Dec 16 2016

GoConstruct.org wins Silver in this year’s Digital Experience Awards

uk digital award

GoConstruct.org has won another award! The site has won a Silver award in this year’s Digital Experience Awards.

The site originally won the Masters of Marketing Award for user experience and design in October this year.

GoConstruct provides online interactive tools to help people find out more about a career in construction. We are very proud to be playing such a major part in the site’s continuing growth and success.

Oct 13 2016

GoConstruct wins the Masters of Marketing User Experience and Design award

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We are very proud to announce that GoConstruct.org has won the 2016 Masters of Marketing User experience and design award. GoConstruct won the award after being shortlisted along with Guardian Travel and Gu puddings websites.

The site was launched to encourage people to consider a career in construction. We worked closely with CITB to create a site that would inform and entertain a diverse audience by utilising a range of interactive tools including a career profiling tool, a series of interactive construction sites and a personality quiz.

The site has had extensive usability testing to give the best possible user experience. The campaign has been a huge success with over 450,000 unique visitors. To check out the site for yourself click here.

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It’s been a privilege to work on the site and we are currently working with CITB on more major projects, watch this space!

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Apr 16 2015

So what’s an ‘explainer video’…

“…and how can it help my organisation?”

What is a video explainer

An explainer video is a short online video used to explain your organisation’s product or service.

There really is no stopping the uptake of online video consumption, according to a recent iStockphoto article there’s been a staggering 800% increase in online video consumption in the last 6 years.

So can an explainer video help you? We think the answer is yes.

Video is definitely one of, if not the most popular marketing platforms currently available as for most people, it’s far easier to consume than a lengthy article (so I’ll try to keep this post short, and don’t worry, there are links to some great explainers just a short scroll away, so bear with me!)

But don’t be fooled that any old video will do, as the consumption of online video increases so too does our audience’s thirst for higher quality graphics and insightful content. Producing a successful explainer video consists of a combination of script, graphic look and feel and audio. Each element needs to sing in harmony with the other if you want to retain the viewer and convert them into a loyal fan or customer.

So how can explainer videos benefit your brand?

Here’s one of those harsh but true moments: If you’re not already producing online video marketing for your organisation, company or brand, then you’re going to be playing catch up with your competitors.

All you need do is Google ‘online video stats’ for a vast list of incredible statistics indicating the huge surge in video consumption. According to a recent Guardian article, YouTube receives more than one billion unique visitors every month.

Welsh-Government e-Crime Wales video explainer

With these huge numbers there’s going to be a lot of video content out there shouting for attention, your video will really needs to hit the spot, so understanding the production process of a typical explainer is a good place to start your journey.

Here’s a taste of the steps we follow when creating a typical s8080 animated explainer video:

Research and development

Following a scoping meeting the s8080 creative team will spend an agreed amount of time researching potential look and feel concepts including colour palettes, illustration and animation styles and character development which will be presented for feedback before considering any high-fidelity graphics production.

Business Wales Explainer R&D

The script

The script is arguably the most important part of any explainer video and you play a huge part in its production. After all, who knows more about a product or service other than the people that created it? Sounds a little scary, right? Don’t worry though, we’ll help you with the script structure and we’ll even commission a copywriter to polish and add a bit of humour if needed.
There’s a proven structure that most explainers will follow; keep it simple, be consistent and be sure to add a call to action. Here’s a great article from the guys over at Demo Duck that gives you some pretty useful script writing tips – ‘How to Write a Video Script that Sells.’

Storyboard

When the final script has been signed off we move onto the storyboard, producing a series of sketches that convey the basic concept for each scene along with the corresponding copy from the script. This gives you a really good idea of what we’ll do at the animation phase. Changes at this stage are easy to make so make sure you are completely happy with the concept, messaging, information accuracy and the look and feel
Remember to keep your explainer video to around 1-2mins if possible, if you’re planning on breaking that 90sec mark you’ll need to have some pretty relevant content or you’ll risk losing viewers.

Business Wales Sketchbook storyboard

Artwork

Our workflow will include a number of Adobe Creative Cloud applications and we’ll sync artwork between them resulting in a more streamlined approach. Scene templates will be developed in Adobe Illustrator and, to a lesser extent Photoshop, before placing the assets into Adobe After Effects, our video editing app of choice.

Animation and audio

The storyboard sets the animation style but once we are in After Effects, we can start to fine tune the animation effects, dialling the speeds up and down to emphasise key points, actions or scene changes.
Another key step in the process is adding a narrated script, for this we’ll commission a voiceover artist to add a final layer of professionalism to your explainer. We can find a voice for every occasion – even some famous ones, and they are not as expensive as you’d think! The narrated script is imported into After Effects and synced to the animation within the timeline.

Render and upload

The final explainer video is exported for online use as a QuickTime movie with a H264 codec and AAC audio output and uploaded to your video channel on YouTube or Vimeo where key metadata and transcripts are added.

S8080 Explainer Video examples

We’ve recently worked with DECC, Welsh Government’s Business Wales and Welsh Government’s eCrime Wales to create a series of informative and playful explainer videos forming part of a larger engagement campaign.
You can view the explainer videos on the s8080 YouTube channel.

S8080 YouTube channel

Don’t forget to subscribe to the S8080 YouTube channel to catch the latest video creations from our creative team.

Nov 18 2014

What is Vine, and what’s a Vine video?

“…and do I need to know about it?”

What is a Vine video

For those that haven’t heard (and don’t worry, until recently that included us) Vine is a free online video sharing service brought to us by Twitter. Vine allows users to create and share six second long looping video clips. Basically you can think of it as a visual tweet – a micro-blogging movie.

So do you need to know about Vine? We think the answer is yes.

It’s a relatively new concept for most of us but as the creative team at s8080 came to realise on a recent project for The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC), it’s a trend that’s really helping support complex social engagement strategies.

Vine video featured strongly in the recent DECC campaign #VampireEnergy – which gave energy efficiency advice using the quirky videos and infostrips to build awareness instead of a text heavy Twitter conversation.

So how can Vine benefit your brand?

If you’re looking to bolster your social campaign collateral, then a series of Vine videos can be a smart and cost effective alternative to traditional video projects. The Vine audience is growing quickly (with 40 million users as of August 2014) and with brands like Nike, Samsung Mobile and Government departments creating their own channels, it’s definitely the right time to test the water.

Vine examples

Here’s a quick overview of how s8080 creates a typical animated vine video.

The Storyboard and Artwork

We always start with a storyboard or wireframe to communicate our proposed concept. This can be as simple as a series of sketches or, as in the case of #VampireEnergy, where we had already created a series of hifi assets for other channels, we’ll work with those to streamline the process.

Vine storyboard

 

The storyboards are relatively simple as 6 seconds really is a short amount of time to get a message across – so the concept needs to be strong and impactful. ‘Boards’ generally consist of 4 – 6 screens showing the key messaging and transitions. We then show our client the concept and can give feedback well before the animator gets anywhere near the editing software.

Animation and Audio

Following approval of the boards, we’ll finalise the artwork and move into the animation phase. Most of the work is done in Adobe After Effects, professional video editing software that allows us to quickly animate and work with audio, all on the same timeline.

This is where the storyboard literally comes to life and we fine tune timings, transitions and sound to best communicate a campaign message.

We created two Vine animations for the DECC #VampireEnergy campaign which featured an energy conscious vampire (yes, really) and followed his money saving journey. The campaign went live around the Halloween period allowing us to have a bit of fun with spooky sound effects and screeching vampires!

Uploading your Vine

This part of the process has become a lot easier since the Vine team introduced the ability to import videos into their app (available for download on iTunes). We create our Vines as we would with any video destined for online viewing (YouTube, Vimeo, etc.), the only main difference being the video artboard size which is 480px x 480px.

We’ll generally export a QuickTime movie with a H264 codec and AAC audio output and let the vine uploader worry about the optimisation. Vine compresses your video to around 1MB but don’t worry about being limited to this size when editing.

And then repurpose…

Why stop there? Reformat your Vine into a Facebook ready newsfeed video, it’s a relatively straightforward process and gives your campaign another batch of engaging content that can be delivered to a whole new audience.

S8080 Vine Video examples

Check out the Spooktacular series of Vines s8080 created for the DECC campaign #VampireEnergy – https://vine.co/tags/VampireEnergy.

And don’t forget to subscribe to the s8080 YouTube channel to catch the latest video creations from our creative team.
S8080 YouTube channel

And if you have a spare 1 minutes 46 seconds, take a look at our YouTube Halloween parody which show that developers can dance (sort of).

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

Apr 15 2013

Email design and broadcast for Fishing Wales and a new e-zine too

Email design and broadcast for Fishing Wales and a new e-zine too

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We have just hit send to another big email broadcast to over sixty thousand (yes 60,000)  anglers throughout the UK for Fishing Wales and the Environment Agency. The email was a quick visual email to announce the new season announce the new another issue to the ever successful to the e-zine we design and built. The online analytics showed yet again a huge hit. Here’s a link to the latest e-zine: www.wildfishingwales.com/

  • Email & email newsletter design and broadcast
  • Digital marketing &SEO
  • Web analytics, audits and customer insight
  • Digital illustration
  • Strategy
  • Viral
Mar 27 2013

Dezrez – digital and creative strategy

Dezrez – digital and creative strategy

  • Design
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding
Mar 27 2013

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – household bills

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – household bills

  • Design
  • Infographic
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding

Live site: www.gov.uk/government

Mar 27 2013

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – energy bill 2020

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographic – energy bill 2020

  • Design
  • Infographic
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding
Mar 27 2013

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographics – energy bill policy impact

UK Department of Energy and Climate Change Infographics   - energy bill policy impact

  • Design
  • Infographic
  • Digital illustration
  • Digital strategy
  • Branding
Nov 1 2012

E-Crime Wales email newsletter

E-Crime Wales email newsletter

  • Email design
  • Email broadcast and analytics
  • Digital illustration
  • Designs
  • Strategy
  • E-mail
  • Viral
Nov 1 2012

Environment Agency – Fishing Wales email

Environment Agency - Fishing Wales email

  • Email design
  • Email broadcast and analytics
  • Digital illustration
  • Designs
  • Strategy
  • E-mail
  • Viral
Mar 18 2009

Split testing

Split testing in email marketing

Split testing is an essential tool when we are running digital marketing campaigns for clients. Banners, PPC, email marketing and landing pages are all tested ruthlessly – everything from send times to subtle changes in subject lines – a couple of percent can make quite a difference in CTR if you are mailing 10K recipients or achieving 30K Adwords impressions.

The secret is, don’t stop there. Split your winning subject line again, refining the copy and trigger words even further. Over time, these tests will have a measurable impact on your open/render rates and your CTR.

Split testing webpages

Don’t stop at your emarketing either. Your homepage could probably do with a bit of a workout.

Google have posted an interesting article giving some tips for webpage design in their The Power Of Measurement series. They did some split testing on their Picasa homepage with some surprising results.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Version A

 

 

 

 

 

Version B

Google give a few design tips too…

Now, you might be asking yourself, “With so many different aspects of my website to test, how do I know where to begin?” Here are four design tips to pay attention to:

  • Tip #1: Pass the 8 second test. At first glance, a visitor should understand the purpose of your website within a few seconds. People are busy and have limited attention spans — you want to keep them from hitting the dreaded back button.
  • Tip #2: Tell them what’s in it for them. Create clear and tangible benefits (e.g., “Save more! Make extra money! Look better with our product!”).
  • Tip #3: Use compelling images. Try product images instead of generic stock photos, icons with blocks of text, and buttons instead of links. Keep in mind that a low-quality, irrelevant image can kill your site’s credibility.
  • Tip #4: Close the sale. Help your visitors take the next step. Make that step clear and easy to reach; don’t make them hunt for it. Action words like “buy now” may work better than “add to cart,” for instance.

The bottom line, sites or marketing – don’t guess – test.

Jan 16 2009

Email marketing – make sure that emails work with images turned off

I read a report on MarketingSherpa the other day which stated that 59% of consumer and 90% of business users view some or all of their emails with images turned off (due to preview panels having images turned off as default on some applications and mobile Internet users often having images turned off by default).

Therefore they recommend always making sure that before you send out your latest email campaign you’ve tested the email with images turned off, text descriptions appear when images are blocked and all of the links have good descriptions rather than ‘Click here’ – makes a lot of sense.

Source & full article here: http://www.marketingsherpa.com/article.php?ident=30751

Sep 5 2006

Using duplicate content on your site?

Recent evidence suggests that if search engines detect that you’re making use of duplicate content you may find your website penalized and dropped down a few ranks.

The reason for this ‘SPAM’, search engines are constantly being updated to keep track of the latest stealth techniques to boost your rankings and will drop your site if you employ such underhand tactics.

Only recently a large German car manufacturer was dropped from Google for employing such shady tactics. So don’t make the same mistakes and check your content – and no cheating because they’ll know!

Aug 15 2006

Does blogging = increased traffic?

Blogs seem to be driving the internet these days – while recent reports suggest that overall, growth is slowing for the top sites, sites focused on social networking are more popular than ever.

It seems that blogs have helped the web world through some tough times recently, as some of the main blogging sites show the most increased traffic – blogger.com and myspace.com.

At one point, blogger.com traffic increased by 528% according to market research firm ComScore Media Metrix.

Blogging allows individuals the freedom to share their thoughts, knowledge and ideas and the statistics clearly show that people want this sort of content – in fact, go and get blogging now!

Huh?

Weblog, which is usually shortened to blog, is a website, or section of a website that consists of ‘articles’ or journal entries, written by an individual (or group of individuals) presented in a reverse chronological order.