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eCommerce Expo

I went along to the eCommerce Expo at London's Earls Court, to have a little sneaky peak at what's going on in the industry. I found the seminars interesting but always find it a little uncomfortable walking around and being 'pitched' at from every angle!

I went to the Google University Analytics Master Class where they took it back to basics and highlighted the main principles of getting the most out of your analytics including:

  • Set clear goals - understand what your website is for
  • Use the reports from your Google Analytics to drive the website forward - don't just use them to show your boss a nice report.
  • Ensure that many people in the organisation are aware of the analytics, what they show and what the objectives for the site are.

But over all make sure that you have a great web development team who can work with you, using the results from the analytics to put in changes for driving the site and retaining customers!

If you're interested you can view the seminars from the expo online at Seminar Stream


Created on Thursday October 22 2009 10:23 AM

Tags: google web-development e-commerce conference

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Working through WCAG 2.0

Last month I was privileged enough to have the opportunity to spend a day with the RNIB (Royal National Institute of Blind People) super-accessibility-squad, or SAS for short, and blown away by how much information can be picked up in just a day.

I was in the "Working through WCAG 2.0" day-long workshop, and I would recommend it to anyone who would like to work out some of the differences between the old and new Website Accessibility Guidelines, and/or learn some up-to-date best practises on attempting to meet these guidelines.

My experience was made even better because I was able to sit next to someone who only coded using screen-reading technology, and was therefore able to gain an insight into a level of accessibility know-how that I could not have gained any other way.

I was interested in the realistic approach taken by the RNIB. Whilst they have every right to scream and shout about the unbelievable amount of inaccessible material out there on and off the web, they instead pointed out the small things that you can quickly change to make a big difference to all of your users. This was the least that a user should expect from a website, allowing us all to progress into more complex issues with a good understanding of the standards expected by the RNIB.

Another interesting idea was that by trying to meet all AAA Priority guidelines in WCAG 2.0 could in fact exclude more users than aiming to meet the AA Priority guidelines and only a few but well chosen guidelines from AAA Priority! Obviously this is determined by the user group, but it was an interesting point that could only be really made by the experts!

Hopefully I've sung their praises enough, so please have a look for yourself as I would recommend this course to small and big companies alike, because this is the way web best-practise is definitely taking us.

Course details:
Related article:

Created on Wednesday October 14 2009 03:16 PM

Tags: website internet web-development wcag-20 accessibility training

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Sweden goes offline because of a missing dot

On Monday, the entirety of the Swedish top-level domain (.se) went offline, apparently after a script failed to add a single terminating dot to a DNS configuration file.

This took every website ending in .se offline, and meant that no-one could deliver email to .se addresses.

The problem persisted for around an hour, but unfortunately DNS entries are cached around the globe for performance reasons, which means that some people would have had problems lasting up to 24 hours.

There are just over 900,000 domains on the .se top level domain, and all of these would have been affected. Whilst that is a very large number, it's easy for UK-based observers to downplay the seriousness of the incident, as it's likely to have affected a small number of UK businesses and individuals directly.

Imagine the effects of a similar problem hitting .uk domains, where over 7,000,000 domains are registered - or even .com domains, of which there are over 80,000,000.

For the most part, the DNS system is an oft-forgotten piece of the internet puzzle; it tends to work, so it's easy to forget that pretty much everything comes to a resounding halt if DNS does.

The provider of the Swedish .se addresses says it's holding an internal investigation to find the cause of the faulty software update. Let us hope that the alarm bells ring enough for other registrars to cross their Ts and dot their DNS correctly.


Neil Smith

Created on Wednesday October 14 2009 12:27 PM

Tags: internet

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Brands and Young People

An interesting article this morning from NMA about how brands are failing to connect with young people.

The research, from Youthnet, shows that young people want to interact with the brand rather than be broadcast at about it - a concept that most marketing people are struggling to come to terms with. Our own work with young people through projects such as Go Places Do Things has always been interesting and when consulting with them they've always favoured functional elements such as forums, polls and news articles that allow them to leave their comments.

The article also mentions that 39% of teenagers go to a web site on the recommendation of a friend - only 1% behing Google - indicating how effective a viral campaign could be.

Simon Newing

Created on Wednesday October 14 2009 10:32 AM

Tags: website web-development social-networking youth

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Introducing the new Spark website

The business has been set up as a social enterprise offering a full range of fabricated steel products and picture framing services to commercial and domestic markets.

All profits from the operations are utilised to help homeless people and those at risk of homelessness gain confidence, skills, work experience, qualifications and employment.

"We are very pleased with our new shiny website here at SPARK, FNM worked patiently and attentively with us to achieve a functional and polished product. The site is easy to manage even for those with little more than basic IT ability and the staff are professional, quick to respond and knowledgeable"

Jon Cox – Business Development Manager. Spark Fabrications and Framing /Two Saints


Created on Wednesday October 14 2009 12:00 AM


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New website for learners with learning disabilities and/or difficulties

A highly accessible website using the industry recognised Change Image Bank. Features include: high contrast option; screen reading software; text only; text resize and simple, clear and user friendly navigation and design. The whole site is tailored towards users with disabilities, as well as being attractive to other users or professionals that may find the content useful.

"Creating an ‘easy read’ website for our clients with learning disabilities and reading issues was a new venture for us. We knew the technology could do the job but needed the expertise of Focus New Media to make it happen. They sourced the images for the site and researched the range of text to speech software available. The site was built quickly and efficiently with full consultation at every step.


We are delighted with the result and are confident that users will find it an invaluable and easily accessible source of information and support."


Nicky Summerhill – Communications and Planning Manager (Connexions West of England).

Created on Thursday October 01 2009 12:00 AM


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2 new sites for Ballooning Network launched (pardon the pun)!

Each site needed to have a consistent look and feel as a continuation of the brand - but with certain distinguishing elements to indicate the differences between the sites.

The client wanted to be able to manage all 3 sites via one product catalogue and checkout and one content management system – which is exactly what we have given them.

So if you’re stuck for ideas on what to get a loved one this Christmas, a Balloon ride might be nice!?

"To Focus New Media,
Just a note to say how pleased we are with our new web sites.
Now they have gone live we are looking forward to an increase in business and as they look so good, I don’t think it will take long!
The functionality is very easy to follow and maintenance of all three sites will be easy now, due to being able to control all three sites from one admin area.

Nic Amor
MD - Ballooning Network

Created on Wednesday September 30 2009 12:00 AM


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Join the team

We're looking for an Account Manager to join our team and help us proactively look after our wide range of clients.

The main tasks of the role include building and maintaining relationships with our customers, planning and managing ‘online’ and ‘offline’ campaigns using a variety of marketing techniques, taking and logging support calls and work requests and liaising effectively with our technical teams, preparation of quotes, work monitoring and scheduling, pr, networking and project analysis (phew!).

We're after bags of enthusiasm, excellent communication and organisation skills and self motivation. Ideally we’re looking for someone with a background / commercial experience in a similar role in a digital or marketing agency – and some knowledge of online marketing is a bonus.

A full job specification and more details on benefits is available on request - send us an email at

A driving licence is required as you’ll be visiting clients as well as spending some time on a regular basis in our Hertfordshire office.

Strictly no agencies.

Created on Friday September 11 2009 12:00 AM


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Future of Web Design Tour 2009

We're back from the Future of Web Design (FOWD) 1 day conference in Bristol

Paul & Simon had an inspiring day learning about the latest web design trends and topics as well as meeting lots of other designers and developers in the Bristol area.

The conference covered topics including: the new features of HTML5 - the next generation of web design technology, how to improve the design process with your clients, how to create the perfect portfolio and 5 ways to introduce more fun into the work place.

The hosts even provided free beer after the event as well!

Created on Thursday September 10 2009 10:13 AM

Tags: networking bristol browser communication fowd conference

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New micro sites launched for Connexions West of England

Options @ 16 & 17 offers advice on what choices are available after year 11 for qualifications, training and work and the new Work Matters site provides an overview of 14 key industries that school leavers may be interested in pursuing a career in.

Both sites include features such as an interactive quiz, polls and digital note pads where they can log information as they browse the site and then print them out at the end.

We'll also be launching a highly accessible micro site called Easy Read for Connexions at the end of September which will provide the organisations information and advice in a format that is accessible to those with disabilities.

Created on Tuesday September 08 2009 12:00 AM


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