Archive for the 'web' Category

Come back when you’ve got some data

April 2nd, 2009

I’ve been planning and building web sites and services for clients within the media industry for almost nine years now, reflecting back over that time I think that most of the clients that I have worked with may have had some pretty interesting ideas of what they’d like to achieve, but more often than not they don’t have the data needed to enrich the functional elements behind any of these ideas.

Most digital agencies probably follow a similar process of discussing strategy and going through a discovery phase before launching head first into a build; I believe that it would be incredibly beneficial to both clients and development teams if a greater emphasis was placed on data definition during discovery phases to establish whether data is already available from existing systems or sources from your client.

If data isn’t available from existing systems or sources there is always the option to get data from 3rd parties, or for the client to gather new data, but it’s important to factor in what impact this may have on their internal teams who probably already have hefty workloads of their own, just like the rest of us.

My advice to developers, the important thing is being sure that from day one launching into build, your  team is 100% aware of what data they are going to be working with, where they are going to extract this data from, what transformations they may need to apply to the data to work with it, and which functional elements of the project require the data.

My advice to clients, if you’re seeking consultancy from a digital agency on how you can leverage the Internet to build up and interact with a customer base, then come prepared with as much data as you can and they’ll be better geared to creating fantastic ideas that take advantage of what your company already has to offer.

Twitter made interesting by twistori?

March 31st, 2009

Twitter got off to a blazing start with developers and geeks alike, but now seems to be drawing in the Facebook crowd as well. I have to admit that I was initially pretty slow on the uptake, I just didn’t see the point given that I’d already bothered putting effort into Facebook and most of my friends (be they real friends or Internet friends) were over on Facebook, not on Twitter.

People also seem to use Twitter in a variety of different ways, some people use it as a dumping ground to talk about daily activities to do with life and work, others use it to ask questions and seek responses, some repost as much of the Internet as they can in abbreviated format assuming that we can’t use Google to find things we might be interested in, and finally those who call themselves the hardcore users pretty much treat it like it’s an IRC channel.

Personally, I’m unfollowing more and more people just so I can narrow it down to things that I actually want to read about, rather than feeling like what I’d imagine someone would feel like if they’d newly acquired the power of telepathy, too much bloody noise invading your head at once and no way to control it other than to block it all out.

On the flip side though, it’s interesting to look at what aggregator services are doing with Twitter, such as the one currently being promoted if you actually log in to the Twitter site rather than using a 3rd party tool such as TwitterFox or Tweetdeck.

Twistori offers you up six very emotive slices of the public Twitter timeline, broken down into love, hate, think, believe, feel, and wish. Every few seconds you have a new public tweet scroll past correlating to the slice that you’ve chosen, and it’s really interesting to watch the variety in what people are talking about when it gets down to something specific like that, when there is some comparison to the tweets rather than them all being unrelated.

It’s an interesting concept, I wonder if something similar will come along that will let you enter your own keywords to filter the noise on Twitter and present it in such a simplistic, readable fashion.

Trust – High street vs Online

March 30th, 2009

After a fair few years of wear and tear, being scratched, dropped, sat on and so forth, I decided that it was finally time to replace my glasses with a new pair. It’s always a struggle for me to choose new glasses, it took me about an hour to pick the first pair that I owned, and I probably only slightly improved this time around because if you’re wearing them all the time then it definately has an impact on how you appear to others.

So anyway, we all know the first step is having your eyes testing thoroughly again. To me this is always a bit of an extended affair, better or worse? worse? better? They look the same! Stop twiddling bits of glass in front of me.

Your average eye test in the UK costs around £20, mine was a little more but that’s because I ignored all the adverts and didn’t go to Specsavers, where it’s a fair bit cheaper. That’s a reasonable cost considering the value added by actually being able to see properly and not suffer headaches!

My sight had changed slightly, with the left eye getting slightly better (never quite understood how they do that) and the right eye getting slightly worse, which means that it was reason enough for me to get new glasses.

I’m an avid Internet citizen, so at this point I probably should have had the common sense to walk out of the opticians and go and look online for a pair of frames that I liked, and save a considerable amount of money. That’s not what I did though, instead I picked my designer pair of frames, which weren’t the exact ones I wanted, and spent a whopping £277. I can understand the lenses themselves being expensive, especially with them being thin lenses and coated as well to prevent me seeing halos around absolutely everything thanks to my astigmatism.

So why didn’t I purchase online? I can only guess that it’s down to trust, or perhaps lack of blind faith. I can pick up a pair of frames in my opticians and try them on, make sure that they suit me, and have some option to have them tweaked when they are ready to be picked up.

If I were to buy online, I’d be relying on my imagination to try and picture the glasses on my own face, I wouldn’t be sure how well they fit, how comfortable they are, or have much come back for tweaking the fit if they fall off my face when they arrive.

It seems that the high street still has a place in a lot of consumers lives, even if it comes at a cost. Next time I’ll have to challenge myself and buy online from one of the many up and coming vendors such as:

If you’ve bought glasses online, feel free to give me a shout and share your experiences.

Save the Children! (and your feet)

July 7th, 2006

Save the Children flip flopBit of a plug for the charity work we’ve been doing back at the office; none of that web design lark, one of our very own creative team has been responsible for the design of a pair of flip flops for Save the Children in the UK. We’ve also been responsible for some promotional design and also the email marketing (which I had to code today, with like… tables and everything, a sin to web standards!).

If your feet are aching to break out of those stinky trainers over summer and have their chance to breathe, then the funky red flip flops are for you.

Priced at only £9.99 the proceeds will help in the fight against poverty, disease, injustice and violence against children both in the UK and globally. launches new beta packed with features

June 25th, 2006 Dashboard Beta - 25th June 2006For those that aren’t already part of the revolution in discovering music that is, it’s the flagship product from the same team in the UK that first brought us the AudioScrobbler music engine.

AudioScrobbler builds a music profile based on the artists and tracks that you listen to using either the Player or via a plug-in for your favorite audio player. uses the data collected by AudioScrobbler and adds features such as social networking, tagging, forums and also journals to the mix, offering many ways for you to share your musical tastes with friends, view similar artists to the ones built up in your music profile, listen to samples of your recommended artists and much more.

Some of the most interesting features that I use most often are the ability to read about an artist that I am passionate about, and then view similar artists and explore their musical offerings.

Tag based exploration is also a favorite feature of mine, along with tag based radio allowing users to listen to randomized tracks belonging to a particular genre.

The new offering from now includes a shiny new dashboard element that breaks down into the following sections:

  • My friends online – a summary of which of your linked friends are currently listening with and the most recent songs that they’ve been rocking their feet to.
  • Recommended Artists – a short list of artists that you might be interested in based on your previous listening habits, and also a collection of free songs that you can listen to in full.
  • My Weekly Neighbours Online – other users who have similar music profiles, and the last track that they listened to.
  • Recommended Recent Journal Entries – journals written by other users that have been linked to artists that match your music profile, or from groups that you have joined in the forums.

Overall the new features provide even faster access to exploring new music that is matched to your listening habits, and the new design which is still being tweaked with shows a lot of promise of being more appealing to less technically minded users.