Thursday 30 June 2011

Google have been rather busy...

By now i'm sure most people have at least heard of the +1 button from Google, we're currently working out where to put it on our websites for a trial run.

But, alongside the announcement of +1 comes two more interesting and rather low key releases. The first being Google+ and the second being Google's addition of social media tracking within Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools.

Google+ appears to be the latest social networking attempt from Google and will hopefully take into account the lessons learnt from Buzz & Wave! The idea involves a number of strands, listed below and will be available on your mobile (Android, Apple, Blackberry, Nokia/Symbian, Windows Mobile) through a mixture of native apps and web apps.

Circles - An interesting way of sorting your contact into more manageable groups, family in one circle, friends in another.
Instant Upload - I love this idea, I already have an expanded Picasa account and it's pretty obvious that this will have some tie-in further down the line. The idea being that all those photos and videos you have on your mobile can be stored on Google+ in a private album. The best part is that the upload happens automatically, no need to remember to upload manually!

Sparks - Hmmmm, search & RSS combined maybe?

Huddle - A group texting facility sounds interesting, i'm assuming there will be a heavy tie in with Google Voice at some point.

Hangouts - Rolled into the whole package is also Video chat (a swipe at Skype/Facebook?) that you can use between selected friends or whole groups of people.

At the moment it's in limited release but you can register your interest here:

The second roll out is additional code for Google Analytics, not as visually exciting as Google+ but looks great for anyone interested in +1, Like and Tweet action!

Tracking is listed under a new 'Social' navigation option and appears to only be available via the new version of Analytics. If you fancy having a go then you can find further details below: 


Friday 10 June 2011

Debadge YouTube option now available!

In a surprising, yet very welcome move YouTube has delivered two new functionality improvements. The first is that all videos (above 480p) will have HD preview images displayed wherever the video is embedded. It's a little bit of a surprise that this hasn't been implemented earlier but great news for us as we shoot all content in HD!

The second improvement is far more exciting though, you can now remove the YouTube logo from your embedded videos and all you need to do is add a snippet of code to the end of your URL (?modestbranding=1). What a genius idea from YouTube and a real step forward to open up the YouTube model to people who wish to outsource their video hosting but aren't keen on the branding put on their content.

We just need to look at if we would want to use this on our site now!

Read the YouTube blog posting here.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Squiz Matrix training... done!


Wow, what an intensive two weeks we have all just had! Our first taste of getting hands on with our new CMS and we have all come out of it with questions, solutions, ideas and some impressive grades!

Lead by Dave (@dletorey) from Squiz we had 4 training sessions packed into 2 weeks to cover everything we might need when the new site launches.

MATR 101 - The basics!
MATR 201 - Using the system as an admin (complex!)
MATR 210 - Forms and other things!
MATR 330 - Design, look & feel, CSS, etc. (@3ur0g33k was happy!)

The sessions were all out of the office and down in London at Squiz HQ in their training rooms and this really helped with keeping us all focused on being trained and not distracted by the phone & email. Thankfully, there was also a steady supply of tea, coffee and biscuits to keep us all going!

So, what was the training like?

Really good! The system is far more powerful than we first thought and as this is only stage one of our roll out plan I was able to map a lot of functionality onto the next phase as well. From pulling content out of site to the Simple Edit Interface we were all really impressed with the tools we will have available to us 'out of the box'. This allows us to launch with a brilliant new site, years ahead of where we are at the moment, and still have functionality in reserve to roll out of the next 12 months.

What will be interesting is when we come to train our editors on the system and what their reaction will be to the new edit interface. We're quietly confident that it will go down well as it is far easier to use than our current system but then you never can tell what peoples reaction will be!