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Graduate Techies Apply Here!

We're looking for a Graduate Web Developer to join Team Focus and get stuck into working on web sites and web applications for our clients - from local authorities such as Bristol City Council through to big charities like Sustrans and The Multiple Sclerosis Society of Ireland.

Our sites are written in Ruby on Rails, one of the most exciting web languages around at the moment - but training will be provided, so previous experience of Ruby is not required. You may have graduated from a relevant computing course, have some solid hand-coded XHTML/CSS experience, and will be able to point to some websites you've created. Javascript knowledge would also be beneficial; we use jQuery. As stated, we don't require candidates to have experience of Ruby on Rails, but any relevant knowledge you can bring to the table - such as object oriented programming, database experience, or any exposure to MVC (Model/View/Controller) architecture will be an advantage.

However having said all that, just as important as experience is an enthusiasm for all things web - we want you to be excited about creating web sites and applications and using the very best and latest technologies to do so. You should have a desire to learn how and why things work, possess a good eye for detail and have really good communication and organisational skills.

This is a great opportunity for the right candidate to get into the web industry and gain exposure to a range of latest technologies. If you think this is you, then please send your CV and a letter stating why you're going to be the next big thing in web development :-)

You can send stuff by email to:
gradjob@thisisfocus.co.uk

which is also the address to use if you've got any questions or would like further details.

Good luck!

Very strictly no agencies, thanks.

Neil Smith
Neil

Created on Tuesday May 10 2011 10:47 AM


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New EU e-privacy laws likely to create browser cookie monsters!

New EU e-privacy laws likely to create browser cookie monsters!

For those less techie-savvy amongst us browser cookies are not the chocolate chip variety but a small piece of text stored on your computer by your web browser. You probably know them best as those helpful little things that remember your address and phone number when you’re filling in a form. Cookies are hugely helpful for web based businesses it is a well known fact that at each stage of a signup process you lose customers. On average each domain has around 30 cookies.

The new EU privacy laws which come into effect on May 25th mean that web sites will have to obtain explicit consent from users to store this information. This means slapping large warnings about cookies on your site, which could scare away your customer making them think you’re a privacy nightmare. Some critics say that this will harm EU start ups pushing customers towards more US based sites that don’t have these privacy warnings.

The best advice for your business is to work out the best way to get consent to use cookies so you can continue to use them; some browsers are already working on ‘opt-in’ settings to meet the EU requirements. If you need advice on the best course of action we are happy to chat it through with you, just give us a buzz!

Created on Wednesday April 13 2011 09:36 AM


Tags: opt-out internet-explorer cookies eu privacy 25may consent


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1 Big Database gets 1 big bit bigger

As most of us know, local authorities throughout the UK face making decisions that will affect the way they provide services and interact with stakeholders and citizens. Whilst budgets may be changing, legislation and statutory requirements remain.

One of the areas we at Focus have been working closely with local authorities since 2004 is making information available online - from promoting positive activities and events for young people through to information about service providers for families. In fact 1 Big Database, which has been developed on behalf of Bristol City, Bath and North East Somerset and South Gloucestershire Councils, is now the leading online resource for parents, carers and families throughout the West of England.

1 Big Database is a successful example of three local authorities joining forces to provide a relevant, up to date - and crucially local - directory of family information, supplemented by an events diary that lists hundreds of one off or regular activites taking place in the region. The partnership project has helped the council's save money and resource (such as administration) whilst maintaining control of the directory and keeping data within it in their hands.

March saw us launch a new version of the framework behind 1 Big Database - which included a number of new features and enhancements to existing functionality. The main development is a new dedicated section for managing and publishing Childcare data - and we've already hooked it up for automatic integration with Capita's ECD management software.

And because we understand the pressures that local authorities face with capital expenditure, we're making the directory and it's family of additional modules available under a 'software as a service' model - that is it's paid for on an ongoing basis as it's used. There's no up front development costs, just a regular affordable monthly amount that is paid for as long as the software is used - with no limits on numbers of records in the database or users administering it.

The team at Focus are happy to talk you through it if you've got any questions.
 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Monday April 11 2011 03:24 PM


Tags: public-access focus website technology youth


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Royal wedding or digital death?

Royal wedding or digital death?

I know, I know, I know. Not a very original theme for a blog article. Here at Focus Towers it feels like everyone's going unreasonably nuts for the forthcoming nuptials.

Don't get me wrong, I'm thrilled to bits about the extra bank holiday, but that's about as far as it goes.

2 billion people across the globe will tune in in some way to watch the ceremony, it's reckoned, making it possibly the biggest media event in history. 

Googling anything to do with weddings that day? Good luck! You're not likely to get anything useful. Top search terms are reckoned to be 'royal wedding stream online' and variations around that theme.

What's really striking though is that this is the first truly digital event of its kind. Charles and Di in '83 may have attracted some attention, but this time, it'll be more a case of trying to escape it! 

Of the 2 billion (!) people estimated to be watching across the globe, an estimated 400 MILLION will stream the content online. 400 million. That's about six times the population of the UK, kids.

The royal family may have managed to turn down B Sky B's request to film the event in 3D (I kid you not), but they can't stop the hoards all trying to get their little bit of the magic digitally. Will the internet fall over? Who knows? Good luck servers across the globe!

I won't be watching online. I won't be watching on TV. I'll be on a beach on the south coast somewhere hopefully. But the thing is, I'll have my iPhone with me for sure. And Twitter. And Facebook. And the Royal Wedding digitally, in the palm of my hand. Looks like I might be getting involved, after all...




Digital marketing strategy launched for SSE

Digital marketing strategy launched for SSE

We've recently embarked on a series of new digital marketing campaigns for utilities giant Scottish and Southern Energy.

Currently, consumers that switch to SSE products receive most of their follow-up literature and promotional material through the post - leading to high costs for personalisation, printing and postage. We're helping SSE  move their communications into web and email - so that customers who sign up for online tariffs are emailed information and updates at key stages throughout the transfer process - rather than being sent postcards and letters.

Long term this will save SSE hundreds of thousands of pounds in fulfilment costs and manpower, and it's more environmentally friendly.

And very soon we're going to be talking to SSE about how our technology can help them distribute welcome packs and contracts more efficiently and securely.

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Thursday March 31 2011 11:26 AM


Tags: emailmarketing campaigns


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How to get a bullseye when targeting your email broadcasts!

How to get a bullseye when targeting your email broadcasts!

We've been conducting some in depth research here at Focus HQ. Having studied the success of some of our email broadcast campaigns we have the following top tips to get the most out of your email campaigns:

1) HTML emails as opposed to text only emails are 10 times more likely to have their links clicked. So get creative with some graphic design!

2) Generally emails with subject titles that contain 'Top 10 offers' or 'Top 20 offers' score low views - it just sounds like a lot of information, people can't face reading a long email. Keep it short and sweet!

3) Emails with 'exclusive offers' or discounts in the subject titles tend to be more successful. Everyone likes to think they're getting a bargain!

Now we've armed you with these top tips you're ready to aim and fire your email campaigns! Of course if you want some help with an email campaign, we're always available for a chat!




IE9 Launch - is it time for you to break up with your browser?

IE9 Launch - is it time for you to break up with your browser?

A browser can be like that comfy pair of old slippers, it’s your friend, to take your walks around the internet in. It can be hard to break the habit of those old comfy slippers though, and try a new pair of slippers, even if they may allow you to walk a bit faster and trip you up less. You might not know your way round in them so well at first, they might not be the right fit for what you need or they could be a great improvement; maybe those old slippers are holding you back? With the launch of Internet Explorer 9 last week it’s time for us all to consider if our current browser really is the best fit.

For those less technical savvy amongst you, you may be shocked to know that there is more than one way to view the internet. You may still be using Internet Explorer thinking that that is as good as the internet can get, but let me introduce you to my friends, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. These different browsers offer different functionality some are better for macs (Safari) some are faster (Chrome) and some are safer (Firefox). 

Internet Explorer has dominated the browser market for many years; in 2002 95% of web users were browsing through it, now that’s more like 45-50%. This is because the browser market has revolutionised in the last couple of years with the invention of browsers like Chrome and Firefox which offer faster web browsing, better functionality and a more intuitive web browsing experience. Internet Explorer 9 is Microsoft’s latest offering that is trying to win back its market share. It offers integration with Windows 7 to make browsing your favourite sites easier, and gives larger screen space to site contents by reducing the tool bars. 

It’s free to download any of these browsers, so why not find out which is the right fit for you? 




Opening the door to the new Trade Store!

Opening the door to the new Trade Store!

It's been a very busy month for us all at Focus Towers! We've had a number of client websites going live and excitingly today we have launched the Trade Store for our long term client Barriers Direct. This has been a great project for us to sink our teeth into; it's given us the challenge of creating a sub brand which is part of the Barriers Direct family whilst having a sense of being its own entity. We've also had to tailor the site to a very specific audience making it as useful as possible for our target audience to get the service they need. The technical demands of the project were also high - grouping all the many, many products into easy to navigate categories was a great challenge. We're really pleased with the result! Take a look and let us know your thoughts.

Created on Tuesday March 22 2011 02:24 PM


Tags: website blog bristol focus social-media trade-store construction site-launch


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Twitter - 5 years old today!

Twitter - 5 years old today!

Today sees Twitter turn 5 years old and with it celebrate a meteoric rise to fame and popularity. Currently 1 billion tweets are being sent a week, indicating that the social media era is definitely here to stay. This fascination with the ability to broadcast ourselves to the world has changed the way we interact with each other. We can't seem to get enough social media, if we're not tweeting our latest thoughts or facebooking our friends we're watching blockbusters about the creation of our favourite social network.

It is a fact: Facebook and Twitter have defined a generation. Facebook and Twitter have a magic formula which attracts thousands of people. People who could become potential customers, there is a huge opportunity for small businesses to tap into that market through the platform that these social networks provide. Social media has replaced print advertisements, with an estimated 85% of small businesses launching social media campaigns this year.This new form of communication offers a way for businesses to personify themselves whilse using micro blogging as a sales and marketing tool.

We can see where this is going and are already doing social media campaigns for some of our clients. If you think social media could make a big change to your business we'd be happy to put together a social media strategy and implement it for you, don't hesitate to contact us.

Created on Monday March 21 2011 10:44 AM


Tags: youth young-people facebook social-media twitter socialmedia facebook


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Thinking Ahead!

Thinking Ahead!

The studio has been very busy recently wrapping up some new projects, one of which is Thinking Ahead - created on behalf of the Neurological Alliance of Ireland.

NAI is the national advocacy umbrella for neurological care in Ireland, made up of over thirty statutory organisations working with people who have neurological conditions. The new web site was published in time for Brain Awareness Week, running from the 7th March 2011.

The web site includes a facility which allows users to find their local TD and send them an email or letter - lobbying for their support towards the campaign - and already over one thousand people have signed up.




 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Tuesday March 15 2011 04:49 PM


Tags: website charity ireland new-web-site


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