Karl to judge Media Innovation Awards

We are delighted that our MD – Karl Binder – has been asked to be a judge in this year’s Media Innovation Awards.

The nominations are shortly to be announced this month and the awards will be presented at a gala awards event to be held this November.

The 2012 awards attracted around 100 entries from the industry.

The judges are respected members of the UK media and design industry and the Media Innovation Awards is a joint initiative by the media, design and music clusters across the South West.

http://www.mediainnovationawards.com/

Screen Shot 2013-09-01 at 08.44.53


Passing PHP into Javascript with Drupal

This is incredibly simple to do.

Preparation:

Construct a PHP array of values you want to use in JS. I.e. $array = array(‘key1’ => ‘value1’, ‘key2’ => ‘value2’);

Deployment:

Add the following line into your Drupal module:

drupal_add_js(array(‘data’ => $array), ‘setting’, ‘footer’);

This will place the $array into the footer of the page so that the JS loads after the page has been loaded (generally good practice).

Usage:

Now the array should be available in JS via the variable:

var data = Drupal.settings.data;


Effective product and software design from a company-strategic perspective

At the time of his death, Steve Jobs had created the world’s most valuable company and had helped to revolutionise seven separate industries being personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, digital publishing and Retail stores.

To summarise the edict of the late Steve Jobs and his philosophy towards product design:

Stay focused. Decide what not to do.

Pick 10 things we should be doing next. Cross out 7 of them. Do 3.

Get rid of products or features that aren’t great. They’re dragging you down.

Adequate is not good. Aim for great.

Obsess on design. It must be beautiful. Packaging matters. Packaging creates perception of value. Opening the product / software for the first time is the most important moment.

Simplify. Remove things. To make things beautifully simple, you must “go deep”. Engineer for simplicity from the ground up.

Sweat the small stuff. Error messages should be few, human, and hopeful. “Fatal error” is not human, and not hopeful. It is a fatal error.

You’ve got to love it. If you don’t love it, you haven’t got it quite right yet.

Aim for perfection “inside the box”, too, where nobody will ever see. In the code. Write code you’d want to sign your name to….

In-still in your team that you expect them to do great things, and you will get them to do great things.

In closing, the man behind Apple possessed a vision that knew no bounds – and he looked for this in his people too quoting:

“While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”

That you did Mr Jobs, that you did………..

 

Walter Isaacson – Author of ‘Steve Jobs’

http://hbr.org/2012/04/the-real-leadership-lessons-of-steve-jobs/ar/pr?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter


Copying From Microsoft Office Is Bad!

Recently, we’ve come across a lot of issues with websites where random crashes are occurring and/or specific functions aren’t being called in workflows.

After tracing through these issues for a length of time, we come to the root of the issue: Copying text from a Microsoft Office application appends unneeded tags, as well as copies over bad special characters!

For example, an HTML compliant apostrophe is simply a line down. However, the apostrophe from MS Word or Excel is usually curved. The same can be said for an HTML compliant hyphen, which is a short hyphen, whereas MS Word will convert this to a long hyphen.

Usually, the characters do not cause much concern as they are misinterpreted by the HMTL and thus foreign symbols are displayed : ’

However, when the unneeded tags are copied over, the system cannot interpret these tags, and thus breaks by stopping right there. Unfortunately, there is no way of knowing that the issue is a result of this unless you’re actively looking for this scenario, so my advice to you all is :

DO NOT COPY FROM MS WORD OR EXCEL DIRECTLY INTO A WEBPAGE!!!

Use an intermediate step, like copying from Word or Excel to Notepad, and then from Notepad to a Webpage!


Customer Feedback

At Adhere we’re determined to continue to improve our services and relationships with our customers and partners. We’d really really appreciate it if you could find two minutes to answer the questions below. It will really help us continue to improve.

[SURVEYS 1]


Augmented Reality

This quick video was just our little in house joke around the topic of Augmented Reality ‘being knocked up in a day’. AR is an interesting subject but yet to really grab the attention of the masses. I’ve seen some pretty interesting mobile apps and other applications for it, but feel it’s still very much in it’s infancy in the wider world.

P.S. we’re calling the dancing kitten with our Director – Bobbie’s – head: Bobcat.


SagePay Test Cards

I thought it might be useful for us to have a page to reference SagePay Test cards.

SagePay says;

Which means;

Billing Address: 88

Set BillingAddress1 to 88

Billing PostCode: 412

Set BillingPostCode to 412

These billing address values are the only values which will return as Matched. Any other values will return a Not Matched.

For completeness here is the rest of the above link’s data;

· Expiry date: any future date

· CV2: 123

Card Type

Protx Card Name

Card Number

Issue Number

Visa

VISA

4929000000006

n/a

Visa Delta

DELTA

4462000000000003

n/a

Visa Electron UK Debit

UKE

4917300000000008

n/a

Mastercard

MC

5404000000000001

n/a

UK Maestro

MAESTRO

5641820000000005

01

International Maestro

MAESTRO

300000000000000004

n/a

Solo

SOLO

6334900000000005

1

American Express

AMEX

374200000000004

n/a

Japan Credit Bureau (JCB)

JCB

3569990000000009

n/a

Diners Club

DC

36000000000008

n/a

 

Hope this helps everyone who needs it!




Why Your Checkout Sucks and Loses You Money

A prospective customer has reached the point on your site where they’ve decided to buy, the items are in the basket ready to go.

Getting the customer to this point has cost you money. Whether you’ve spent money on Pay-Per-Click, SEO, Social media or other advertising or not, you’ve still spent time and money building your site. Wouldn’t it be a shame if a crappy checkout process turned someone who is ready to buy around and sent them to a competitor?

This exact scenario happens thousands of times a day, and there’s really no need for it. Think of your checkout process from a customers point of view for a moment, it has one purpose and one purpose only:

MAKE IT EASY FOR ME TO GIVE YOU MY MONEY IN EXCHANGE FOR STUFF.

If any part of your checkout doesn’t help with the above then it needs to go. Does asking me to create an account, tell you my mother’s maiden name, where I was

born, and the name of my first pet help me? Does suddenly adding extra costs that weren’t made clear earlier help?

Once again, any part of your checkout that doesn’t help me quickly and easily hand over my cash should go. We took this approach with a client’s site recently and upped sales by nearly 40%. Now this checkout process was extraordinarily long winded and clunky to begin with, we’re not saying that revamping your checkout is a magic bullet, but even if you only got a 5% increase, think about what that would look like every month from here on in?

Google did a great viral video on what most online checkouts would be like if they were in a real store. Kind of seems obvious when it’s put like that doesn’t it?


Tastes from around the World pt.1

Friday 13th saw the introduction of ‘Adhere’s Tastes from around the World’.

It’s conception was devised whilst travelling (half asleep I might add) in the back of a car back to Brum after a long day of meetings down in the ‘Big Smoke’ – no doubt assisted by the fact that we could not find a decent KFC anywhere along the way. Whilst dreaming of Jerk Chicken, Curry Goat and Sweetbread – can you tell i’m of Caribbean descent – I unwittingly mumbled ‘Let’s have a Tastes of the World day every Friday where we each take turns to bring in some of our finest culinary delights!!!! What a mistake….. Of course, muggins here was immediately volunteered to go first.

Having slogged around Asda, dodging ASBO trolley pushers and their children, I then set about creating a masterful selection for my colleagues to get stuck into over talk of Drupal, WordPress and Magento. Brain food, i’ll give ’em Brain food……

What to cook? More importantly how to cook it? Would they like it? Just some of the questions ringing in my ears. As the clock in my kitchen ticked past 1am, the shout was a definitive ‘Who cares if they like it!!!’ The morning came and I presented a quite magnificent selection of Jerk Chicken with obligatory Bajan Hot pepper sauce, A Quorn salad infused with Jerk seasoning and Mango – for Ed ‘The Adhere Alchemist’ (I even took care of the Veggie), followed by a truly addictive ‘Spiced Bun’ for afters!!!

I have set my stall out and the bar has been raised to stratospheric levels – follow that Tech Monkeys!!!!!

Bring on next week when apparently Mexico is coming to Digbeth in a flurry of chillies and salsa…. Or it’ll end up being my turn again!!!!!!


How Google Ads can suck all the profit out your business, leaving you worse off and your customers no better off, and what you can do to beat the system

Summary: a bid-based per-per click advertising system like Google Adwords can suck all the profit out of your market. But there are things you can do to stop this happening to you.

google logo

Google is hungry. Don't let them eat your profits.

Let’s imagine you’re called Acme Widgets, and you sell Widgets.

Say these widgets cost you £1 each to manufacture and deliver.

So long as you can sell the widgets for more than £1, you make a profit.

Now let’s say you want to start advertising.

You decide to run a Google pay-per-click campaign, and you bid at 10p per click. It turns out that you have a 10% conversion rate on these clicks – in other words, you sell one widget for every 10 people who click through to your site. Each person’s click is costing you 10p, so the 10 clicks you need (on average) to make a sale cost you £1.

So now your actual cost-of-sale price is £2 per widget: £1 in manufacturing and delivery costs, and £1 in advertising costs. So long as you can sell your widgets for more than £2, you are making a profit.

So you decide to sell your widgets at £2.50.

You’re happy. You’re making 50p profit on each widget.

Now along comes a competitor, Wacme Widgets. Wacme also sell widgets, and their manufacturing costs are the same as yours.

To compete with you, they try out-bidding you on Google so that their ads are more likely to appear at the top of the Google ad list.

They bid 11p per click (in other words, £1.10 per sale, assuming they have the same 10% conversion rate). So they get ranked higher up the Google ad list.

You aren’t going to sit back and let them knock you off our perch at the top of Google’s ad list, so you respond by bidding 12p per click. It’s now costing you £1.20 (12p x 10) in advertising per sale, on top of your £1 manufacturing costs. But that’s still OK, you’re selling our widgets for £2.50, so you’re still making 30p profit (£2.50 – £1.20 – £1) per widget.

But Wacme see what you’re doing, so they raise their bid to 13p. Profit margins are getting squeezed now, but there’s still 20p per widget to be made.

What do you do now? You raise our bid again, to 14p. Now your profit margin is wafer-thin, only 10p per widget.

Now Wacme are in trouble. To out-bid you, they need to raise their bid to 15p. But at that price, there is no profit left to be made: Widgets still sell for £2.50, manufacturing costs are still £1, and advertising costs would be £1.50 (15p x 10), meaning that Wacme would break even, but not make any profit at all.

So Wacme can’t out-bid you on Google now and still hope to make a profit. The best they can do is to match you by bidding 14p per click. So that’s what they do.

Where does that leave you?

Acme and Wacme have both just vaporised their profit margins, from a healthy 50p to a minuscule 10p per widget. All they’ve done is pushed up costs for each other, for no overall gain.

No overall gain? Surely someone has made money out of this?

Ah yes, I forgot. Why, it’s our old friend Mr Google, of course. Where they used to make 10p per click, now, thanks to the competition between Acme and Wacme, they’re making 14 per click.

Magic! It’s like making money out of thin air. Except that it isn’t thin air. It’s your profits.

So what can you do to stop Google taking all your profit? Here are a few ideas.

  • Invest in appropriate search engine optimisation work. With SEO, you can keep your costs fixed – you’re not paying more each time somebody clicks.
  • Target more specific keywords with less competition. Look for niche markets, where you can keep your advertising and SEO costs down. Although there is less volume in niche markets, you may be able to larget multiple niches (see our forthcoming post on The Long Tail), and you should be able to scoop a larger proportion of the business in each niche.
  • Keep innovating, to make your widgets distinct from (and better than) those of your competitors.
  • Work on your conversion rates. If you can double your conversion rate (to 20%, in the example above), then your advertising costs per sale halve. Now, if you bid 15p per click, you’re only paying 75p (15p x 5) in advertising per sale. That’s nice. That means you can make 75p profit per widget (£2.50 – £1 – 75p) even while out-bidding Wacme, who, because they’re stuck with a 10% conversion rate, can’t afford to match your 15p bid. Win.
  • Work on your Google Ad targeting. The ranking of Google Ads is weighted by your bid. But your bid is not the only factor. Click-through rates matter too. So better-targeted ads, with lower pay-per-click bids but higher click-through rates, can leapfrog advertisers who are paying more. Used appropriately, this technique can improve your conversion rate too.

If all else fails, buying shares in Google might not be a bad back-up plan.

Oh, and one other thing. I’ve only picked on Google here because they run the dominant online advertising platform at the moment. But the same warnings – and the same solutions – apply to any competitive pay-per-click advertising system.


Liquid soap dispensers that miss the target

The liquid soap dispensers in the lavatories at work are the bog-standard variety, the type found in their millions in workplace and public toilets all over the world.

Most times I use them, the little splodge of soap shoots straight past, round, or, sometimes, seemingly right through my outstretched palms, and ends up on the basin, or on the floor. Hardly ever does it land on the first attempt where it is supposed to: in my hands.

soap dispenser

Is it just me?

Is it just me? Or is there a design problem here?

Let’s be generous. Let’s say 50% of the soap dispensed by these off-kilter soap squirters ends up where it is meant to go: into the hands of the soapee. The other 50% is wasted, either going straight down the basin, or, worse, onto the floor, where somebody has to clean it up.

soap in the basin

Missed!

So for every £100 of soap we buy, £50 is wasted.

Bug, or feature?

From the point of view of soap manufacturers and distributors, this is good news. They sell twice as much soap per soapee as they would do if their soap hit the target every time.

From the point of view of the people whose job it is to refill the soap dispensers, it depends, I suppose, on whether their contract pays them per unit of soap they install, or just a flat rate to keep the premises in soap.

From the point of view of the soapee, it’s slightly annoying, but only very slightly. Usually on the second or third attempt I manage to get my hands in the right position and operate the dispenser with just the right amount of force to get the soap to land where I want it to. The soap that lands on the floor is (I’m ashamed to say) someone else’s problem – a negative externality, in economic terms. I’m not paying for the wasted soap, and I’m not the one who has to clean it up.

But somebody is paying for the wasted soap (and the clean-up). Most probably, it is the landlord of the premises. Or, maybe, it’s the company whose job it is to keep the soap dispensers filled (if they’re paid a flat rate). But even if they are paid a flat rate, they have probably factored the soap-wastage factor into the flat-rate they charge to the landlord. So really, the landlord pays.

But then, the landlord has probably already factored the cost of the wasted soap into the rent his tenants pay.

So actually, Adhere pays for the wasted soap.

But then, Adhere has probably already factored the cost of the wasted soap (and all the other overheads which we have to cover) into the rate we charge our clients.

So are our clients paying for the wasted soap?

That doesn’t sound so good. Fortunately, they’re probably not. Because we work in a competitive market, we try to keep our prices as low as possible. We can’t just arbitrarily increase what we charge our clients to cover the cost of all that wasted soap. If we tried to, it would be an invitation to our clients to go and do business with a competitor with lower costs and a better soap-management system in place.

So who the heck is going to pay for that wasted soap then?

Here’s the bad news: it’s probably me. If the company can’t pass on the cost of the wasted soap to its clients, it will have to cover the cost by finding efficiencies elsewhere. Like by paying me less, for example.

Oh dear. Now I’m really cross.

What am I going to do? Well, I could go and work for a different company with higher salaries and a better soap-management system. But that’s a big decision to make over a bit of wasted soap. And it’s a bit unfair on Adhere, since they’re not actually responsible for the soap management system in Fazeley Studios anyway.

I could, I suppose, resolve to be more careful with the soap dispensers, and try to reduce my personal soap wastage rate from its current high level (I reckon it’s over 75% at the moment). There might be training available for this. There might even be a government grant or tax-break to help cover the costs of the training.

But that’s not going to help very much. There are a couple of hundred people working at Fazeley Studios. Even if I improve my personal soap wastage rate, it’s hardly going to make a dent in the overall soap wastage rate measured across all two-hundred-plus soapees.

The other possibility is that, somewhere out there, someone has invented a better soap dispenser. A soap dispenser which does what it’s supposed to: shoots its soap right into the palm of your hands, on time, on target, first time, every time. It can’t be that hard, can it?

Maybe I could persuade our landlord to get these installed instead.

But why would the landlord want to do that? We’ve already established who’s paying for the soap. It’s not him, it’s me. So is he going to want to spend hundreds of pounds on new, laser-guided, computer-controlled, nanometre-accuracy soap dispensers when, as far as he’s concerned, the shortcomings of the existing dispensers are not really his problem?

I suspect not.

Oh well, it looks like there are no easy answers here. Maybe the best solution would be for the landlord to remove the soap dispensers altogether (on the understanding that there would be a commensurate reduction in rent, of course), and for everyone to bring in their own soap and to be responsible for their own soap management.

I can’t see that being a popular proposal, though.

So maybe we’re stuck with the system we’ve got, inefficiencies and all.

I just feel sorry for the guy who’s invented the high-accuracy soap dispenser which could save hundreds of poundsworth of soap over its lifetime, but which no-one will buy because they don’t think they’re paying for wasted soap.