Oct 22 2014

Web Developer

Salary: Very competitive. Depends on level of commercial experience

Date of issue: 22-10-14

Vacancy: Immediate new role due to expansion – again!

S8080 are seeking a talented and experienced web developer or  CMS developer – you don’t need to be a designer or a Unix command line guru.

We are looking for likeminded people to join our expanding team – people who want to learn Drupal, including the more technical aspects, and work with some of the best end to end Drupal developers, front end developers and designers in the UK. Our team work on some of the largest and most important websites in the UK – every day is interesting, different and stimulating.

You may currently be working as a front end  using Joomla, WordPress or some other CMS or be the person that does all the ‘web stuff’ (end to end) in a smaller agency, including some of the more technical bits and pieces. If you can put together solid sites on any of these platforms, we would love to hear from you.

Our working environment is vibrant, modern and relaxed but very professional. The kit, software tools and development methodologies you’ll use are cutting edge and our project management team help keep everything on track, so that means no late nights are weekend working. As far as salary goes, we pay good people very well.

If you would like to find out more, send an email to directors@s8080.com and we’ll arrange for you to pop in for an informal chat so you can have a look around, meet us and learn more about working at S8080.

We look forward to hearing from you.

Chris and Matt

Aug 8 2014

Perspex Agile / Scrum boards

We are moving into our new larger offices this weekend and today we had our agile boards installed – all seven of them, each 2 x 1 metres.

We couldn’t find any to buy, so we designed our own and had a local sign company make them up for us in clear Perspex.

agile scrum board s8080

agile scrum board s8080

agile scrum board s8080

Jun 27 2014

WordPress / Joomla Web Developer

photo

S8080 are looking for a talented and experienced WordPress or Joomla developer to join our team. If you can put together solid sites on either of these platforms and have experience developing extension / plugins for them, we would love to hear from you.

Send an email to jobs@s8080.com and we’ll send you all the details.

We look forward to hearing from you

Jun 26 2014

S8080 job: Drupal Developer / Drupal Themer

 

S8080 have a job opening for another Drupal Themer and site builder.

It’s a great opportunity for a Drupal guru who has an excellent knowledge of CSS, JQUERY and HTML 5 and wants to work in our highly experienced Drupal team and expanding team on some really big sites. But it is essential that you have lots of commercial Drupal theming experience too!

Job role / description

Salary: Very competitive. Depends on level of commercial experience

Date of issue: 25-03-14

Vacancy: Immediate new role due to expansion – again!

We are looking to expand our ever growing and highly skilled Drupal web development team again and we would love to hear from you if the following brief description sounds about right for you?

This is a permanent and full-time position in one of the country’s top agencies. Salary is very competitive and you’ll be working out of SA1 in Swansea.
This is an excellent opportunity to work on some very high profile websites for some great clients (No10, Dept. of Energy and Climate Change, National Assembly for Wales – take a look at the ‘Our Work’ section of our site).
You’ll be part of a very talented and busy team working in a modern environment with all the benefits you’d expect working for a company like S8080.

We are looking for you if…
You are a talented and commercially experienced coder who loves everything about the web. You are always looking for ways to do things faster and better. You are always learning new things. You embrace a real challenge and are happiest when you are solving problems that baffle others. You are the ‘go to’ person in your social circle for everything web related. At work you enjoy being surrounded by smart, like-minded people who you’ll learn from and who will want to learn from you.

You’ll love it here. Join us and work on stuff that really matters.

Essential skills and experience
3-5 years’ experience web site build and theming with Drupal REQUIRED. You will need to demonstrate that you have had commercial level Drupal experience working on large projects which include:

  • Drupal Multi sites
  • Multilingual Drupal sites using the I18n module
  • Workflow and permissions especially with the Workbench module
  • Build of custom modules
  • High-quality and well-organised Drupal themes with special attention paid to cross-browser testing, and standards compliance
  • Bespoke jQuery development, as well as making use of the jQuery UI library and other jQuery plugins

THEMES and SITE BUILD – A Solid understanding of Drupal themes, site building and best practices, Drupal theming experience (which includes the CSS/HTML), Advanced commercial experience of CSS / HTML / jQuery / JavaScript

  • Creating custom Node templates to re-write the markup of a node
  • Creating custom View templates to re-write the markup of a view
  • Experience in writing custom modules to handle pre-processing of variables, and other functions relating to theming the markup.
  • Experience of using Views to create complex views using relationships
  • Experience using the Panels module to build pages of nodes, views and blocks
  • Experience of using the Rules module
  • Using theme functions
  • Creating Drupal sub-themes
  • Creating theme regions
  • Creating Drupal content types such as slideshows and carousels with bespoke jQuery functionality to drive the interactivity
  • Creating bespoke interactive elements using jQuery for applications such as custom galleries, quizzes or custom applications
  • Extensive experience producing standards-compliant and cross-browser tested CSS inside a Drupal theme. Experience of using SASS is highly desirable
  • Slicing the graphic assets for the theme from a Photoshop file
  • Building fully-responsive websites in Drupal
  • Experience of developing a site with HTML5
  • Building and testing website build to accessibility standards WAI AA, and web standards

Desirable skills and experience
If you have the following skills and experience then this will be a distinct advantage:

  • MODULES –Drupal custom module development, key contributed modules, theming and core API, programming of modules a distinct advantage with   of creating and modifying Drupal modules and Drupal API, writing Drupal modules.
  • PHP – Commercial PHP coding experience on a large project such as an Open source CMS; including understanding and use of  AJAX, JSON, XML, Web services and other web technologies is required.
    – Experience of importing JSON or XML data
    – Use of web services to input and display data
    – Running MySQL commands from PHP
  • MAINTENANCE – Proficient in the maintenance and administration of Drupal modules and sites.
  • SECURITY & PERFORMANCE – Exposure to security and hardening best practice for Drupal websites (primarily Drupal CMS / web application, to a lesser extent familiar with hardening the LAMP stack). We expect you to be able to demonstrate performance enhancements in Drupal / PHP and Unix environment.
    – Experience of configuring Memcache, Varnish and APC to achieve optimum caching performance on a site
    – Configuring the PHP, MySQL and Apache config files to achieve optimum performance
    – Updating the Drupal core and contributed modules using Drush
    – Use of the Backup and migrate module to provide regular database backups
  • UNIX/ APACHE / LAMP – Practical knowledge and LAMP experience, comfortable with Unix Admin commands e.g. setting permissions. So you’ll have a PC to work on but be expected to run Unix commands on a daily basis.
    – Experience of contributing to the Drupal core and contributed modules.
    – Active participation in the Drupal.org issue queues
    – Demonstrable participation in the Drupal.org forums or on drupal.stackexchange.com
    – Using Drush to build Drupal sites, install/update modules
    – Importing data into Drupal from XML/JSON
    – Experience of deployment of a site from a staging to live environment
    – Desirable: Using Drush to synchronise and deploy sites

Feel free to get in touch if you would like more details, or just send your CV for the attention of Matt to jobs@s8080.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

No agencies at all. Thank you.

Jun 24 2014

Matt’s Dragon Ride for ARUK

matt_howard_S8080

We’ve been working with Alzheimer’s Research UK (ARUK) for a year or two now. We’ve designed and built their Dementia Blog and their intranet. They are a great team to work with and they run their wonderful organisation with passion and great enthusiasm. As you may know, Matt is a very keen cyclist and last week he used his legs to raise a whole pile of money for ARUK.

Matt took part in the UK’s most prestigious cyclo-sportive event, the Dragon Ride. He completed the 95 mile Dragon Medio Fondo route across the Welsh Mountains in 5 hours 41 mins and came in 158th out of 1822 riders – inside the top 9% of riders!

95 miles is a very long way on a bike, but throw in 2000 metres of climbing and that’s one hell of an achievement!

The photo shows Matt 55 miles in, on the notorious Devil’s Elbow climb, which reaches a gradient of 20% at points. Take a look at this YouTube video and ask yourself if you could still smile after cycling up that!

Matt raised over £600 for ARUK – a cause very close to his heart. This was more than he had ever hoped for. If you would like to support Alzheimer’s Research UK, please visit Matt’s JustGiving page.

Jun 12 2014

Placement – Website Content Manager

We are looking for a website content manager to help deliver a series of very high quality websites for some of the most important organisations in the country. This project could lead to a permanent role for the right person.

As a web content manager you will be responsible for helping to load content onto our client’s websites and helping to test them before they go live.

Although you will not be writing the content, you’ll be capable of correcting wrongly placed apostrophes, incorrect capitalisation and badly constructed sentences. If you can do this in English AND Welsh, that’ll be the icing on the cake!

You will be part of our project management team but you’ll be working very closely with our creative and technical teams to ensure the pages you build look fantastic and work as they should.

Desired knowledge and skills are:

  • Excellent writing (and grammatical) skills, ideally in English and Welsh
  • You will be extremely well organised and be able to work to tight deadlines
  • You will have superb attention to detail and enjoy delivering a very high quality end product
  • Experience using a Content Management System (WordPress, Drupal, etc.)
  • A basic understanding of website accessibility
  • A basic understanding of web technologies (HTML, FTP, analytics)

Your duties will include:

  • Loading and styling text in a CMS based on guidelines from our design team
  • Resizing and optimising images
  • Testing websites in different browsers
  • Testing website functionality
  • Carrying out quality assurance checks on content

If you think you like the sound of the placement, head over to our good friends at GO Wales and apply – click here!

Jun 11 2014

Swansea Bay 5K

Team S8080 took part in the Swansea Bay 5k race last night.

After a day of rain, the weather was thankfully kind for the event and the five elite athletes, all in peak physical condition, put in a good run, beating their various target times that ranged from 20 to 30 minutes.

Although most of us were pretty wrecked and hobbling after the effort, the curry and Carlsberg helped.

Well done guys! Same time next year?

the-start

james 

ash1     simon

chris

Dylan

Jun 6 2014

World class cycling venue

Matt and I are very keen cyclists. Not one of the recent rash of MAMILs that you see tearing around country lanes on a sunny Sunday. We’ve been at it for decades.

We are very lucky to have Lee Valley Regional Park as a long standing client and they recently took control of the VeloPark in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. This incredible venue saw Team GB take 9 medals, including 7 gold, in the London 2012 Olympics.

Earlier this week, we visited the Olympic Park for one of our regular account meetings and had a ‘behind the scenes’ tour of the VeloPark. This was a pretty cool place for a meeting, even if you are not a cyclist, but for us, it must rate as the best meeting venue we’ve ever visited!

S8080_velodrome1

Take a look at the iPad friendly interactive map we developed for Lee Valley, showing the Velodrome, mountain bike trails, BMX track and the 1 mile floodlit road circuit.

s8080_interactive_map_velodrome

This job certainly has its perks – next time, we are definitely booking a track taster session before we hit the M25 for the journey home! A big thank you to the Lee Valley team for a good day!

S8080_velodrome3

Dec 17 2013

Move over ‘Selfie’, here’s the S8080 ‘Elfie’.

We’ve had another exciting year working on some wonderful projects. We would like to thank you sincerely for your support during 2013. The S8080 team and our clients have done some pretty amazing things together this year. Every single day is interesting and rewarding. Here’s to an equally exciting 2014!

We would like to point out that no elves were harmed during the making of this email…no really, we checked with our Elf & Safety Advisor!

By the way, we are looking for a talented graphic designer to join us, so if you know anyone who wouldn’t mind dressing up in a daft costume for next year’s Christmas card, please send them this link!

Click to see a larger version.

S8080-Christmas-Elf-poster

Dec 13 2013

Job! Graphic Designer – Senior / Mid

S8080 are looking for a creative, talented and very experienced graphic designer to join our expanding team. It’s a full time position starting as soon as possible.

We are a digital agency, so exceptional online design skills are required – some understanding website UX and UI design is useful, but your core responsibilities will be website look and feel, engaging digital content design, infographics design, basic motion graphics, online brand development… you get the picture.

This is a pure design role; you won’t have to touch code, although a general knowledge of front end development processes is obviously an advantage (so if you’ve designed and built a WordPress site and understand the constraints of CSS / Themes / layouts and web accessibility from a design perspective that’ll help!).

Experience

You would have been working on high end digital projects for at least 10 years and in that time built an outstanding portfolio. You’ll understand the fundamentals of user experience design and know how to make your designs accessible. You will be able to work directly with clients and explain your design thought processes eloquently – you will be expected to run creative briefing sessions and drive creative meetings. You will have worked with important brands developing online campaign assets, rich creative content including infographics, diagrams, carousel graphics, etc. as well as designing their website’s front end.

This is a wonderful opportunity to work in a talented, busy and very experienced digital design team working in state of the art offices in Swansea’s waterfront district. If you take a look at our portfolio, you’ll see we work for some pretty important clients. We are offering a superb package for the right person in our expanding team.

Please send your CV, current salary level and notice period for your current job to jobs@s8080.com , along with any examples of work covering web design and infographics.

DEADLINE: Friday 3rd January

This really isn’t a role for a print designer who fancies making the move to digital, sorry! And definitely no freelancers, contractors or agencies.

Thanks very much, we look forward to hearing from you,
Chris Cowell, Creative Director

Oct 31 2013

The S8080 team are in high spirits

A very happy Halloween to everyone

Once again, the team got together to delight you with our spooktacular annual Halloween photograph. With everything from a headless designer, Dalek, phantoms, demons and a mad axeman or two, S8080’s ghoulish team are ready for the witching hour this evening.

Just make sure you choose ‘treat’ rather than ‘trick’ when we come knocking!

Click here for a larger view – if you dare

Happy Halloween

Oct 7 2013

S8080 job: Drupal Developer

S8080 have a job opening for a Drupal Themer and site builder.

It’s a great opportunity for a Drupal guru who has an excellent knowledge of CSS, JQUERY and HTML 5 and wants to work in our highly experienced Drupal team. But it is essential that you have lots of commercial Drupal theming experience too!

Job role / description

Salary: Very competitive. Depends on level of commercial experience

Date of issue: 07-10-13

Vacancy: Immediate new role due to expansion – again!

We are looking to expand our ever growing and highly skilled Drupal web development team again and we would love to hear from you if the following brief description sounds about right for you?

This is a permanent and full-time position in one of the country’s top agencies. Salary is very competitive and you’ll be working out of SA1 in Swansea.
This is an excellent opportunity to work on some very high profile websites for some great clients (No10, Dept. of Energy and Climate Change, National Assembly for Wales – take a look at the ‘Our Work’ section of our site).
You’ll be part of a very talented and busy team working in a modern environment with all the benefits you’d expect working for a company like S8080.

We are looking for you if…
You are a talented and commercially experienced coder who loves everything about the web. You are always looking for ways to do things faster and better. You are always learning new things. You embrace a real challenge and are happiest when you are solving problems that baffle others. You are the ‘go to’ person in your social circle for everything web related. At work you enjoy being surrounded by smart, like-minded people who you’ll learn from and who will want to learn from you.

You’ll love it here. Join us and work on stuff that really matters.

Essential skills and experience
3-5 years’ experience web site build and theming with Drupal REQUIRED. You will need to demonstrate that you have had commercial level Drupal experience working on large projects which include:

  • Drupal Multi sites
  • Multilingual Drupal sites using the I18n module
  • Workflow and permissions especially with the Workbench module
  • Build of custom modules
  • High-quality and well-organised Drupal themes with special attention paid to cross-browser testing, and standards compliance
  • Bespoke jQuery development, as well as making use of the jQuery UI library and other jQuery plugins

THEMES and SITE BUILD – A Solid understanding of Drupal themes, site building and best practices, Drupal theming experience (which includes the CSS/HTML), Advanced commercial experience of CSS / HTML / jQuery / JavaScript

  • Creating custom Node templates to re-write the markup of a node
  • Creating custom View templates to re-write the markup of a view
  • Experience in writing custom modules to handle pre-processing of variables, and other functions relating to theming the markup.
  • Experience of using Views to create complex views using relationships
  • Experience using the Panels module to build pages of nodes, views and blocks
  • Experience of using the Rules module
  • Using theme functions
  • Creating Drupal sub-themes
  • Creating theme regions
  • Creating Drupal content types such as slideshows and carousels with bespoke jQuery functionality to drive the interactivity
  • Creating bespoke interactive elements using jQuery for applications such as custom galleries, quizzes or custom applications
  • Extensive experience producing standards-compliant and cross-browser tested CSS inside a Drupal theme. Experience of using SASS is highly desirable
  • Slicing the graphic assets for the theme from a Photoshop file
  • Building fully-responsive websites in Drupal
  • Experience of developing a site with HTML5
  • Building and testing website build to accessibility standards WAI AA, and web standards

Desirable skills and experience
If you have the following skills and experience then this will be a distinct advantage:

  • MODULES –Drupal custom module development, key contributed modules, theming and core API, programming of modules a distinct advantage with   of creating and modifying Drupal modules and Drupal API, writing Drupal modules.
  • PHP – Commercial PHP coding experience on a large project such as an Open source CMS; including understanding and use of  AJAX, JSON, XML, Web services and other web technologies is required.
         – Experience of importing JSON or XML data
         – Use of web services to input and display data
         – Running MySQL commands from PHP
  • MAINTENANCE – Proficient in the maintenance and administration of Drupal modules and sites.
  • SECURITY & PERFORMANCE – Exposure to security and hardening best practice for Drupal websites (primarily Drupal CMS / web application, to a lesser extent familiar with hardening the LAMP stack). We expect you to be able to demonstrate performance enhancements in Drupal / PHP and Unix environment.
    - Experience of configuring Memcache, Varnish and APC to achieve optimum caching performance on a site
    - Configuring the PHP, MySQL and Apache config files to achieve optimum performance
    - Updating the Drupal core and contributed modules using Drush
    - Use of the Backup and migrate module to provide regular database backups
  • UNIX/ APACHE / LAMP – Practical knowledge and LAMP experience, comfortable with Unix Admin commands e.g. setting permissions. So you’ll have a PC to work on but be expected to run Unix commands on a daily basis.
    - Experience of contributing to the Drupal core and contributed modules.
    - Active participation in the Drupal.org issue queues
    - Demonstrable participation in the Drupal.org forums or on drupal.stackexchange.com
    - Using Drush to build Drupal sites, install/update modules
    - Importing data into Drupal from XML/JSON
    - Experience of deployment of a site from a staging to live environment
    - Desirable: Using Drush to synchronise and deploy sites

Feel free to get in touch if you would like more details, or just send your CV for the attention of Matt to jobs@s8080.com.

We look forward to hearing from you.

No agencies at all. Thank you.

Jun 25 2013

Tour de Gower

With the Tour de France only a few days away, on Sunday, a group of intrepid S8080 web developers, web designers and project managers became ‘le peleton’ for the day. Well, sort of.

A wide variety of bikes were pulled from sheds, tyres were pumped up, chains were oiled and we took part in the South Wales Bike Ride, a series of routes ranging from 12 to 46 miles.

The weather was kind(ish), everyone made it and all enjoyed. A few of us were hobbling on Monday morning.

Well done guys!

s8080-cycle-ride-1

s8080-cycle-ride-2

s8080-cycle-ride-3

s8080-cycle-ride-5

May 23 2013

Signpostings on web design, SEO starting points and refreshers…

Over the last few weeks I’ve been pinging between web development workshops, kicking off new web design projects and talking to lots of people, all very exciting, lots of fun and of course, we’ve been fielding many questions.

Here are a few links and resources from the guts of my ‘sent items’ folder, based around the search engine optimisation starting points I promised to share a bit wider – covering the basics…

.NET magazine illo by S8080 – spot the long tail

SEO web design – two key refresher’s for everyone

On pretty much all web design kick offs we talk to the web editors and usually chat around where to start with SEO, content planning and on page optimisation. We talk about brushing up on the basics of search engine optimisation and give some tips… at the end of the day anyone who writes web content should have a good basic understanding of SEO, and here are two ‘must read’ (and well read) posts. Firstly…

The 1st three chapters help explain how search engines crawl and index websites, calculate relevance and how people interact with search engines.

Chapter four is all about making content really findable and open to crawling by search engines and bots, including references to ALT tags, TITLE tags, META tags and friendly URL structures, it also touches on the impact of duplication of content – canonicalization.

Although this was published a little time ago, it’s still a great starting point for covering the SEO basics and brushing up on best practices which are often missed, it has lots of easy to understand pictures, screen grabs and illustrations.

So it covers the importance of accurate page TITLES and META descriptions and how they appear in Google SERPs (search engine results pages) – i.e. why you should bother to invest time and effort on them. URLs and friendly URLS are covered and the importance of keyphrases appearing in those page URLs. Also covered are in link anchor text (and why they should contain keywords without ‘keyword stuffing’ of course) and ALT text. The guide then finishes up with a little on mobile websites, social links and links to webmaster tools.

A great SEO framework to follow

Building on the above introduces a post from the guys at SEOmoz from a few evenings ago, billed as ‘An SEO instruction manual for beginners’ it’s valuable information…

It pulls together lots of their learning’s on how to improve page ranking in Google using an SEO Blueprint touching on Keyword Research, Content, Site Architecture, On-page optimisation and Link Buidling.

Interestingly point 13 is “Design is 50% of the battle”, nice (and quite rare) to see an SEO expert recommend good design and UX as a key factor in ranking.

OK, I’ve just ran out of time, so more signposts coming soon. Of course if you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web design and user experience and web related things, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email info@s8080.com

May 23 2013

Native app vs mobile web: the shortfalls of mobile accessibility

One of the biggest demands by clients that we face is providing websites and applications for mobile devices. It’s no big news that web design is in a state of flux with the introduction of a wave of mobile devices, each with varying screen sizes and functionality, which raise a whole range of questions about web design best practice. Within the mobile app market, there is much debate over which is the better of two contrasting systems to deliver content to mobile devices – native applications, which can be downloaded from app stores and are installable software, and web apps – effectively websites that respond to being viewed on mobile devices.

Mobile development and apps IMAGE

Many argue that native apps offer better user experience; they are typically run much faster and utilise device functionality to perform sophisticated tasks, making them feature rich – plus, they don’t always require an internet connect to work. There are however drawbacks – they consume device resources, such as battery life; and require regular updates to maintain security and update their functionality. Not to mention that the issue that comes with market penetration. For example, Twitter’s mobile app might appear exactly the same on both Android and iPhone – but they will be built from different technologies – Java and xCode respectively. This presents large overheads when it comes to maintaining multi-platform apps for one service.

Mobile web apps

There are far fewer constraints when working with web apps – they require an internet connection yes – they are after all typically a mobile optimised version of a website. However, for our clients, they provide the better solution. They are extremely scalable – using standard compliant technologies such as HTML and CSS, website content can easily be optimised for mobile devices through techniques such as content adaption.

There are also other technologies that lend themselves to enriching user-experience that have begun to challenge the UX of native apps – such as HTML5 and various JavaScript platforms. As a web design and development agency, these technologies have provide us with the means to create engaging and highly interactive content that can on the surface behave to a greater extent as native apps would do.

Mobile accessibility

The benefits don’t end there – one of the biggest advantages web apps has over native apps, is ensuring accessibility standards can be met. Mobile accessibility standards for web apps focuses on standardising the implementation of HTML in an effort to ensure that content are viewable on mobile devices. Back in the day, WCAG 1.0 concerned itself with standardising good, accessible HTML – but post 2008, due to the diversity of technologies that were supported by modern browsers, such as CSS and JavaScript, WAI were prompted to revise their guidelines to create for more holistic standard. The outcome, WCAG 2.0 – which has since remained the gold standard.

It is important to remember that accessibility standards beyond the browser exist outside of web content accessibility standards. These guidelines don’t apply to the mass app markets we see available for the tablet and smartphone operating systems. Additionally, with native app SDK’s being made freely available to developers, regulating accessibility standards for native apps is near non-existent.

Of course we haven’t touched in this post on responsive designs for mobile web design which we are currently doing lots of work on… so more coming on that.

Resources

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve mobile website design and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for Chris or Matt, or email, info@s8080.com.

May 22 2013

Information architecture – content audits and inventories – why we bother and some quick tips

This post is about content audits and inventories, tools we use as a key step in the reshaping of the information architecture and content strategy on any web design project. It has to be said they are an essential but often daunting first step of a big old redesign, restructure or migration…IMAGE of information architecture work shop

Why bother with content analysis, content audit’s and content inventories?

When we redesign or restructure websites the aim is to provide users with better information, user experience and to hit key organisation metrics. To do this we need to know what content there is on the current website, then with some user research we can provide recommendations for gaps, where content may need to be reworked and where we think content can be removed to de-clutter.

It has to be said it is not the task any UX professional looks forward to – but as we work through the site and create a content audit or inventory (typically hundreds or thousands of rows in a spread sheet), we get really under the skin of the website and the content – a crucial step in the UX design process.

The content audit – a sample of the website content not a full inventory

We use the content audit when sampling an existing site in order to inform the UX phase.

The content audit gives a really good feel and flavour for the content of the site, it doesn’t guarantee to have every piece of content logged in a spread sheet – that’s what a full content inventory is for. The content Audit does allow us to understand what is in the existing site so we can reorganise it along with user feedback and the organisation’s objectives.

All of the results are logged in a spread sheet along with annotated images – we typically start on the home page and follow the key links on the page – the key sections of the site. Then for sub sections of the website’s IA we do the same – follow the key links, and then we look at high traffic areas of the web site too.

When we are auditing the content we will be looking at qualitative attributes, like readability, relevance to audience, things that are going to require human or editorial input. We also give a description of the content and we categorise the content – allocating it to themes or genres.

The content inventory – a monster spread sheet

We create a content inventory when we are performing a migration and have to account for every item, the output is a huge spread sheet. The content inventory is a detailed page by page log of all the pages in the site, it helps us to keep track of all of the content and map it to a revised IA, and of course helps us to estimate the amount of effort needed for the migration.

The content inventory is more quantitative than the audit and includes: page title, current URL, H1 tag etc. The content inventory will then evolve into a core part of the web editorial calendar and on-going content strategy by manually adding the content owner, person responsible for migrating and updating the page, review period, when it was published, date it was last edited, ROT status and new Location that we are migrating it to.

For inventories we’ll use crawlers alongside a manual inspection and audit of key pages.

What about content analysis on really large sites – 5,000 pages plus?

We are regularly asked to help on big websites with between 5,000 to 20,000 pages, sometimes XXL websites that exceed 50,000 pages in multiple languages. When we work on larger sites we will typically do an inventory including every page on the site using automatic tools and then layer on top a human audit of the top 2 or 3 levels, plus exceptions, and of course we look in detail at high traffic areas of the site.

Ok that stage of the UX phase was painful… but key

Now we really know what is on the website when layered into the user research (user surveys and card sorting) we can really provide solid recommendations to shape the information architecture – and work through the really fun parts of the user experience process!

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web design and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email, info@s8080.com.

May 7 2013

Customer ratings, reviews and social validation – user experience & persuasive techniques on the web…

Customer ratings (those little stars) and reviews are well used by web designers and digital marketing agencies on shopping and community sites – users like them, and they influence us – yes they do. But why?

Customer ratings, reviews, social validation and web design persuasion (source wiggle.co.uk

The key research on web design & persuasion by recommendations

As far back as 2007 De Vries and Pruyn studied the effect of recommendations on users buying digital cameras, and in a nutshell they found that when recommendations were provided for a particular item it sold 20% more than when there was no recommendation.

So why do I listen to strangers opinion online (I wouldn’t down the pub)?

Online ratings and reviews unconsciously trigger our desire for social validation. Social validation is the process where we look to what others are doing, helping us make a decision more quickly, we look to other people to guide us – the important thing to realise is that we do this automatically and unconsciously.

So on web sites like Amazon and App Stores when  we are looking to make a purchase, we quickly evaluate the worth of a product based on reviews by others. If a page doesn’t have those customer stars and ratings on the first page, the page risks losing your attention very quickly.

Hey – I’m completely rational, logical… those stars only help me when I want help – I make the final decision…

For the most part we are all conformists, and the power of those little stars and reviews, and the triggers for social validation, are so strong that very few of us will be able to fight it and buy a product which has lower stars!

I know I like to do some research before buying – all those data sheets, statistics, pictures, graphs and specifications just allow me to tell myself I’m making a wise and conscious choice… but really this is in the main,  post rationalisation of an unconscious trigger on social validation.

Of course the problem now is that most popular products on Amazon and similar sites now seem to have 4.5 or 5 stars, interesting…

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web design and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email info@s8080.com

May 2 2013

Web accessibility, making accessible video – YouTube vs Vimeo

When we are talking about web design, website accessibility and how to make website content accessible with clients I’m often asked by about making video accessible and working with third-party media streaming services such as YouTube or Vimeo.

Image of video player - web accessibility

Embedding these third-party technologies has been a standard means to deliver video content through websites for a long time – they’re free, highly reliable and can be added to webpages with ease.

Moreover, there’s no question that these technologies offer great user experience – they pack large amounts of information into small areas of web page real-estate. Not to mention, 3G and 4G networks are now more than adequate to support streaming direct to mobile devices. They have become a UX necessity and a marketer’s weapon of choice.

However when you also consider that accessible video ensures inclusive design and can really help improve SEO and search engine findability (by adding video title, tags, captions, annotations and transcripts) the reasons to make sure video content is accessible become very clear.

Closed captioning

Despite this, there are still misconceptions surrounding how accessible these technologies are. W3C’s Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0 (WCAG) has always leant towards limiting the use of embedded multimedia content such as Flash and Java – due to their content being out of reach for assistive accessibility technologies.

But that shouldn’t mean avoid them. YouTube for example, has since 2006 focused on developing inclusive technologies that make their video content accessible with the introduction of automated closed captions.

This is an excellent feature which allows video publishers to add text captions to specific points of the video. They present a mechanism for delivering time-based content in an accessible way. They provide subtitles, and caption text can be exported to create video transcripts – plus closed captions are searchable.

Shortfalls of Vimeo, mixed in with the pros

From an accessibility angle, YouTube has all the right ingredients for delivering accessible content and deliver it very well. But with more and more authors opting to use video to enhance their content, the motives from selecting alternatives to YouTube has begun to make online video prone to potential accessibility pitfalls.

Vimeo is a good example – it has a less cluttered and better looking interface than YouTube which makes it a very attractive option. More importantly, it has also resisted the urge to commercialise its service meaning that viewers aren’t presented by an interface littered with adverts. For this reason, its adoption, especially within the educational and public sectors is steadily rising. This does however come with a cautionary note; in its strive to retain what it sees as its bestselling points, features such closed captions are not yet supported by Vimeo exposing limitations in being a viable accessible technology… for now.

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web accessibility and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email info@s8080.com.

Some useful resources:

Apr 30 2013

Web accessibility, using colour contrast tools to help make accessible images

In this post we take a quick look at some simple best practices work to help improve the accessibility of website design.

As a website design company, one of the more challenging elements of good web design that we face is often in providing the means to deliver engaging visual content for that enhances user experience – but equally as important, ensuring our websites adhere to web accessibility guidelines (WAI WCAG 2.0) and best practice.

Web accessibility and good user experience can sometimes be at loggerheads: on one hand, being conscientious of good user experience principles will prioritise design aesthetics and bespoke functionality to create novel and innovative interfaces. On the other hand, accessibility standards, particularly the more stringent web accessibility AAA standards often present many hurdles for web designers – stipulating strict measures for displaying and surfacing content.

Though AAA standards are strict, it shouldn’t mean that meeting them compromises visually striking web design – nor does it mean web design should be text-heavy with minimal colour combinations.

Colour contrast analysis tools to improve web design

From our experience, working with clients who require websites to meet web content accessibility guidelines, particularly those who operate within the public sector, one of the most common web accessibility standards we find to be overlooked regularly is colour contrast. As a web design agency, we focus on custom web design and website development that adheres to the necessary WCAG standards and accessibility best practice.

But that’s only half the story; what happens after website goes live can really affect how well WCAG standards are maintained on a website over the longer term.

Image showing colour contrast – the one on the left has much more contrast than the one on the right!

Content authors who generate their own content using authoring tools can overlook simple WCAG compliant best practices – especially when adding their own decorative styles to text and when working with image content. Though CMS websites and WYSIWYG editors allow authors to add heading tags to text headings, and ‘ATL’ tags to images, there is no in-built functionality to assess how accessible colour contrast ratios work.

There is however a range of free, but effective tools available online that can validate the colour contrast of content. They allow authors to analyse colour contrast to meet the success criterion 1.4.3 guidelines for WCAG 2.0. Ultimately, these tools offer the means to generate accessible, yet highly visual, image rich content.

Here are a few colour contrast tools worth looking at which will help improve web accessibility

Contrast Analyser – a free desktop application that determines the how well colour contrast ratios adhere to Web Content Accessibility Guidelines 2.0. intuitive and simple to use – considered widely as an industry standard.

Colour Contrast Check is a free web-based validator that allows you find which foreground and background colour combinations are accessible – a simple and easy to use solution.

Luminosity Colour Contrast Ratio Analyser is a simple, free, online colour contrast analyser. By adding the foreground and background colours you intend to use to style your text area or images, this free app can determine how accessible the combination is compared to the success criterion 1.4.3 guidelines of WCAG 2.0.

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help improve your web accessibility and user experience, call 01792 485566 and ask for me, Matt Howard, or email, info@s8080.com.

Apr 24 2013

EpiServer custom web design and development for CITB

Image of EpiServer custom web development for CITB and the Birches microsite

We have just launched two more EpiServer CMS web sites. The EpiServer development was for CITB, following on the successes of the recent launch of www.citb.co.uk. Our team of .NET developers are really enjoying the quick build time, customisation and flexibility of the CMS platform and it’s robust nature.

  • Web design – Creative & look and feel
  • Web template development
  • EpiServer CMS
  • Technical services, hosting & support
  • Web usability & consultancy
  • User centred design, personas and UX design
  • User testing, card sorting & eye tracking
  • Training workshops
  • Website accessibility and accessibility testing
  • Creative strategy & online style guides
  • Creative concepts, designs & online campaigns
  • Email &email newsletter design and broadcast

Live sites:
www.citb.co.uk/jobs/
www.citb.co.uk/thebirches

If you would like to chat about how S8080 could help develop your web site on EpiServer CMS, please 01792 485566 and ask for Chris Cowell, or email info@s8080.com.