavily supported by Apple and now Microsoft) and open-source WebM / Ogg Theroa formats (supported by Mozilla and now Google).
From the Chromium blog:
Though H.264 plays an important role in video, as our goal is to enable open innovation, support for the codec will be removed and our resources directed towards completely open codec technologies.
At focus we think open-source is great, in fact we build our web sites on open-source technologies every day. However, we think this move by Google (who's motto is "Don't be evil" by the way) is bad for a number of reasons.
H.264 is an established format. Millions of mobile devices support hardware acceleration of H.264 video and there are millions of videos already on the web encoded in the format (including every video on the Google owned Youtube).
Users are still stuck using Flash. Any Chrome user trying to view an H.264 video will have to use Flash as a 'middleman', slowing the process of moving away from Flash to HTML5 / native browser support for video.
This isn't about
enabling open innovation at all. This is about competiton with Apple in the mobile market and trying to make life as difficult as possible for them. Which is fine in itself, but not when it's being diguised as
There are licensing question marks around the WebM format. Promoted as completely open-source, there are reports that the WebM format may have licensing issues of it's own.
In the end I think despite both H.264 & Flash being proprietary technologies, H.264 is the better more transparent one for the user. The licensing cost is paid by the Browser vendors (let's face it, Google, Apple, Microsoft can afford it) not the developer or end user.
Created on Thursday January 13 2011 11:45 AM
We're on the hunt for an account exec / manager to help look after our clients and get stuck into all things digital marketing.
As you can see, we are one of Bristol's longest established digital studios, providing lots of web and digital stuff to people like Bristol City Council, Sustrans and The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland. Have a wander round our web site to find out more.
The sort of person we are after might:
- have a year or two of experience in a similar role at a web or digital agency.
- or be an enthusiastic graduate with a marketing qualification, looking to kick start a career in digital.
- have experience of the web design / development project life cycle - this would be a bonus.
- have excellent communication and organisation skills as you might be juggling!
- most important: a real people person with bags of enthusiasm for digital and for being a key part of our team.
The sort of work you might be doing includes (but not restricted to):
- briefing projects and work into our technical team, making sure they understand the requirements and letting our clients know progress and updates through clear communications and reports.
- assessing projects against Service Levels and KPIs on an ongoing basis, generating reports and holding regular client reviews.
- helping us create and manage digital marketing plans, search strategy, email marketing and using social media.
- helping us expand our products and services and cross selling into current and new clients.
- assisting with new business sales.
We'll pay a competitive salary based on your experience and knowledge - but this isn't a senior role. We'll offer lots of training and we do our best to send our people to important seminars, exhibitions and conferences.
We're based in Westbury on Trym, to the left of Bristol and we would probably require you have a driving licence as you'll be out and about visiting our clients.
Please strictly no agencies.
If you'd like more details or would like to apply, then drop us a CV and letter to:
and lets get talking. We look forward to hearing from you.
Created on Thursday December 09 2010 10:21 AM
Virgin Media are launching their latest advertising campaign soon, with none other than the crazed Mexican mouse of Looney Tunes fame as its mascot: Speedy Gonzales.
Now I like Speedy Gonzales. He's efficient, cute and more to the point, quick. Which is why I'm a bit unsure about his appointment as spokesperson for Virgin Media broadband. It's not that quick!
Not that this is a problem limited to Virgin Media. The broadband speeds we're promised (up to 10Mb, for example) are rarely delivered, and internet service providers are getting away with promising the earth but not delivering.
With 2Mbps being promised by the government across the UK by the end of the life of the current parliament (the previous deadline was 2012), perhaps a 'middle-of-the-road runner' would have been a more apt choice than good old Speedy
Created on Monday October 25 2010 11:58 AM
If you follow us on Twitter you may have seen our tweet stream go a little crazy last week. I was at Future of Web Apps - a 2 day conference for web developers (that’s me) featuring talks from the people behind some of the biggest companies on the web (Google, Opera, Mozilla, Flickr & TweetMeMe to name a few).
As the title implies, it’s all about web apps - web sites that deliver a product or service online and where the technologies behind them are going.
Here are a few highlights of the day.
The Future of HTML5, SVG and CSS3 (Brad Neuberg)
This talk was all about of future technologies of the web. I’ll try not to go all techie on this one, but basically the core technologies used to build websites are evolving. These progressions are allowing developers to build sites than run faster, look better and are more accessible. More features can be handled be your web browser without having to relay on third-party plugins (like flash). These features can include watching online video, easier to understand web pages for people using assistive technologies and amazing interactive animations in your web pages.
The 37signals way: A look into the design process of 37signals (Ryan Singer)
My favourite talk of the day, Ryan Singer is a product manager at 37 signals (the people behind Basecamp). This talk challenged the traditional wireframe, photoshop, code approach to the design process by almost turning whole thing on it’s head! The key points to take away were to focus on the business logic at the center first and get something running in the browser. Team members spend less time waiting on each other and your end design fits the content (rather than the other way round).
Location, Location, Location (Joe Stump)
There’s no doubt the future of web is mobile. The iPhone started the smart-phone revolution in 2007 and in the next couple of years mobile web browsing is expected to surpass browsing from the desktop. Whereas with the desktop web content was king, with the mobile web context is the new king. This is because the amount of data we’re producing is growing exponentially (side note: Joe claimed that every two days 2.6 million terabytes of data - which is the same amount we produced up until 2003). Without providing context to all the data we’re producing it’s useless.
The title is a little cryptic, but this talk introduced a very powerful tool for developing the latest generation of mobile web apps. The jQueryMobile project aims to provide a set of tools for creating great looking user interfaces across a plethora of mobile devices. The idea being developers can spend more time focused on implementing great features and less time debugging different devices. The ‘alpha’ release is due next week with the finished ‘1.0’ release in January.
Created on Monday October 18 2010 10:00 AM
So after five years of being part of the Focus family it is time for me to say goodbye. It has been an amazing journey and I have thoroughly enjoyed learning about the ever changing world of Digital Media and getting to know all of our clients and their individual business needs. I have had the opportunity to work on some amazing projects, learnt a lot of new skills and had the support to develop and grow both personally and professionally.
Focus is a great place to work and I am going to be very sad to say goodbye. But all good things must come to an end and it’s time for me to move on to pastures new.
Thank you Simon and Mike for always making me feel like part of the family, putting your trust in me and helping me to learn and develop.
Best wishes to all of the team at Focus
Created on Friday October 08 2010 03:54 PM
So everybody who's anybody has been blogging about Google's latest offering: Google Instant.
It's a faster way of finding what you're looking for, reducing search times by between 1 and 5 seconds according to the gatekeepers of the web themselves.
The time saving comes in the fact that your search results are modified as you type, building on the search suggestion function and altering the results you see as you go.
The reactions of the web using public have been varied; from those thrilled to bits with the speed of it: 'I didn't even have to press enter!' extols a man in Google's own promo video, to those terrified of it: Charlie Brooker claims it's like 'the internet on fast forward' and that it's trying to kill him (!)
It's also got SEO and search marketing companies unsettled due to the impact that it could potentially have on the value of keywords.
For me, I'm a fan. It's going to take a bit of getting used to the constantly changing images and results as you type (one of the key factors behind its development was apparently the fact that Google's users type much more slowly than they read) but I'm just not sure it'll have that much of an impact on me, as I tend to use the browser bar in Chrome as my search field, rather than the box on Google's homepage.
There are rumblings that Instant will be rolled out to work in the Chrome browser bar, but for now, it's not going to change my life. Google Telepathic on the other hand, now that would be something impressive.
Created on Tuesday September 21 2010 02:46 PM
The Connexions site is a place for young people, their parents and employers to go to find information, advice and guidance on finding their way into the world of work and career choices.
With an updated job vacancy section, complete with CV builder, and video case studies offering young people an insight into different career options, we think that the new site will serve to help, teach and inspire young people across the South West!
Created on Thursday September 16 2010 11:20 AM
One of the current debates in our industry is the practice of producing speculative designs to support proposals and pitches - often a tender will include a requirement for a creative or two from our design team to illustrate how we would envisage the 'look and feel' of a new web site.
In April influential blogger Paul Boag announced he was stopping this practice, and the arguments he presents feel quite valid. The design of a site is a consultative process - with users, the client and our designers - and that consultancy is missing if we've got to "whip a few designs together" based on what's written in a tender. It's also something that has stung us in the past - a number of years ago we supplied some creatives to support a pitch that one of our competitors won, only to find that the web site produced was pretty much an exact copy of our work! (which resulted in a swift change to our terms and conditions.....)
Another factor, in a small agency such as ours, are the costs and resources required to produce this work - all on a speculative basis, and I think this is something that gets overlooked by those issuing the tender. We were recently asked by an unnamed local authority to supply three separate and original creatives as part of an open tender which had a value of just under £7k - that's just not cost effective for an agency like us. With heavy heart we turned the opportunity to pitch down, but it made business sense to do so.
I think the best point that Paul Boag makes is that it may be more useful for those issuing the tender to look at an agency's existing portfolio and to talk to their clients. We're lucky - everytime I ask a client to act as a reference for our work I get a really enthusiastic response, which is testament to the the team at Focus.
So what's our decision? We're going to sit on the fence slightly and take each project on a case by case basis. But it might be worth noting that this is a hot topic amongst agencies and that some clients might come across those who have decided to act a little more forcibly than we have.
Created on Wednesday September 08 2010 10:29 AM
We've just launched the new web site for Ireland's annual ReadaThon - one of the country's largest charity campaigns in aid of raising funds for our clients, the Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland.
This is the third year we've been involved and the site has a slightly more 'adult' look about it as MSI wanted to get book club members involved more than ever. There's a new blog and behind the scenes, some whizziness allowing the charity to create their own online forms.
Discussion about the design took place over the Irish Sea through the power of Webinar! Meaning we didn't have to put up with Ryanair.....
We hope the campaign raises bundles of Euros for a very 'wordy' cause.
Created on Thursday September 02 2010 01:37 PM
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