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Apprentice Web Designer

Bristol-based Digital Marketing agency Tickbox Marketing are offering a government funded apprenticeship (BTEC Level 3 Certificate in Creative and Digital Media (QCF)) in website design and development.

We are looking for an enthusiastic, work-ready individual with a keen interest in the digital and creative industries.

This opportunity would suit a highly motivated candidate with good communication and organisation skills, an eye for detail and a real passion for technology and web. Strong logical thinking and problem solving skills are a must.

Tickbox would provide support for the candidate to develop their skills, and gain experience on the job, with the opportunity to grow the position into a permanent web designer or developer role.

The role’s activities would be wide-ranging, and the focus could be modified to suit the candidate’s skills and interests, in an agency whose work includes web design, social media and email marketing as well as developing web software products. The responsibilities would include converting designs into HTML, writing functionality with PHP, testing websites, as well as general office and client-facing tasks.

This role would have support from both a supervisor and a developer.

Please apply with a brief CV, a covering letter (no more than 300 words) explaining why you feel you would be suitable for this role, and some examples of your work, both coding and design.

The role

The role involves:

• following a training programme
• converting web page mock-ups into HTML/CSS
• cross-browser testing and functional testing, of both the candidate’s own work and the work of others, for internal quality assurance
• interacting with clients
• providing phone and email support to clients
• project management
• education in, and use of, web development methodologies

Essential skills:

• Demonstrable experience in programming and computers
• All-round computer skills (both hardware and software)
• Some experience in hand-coding web pages with HTML & CSS
• Basic use of Photoshop and/or InDesign

Desirable (but not required) skills:

• some Javascript/JQuery experience
• knowledge of domain/DNS/nameserver behaviour
• knowledge of and experience in use of PHP coding, MySQL or other database
• knowledge of quirks of rendering of websites in different browsers
• experience in browser testing
• experience in user testing
• knowledge of server-side scripting (PHP, python or perl) would be beneficial
• knowledge of web server environments (preferably LAMP)


30 per week, Monday-Friday, 9.30 am – 4.30pm


The starting salary for the role would be £82.15/week.


Park Street, Bristol

Closing date

Applications close Friday 31st October 2012.

Applicants must be available for interview between Monday 22nd October and Friday 2nd November. Interviews will be held in Bristol.

We expect the employment to commence on Monday 12th November.

To apply

Apply here >>


Bath Half Marathon

Tickbox Marketing are entering the Bath Half Marathon this year, and I am running for Bath Cats and Dogs Home, one of the largest re-homing centres in the UK with over 3,000 unwanted cats, dogs and small animals they help every year.

How You Can Help

If you are able to make a donation to help the home in their work I’d be very grateful.

As BCDH say “All donations are put to good use at the Home, whether it is pocket change or a lump sum.”

£5 will run a heat lamp for a sick animal for two weeks

£7 will buy kongs and activity balls to keep the dogs minds busy

£10 gives exercise equipment for a ferret or hamster

£12 will buy cream to stop white cats and dogs getting sunburn

£25 will provide a bed to keep an elderly dog warm or microchip a new animal

£40 will neuter or castrate a cat

£60 will neuter or castrate a dog

£150 will provide shelter in the exercise paddocks

My Training

Training has been going well, although training over the winter has been hard work.

With less than 2 weeks until the run I went on an 8 mile run on Sunday:

View Larger Map

I use an iPhone running/training app called Cyclemeter for tracking my runs, and used it to generate the map route above. It’s useful to track your progress, and keep track of your runs. It’s also handy for accurately find out the length of your regular runs.

It’s a really good app, and it uses the iPhone’s GPS so the distance and speed calculations are really accurate compared to iPhone/iPod running apps like Nike+.

Get up and running on Flickr in 5 minutes

I was started writing a guide for a client, to get them up and running using Flickr to upload photos and create galleries to feed onto their website, and I thought I’d make it available a quick primer for anyone starting to use Flickr.

Note: All of the images in this post are available at a larger size, simply click on the image to view.

Getting Started: Uploading

Once you have set your account up (which I’m not going to go into here) you will undoubtedly want to add some photographs.

The first step is to upload some images. When logged in you can access the upload page by following the menus in the header:

You > Upload Photos and Video

You will then be met with the “Upload to Flickr” page. Click on “Choose photos and videos” to have the file selection window opened.

Once you have navigated to the files on your computer you can select multiple files to upload in one go, by selecting all with “Ctrl+A” or clicking on the first, then hold down “Shift” while you click on the last in your folder. You can also select files individually by holding “Ctrl” while you click.

When you are done click “Open”, to see your files added into Flickr’s nifty Flash uploader:

Finally, click “Upload Photos and Videos” button to get the upload going. Presuming you wish for the wider world to view your images you can leave the “Set privacy” on “Public”.

Once all of the files are uploaded you will be greeted with “Finished!”:

Next you will want to add titles, descriptions and tags to the photos, so follow the link to “add a description”.

Tags are a useful way of keywording your photographs, as Flickr says “Tags are like keywords or labels that you add to a photo to make it easier to find later”. People searching Flickr for certain types of photos will be met with your images if your tags are relevant to their search results. You can leave a space between tags, and add as many as you like.

You may also wish to add them to a set as a way of grouping them (more on this below).

Sets, groups, galleries and collections explained

Flickr has various ways of organising photos, using sets, collections, galleries and groups. This nomenclature can be confusing, until you understand what the intended use of each is.


Sets are just that, a set of photos. These might be a set on a certain topic, or you might simply want to pull together some photographs into one place, such as “The Seaside”, or “New Years Eve”, to link people to or to feed into a slideshow.

Sets are often used when you wish to make a slideshow, as they are an efficient way of pulling together a number of photographs to be displayed together.


A collection is like a set, but as well as a way of grouping individual photos, you can also group sets. It is a useful way of creating a looser collection of images, such as “December 2010″ which may contain your sets “Family 2010″, “Christmas 2010″ and “New Years Eve”, as well as some individual stragglers that don’t current belong in a set.


Galleries are a way of grouping or sharing other peoples photos, as opposed to your own. You act as the curator, bringing together photos into a themed gallery, from your friends’ or fellow photographers’ images.

Galleries support up to 18 public photos or videos.

For an example of a gallery have a look at “Broken wings and flying things” curated by helveticaneue.


Groups are way of collecting together with other photographers, and creating collections of photographs. You can set a group up and invite people to it, or join an existing group.

Groups are a useful way of sharing photographs, ideas and techniques with other people. Images can be added to a group’s pool, moderated, and discussed. They are a useful social tool, and used widely by those most active on Flickr.

Sets: Adding and removing photos

Once you have created some sets, and uploaded some photographs, you can add and remove photos from sets at any time by visiting:

Organize & Create > Your Sets or by clicking the “Sets” tab when you are in the Organize view.

You will then be met with your available sets (at the top) and your available photographs (along the bottom).

You are able to add photographs to a set by dragging them from the bottom (your available photographs) and dropping them in the set you want the photo to appear in.

You are also able to open individual sets and view the photos in them by double clicking on the set. You will then be able to edit that set’s title, description and photos. In the same way you can drag photos from the bottom to add them into the set, as well as see the existing photographs in that set.

If you want to remove a photo from a set simply drag it from that set and drop it into the bar at the bottom of the page. This bar will now say “Drop a photo or video here to remove it from the set”. This action will not delete the photograph, just stop it from appearing in that set.

Once you have made the appropriate changes to the set’s title, description and photographs make sure you save the changes by pressing “Save” on the left-hand bar.

What others see

One slightly confusing aspect of Flickr is understanding what other people will see when they look at your profile or your photographs or sets.

This is confusing when you are logged in as you will see a range of additional links, buttons and tools to edit your content, which other people won’t see.

If you want to check what others will see try logging out and having a look again at your profile. The link you will need is the one which you are taken to when viewing “Your Photostream”, or clicking on your profile photograph, the link will be of the form http://www.flickr.com/photos/12345678@N01/. This is also the link you can give to people to view your profile. Or, if you’ve created your own Flickr address your URL maybe http://www.flickr.com/photos/custom_username.

When logged in you are able to visit this link to pretty much see what others will see; uploaded photographs on the left, with most recent on the top, and sets and collections on the right.

What do you think will be big online in the 2011?

In response to a question posed by Connecting Somerset:

“What do you think will be big online in the New Year? Will Twitter be the new Facebook? Or will a new service emerge and capture our attention? What will the new hot gadget be? Will everyone replace their laptops with the newest smart phones and tablets, or will a different gadget enter the market? What do you think everyone will be using and talking about in 2011?”

Social Media in 2011

Social media will become increasingly relevant, changing the way we work, learn and play, as David Cushman says “2011 is going to be the year when making/creating/doing with social media begins to gain the ascendency over messaging/using people as a channel.”. More social media services will launch, to clutter the ever busier bar of buttons beneath blog articles. The best will have to fight to stay relevant. Expect to see more location-based services too, like FourSquare.

Browsers and HTML5 in 2011

Image credit: John Martz @ RobotJohnny.com

The new browser wars (browser war 2.0?) will see additions of new features from HTML5 into the offerings from Google, Apple and Firefox, each vying for the title ‘most up-to-date’. The real battle will be over performance, with the web using evermore Javascript even Microsoft’s Internet Explorer will be going on a diet, with the release of its Internet Explorer 9. All of this will be great for users with a faster, more stable web experience.

iPad, Tablets and Beyond in 2011

The iPad has been one of the hottest gadgets of 2010, with 8.5 million sold since its launch in April. 2011 will see a lot of manufacturers releasing their own versions, but with a new, cheaper model expected to be released by Apple in early 2011 it’ll be interesting to see who ships more units. The key here is that the competition will mean better features, and lower prices for the consumer.

We may even see an entirely new type of device with manufacturers exploring new designs and functionality, such as the Dell Inspiron Duo with its innovative flip screen leading to a device which is both a laptop, and a tablet. I expect we’ll see other creative solutions to fill the entire spectrum between a laptop and a tablet in the coming year, and an increased muddying of the distinction between smartphones, tablets, netbooks, and notebooks.

Global Browser Usage Analysed

All graphs from Stat Counter’s fantastic tool.

Although not the most exciting topic, analysis of browser usage isn’t purely academic, it is not only important to web designers and developers, who have to ensure their websites work for as many people as possible. The trends make a big difference to how everybody uses the web. Changes in browser technologies to embrace emerging technologies mean that to make the most of the web that older, legacy browsers need to be abandoned.

It can be a “chicken or the egg” situation, web designers can’t use new technologies until most browsers can support them, and users often won’t update unless there is functionality they are missing out on, due to having an old browser, HTML5 being a good example.

Google Chrome

With major version releases (3.0, 4.0, 5.0) every 3 or 4 months Google Chrome is a rapidly developing, cutting-edge browser, featuring the latest in browser features, rendering engine technology and Javascript acceleration.

With each new version almost all users are updated within a month. Google Chrome automatically downloads and installs updates if they are available, a feature which is rather hard to turn off. This does have the advantage that users of Google Chrome will always be using the most up-to-date version of the browser available, with bugs and security holes constantly fixed. It will also mean that the user will have the richest web experience available to them; if Google Chrome provides the feature they will have access to it.

Interesting in this trend is version inflection, whereby the relationship between the new version and outgoing version is almost a mirror image, reflected in the plane between the axis and the total browser usage trend (see light blue line).

The overall trend (pink line) is that Google Chrome is increasing its user base at a steady rate, with usage more than doubling in less than a year (3.86% Oct 2009 – 10.02% Aug 2010). Unsurprising considering Google has access to 91.4 % of the search engine users and a unique market position to get its browser to people.

Mozilla Firefox

Firefox has longer release cycles, often with minor revisions between major releases (3.5.13, 3.6.10). Updates are not automatic, although the user is prompted to update, either by updating directly in-browser, or by being linked to download a new version, as happened with 3.5. This means uptake of new versions is slower, taking 3 or 4 months for usage to surpass that of the previous version.

The version inflection of Firefox is a more complex, in large part due to FF 3.0, 3.5 and 3.6 all having significant usage until recently. There is a clear inflection trend between FF 3.0 and FF 3.5, until the release of FF 3.6. At this point there is a clear inflection trend between FF 3.5 and FF 3.6.

The overall trend for Firefox is that the browser is gaining no ground, with uptake pretty much level.

Internet Explorer

By comparison Internet Explorer (IE) release cycles are practically glacial. Internet Explorer 6, the lowest version number still with significant usage, was released in August 2001, with IE 7 released over 5 years later (October 2006), and, the current most popular, IE 8 some 2.5 years after that (March 2009).

While it has often been pointed out that IE 6 just won’t die, due mainly to its use by so many large businesses and public sector organisations, it is quite remarkable, and frustrating, that IE 6 still has such high usage after 9 years! The main problem here is that with so long between IE 6 and IE 7 (5 years), and one of the biggest uptakes in business usage of computers, that a lot of intranet websites were built to be viewed through IE 6. This in addition to the fact that IE 6 is not standards compliant means that any update to a browser that would display these systems ‘properly’ would in fact break the pages. In addition to IT departments simply not wanting to take on the risk, and headaches, of upgrading browsers across large networks. With Microsoft continuing support for IE 6 until April 8 2014, it’s not going to go away for some time yet.

Internet Explorer’s version inflection seems to indicate direct replacement of IE 7 for IE 8. Internet Explorer 6 abandonment doesn’t seem to play a large part in the rise of IE 8, suggesting that those users are moving to other browsers, perhaps due to running pirated version of Windows XP, preventing them from updating to IE7 or 8. These users would instead move to Google Chrome, Firefox or Safari for Windows.


Although IE 6 and 7 are (slowly) on their way out, being largely replaced by IE, it would seem that a significant part of users of IE are defecting to Google Chrome and Safari, the latter’s rise being related to the uptake of iPhones, iTouches and iPads, which all use a version of the Safari web browser.

Overall Firefox usage has levelled out, hovering around 30% of all browsers. It would seem that this has come about with the appearance of Google Chrome on the scene. Firefox users have traditionally been a more tech savvy group, who’s defection from security-flaw ridden Internet Explorer fueled Firefox’s rise until mid-2008 with Google Chrome’s release. These users will be more aware of the advantages of lightweight, and fast, Chrome, and feel less emotionally invested in any browser in particular.

The abandonment of Internet Explorer for Chrome isn’t surprising, a large number of these users will be less computer savvy, one reason they have stayed with IE up until now. With the ‘buzz’ about a browser from big name Google, as well as Google’s unique market position, which provides a way of leveraging the comes-installed IE browser off the default browser spot on Windows computers.

Disclaimer 1: I am a Firefox user, in large part due to its invaluable developer tools and add-ons, in addition to being one of the best browsers for my operating system, Ubuntu Linux. I am also, inherent in being a web designer/developer, an opponent of Internet Explorer.

Disclaimer 2: Browser usage, or indeed any web usage stats, are by no means precise. They will vary based on audience (Wired.com vs. The National Trust), geographical region (country to country, or even region of the same country), and time of day (work vs. home computer). In addition some browser will ‘spoof’ their user agent and report to be something which they are not.