Posts Tagged ‘digital’
Edinburgh Assay Office will launch the world’s first consumer online assurance scheme for jewellery – Assay Assured – today at Somerset House in London. Retailers already signed up to Assay Assured include: Links of London, Ortak, Monica Vinader and Clogau Gold. The hallmark is the oldest form of consumer protection and this announcement marks a significant moment in its history as the hallmark goes digital.
Over the last five years the online sale of fake jewellery has seen a sharp rise with scam sites and rogue traders on auction sites springing up faster than they can be closed down. As shoppers cannot inspect the goods they buy online Assay Assured aims to offer the consumer protection against the risk of buying unhallmarked as well as counterfeit branded jewellery.
While more and more people shop online, trust is still one of the biggest barriers to trade. Research by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has shown that shoppers are far more likely to shop from sites they know and trust rather than small independent sites or auction sites. It was the same lack of trust that first led to the introduction of hallmarking 700 years ago as a way to prove the precious metal content of an item.
Scott Walter, CEO of Edinburgh Assay Office explains: “It is not possible to detect by sight or by touch the precious metal content of an item. UK Hallmarks have provided consumer protection for hundreds of years by guaranteeing the precious metal content in a piece of jewellery. Today online shoppers have no way of checking whether a piece of jewellery is hallmarked or not. Assay Assured is a digital solution to an ancient problem and we believe it will provide the protection consumers need online.”
It is a legal requirement that all gold, silver, platinum and palladium jewellery sold in the UK must be hallmarked by one of four independent Assay Offices in Edinburgh, London, Sheffield and Birmingham. Precious metals are rarely used in their purest form but are alloyed with lesser metals to achieve the desired strength, durability and colour. Edinburgh Assay Office has been testing and hallmarking for 550 years. Today it is the fastest growing Assay Office in Europe, working with some of the world’s premier jewellery brands.
Trustmarks are a well established solution to the issue of consumer trust online with research showing that consumers are more likely to buy from a site with a trust mark as Andy Mulcahy, of the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) explains:
“Trust remains one of the key elements that determine whether a consumer will shop with an online retailer. The Assay Assured scheme will greatly improve confidence in jewellery sites by communicating to consumers that the retailer is compliant with a code of conduct that ensures the products advertised meet industry standards. Increasing trust in retail sites is particularly important at the moment as cross-border trade is really opening up, and making a purchase from a site based in another country is highly dependent on reassurance that the retailer is genuine and compliant with standards.”
The Assay Assured scheme will be underpinned by a strict code of conduct for online jewellery sales, in compliance with the Hallmarking Act and also covering the sale of counterfeit branded jewellery. Before accrediting a site Assay Assured will first carry out an audit of the online retailer and their website. Only if they meet the requirements they will be asked to sign up to Assay Assured jewellery retailer’s agreement.
The agreement will authorise the retailer to carry the Assay Assured jewellery retailer logo on their website. The logo will link directly to a unique secure certificate, which will confirm their authenticity as an Assay Assured retailer. Within the certificate the consumer will be able to link to a consumer focused landing page giving details about the scheme and UK hallmarking.
Although consumers will, in the first instance be encouraged to report any queries relating to the code of conduct to the retailer, the certificate and the landing page will also allow consumers to report a query to Assay Assured about a product, should they fail to resolve their query with the retailer.
Assay Assurance will provide an independent arbitration service for retailers and consumers if a product is suspected of being in breach of the code, if the dispute cannot first be resolved between the retailer and the consumer.
To find out more about Assay Assured visit: www.assayassured.co.uk
For more information contact Sarah Lee.
Digital design agency Heehaw has been chosen by legal, financial and property specialists Pagan Osborne to redesign the company’s website and help it retain its strong position as large new players like Tesco and the AA move into the legal market.
Heehaw won the contract based on the proven creativity and skills of its staff and its broad view of communication, which fitted with Pagan Osborne’s ‘360 lifestyle’ approach to customer care over different life stages. Both companies share a philosophy of ongoing, powerful communication with clients.
Pagan Osborne’s Marketing and Business Development Director Tania Hemming says: “The legal landscape is going to change dramatically over the next year, and we really needed someone with insight, someone who will help us up the ante when the big players come in. We have always been innovative and forward thinking, with a different angle on selling legal and financial products, and we quickly recognised that Heehaw has the right skills and attitude to help us succeed in that. We also really like the people, and that was a key point for us – they’re people we want to work with.”
Pagan Osborne was also pleased to work with a full service agency based in Edinburgh, allowing regular meetings and exchanges of ideas.
The website will be an important portal as the market changes, and Heehaw will ensure Pagan Osborne stays ahead of the competition with a site that works as a ‘conversion tool’ in itself – getting users to complete a Lifestyle Survey, educating them on what services are available to them, and showing that Pagan Osborne is the right organisation to provide them.
Mark Strickland, Managing Director of Heehaw says: “We are very excited to be working with Pagan Osborne and feel we have the skills and expertise to really help to position the company well, and to contribute ideas to their ongoing digital development.”
Future work will include a redesign of the company’s intranet, and several other projects that promise to be very exciting for the future of both Heehaw and Pagan Osborne.
For more information contact: Sarah Lee.
DrupalCamp Edinburgh 2011
Venue: Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh, 10 Crichton Street, Edinburgh.
Date: 21 May 2011, 9am – 5pm.
Drupal users from across Scotland will come together this weekend for the second annual DrupalCamp Edinburgh. The focus of the free event will be on building the Scottish Drupal community and encouraging its adoption by developers and businesses.
Drupal is an open-source content management system written in PHP. It is supported by an active developer community and is free to download and share. Community is at the heart of the Drupal project and face-to-face events for users take place all over the world.
Duncan Davidson, one of the organisers of the event, says: “We have sessions aimed at all levels of practitioner, from beginner through to advanced. The aim is to bring people together and help them to see the benefits of developing websites and applications using Drupal.”
He continues: “Around 80 delegates have registered so far, an increase of almost 50% on last year already. We have been overwhelmed by the support we’ve received from our sponsors and couldn’t do it without them.”
In addition to full community and business sessions and lightning talks – a series of 15-minute presentations to give new speakers an opportunity to present – the closing session of the day will discuss the formation of a Scottish Drupal Association. It is hoped that a nationwide organisation could support user meetups that already take place in Edinburgh and Glasgow, as well as encouraging expansion across other parts of the country.
DrupalCamp Edinburgh will take place in the Informatics Forum at the University of Edinburgh on Saturday 21 May 2011. To find out more or to register, please visit http://dcedinburgh.drupalscotland.org.
For more information, please contact Duncan Davidson.
Online accounting provider FreeAgent is giving away three months free trial of their service to celebrate the end of the tax year. Their service is specially designed to meet the needs of freelancers and small business owners, many of whom work from home.
More than 2.8 million UK businesses operate from home, and they’re a force to be reckoned with generating over £284 billion. ‘Being close to the family’ is a key motivation for home business owners, with 33% citing this as a reason for starting an enterprise from home. (Source: Enterprise Nation, Home Business Report 2009).
To benefit from FreeAgent’s promotion enter the special code “HOME” when signing up for a free trial on the site. The offer is valid until 30 April 2011.
Ed Molyneux, founder and CEO of FreeAgent says: “The start of the new tax year is almost upon us so now is the perfect time to get on top of your accounts. Many freelancers and small business owners don’t look at their accounts because they’re worried about what they might find or it can seem complex and difficult. But hiding from your accounts is never a solution so instead, we want to give businesses an easy, clear and up to the minute picture of their finances to help them stop worrying.”
The FreeAgent software has a clean and simple design that is easy to use. As well as making accounting easy for business owners to understand, FreeAgent offers unique real-time projections of tax liabilities including VAT, Self Assessment Income Tax and Corporation Tax. Users can also analyse bank statements, see live profit and loss reports, send and track invoices, track time and expenses, and manage projects and payments.
FreeAgent has pioneered online accounting since the launch of its service in 2007, rapidly growing a loyal community of thousands of freelancers and small business users.
As well as making accounting easy for business owners to understand, FreeAgent offers real-time projections of tax liabilities including VAT, Self Assessment Income Tax and Corporation Tax. Users can also analyse bank statements, see live profit and loss reports, send and track invoices, track time and expenses, and manage projects.
The company is run by founders Ed Molyneux, Olly Headey and Roan Lavery who – originally freelancers themselves – needed a finance tool that would give them a clear picture of their business accounts and so FreeAgent was born.
When surveyed, a remarkable 99.5% of users said they would recommend FreeAgent to their friends, and it was voted Best SME Accounting Software in the 2010 Software Satisfaction Awards. FreeAgent is listed on the Telegraph High Growth Index for privately-held UK firms.
Hosted in the cloud, FreeAgent is accessible around the clock, from any internet connection, which is ideal for the way many small business owners and freelancers work.
FreeAgent is subscription based with costs starting at £15 per month for a sole trader, £20 for a partnership and £25 for a limited company.
Try it for free at www.freeagentcentral.com
Or follow @freeagent
This is obviously not going to be the length of a novel, but it will definitely be much longer than what any blog guru would advise a blog post to be.
I shall try and keep it short and punchy whenever the story allows, bear with me!
So. I’m the intern. Hooray!
The task I was given was to customise Hot Tin Roof’s Facebook fan page.
“Easy” you think – because that’s what I thought. As a member of the so called “digital generation” and especially benefiting from seeing the social media landscape take shape I thought this was going to be a piece of cat. Sorry, cake!
I was wrong.
It’s a minefield out there. Be afraid. Be VERY afraid.
I’d say the most common pitfall is to look at what other companies have done and assume the same approach will work for your company. When comparing yourself to others don’t forget your company is completely different.
So, bearing that in mind, hold your breath and dive into the social media pool, take a good look around and see what other companies are doing. Be inspired by the “dos” and steer clear of the “don’ts”!
Remember, talent borrows – genius steals! Steals and adapts that is. A word a lot of marketers might want to throw up on by now, but true nonetheless.
At the end of the day, nobody likes a copycat, but everybody admires the person who manages to take someone else’s concept that worked in an it’s-alright-I-guess-nothing-special-though kind of way and turn it into something absolutely amazing.
But to go back to the start, the very FIRST thing you do before anything else: set your objectives.
Why are you creating this page? What’s its purpose? What are you hoping to achieve? The answers to these questions will then pave the way towards your content and interaction strategies.
A B2B company like Hot Tin Roof will not expect massive customer engagement, but will use the page as a tool to drive traffic to its own website and also, show that they are out there playing the field and keeping up with trends.
So where do you begin? I can with great confidence state that the process will be different for each and every company. First of all, it depends on whether you already have a fan page that needs an upgrade or if you’re starting from scratch with a blank canvas.
In this case, we started off with a seemingly trivial thing – Hot Tin Roof’s profile picture.
Let me tell you this: in the world of social media nothing should be considered trivial. What picture do we want? Do we go with the logo or use illustrations that are well known and associated with our brand? What size does it have to be so the thumbnail image doesn’t get cropped? It’s all in the detail!
After much debate we chose one of the illustrations from Hot Tin Roof’s website, a blue megaphone. By positioning it facing right it looks like the status is “coming out “ of the megaphone and the colour also matches the Facebook blue. Do have a look, it’s lovely.
After having settled on the profile picture I moved on to customising our own tabs, which was when I found out that Facebook has its own coding language, FBML (Facebook Markup Language). If you have a basic understanding of HTML (or any other coding languages for that matter) FBML won’t be a problem. If not: STEP AWAY FROM THE COMPUTER.
Not a programmer? There’s a quick fix to that! Put together the design in Photoshop (or any graphics editing program of your choice) and just simply upload the image. BOOM – you’re done.
No particularly elaborate documentation on how to build your landing page or any other customised tabs seems to exist. There are a couple of websites, such as mashable.com and numerous blogs that provide you with the basic guidelines but none of them have seem to manage to cover all of the basics. However, there are things you will discover as you go along.
Below you’ll find the main things I’ve come across which hopefully will make someone’s life a lot easier.
Jo’s Facebook Fives:
1. Style it up.
If using CSS you have to load it externally but different browsers will treat this differently. What you can do, to make it as simple as possible (simple is good!), is to inline the styles directly into the HTML. If you insist on bringing in a separate stylesheet make sure of the following:
- the file must have the extension “.css”
- only use the style rules, not the style tags
- must be a plain text file
The benefit of using CSS is obviously the flexibility in applying and making changes to your design using a stand-alone stylesheet.
2. Mix and match.
You can mix FBML and HTML as much as you like or simply convert HTML into FBML.
3. Online it is!
You can’t upload your own videos onto the page, they have to be embedded via Youtube, Vimeo or similar video hosting sites. (Not pleased with this, Facebook make it happen!) Same thing with images, they must also be hosted online. I suggest you host your images on Photobucket instead of Flickr. Flickr is not always compatible with Facebook.
4. Dimensions with intentions!
This is one of the most basic tips I can give you but equally crucial.
Obey the given dimensions like you’ll never get to eat pancakes again:
Profile picture: max width of 200px
FBML tabs: max width of 520px
Mind your margins!
When it comes to applications, do your research! It might be time consuming but oh so worth it! You will soon discover that the descriptions always make apps sound amazing – but in reality they don’t work.
The most annoying thing is probably that all the files you bring in to the customised tabs have to be hosted on a web server as opposed to on your computer. And a final word of advice: bear in mind that different browsers read code differently!
And then it all changed…
By the time my internship at Hot Tin Roof had come to an end (my very last day, ironically enough) I found out that the FBML applications will no longer be available and customised fan pages will from now on use iFrames.
What a slap in the face! But. That is the nature of the digital landscape. It moves quickly, ruthlessly and usually without warning!
Good news is that the switch from FBML apps to iFrames won’t have any effect on your fan page. The FBML tabs will still work in the same way, you can edit them in the same old fashion, you just can’t add any new ones (as of March 11 they claimed, however I had a go at this and I was adding away! Liars)!
Which ultimately means that this novel was not in vain.
So. Finally. What have I learned except for all of the above?
1. Facebook still needs a lot of work.
2. Facebook will not replace the need for websites. (Yet.)
3. I love Facebook.
A response from CIVIC
On 3 March the Scottish Government launched its new strategic plan for Scotland’s digital future. It will be significant for our communications infrastructure, for how government intends to engage with the Scottish people and for public sector expenditure in Scotland.
The strategy cites a report that puts the average cost of an online transaction at just 8 pence, compared to £10.53 for a face to face transaction or £3.39 for a telephone transaction.
The implication for how the government expects to interface with its citizens in the coming years is clear. In what is expected to be a protracted public sector recession, citizen demand will remain high, while resources become ever more scarce. Where possible, government agencies will be encouraged to bring their services online.
The strategy cites a number of areas in which web applications will play a more significant role: entitlement cards; secure storage and sharing of citizen data; storage and sharing of property data; e-procurement and planning, to name but a few.
At CIVIC we’re enthusiastic about all these things: for the geeky types who work here it has always been more a question of when these developments will take place rather than if, and the pace of change has been frustratingly slow.
And what we’re seeing in Scotland’s new digital strategy is a tentative unfolding of the arms towards, if not quite a vigorous embrace of, open data standards – the idea that publicly accessible data held in robust and structured formats is something that can work for the public good, and help drive innovation in the economy.
And we feel that any attempt to open up data to consumption by third parties has some useful side effects too, like compelling data managers to consider security, long term management, and promote the adoption of rational, easy to understand data structures.
But while a move towards more online transactions is adopted in the strategy, the Scottish Government would appear to have no problem with the implication that there may be 32 local systems developed for the collection of council tax, or the payment of parking fines, or the reporting of minor crime. And that’s a bit odd, because there have been some notable achievements that have seen Local Authorities and government working well together, such as the www.tellmescotland.gov.uk site that delivers information public notices (things like planning and licensing applications) from across Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
Both as tax payers, and web developers we would expect to see a move towards simplification, automation and a reduction in duplication, but this principle is nowhere to be found in the strategy.
CIVIC is also concerned that there is no indictment of the monolithic ICT partnership agreements that have dogged the public sector for years, locking Local Authorities and government agencies into hyper-inflated costs charged by large technology corps. We would like to see more cost transparency on public sector ICT, and we believe this would open the way for more responsive, cost effective solutions form Scotland’s smaller IT firms.
It’s a kind of achievement to write 50 pages of a national Digital Strategy without once mentioning Open Source, and this is disappointing. Open Source – the ability to view and potentially adapt code which you have the right to use because it is either free or available through a license, should surely be a requirement for any Government that is seeking to be in charge of its own destiny.
It’s not just about freedom from corporate control either: the Open Source movement is happily aligned with volunteerism, community and citizenship, ideas which are bandied about a lot elsewhere in government, but not so much in this Digital Strategy.
CIVIC is an independent creative digital agency and has been delivering high profile digital and technical projects in the public and private sector since 2001. Few companies in Scotland today have CIVIC’s strength in combining technology and design into a functional solution. CIVIC’s unique blend of form, function, technology and design enables the agency to make great digital ideas work online. For more information, visit www.civicuk.com
Creative thinker, plain talker, great writer, media junkie, good fun, massive energy. Is this you?
With big plans and a growing client list we are looking for a talented account executive with the enthusiasm and vision to help us build on our success.
For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
And to apply just send your CV (with your favourite film, book and icon) to email@example.com by Friday 4 February 2010. Interviews take place w/c 7 February 2010.
Scottish Government’s commitment to small business and enabling small and medium enterprises (“SMEs”) in Scotland to compete for high value contracts was underlined with CIVIC’s appointment to a three year multi-supplier framework. A move that will allow CIVIC to compete on a level playing field with large multi-national organisations.
CIVIC, a Scottish company headquartered in Edinburgh, has been selected against some fierce competition from major European and International competitors to provide web applications and development for the Scottish Government, Associated Departments and Agencies to the Scottish Government and Non-Departmental Public Bodies (NDPBs) following its appointment to The Scottish Government Multi Supplier Framework for Provision of Applications, Web Development and Associated Services.
This news sees CIVIC taking the initiative and the lead role in bringing together a powerful consortium including leading business and technology service company, Logica, as well as other Scottish businesses User Vision, Rapid Mobile and Company Net. It is this diversity of resource, experience and skills that allows CIVIC to offer value for money and one of the most comprehensive and innovative portfolios of web development services available on the digital landscape today.
Polly Purvis of ScotlandIS, the trade body for software, IT and creative technology businesses in Scotland comments: “We are delighted that a Scottish SME like CIVIC has demonstrated the capability to make it through onto Government frameworks. The SME sector is where real innovation, creativity and ideas lie and it is critical small businesses are given the opportunity to compete for public sector work on the same basis as the industry’s multinationals. This news clearly shows how well respected CIVIC is to have been able to pull together such a powerful consortium and I am really pleased to see this dynamic mix of small businesses working alongside global companies.”
CIVIC is an independent creative digital agency and has been delivering high profile digital and technical projects in the public and private sector since 2001. Few companies in Scotland today have CIVIC’s strength in combining technology and design into a functional solution. This unique ability is also underpinned with the industry standard ISO9001 and ISO27001 accreditations, offering CIVICs’ clients the reassurance they need when delivering complex projects. This unique ability to integrate form and function has helped secure its place on this particular multi supplier framework.
Greig Tosh, CIVIC’s MD explains: “We are a company of creative people; made up of design, usability and technology experts. We understand clearly that websites and web applications not only have to function but have to engage and communicate with an increasingly diverse audience. Our blend of technology and design means we can make great digital ideas work online.”
“To be accepted onto this multi supplier framework alongside much larger companies is an extraordinary achievement and testament to the consistent standard of work the team at CIVIC delivers. I am extremely proud of CIVIC today and excited about what the future holds for us.”
A rigorous process of selection was conducted by the CGCoPE over a number of months to ensure that all the companies appointed to the multi supplier framework have the skills and experience as well as the resources to be able to deliver value for money projects during this time of budgetary constraints in the public sector.
Aiden Honley, Head of Logica’s Scottish Public Sector says: “Scotland has a proud history of innovation and it is widely recognised that the appropriate use of technology is one of the surest ways of increasing productivity, across all sectors of our economy. Much of Scotland’s most innovative thinking about the application of technology takes place within the SME market and we wanted to use our experience to help innovators deliver real benefits to Scotland. Logica is delighted to have been selected by CIVIC to work with them to deliver services to the Scottish Government through this multi supplier framework.”
Banking innovation and the fight against Internet fraud moves forward today with digital identity company miiCard’s announcement of a strategic development and distribution relationship with Yodlee, Inc., the leading provider of online and mobile personal finance management (PFM) solutions.
miiCard, a patent pending, global, digital identity solution, is soft launching to the financial services industry in Amsterdam, at Sibos, October 28th. miiCard’s aim is to eradicate the final barrier to global trade in financial service products – the often cumbersome and always time consuming need for offline proof of identity before a financial product can be purchased.
Powered by Yodlee, the miiCard Digital Passport enables consumers to prove “they are who they say they are” online, in real-time; enabling them to buy financial products completely online for the first time, in a fashion that meets Anti-Money Laundering laws, Know Your Customer regulations and the Proceeds of Crime Act standards.
Making the announcement at Sibos where miiCard was invited by SWIFT to present at the Innotribe Challenge, James Varga, miiCard’s Founder explains: “Online authentication has become the holy grail for all financial institutions. Proving online identity is the final barrier to global trade in financial services products; and while consumers fall victim to fraud every day, it is critical that we as an industry address the issue and offer a solution fast, and that’s what miiCard, working with Yodlee, intends to do.”
Every day between 70% and 90% of online financial transactions are abandoned when the customer is asked to complete the transaction offline by taking their driving licence, passport or utility bill into their local bank branch to prove identity.
Varga adds: “The Internet world facilitates anonymity, not trust. Our challenge today when conducting business, fighting fraud and protecting the customer, is to create trust between business and consumer without resorting to physical offline identity validation”.
miiCard will be built on the Yodlee 10™ personal finance platform, the first patented, customizable, web platform for financial services. Yodlee is the leading provider of secure, personalized online and mobile PFM services, powering more than 85% of online PFM users at leading bank and portal sites worldwide.
Joseph Polverari, Chief Marketing and Strategy Officer, Yodlee states: “Safer, more efficient online transactions are in ever increasing demand by financial institutions and consumers alike, presenting a significant opportunity. The miiCard Digital Passport is another terrific example of an innovation on the Yodlee 10 platform that we believe will help bring consumers and financial services providers closer together, in a way that is beneficial to both.”
Owned and managed by the individual, miiCard allows the consumer to track, monitor and so take control of their online identity for the first time. miiCard is free to the consumer and charged to the vendor on a transactional basis.
miiCard introduces the concept of online trust, enabling customers to buy financial products completely online, in a single session, for the very first time. Participating financial services providers can expect improved customer conversion rates, reduced abandonment, lower operational costs and fewer incidents of fraud.