Google is our homepage

70% of recent visits to the Bradford Council website started at a search engine, and most of those started at Google.  I wanted to help our web authors think of the user journey starting not on our homepage, but on Google.

To help illustrate how so many user journeys start at Google, I mocked up a quick image for our web authors, imagining that Google actually is our homepage.

Google is our homepage
Think of the user journey starting at a search engine

For most users, a link on our homepage is not the deciding factor in getting where they want to be. Far more important is well written content that meets our web standards, and preferably on a webpage rather than in a PDF. Such content is likely to be easy to find on a search engine.

Make your own

I made my homepage mock up using Canva. A few people at other councils have asked me if they can adapt my image for their own use. I’m certainly happy to share it, but the only problem is that Canva doesn’t have a ‘share as template’ option. A shared Canva design is a ‘collaborative’ design. So, if you use this shared version of my Canva design, you need to remember that this is a shared file.  Once you have changed it to say what you want, make sure you download it straight away. You might find that if you go back to it the next day, someone else has changed the lettering.

Fox Glacier – I didn’t realise how lucky I was

Exactly three years ago, on 18 February 2012, I walked on Fox Glacier. It was one of the most amazing days of my life, and I felt lucky to have had that experience.

I didn’t realise quite how lucky I was though. I wouldn’t be able to walk on Fox Glacier today. Tourist walks have been suspended because the glacier has retreated so far.

As you can probably imagine, I took quite a lot of photos on that memorable day with my mum and H. Here are a few of them:

On Fox Glacier

Jill and Bia in ice tunnel on Fox Gacier

Loose rocks on top of Fox Glacier

Large hole on Fox Glacier

Metamorphic rock at bottom of Fox Glacier

Jill descending Fox Glacier

You can see the rest of my Fox Glacier photos on Flickr.

If you start a Tweet with a @username, few people will see it

There is a little-known rule on Twitter that stops some of your Tweets from being seen by all your followers.

If you start a Tweet by mentioning another user (your Tweet begins with the @ symbol) only a fraction of your followers will see this Tweet. Only the people who follow both you and the account you mention will be able to see this Tweet in their home timeline. For example, let’s say @bradfordmdc Tweeted this:

“@CityParkBD will be plunged into semi-darkness tonight as BBC Stargazing Live comes to Bradford. “

Approximately one third of @bradfordmdc’s Twitter followers also follow @CityParkBD. It is only those mutual followers who would be able to see the above Tweet in their timeline. In other instances (comparing two accounts that are not so closely related) this figure could be much lower. Continue reading If you start a Tweet with a @username, few people will see it

Facebook video – enjoy it while you can

We have all seen organic reach falling on Facebook, but I’ve had remarkable success with Facebook videos recently.

This video of Victorian tunnels in Bradford reached over 50,000 people, being shared 300+ times, within its first five days:

That video didn’t take long to put together. I filmed it on an iPhone and edited it on an iPad. It was online within a couple of hours of me donning a hard hat to enter the tunnels.

To put the 50,000+ reach of that video into some sort of context, Bradford Council’s Facebook page has fewer than 2,000 likes, and other recent posts have an average reach of just a few hundred people. The tunnels video has been by far the most successful Facebook post Bradford Council has ever published.

But even before that freakish success, I had observed a trend, with videos on our Facebook page outperforming other post types:

Another recent video that did well was one announcing the sudden closure of one of our customer service centres due to wind damage. It was a far from brilliant video, but that didn’t matter. It seems that using Facebook video for news items is working well.

Continue reading Facebook video – enjoy it while you can

2014 – my year in music

A lot changed for me in 2014 in the way I find new music. I gave up my radio show on BCB in the spring.  For 10 years doing that radio programme meant a lot of music landed on my doorstep, literally. Since the spring I’ve heard nowhere near as new music as I used to.   Seeing end of year lists, such as Sarah Lay’s favourite 100 albums of 2014, and Bleep’s top 100 tracks, made me realise just how much I didn’t hear in 2014.

Having said that, BCB invited me back for a one off show over Christmas, and I used that to air some of the tunes that did impress me during 2014. You can hear 17 of my favourites from 2014 now via Mixcloud:

Eclectic Mainline - 2014 review by Albfreeman on Mixcloud

I feel sure I’ve probably not yet heard some of my favourite albums of 2014. So, although I have done the obligatory top 10, I’ve only included 9, leaving space for that amazing LP I haven’t yet heard.

Favourite LPs of 2014 (alphabetical order)

A Winged Victory For The Sullen – Atomos
Aphex Twin – Syro
Goat – Commune
Grouper – Ruins
Mogwai – Rave Tapes
Sun Kil Moon – Benji
The Twilight Sad – Everybody Wants To Be Here and Nobody Wants To Leave
Sharon Van Etten – Are We There
Wildbirds & Peacedrums – Rhythm
? – ?

Favourite gig of 2014

Continue reading 2014 – my year in music

Ypres and the First World War

I was in western Belgium in August 2014. What I saw and learnt about the First World War while I was there has stayed with me.

I was in Belgium because I was playing at the Dranouter Festival with Wilful Missing. The rolling green landscape that surrounded the festival site was a very pleasant setting indeed. However, I kept thinking back 100 years to the war that was about to begin, and that would turn fields like these into appalling battlefields.

The day after we played at the festival we had a trip into Ypres. That was a day I will never forget. The festival staff were kind enough to give us a driver called Patriek, who turned out to be a thoroughly nice chap. On the way to Ypres we stopped at two Commonwealth cemeteries. There are over 100 of these cemeteries in the area. The first cemetery we visited, Locre No. 10, had the following inscription at the entrance:

The land on which this cemetery stands is the free gift of the Belgian people for the perpetual resting place of those of the Allied armies who fell in the war of 1914-1918 and are honoured here.

Not everyone buried in cemeteries such as Locre No. 10 had been successfully identified, such as the “five soldiers of the Great War” buried beneath the gravestone in this photo:

Five soldiers of the Great War at Locre No. 10 Cemetery
Continue reading Ypres and the First World War

Yorkshire LocalGov Camp

I recently went to my first LocalGov Camp, and came away enthused. I had arrived enthused as well to be fair, but that’s not the point.  The point is that my enthusiasm has meant I have somehow talked myself into taking the lead on organising a regional event in Yorkshire – a local LocalGov Camp for local people.

The idea began during a Twitter conversation with Phil Rumens about how LocalGov Digital can reach out to councils who are working with beta websites.  One of Phil’s suggestions was to have a regional LocalGov Digital meet-up, something he is already planning in his own neck of the woods.  I particularly like this thought from Phil about the reasons for holding a localised event:

Are you local?

I already have enough people interested (after the above Twitter conversation) to feel sure that a Yorkshire LocalGov Camp is good idea, and we are probably looking at late autumn.   Because of the timing, one thing we might choose to discuss is winter weather.  Maybe we might want to work towards coordinated gritting communications, like they do with #wmgrit in the West Midlands.

I don’t want to plant too many ideas in your mind, as if you are interested in attending, I want your thoughts to be unhindered by my own suggestions – start with a blank canvas, and think about what you think we could achieve.

Continue reading Yorkshire LocalGov Camp

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