A couple of months back I was asked to be a guest blogger for Empower SVS. I must admit we were all a bit taken aback as I'm not the most vocal blogger within Hoffi. I thought about it for a few days and then thought why not, its a good excuse to kick myself and write a little more. Yesterday was my big debut with my first post being published...
A few days ago I found myself needing to buy some software from the Apple website. I'd already tried the Apple store in Cardiff, but because the software was now out of date the only way I could purchase a copy was online. Unfortunately, following a previous experience with buying from Apple online I assumed that another bad experience was ahead of me... Read the full post
In early 2012 we began a conversation with National Theatre Wales' communications team covering the pitfalls of their first website and how their audience and expectations have developed since they formed in 2009. Most of our informal chats surrounded improving website accessibility and introducing the Welsh language into the site, which remained core throughout our redesign process. There was however one major factor that we didn't foresee when we first developed their website in 2009, which was how people were accessing the site now 3 years on.
In just three years the amount of people accessing the site on mobile devices had jumped to 30%, including both phones and tablet computers. Its a little crazy looking back how technology has changed since 2009, just thinking about Apple's 1st generation iPad which launched in 2010 and now we're on the 4th with countless other brands following. It was inevitable that any modifications to the existing National Theatre Wales site needed to respond to this change and allow users access to content on any device.
A good starting point for us was to squeeze a large number of National Theatre Wales' people into our space and hold a workshop, developing ideas of what they wanted as individuals and collectively as a company. Several hours, three large blackboards and countless post-its later and we began to get a picture of the new site. Planning a website on this scale was a first for us, but I think it worked really well: being able to understand and interpret what is needed with a group of users was brilliant. This collaborative process continued throughout the redevelopment process by prototyping navigation trials and developing a beta version of the site that could be tested and changed by the team.
This rapid development allowed us to test the user experience as the build took place, whilst working closely with National Theatre Wales to develop additional ways to interact with their content. Giving us insight to develop pages for individuals using pools of visually rich images, listings for quick access and implementation of the Google Maps API to show the true spread of National Theatre Wales' shows and community members.
The website itself isn't that far away from the original produced in 2009, with the core structure begin identical. Ok, it looks a little different, but the thought process surrounding the new site, its users and how they will access content has gone far beyond what was originally envisaged in those early accessibility and Welsh language discussions.
What's On - Screenshot
#Tonypandemonium - Screenshot
#Tonypandemonium Writer Rachel Trezise - Screenshot
We (Rebekka and I) bought our first three hens back in the summer of 2011 after I lovingly built a coop from scraps of wood, Carwyn and Julian tried to convince people I bought it from B&Q, but at least I know different. Now 15 months on the coop has expanded and our family of hens have grown to 9, accompanied by a cheeky little Cockerel called Yoda. We've always been big believers in experience at Hoffi, but being the tech/geek I'm always a little quieter than both Carwyn and Julian; preferring the slow life outside of office hours. And keeping chickens was, I think the perfect choice.
Earlier this year we thought it would be a nice idea to rear our own hen's, but without a Cockerel the only choice we had was to purchase chicks that were a few days old, so in mid March 2012 we did just that buying 3 Buff Sussex chicks that were then about 4 days old. The following few weeks were interesting, with the chicks at home in a wooden box, occasionally treating them to a spot of orienteering on our living room floor. Within three weeks they had grown enough to escape the box and explore at will: it was time for them to venture outside.
More coop building was to follow, this time making use of some dismantled pallets to create a smaller holding coop which became their home for the next 3 months. As they grew we soon came to realise that two of the chicks were hens and we had one cockerel, a big decision followed. To kill or not to kill that was the question, it was also the first time I'd every considered killing a living creature larger than a slug, but for me keeping chickens was different to a dog or cat. They are obviously a source of food, whether it be for eggs or meat. So, six months after we brought the chicks home, I slaughtered, plucked and gutted my first chicken. It wasn't long before it was filled with stuffing, draped in bacon and sizzling away in the oven.
After that experience we truly had the chicken keeping bug, fuelled by the morals and responsibility of keeping chickens we bought another four chicks unfortunately only two survived. One hen Barbera, who we have just introduced to the larger coop and one cockerel, Yoda, who will remain on his own until he's big enough to enter the coop and state his authority on the older hens.
2012 has certainly opened my eyes to the ups and downs of keeping chickens, but I'm still excited to check the nesting boxes for todays egg yield and having them fresh for breakfast will never get tiring.
Posted by Andrew Thomas
In 2006 we entered the Cardiff Design Festival showcase with some of our own promotional work, back then we had just started Hoffi and the design festival seemed a great way to promote ourselves as aspiring members of the design industry in Wales.
Six years later we're thrilled to still be supporting the festival as a fundamental annual event within the Welsh design industry and a great promoter of design from Wales to the international design community.
This year we've have designed a strong set of printed materials alongside the festival's online offering, to hopefully deliver a richer experience across the ever growing number of ways to access content. One of the key issues that was brought up last year was being able to access content on the go, and from listening to that feedback this year's website is responsive and adjusts the content depending on the device its being viewed on. Simple tweaks, but it should make tracking what's on during the festival a little easier.
For the third year running we've teamed up with illustrator Matt Joyce to develop the visual theme for communicating the festival
We also tweaked the submission process for this years 'Best of Welsh Design Awards', by providing access for those submitting to edit and update submissions up until the closing date. Making the process more forgiving for those taking part and lightening the load for the festival organisers, by removing the need for them to replace photography or update copy etc.
Now just under a month to go until the start of the festival, we have a few more bits and bobs to finish and prepare our Naked Wales pub quiz, which takes place on the 9th of October at Shot in the Dark, City Road.
Presented by Julian Sykes (Brands Director), Hoffi's brand workshop is perfect for developing an understanding of branding and how it is integral to your company.
During the morning Julian will discuss examples of what branding is, what it is not and why having a good brand is valuable for your business. Covering what the key ingredients of a good brand are, concentrating on how to use your brand to position itself in the marketplace.
|8.30 - 9.00||Networking and refreshments|
|9.00 - 9.30||Understanding brands how they evolve within the marketplace|
|9.30 - 10.00||Workshop: Develop a rich understanding of your customer and how they interact with your brand|
|10.00 - 10.30||Networking and refreshments|
|10.30 - 11.00||The Future: How brands are changing within the market place|
|11.00 - 11.30||How trends affect your brand|
|11.30 - 12.00||Networking and questions|
When: 9am - 12pm, Thursday 31 May 2012
Where: Enterprise House, Cardiff Bay, CF10 5LE
If you would like further information on our seminar, please contact Julian on 029 2048 7941 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place.
Please remember places are limited, so please remember to book early!
Posted by Andrew Thomas
Today will mark the first ever performance from National Theatre Wales that will be streamed free over the web, whist being performed in front of an audience in Haverfordwest, Cardiff and Connah's Quay over the coming weeks.
Over the past 6 weeks we have been working closely with Native HQ's Tom Beardshaw and Kinura to develop an online stage and booking system for National Theatre Wales' eighteenth show 'The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning'.
For the series of streamed events we developed an online booking system mimicking that of a real box office to provide virtual tickets or reminders for the events, along with what was labeled as an 'online stage'. We pulled together technology from Kinura and content produced by Tom, so that online theatre goers are not only able to spectate, but join in through chat, twitter and lots of extras that will send you through Bradley's life online pushed to the user during the play.
The Radicalisation of Bradley Manning is the perfect choice for National Theatre Wales to premier online streaming, due to the 24 year olds relationship with the online world.
Bradley Manning is a United States Army soldier who was arrested in May 2010 in Iraq on suspicion of having passed classified material to the whistleblower website, WikiLeaks. He was charged over the following months with a number of offenses, including communicating national defence information to an unauthorised source, and aiding the enemy. Source: Wikipedia
You can see the show free several times over the coming weeks, if you would like to find out more information or to book your free ticket for the live stream, please visit http://nationaltheatrewales.org/bradleymanning/ and don't forget to share the link!
Earlier this month, I headed down to Swansea on the train to attend a mobile marketing strategy workshop set-up by Software Alliance Wales, presented by Rob Thomas a social media and mobile expert who heads up the Gloucester based arm of the American WSI marketing franchise.
It was an interesting morning with a mixed audience crossing over between private and public sector; those with no knowledge to those who were quite experienced in producing digital content for mobile devices. Rob hit us with some hard facts from Mashable about mobile users and content deployment, followed by an overview of quite a few tools and techniques that could be used by businesses to market themselves online. Includeing Mobile Websites, Local Search, Location Based Marketing, Mobile Advertising and Apps.
Local search or So|Lo|Mo (Social Location Mobile Marketing) took up quite a chunk of the morning, and Google places taking the limelight given that its soon going to be serving most of our search results on mobile devices. With Google automatically syncing business data from other sources for those not claimed their space on places, I can understand why Rob kept the topic alive for a chunk of the workshop. And I must admit when I returned to the studio, I claimed Hoffi's space, two weeks on I'm still waiting our verification code coming in the post.
However, the workshop felt a little bit like a sales pitch, with lots of data collection for WSi e-marketing and I was surprised that only a little information was given about a businesses online reputation. I understand that its important to be aware of what's possible, but some information could have been given towards managing the process and at least explaining that some of these will not be right for all businesses. Don't get me wrong each business is different and there needs will be different when it comes to choosing the correct tools for convey a brand digitally, which would be difficult to explain in a morning and rightly that's where consultancy fees to people like us and Rob come in. But, even just the slightest statement surrounding this would have placed an understanding that brand communication channels need to be chosen and used carefully.
I did take quite a few things from the workshop; Google Places being the main, but also an understanding of the needs and wants of business in Wales to take on and produce mobile content to either market or provide more flexible services for their customers, slightly swayed as people opted to be in a mobile strategy workshop, but refreshing all the same.
Yesterday Carwyn and i attended a seminar by Ken Blakeslee a consultant from Web Mobility Ventures, Ken's a self proclaimed mobile fanatic and has specialised in the area for many years. It certainly came across in his talk, with is passion and eagerness to explain mobile technologies available to deliver content in innovative ways. I've been intrigued by Augmented Reality since Julian showed me some of Moving Brands work a few years ago, I've even played with a little using flash and some open source libraries, but I've not even scratched the surface; not even as a user of AR. Ken spoke about some AR examples that are available to us through products that we buy, like Marmite, KitKat and Walkers crisps, but until last night I was unaware of. So today I downloaded the Blippar app for the iPhone and just about scanned everyone's lunch from Cadbury's Dairy milk through to Heinz ketchup and discovered some games and no so great recipes hidden in AR.
Another of ken's examples was Esquire magazine back in 2009, when a whole issue was produced with extended content in Augmented Reality. It was a great evening presented by Software Alliance Wales and Dinamo Productions, one of hopefully many more that I'll attend.
Over the last few months we have been working with Cynnal Cymru-Sustain Wales to develop their digital brand experience. Utilising the open source content management system Drupal, we worked with Cynnal Cymru to produce a core set of tools that will allow their online brand to grow overtime, yet remain open and allow for flexibility should they require to change in the future.
Its still very early days in the development and positioning of Cynnal Cymru's online content, but we have good ground to grow from... www.cynnalcymru.com