Dec 11 2014

Merry Christmas from S8080



2014 has been another wonderful year. We’ve done some incredible things with our clients. From playing a part in helping Welsh Government deliver what is probably the world’s most comprehensive and engaging business information, guidance and advice website through to the hugely successful #Vampireenergy Halloween campaign that helped the Dept. of Energy and Climate Change show thousands of consumers how easy it is to save a pile of cash. The Prime Minister even tweeted it!

Our EPiServer experience continues to attract attention at the very highest levels with the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists being launched (thank you guys!) and continuing exciting developments working with the exceptional CITB team.

We also took part in the Swansea Bay 5K (warning – photos of sweaty, puffing developers!), we moved offices and had a number of talented people join our exceptional team.

We are very lucky to work with so many enthusiastic clients who are committed to improving the way people can interact with their organisations using the internet; it makes every single day interesting and rewarding.

The whole S8080 team would like to sincerely thank every single one of our clients for your support this year

We hope you enjoy your Christmas break and we’ll see you in 2015.

Chris, Matt and the S8080 team

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.


Dec 14 2012

Happy Christmas – 11 more sleeps

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas. It’s been a wonderful year for us, lots of new clients, great projects and new team members and to celebrate, here a bit of Christmas silliness for you! Click it to see a larger version (if you dare).

s8080 Christmas team photo 2012

Jan 27 2012

In Town


I was in town yesterday for a few meetings.

Bumped into these guys while waiting to cross the road – something I haven’t witnessed since I was a lad.

Oct 7 2011

A little nostalgia!

Every now and again, we get an RFP sent to us that has a ‘selection of sites we like’ included in the spec’. We had one through last week that included our very own, stating that the UI was ‘very obvious’. We like stuff that’s very obvious, so we were pleased as punch.

Then this press cutting turned up a few days later, from March 2002, with me and Visit Wales’s Jon Munro looking a whole lot younger – and smarter Jon 😉

Don’t you just love it when stuff like this pops up?

I still have that bike, although it’s gathering dust waiting for one of my sons to be tall enough to ride it. Check out that Apple monitor too!

Jul 19 2010

S8080’s email skills recognised

One of the email invites we designed for the 2010 e-Crime Wales Summit made the Campaign Monitor Gallery today. We developed a series of emails that were broadcast on the run up to the event, held on Thursday in the Celtic Manor Resort – each pushing our front end development team with the demanding build required to show the design at its best in a multitude of email clients.

Davida Fernandez of Campaign Monitor said…

“I really like the unusual layout of this email designed by s8080, especially the way the map graphic is burning into the main content and the way the free floating secondary content is flanking the middle column. The three colour bar background is so interesting and provides a foundation for the important links on the left hand side. The nice narrow column always helps with readability, too. Super cool job on this one.”

We have specialised in email newsletter and campaign design, production, broadcast, list management and analytics for quite a few years now and have 100’s of successful ‘mails under our belts.

We are currently running a stunning and groundbreaking campaign for Welsh Assembly Government’s  IBW and as soon as they have all been delivered, we show them on the blog.

Apr 15 2010

Goodyear truck

An inspired Goodyear ad by Leagas Delany, Milan.

From I believe in advertising.

Oct 2 2009


On the S8080 Blog, we’ve recently begun using a really cool service called Apture. Apture allows you to easily incorporate multimedia elements straight into a single web page – or, in this case, a blog post.

Traditionally, a blog entry may contain a link to (for example) a Wikipedia entry, or a YouTube video, or a photo on Flickr – but clicking any of these links would take you away from the original content that you were reading. You’d lose your place, and clicking around to multiple sites while you’re trying to read can just be a pain. Apture’s aim is to bring all of this disparate content together, and try to make the web less flat.

Apture allows you to create special links in your posts that open up snippets of content within the current page. This allows readers to keep their place, look up a particular piece of information, and get right back to what they were doing in the first place.

The easiest way to demonstrate is with an example, of course. So in a blog entry, we could be telling you about Swansea – Apture allows us to link in Wikipedia entries, maps, photos, video… even Twitter tweets! You name it, you can link it in with Apture. It makes web pages much more dynamic, and puts all of this content to really good use. As Apture themselves say:

“By transforming flat web pages into connected multimedia experiences readers can fluidly dive into related information without losing their place on the page so they can see, hear and truly experience the ideas on the page.”

Exciting stuff!

Jul 3 2009

Tour de France – summer is here

ITV’s coverage of the greatest bike race on the planet starts tonight at 7.00pm and the race kicks off tomorrow in Monaco with a 15.5km individual time trial (a great chance to see how space age cycling has become).

I have been following it ever since I can remember and for me, the Tour IS summer. The official site is looking pretty good this year.

With 21 stages, this year we can enjoy…

  • 10 flat stages
  • 7 mountain stages
  • 1 medium mountain stage
  • 2 individual time-trial stages
  • 1 team time-trial stage

Found a good video of the route…

There is a beginners guide and TV schedule on the ITV Sport site if you fancy giving it a go. You can download the official map and details of the stages here.

Jan 14 2009

Usability testing: how many users should we test?

We often get asked the question – “how many users do we need to test our site on?“, In most cases I really believe the ideal number is 5, current thinking is that it’s better to spend the usability budget on a number of rounds of testing by 5 users rather than say 1 test with more users.

Typically the first 3 users will find nearly all the biggest usability problems with the site (see: Jakob Nielson’s March 2000 article: ‘Why you only need to test with 5 users‘) – so keep the groups small and focus on finding and fixing the key usability problems.

Jan 12 2009

A touch of sunshine for January













A wonderful umbrella from Tibor Kalman, the Hungarian designer who blew my socks off with the Benetton ‘Colors’ magazine in the early 90’s.

The magazine gained notoriety for its treatment of race issues showing QEII as a black woman, Spike Lee as white and the Pope as Asian.








I still have a handful of copies of the early issues on my bookshelf.

Jan 6 2009

F-shaped pattern for reading online

Here’s a really interesting piece of eye tracking work done by Jakob Nielsen (April 2006): F-Shaped pattern for reading online

The eye tracking study of 232 users found users often read web pages in an F shaped pattern:

  • first users read in a horizontal movement across the page
  • then they move down the page and read a second shorter horizontal movement
  • then the users scan the content’s left side in a vertical movement.

These eye tracking heatmaps clearly show the F shaped pattern.







Jan 5 2009

Analogue Retirement

Tee shirt by Busted Tees.

Dec 24 2008

Sensible checkout IA & good usability – made my Christmas wine ordering fast!

This Christmas I managed to get everything online or from my local shops in Mumbles, it wasn’t until Wednesday 17th that I decided to get my wine online – Chris said Waitrose were cool so I gave gave them a whirl.

I must admit was impressed – the process just seemed effortless, I didn’t have to think and before I knew it it was all done – which made me think… why was it good?










What I liked:

  • It didn’t make me set up a password and an account so it was fast
  • It told me why they wanted my email
  • It told me how many steps there where and showed my progress
  • It told me what the required information was in the standard way
  • The next button was obvious (big and colourful) the back button was there but understated
  • I didn’t really have to read the forms just a quick scan
  • I did the whole order in a few minutes on my laptop in front of the TV one evening

What I didn’t like:

  • Having to give my date of birth to prove I was over 18

and yes my wine arrived the next day – hopefully I’ve picked some nice bottles!

Dec 23 2008

How much do we read online?

When running IA sessions we spend a lot of time talking and analysing the client’s existing web site, exploring the existing information, analysing user goals and then we work out how the information should be cut down, regrouped, made more scanable and easier to read.

During the sessions I often get asked the question “How much do users read online”, I typically answer “not much – the majority of users read as little as possible to achieve their goals & answer their questions … users scan pages rather than reading them from start to finish…

Jakob Nielson (May 2008) has recently undertaken more testing on how much users read online and found “On the average Web page, users have time to read at most 28% of the words during an average visit; 20% is more likely.”


So how much of this blog did you read? If you read & remember the bit in bold I’m a happy man and this was worth well writing on a Sunday morning

Dec 22 2008

How it works

…the computer, by Ladybird, published in 1971 🙂


Dec 20 2008

Carnaby Street Christmas

We strolled up Carnaby Street last week. Great decorations…

Dec 19 2008

Walking bike

As a dead keen cyclist, this made my morning.

Doesn’t seem to ride too well though.


Dec 18 2008

Clean up your CSV!

Have you ever heard of the phrase ‘garbage in, garbage out’?

It’s used in the field of computer science and ICT to refer to the fact that you’ll only get useful results from a computer program if you give it ‘correct’ data to work with in the first place: for instance, you’ll only get meaningful results from a Google search if you give it a half-decent description of what you’re actually looking for.

Google, however, can at least gain some results from your query (albeit irrelevant ones), no matter how terribly you may have written it; but other computer programs simply won’t function if they have ‘bad’ input. One such example, used by many of our clients, is the mailing list (used to send out e-mail campaigns). Mailing lists need to store a large number of e-mail addresses, names and other personalisation data. Typically, this data will be exported from CRM software to a .CSV file, and then imported into an email broadcast tool. These tools require you to import data that’s formatted just right, or else it won’t work. A CSV export may contain extra data we don’t need, or user’s names might not be in the correct format. This typically requires some amount of ‘manual handling’ to sort out.
For instance, imagine that your e-mail campaign software requires that we import data of the format:

Bradley Ford, 
Joe Middleton, 
Bethany Brookes, 

Which is fine and dandy, until you get handed a file of customers which looks more like this:

FORD, Bradley D., +441234 567894, MIDDLETON,
Joe P., +441345 365927, BROOKES, 
Bethany J., +441735 294754, 

And with over 1,000 subscribers to your mailing list, this is going to take a while to sort out… isn’t it?

Perhaps not! The guys behind online database tool Dabble.db have just released a new free product, called Magic/Replace (tagline: clean up data – no magic wand required!) to cater for just this situation. And it really is just like magic.

It’s a super-simple process to paste in or upload your problem CSV file (Magic/Replace also accepts .XLS and .TSV files):

Magic/Replace will then show you an example record from your data. You can then copy and paste data between the various fields (and you must copy and paste, rather than re-typing, due to the way Magic/Replace does its stuff). You can change case, add punctuation, delete data and fields… anything you need to do to get that record into your ideal format.

Finally, you click preview and you should see the sample data transform before your eyes – as if by magic – and contort itself into the format you need. Magic/Replace will e-mail you the data once it’s done converting it all, voila! You just update the one record to show how it’s done, and the rest will be changed to match. Job done.

This is a really smart, very well implemented little application (our usability gurus approve!) and should save a lot of time and effort for a lot of people. For more information, take a look at the Magic/Replace website at They have a video which shows the magic in action, along with some sample data for you to use to try it out.

Dec 11 2008

Smashing search box design and best practice

Smashing magazine frequently come up with some great articles on design best practice – here’s a nice one on search box design loads of examples from usability classics to more experimental designs  (Source: Smashing Magazine December 4th 2008)