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It's Thursday #Hackathon night at Focus - new Apps being made. More importantly, pizza ordered and beers cracked open..., posted about 1 month ago

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Hello from the newbie!!

Hello from the newbie!!

Hi everyone, my name is Kate and I'm very excited to be the new Account Executive at Focus! I've just moved to Bristol, after working in London since graduating last summer, and I'm very happy to be a part of this exciting digital agency! I'm looking forward to getting stuck into all their latest projects! 

Created on Monday March 14 2011 12:04 PM


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Puzzled Out!

Puzzled Out!

Puzzled Out, a tool for surveying young people about their experiences with mental health services is now up and running.

The site's main aim is to give young people an accessible platform to share their opinions about the services they have received and to feed back on what they would like to see changed. It's a first for us and will hopefully play a pivotal role in the way that mental health services are delivered to young people, by asking them what they need. We worked hard with CERNIS to ensure that these young people were involved at every stage of the design process and to make sure that the site was as easy to use as possible, whether you're 8 or 80!

Part of the challenge involved the building of a bespoke surveying tool, that would not only look attractive to those using it, but also deliver measurable results and reporting that could be segmented and interpreted by CERNIS. It's a fantastic tool that we're really proud of, and it looks pretty good too!
 

Created on Wednesday March 09 2011 04:50 PM


Tags: web-development new-web-site youth young-people online-tool


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Studio Report: Quantum Multi-sites

Studio Report: Quantum Multi-sites

This is part of an occasional series of posts on what we're working on in the studio at the moment.

We're presently expanding the facilities in the next version of Quantum - our website management system - to support content that's spread over multiple sites. We've noticed an increasingly common requirement from clients for managing multiple websites through a single administration facility. Sometimes, from the users's viewpoint, these websites will be sections of a website - e.g. separately themed sections of the main site - and sometimes the websites will appear to be entirely separate - perhaps as one main site, and several "micro-sites".

We've always supported content management on many sites through a single Quantum administration interface - administrators then have the advantage of only a single username and password to manage, for example. What we've not supported until now is entries - whether they be blog articles or events in a calendar - being shown on any combination of these sites.

Now, if "Main Site", "Microsite A" and "Microsite B" all have a blog, administrators will be able to post one blog article, and ask for it to appear on any individual site, all sites, or any combination of the sites.

The best thing is that this support is baked across all administration sections - so it supports blog articles, events, news sections, polls - or anything else Quantum supports on your site.

If you're interested in this new feature - or if you'd like us to investigate adding a blog or another section to one of your existing micro-sites - please do get in touch with us, and we'd be pleased to talk to you further.

Neil Smith
Neil

Created on Monday January 17 2011 06:44 PM


Tags: quantum


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All Wrapped Up

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.

 

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Friday January 14 2011 05:40 PM


Tags: website new-web-site


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Google to drop Chrome's support for popular video format

Google to drop Chrome's support for popular video format

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 openness.

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


Tags: web webm google chrome video


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Account Manager Wanted...

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.
 - networking.

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:
job_am@thisisfocus.co.uk
and lets get talking. We look forward to hearing from you.

 

Created on Thursday December 09 2010 10:21 AM


Tags: bristol


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Broadband not so Speedy Gonzales?

Broadband not so Speedy Gonzales?

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

Simon Newing
Simon

Created on Monday October 25 2010 11:58 AM


Tags: broadband internet 2012 uk speed


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Future Of Web Apps London 2010

Future Of Web Apps London 2010

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.

Future of JavaScript and jQuery (John Resig)

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


Tags: technology web-development networking browser conference training fowa 2010


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So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!

So long, farewell, auf Wiedersehen, goodbye!

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

Adios!

Created on Friday October 08 2010 03:54 PM


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Getting instant with Google

Getting instant with Google

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


Tags: google realtimesearch instant charliebrooker search


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