09 Feb 2021

Why you should own your website - the importance of developer independence

Early on in my career, I remember the frustration of inheriting a website that was locked into a development company that provided terrible service. It was the first website I had managed, built using a bespoke Content Management System (CMS) developed and managed by this company. Requests for bug fixes or changes were often ignored or done badly, and I spent a lot of my time chasing up the developers to get anything done. I also found that the charges were far higher than they should be. However, we were stuck with this developer as they built and owned the software. I had to start planning
17 Jul 2019

Apprenticeship Essentials

I’ve been working with unionlearn to create a range of new tools for apprentices and those thinking of becoming apprentices. Called Apprenticeship Essentials, this suite of online resources can be accessed either via a dedicated app or on through the unionlearn website. Apprenticeship Essentials has range of features, from pay checking and guidance to elearning and job vacancies. Some of these require registration, but all are free to use. There are guides to apprenticeship basics, entering the world of work, employment rights and how trade unions can help in the workplace. There is also a
17 Jun 2019

Launching Careerzone for unionlearn

Unionlearn, the learning and skills organisation of the Trades Union Congress (TUC), has recently launched a new careers area on their website called ‘Careerszone’. The aim is to provide a ‘one-stop-shop’ with information and resources on careers. I’ve led on the development of this new facility, which uses official ‘big data’ sources to generate careers data alongside other resources. One of the key tools is a comprehensive careers directory, which has a detailed breakdown of almost 400 occupations as classified by the Office for National Statistics. This includes job descriptions, required
11 Apr 2018

Updating website privacy statements for the GDPR

Data Protection laws are undergoing a major upgrade when the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) supersedes the Data Protection Act on the 25th May 2018. These wide-ranging changes are impacting on a number of areas, and one of these is the website privacy statement. Websites have been displaying privacy statements for years, especially since infamous EU Cookie law came into force in 2012. They often take the form of a long page of detailed text. This privacy policy is then linked to on registration forms, website footers or the annoying cookie notification pop-ups some sites decided to
28 Feb 2018

How do visitors access your website?

In a relatively short period of time, smartphones and tablets have completely changed the way we access the web. Long gone is the assumption that each user has a desktop PC. It’s hard to imagine a world now where people don’t spend time glued to the smaller screens of their phones or tablets. While responsive website design now allows the same site to adapt to the different devices, it’s always useful to know how users are accessing a website. Greater prioritisation can be given to the various design elements if we know that, for example, the site is being heavily used by smartphone users or
31 Jan 2018

Why redirects are so important in website redesigns

When websites are redesigned or restructured, one mistake I come across a surprising amount of the time is a failure to use redirects properly. I’ve recently seen this happen on a large, authoritative website for a public sector body. Why are redirects important? Well, when a website changes the address of content or a resource, often as a result of a redesign, then existing links to those resources from other websites, search engines, and social media platforms, will break – unless a redirect is put in place. For example, a webpage address may change from: www.examples.guide/important
08 Sep 2017

How big is your union website in 2017?

A couple of years ago, I looked at the sizes of the websites of all the TUC affiliated unions, to see how they compared. I’ve found myself coming back to this analysis quite often. Various unions have wanted an idea of how large their website is compared to others, or have wanted to judge how their website has changed since a redesign. As a result, I thought it would be useful to update these metrics. For the sake of this comparison, only pages publically indexed in Google are included. It is impossible to include members’ only pages, so please be aware of this limitation. Also, some pages may
14 Jun 2017

The rise of the semantic web

If ten years ago you were asked what the next major trend in website design would be, not many people would have mentioned ‘responsive design’. With the iPhone yet to be launched and the iPad another three years away, people were still happily building websites that worked on a fixed size. It took quite a few years for website development companies to start adopting the practice of making websites that automatically adjusted to the screen size, a now well-established technique called responsive design. Throughout that time, I saw some organisations spend large sums on websites that missed this
12 May 2017

Careersmart 2.0

Back in 2014, Prospect launched the Careersmart.org.uk website, providing information and guidance on careers and work issues from a union perspective. The site has recently undergone a major revision, with the new version launched at the end of April 2017. I’ve been leading on the redevelopment. The main focus of the redevelopment has been tapping into a new government big data source called ‘LMI (Labour Market Information) for All’. This online data portal connects and standardises existing data sources, such as the Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings (ASHE) and the Labour Force Survey (LFS)