09 Mar 2021

Joining a union online in 2021

Expectations around good quality online services and facilities have never been higher. This isn’t limited just to internet-based companies, but for all organisations with an online presence. This includes trade unions. Back in 2012, I carried out research into online joining facilities, looking at the offerings from all the TUC affiliated unions. I’d developed one of the first ever full union online joining systems for Prospect back in 2005 and had always been keen to see progress in this area. In 2012 I found that 18 unions offered full online joining, with a further 10 offering a partial
09 Jun 2015

How to improve your website navigation

As well as designing and building websites, I'm often asked to review existing sites to help improve them. One common problem I come across is poor navigation. Navigation can make or break your website. If visitors can’t find what they are looking for, they become frustrated and leave. This is especially the case for websites with lots of information, and many of the websites I've worked on fit into this category. While website navigation is a wide subject, there are some key principles that should be adhered to when designing a navigation structure. The navigation should take into account the
24 Mar 2015

What is responsive design?

Every website I've built over the last few years have been developed using a technique called ‘Responsive Design’. I'm often asked what this is and why it’s needed, so I’d thought I’d explain this approach to website design. Before the rise of devices like smartphones and tablets, almost every visit to a website was made on a desktop or laptop computer. This made designing websites quite straightforward. You knew what kind of screen width most of your visitors would be using, and you could design a website around these fixed dimensions. Now people access websites through a plethora of gadgets
23 Jan 2014

Apps vs responsive websites

“Should we develop an app or a mobile friendly website?” I’m increasingly coming across this question. It’s important to understand the pros and cons of each approach. Against a background of rapid growth in the use of smartphones and tablets, many organisations are unsure about the best way to target users on these devices. Apps are one obvious way to engage with this audience. However, HTML5, the latest version of the mark-up language that powers websites, has been pushing the growth in responsive website design, making more websites accessible to smartphone and tablets. Responsive design
15 Oct 2013

Which union websites work well on smartphones, tablets and widescreens?

I recently developed a new website for UCATT, the union for construction workers. Most of their members do not work at a desktop PC - so it was vital for the website to display well on smartphones. This is increasingly required for all websites, not just union sites. The biggest single change to website design over the last couple of years is driven by the increasing variety of screen sizes used to access them. Five years ago it was simple. A website would be designed to perform well at a fixed size that fitted well with the average desktop screen of the day. Now, people are using smartphones
23 Jul 2013

Which tools are the best for unions to organise with online?

I ran a workshop on digital organising at the recent Prospect Connect Sector Conference and I asked the delegates - union reps in the technology sector - to form into groups and score the online tools we were discussing for effectiveness. I’ve taken the results from the workshop and averaged the scores given by the groups. The highest rated tool was email, with an average score of 8.25 out of 10 amongst the delegates. This was not a surprise, as although email is a comparatively ‘old’ technology, it has some great advantages. In contrast to Facebook and Twitter, almost everyone has an email
23 Aug 2012

The EU Cookie Monster

You may have noticed over the past few months that some websites you’ve visited have asked for your permission to use ‘cookies’. Not to be confused with the American biscuit, a cookie is a small text file that websites use to store data on your computer. The reason behind these messages is a controversial European Union law which came into force in May. Cookies have been used since an early web browser called Netscape introduced them back in 1994. By allowing websites to store small amounts of data on your computer, services like online shopping baskets and personalised content can be created
08 Apr 2010

The General Election and online campaigning

The increasing importance of the media has been a feature of recent general elections. This next election is no exception, but one thing that has changed is the emphasis on online campaigning. The Obama campaign was much heralded for clever use of online strategy. Some of this was hype though – the failed Democrat nominee John Edwards and Republican nominee Ron Paul actually had more advanced online campaigns. However, when it came down to a battle between Obama and McCain, the Democratic candidate’s superior use of the internet was seen a key contributor to his success. Now British political