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Socialite

Filed under: News,Social Media — Andy @ 10:41 am

July 8, 2011

We’ve been busy the last few months creating our new Socialite social media service.

Rather than just offering to tweet for people or set up a Facebook account, we’re going a bit deeper. We’re giving clients a choice of exactly how much they want us to do and then providing the training for them to do the rest – or even all of it.

What makes it more interesting is that there are funding packages available to allow clients to go down the social media marketing route. We can advise on how to get hold of this cash.

As well as the use of social media, we’ll look at overall strategies, specific campaigns and how it can fit in with your existing marketing efforts. We can also bring in search engine optimisation and emal marketing along the way.

We’ll keep you up to date here and on the Socialite page.

Are websites dead?

Filed under: Blogs,Social Media,Thoughts — Andy @ 1:38 am

May 18, 2011

Watch the 10 o’clock news on ITV. Specifically, watch the adverts. Then have a look at the bottom of the screen in the final frames. Where once you’d see a web address you pretty much always see a Facebook URL instead.

The initial conclusion you might jump to would be that websites are obsolete and the big brands are now just relying on Facebook. It’s true that your average non-geek internet user could happily have all their online communications, web searching, video viewing, gaming, news etc. needs serviced without moving away from Facebook, with their laptop next to them on the sofa whilst watching telly. Do some people just think Facebook IS the internet? It’s certainly less complicated – a single login (not even that if you set your browser to remember the passwords) and it’s all there. More importantly, is that what Lynx, Carlsberg, Ford, Pepsi et al think that you think.

I actually did what I was supposed to do (for once) and followed the herd to Facebook. I chose Lynx as a example (facebook.com/lynxeffectuk). Instead of seeing the brand’s website duplicated on Facebook, the landing page is dedicated to the campaign that the TV ad is part of. 236,000 likes. The updates from this are fed back into the “proper” website as well as a Twitter and YouTube Feed…and everything, of course, is “liked” and shared by those 236,000 Facebook users.

Facebook hasn’t replaced the website, it’s just another way into people’s heads. By using a familiar environment and changing your message accordingly you can get a more subtle, finely tuned message to a set of customers than a one-size-fits-all website. Facebook allows a different kind of interaction with an audience, more ways to discuss and share things and it happens pretty much instantly. If you do it right your target customers are not only potential buyers but a potential (and free) marketing team who will do your work for you.

The Cicada Principle

Filed under: Blogs,We Like — Andy @ 1:17 am

Interested in CSS, bizarre maths applied to create imagery, randomness and, er, 17-year-old insects?
Well, obviously, we are. If you are too, read this excellent article by Alex Walker.

The Cicada Principle and Why it Matters to Designers

Junction Arts is Live

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Andy @ 11:42 am

September 15, 2010

Junction Arts is recognised for high quality rurally-based participatory arts work that changes peoples lives, builds confidence and skills, increases communication and supports community and personal empowerment. The Derbyshire-based organisation’s vision is to increase and extend access to high quality arts through inspirational, innovative participatory arts programmes and projects via partnership and collaboration within rural areas of the East Midlands.

In a time where arts funding is a constant victim of cuts, Junction Arts needed to publicise the success and importance of their work and were finding their existing website was neither engaging its visitors or conforming to the styles defined in their recent rebranding excersise.

10th Planet were called in to provide a complete visual overhaul and to add several new levels of functionality and interactivity for the site’s visitors and Junction Arts themselves. These included:

  • Full content management and control for Junction Arts
  • Blog and news updates
  • Project viewer
  • Past projects archive
  • Photo gallery
  • Video area and YouTube integration
  • Social media integration
  • Viewer contributions and comments

We also consolidated the wide array of conflicting domain names, email addresses and hosting packages to all operate under a single name:

www.junctionarts.org

Gardening Gets Eazier

Filed under: Blogs,News — Andy @ 11:19 am

Eazitools

We’ve just launched the brand new Eazitools website.

A complete rebuild of our original design from three years ago, the site now uses a totally custom WordPress theme with an integrated ecommerce system to provide a shop, blogs, news, product photo galleries and social media integration.

eazitools.com

10th Planet Gets the Boot!

Filed under: Blogs,News — Andy @ 10:56 am

September 11, 2010

School for Startups is the brainchild of former Dragon’s Den dragon, serial entrepreneur and angel investor Doug Richard. It is the UK’s leading provider of business training for entrepreneurs, providing accelerated business training to help entrepreneurs launch more successful startups and run more successful businesses.

Their “Made in 48 Hours” bootcamps are being held around the country and aim to get businesses onto the web with convincing ecommerce and online identities…all from two days of intensive seminars and workshops.

10th Planet have been selected to provide post-event consulting support to the bootcamp attendees and to help turn their ideas and seedling projects created over the two days into reality.

Made in 48 Hours on the School for Startups website

How many landmarks can you spot?

Filed under: We Like — Tags: — Martin @ 3:50 pm

August 19, 2010

Just found this video of a guy doing free running around Sheffield. Parkour is pretty cool, even more so when you know where they’re doing it!

Recommended

Filed under: News — Tags: — Andy @ 10:45 am

June 15, 2010

Apparently we are now a Recommended Graphic Design Company.
UK Graphic Designers

Well done to us.

I’ll think of a title later…

Filed under: Blogs,Thoughts — Andy @ 4:17 pm

April 14, 2010

I’ve been wanting to write an article about the curse of procrastination for a long time. However, of course, I procrastinated about that so long, several other people have. Rather than just repeating what’s been said, I’ll point you to John Perry’s website, structuredprocrastination.com who, aside from summarising it all very well, also makes a valiant job of attempting to turn the whole thing to his advantage.

What interests me is the fact that procrastination is almost universal in people who are normally described as “creative types”.Why? Douglas Adams used to famously avoid having to write by having baths. Several a day, in fact. Apparently his publisher once commented that he never once managed to hit a deadline…but he always smelt really nice.

As designers, we are surrounded by some very dangerous distractions. Computers. The most tempting, time-sucking creations ever made are, by a cruel twist of fate, the very things we are also supposed to use to get our work done with.

I took games off my Mac years ago. It just had to be done. However, since then the internet has sneaked up on us. Facebook, Twitter, the hundred blogs you feel you need to keep up with. Email, iChat. All of these toys with their shiny, glossy icons inviting you to come and play, and all with built-in justifications: Facebook could be helping you meet your next client. Blogging is a great marketing tool. Email is easier than phoning someone. That retro video PhotoShop plugin you just spent ten minutes downloading will, if mastered be great for some job in the future. Probably.

But it’s not all computers. There are endless possibilities for analogue procrastination as well. Never is our office tidier or more organised than when a big project has just begun. Well – you need to clean up, clear a space, get organised for the new work. And go and get some crisps and chocolate to see you through. Maybe the skirting boards need levelling off a bit. A new shelf to put all the new work on. Anything, in fact, to avoid doing the actual work itself (which, of course will be great when it is done, so no need to worry, really).

Wikpedia has some really scary things to say on the subject. Phrases like “psychological disorder”, “mental health” and “low self-esteem” kind of made me decide to go and do something else and maybe read that page later.

My own theory is that creativity is somehow in need of a jump start which can only be achieved with a buildup of adrenalin. Designers need the utter terror of a looming deadline in order to kick into action whatever part of the brain that supplies us with the instinctive solution to a problem without all that tedious thinking and planning that normal people have to go through. Also the act of thinking of something completely unconnected to what you are supposed to be somehow allows a hidden part of your mind to work away undisturbed and to quietly deliver the answer – usually at the strangest of times.

You could say rather than a negative aspect, procrastination is practised by people who have a supreme confidence in their own abilities. People who know they’ll always think of something at the last moment and know enough about how their own heads work to just let it get on with it automatically.

Either that or creatives are just people who are good at working out the bare minimum of work needed to complete a task so they can fill the rest of the day on Facebook.

Who knows? Not me. Anyway, there’s a deadline looming here so, naturally, I’m just going to fill the screenwash up in my car and maybe go and buy some crisps.

Sheffield Gets Shortlisted

Filed under: Blogs,News — Andy @ 1:15 pm

April 12, 2010

Sheffield City of Culture

Sheffield: Shortlisted for UK City of Culture 2013

Sheffield, Derry, Birmingham and Norwich have made the shortlist to become the very first UK City of Culture in 2013. Sheffield is therefore on its way to achieving its ambition to be the most creative city in the UK by 2020.

Sheffield’s bid sets out to curate an amazing programme of events and activity in 2013 which will engage, not just those already involved with arts and culture but, everyone in the city by inspiring, nurturing and celebrating their creativity. The bid also highlights Sheffield’s international credentials as a city with strong cultural assets; a diverse community; a great place to live, visit and work; the capacity to deliver big; and an innovative approach.

UK City of Culture 2013 aims to build on the success of Liverpool’s year as European Capital of Culture 2008, which had significant social and economic benefits for the city – including a total income of £130 million over six years.

The four shortlisted cities will be required to submit a final bid to DCMS on 21st May 2010 and the winner will be announced in early July.

Join in at www.sheffieldcityofculture.com

IE 6 is dead

Filed under: Blogs,News,Tech — Andy @ 4:28 pm

April 8, 2010

According to today’s statistics Microsoft Internet Explorer v.6 has dropped to 8.9% share of browser usage worldwide (have a look at www.w3schools.com for the latest stats – it might be even less by the time you are reading this).

This has prompted us to make a decision which we have been agonising over for quite a while: by default we are not going to support it any longer.

Why? Well, in short it doesn’t really work. We have to do things to our websites that we’d rather not do to make them work in IE6 – things that often break the site in other browsers.

That’s an oversimplification, of course. IE6 was OK in its time. But its time has passed. Things we take for granted just didn’t exist in August 2001 when it was released. No PNG transparency, lack of proper CSS support, non-standard rendering of pages and bugs galore were not so much of a problem when there were no standards to stick to. However, times have changed and browser manufacturers – despite still arguing about details – are making an effort to standardise the way websites display and work in order to deliver a better user experience.

The Web 2.0 revolution that has happened since the release of IE6 depends on technologies that just don’t exist in that browser. Neither YouTube, Facebook, Twitter or Google want anything to do with it any more because they don’t want to be held back. Other browsers allow them to move forward and innovate.

The biggest problem we have is that we are constantly told that “large corporations” still use IE6 because their IT departments insist upon it. We’ve never actually seen proof of this but we do come across clients who have shown their new site to somebody who is still using IE6 only to see it break or just look plain ugly. This, of course, makes us look incompetent. The hacks we need to do to avoid this often cause a huge amount of lost time as it involves actually finding out what the problem is first before embarking on a long quest around the internet to find a solution which doesn’t have the opposite effect on the other browsers. Then we have to actually implement that solution. Naturally the incompatibility is usually spotted at 4:45pm on Friday.

If we allow for this when quoting for work our prices will look expensive. If we don’t and take the chance everything will be OK, we’ll probably lose out. It’s always a dilemma.

We’ve read endless tirades against IE6 and why it should be killed off. Calls on discussion groups for militant action and rants and raves (which just usually end in general Microsoft-bashing), usually made in the early hours of the morning by web developers who are at the end of their tether trying to make their site work in a crappy, obsolete browser and not getting paid anything for it, whilst trying to explain to clients in simple terms what’s actually going wrong. We understand this – we’ve been there ourselves.

But mouthing off on the internet isn’t going to help, so we’ve decided to do something a bit less confrontational and, hopefully, helpful.

We’ve decided to make IE6 support an option with the websites we build. From now on our quotations for web work will have an “IE6 compliance” line which will detail the extra costs involved in making the site backwards-compatible for this browser. It’s not a way of charging extra…believe me, we’d really rather not have to bother supporting IE6 at all – life is just too short. But we can and we will if we have to. This way the client has the option. Long term, we hope if more web development companies calm down a bit and do the same IE6 will just become a ghost in the browser’s graveyard along with AOL, Netscape, Mosaic and CyberDog.

We’d like to hear people’s thoughts on this approach.

Goodbye 2009

Filed under: Blogs,Thoughts — Andy @ 4:24 pm

January 7, 2010

As Martin’s just pretty much covered everything about the design side of 2009 in his last post I thought I’d add some thoughts about what went on business-wise.

2009 was a bit of a yin and yang year for us. We began by bucking the recession due to the fact we were building online shops and other non-print projects. However the print design side also saw an increase, although the jobs were smaller and mostly relating to clients’ websites. For example, short run flyers promoting web offers or corporate IDs for new businesses who were wanting a web presence over anything else. Businesses seem to be retreating to the web due to the flexibility and ease of updating what they are offering.

The later part of the year saw a massive increase in late and non-payment from clients – even ones we have worked for for years and considered friends. It seems that when times are hard loyalty becomes a casualty. My own role became more of a credit controller than a designer which had a knock-on effect on the time available to spend with our “good” clients and developing new business. We felt that by giving massively increased credit (although not out of choice) we were suddenly doing the job of the banks, who were in retreat from lending.

However, on the upside, in terms of new business, 2009 must go down as a record year for increasing our client base with a surprising amount of startups coming to us and also established companies looking for a change, or for better value from their creative partners.

I’d be interested to hear some feedback from others in the creative industries to see if we had similar experiences.

As for our direction in 2010, 2009 has laid the foundations for a slight shift in our approach to website building. Every site we built had some sort of content management element. It’s something you can’t escape from now. Unfortunately this makes it difficult to add sites to your portfolio as you’re never quite sure what the client has done to the site after you’ve “handed over the keys”. The majority of sites were based on WordPress (including this one) which has now matured from a blog system into something that can transparently run a normal-looking site…but with the added advantage of a massive amount of control for the owner.

We also built several online shops based on the Zen Cart and X-Cart systems as well as creating a couple of totally bespoke systems ourselves in-house for clients with specific needs. A significant development here has been the wider acceptance of PayPal as a payment gateway. As it can also process standard credit and debit cards it allows the site owner to avoid having to jump through the hoops of the banks and also to avoid the nightmare (and often prohibitive cost) of PCI compliance. The surge of online shopping is something we hope to continue taking advantage of, and I think I’m going to have to just bite the bullet and start using the words “cart” and “store” instead of “shopping basket” and “shop” to save time when customising (or should that be “customizing”) these American systems.

Final thoughts:

We got to love:

We got to hate:

  • Rouge clients
  • The continued existence of IE 6
  • Courses on how to use Social Media to increase sales

Glad to see the back of:

  • That crappy swirly / spirally / flowery illustration style that everyone likened to Art Nouveau but clearly wasn’t
  • The paint-splat / run effect

Today I learned…

Filed under: Tech,Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Martin @ 1:59 pm

Hello and Happy new year! It’s been a while since I’ve managed to post anything new on here, we’ve were very busy during the run up to Christmas and I couldn’t find the time to write. Still we will have some new work to add to our portfolio very soon.

Design and in particular, web design are fields which require practitioners to keep constantly up to date on what’s going on within their chosen field. In the case of design, its important to keep up with the latest trends, themes and motifs, while trying to figure out where to go next. In the case of web design you also have to keep up with technology, APIs, frameworks and a whole host of other technobabble that occasionally fills me with dread.

Recently I’ve recently been learning the intricacies of x-cart. X Cart is a solution for building safe and robust e-commerce sites and supports all the sort of features that you’d expect to see in an online shop, by using it we can offer our clients a powerful shopping solution that should cover almost all their needs for a nominal charge. We’ll be adding a couple of shopfronts we’ve been building to our portfolio soon.

I’ve also been burying my head in the innards of WordPress to allow us to build ever more complex blogs and websites, I’ve also been working my first custom widget for the Sensora 2010 website.

I’ve also been busying myself with learning Action Script 3. To be fair, I’ve been learning bits of it since it was released, but I seriously knuckled down to it in 2009 and can now use it – together with away3d to deliver fully interactive 3d experiences straight to the user’s browser. Working with Flash and AS3 is a bit of a weird one for me personally, I used to hate it, then I had what I guess you could call an epiphany and everything seemed to fit together in my head. Now its an area I actually enjoy working with – go figure.

Ok… so I kinda revel in the technobabble, but when you can use it to actually come up with something it’s sort of seductive.

The Beat is Back !

Filed under: Blogs,News — Andy @ 5:41 pm

October 16, 2009

We’ve just completed work on the new website for The Beat is the Law documentary.

The visual style of the site is inspired by the work of Martin Bedford – a highly influential graphic designer and co-founder of the Leadmill in Sheffield. The Park Hill flats which dominate the Sheffield skyline are a powerful image and evoke unique memories for the people of Sheffield including many of the musicians participating in the film, so we decided they should be an ever-present part of the site. Bold contrasting colours and high-contrast imagery highlight the different areas of the site. You won’t find many clean lines and straight edges on this site.

Quotes from the film are pulled out and displayed randomly throughout your journey through the site. When clicked, you can watch the part of the film they were taken from.

As well as the video clips and screenings news and reviews, we have built a shop, a media area (including exclusive video, photos and a listening room where rare Sheffield tracks can be played) and a “Making Of” section. The site pulls together content hosted on Vimeo, YouTube, Flickr and Twitter and makes full use of Facebook to complete the social media coverage – vital for a site like this.

Technically, the site it totally content managed by the film’s producers at every level.

www.thebeatisthelaw.com

Why SEO ‘experts’ are a waste of money

Filed under: Thoughts — Tags: , , , — Martin @ 4:52 pm

October 15, 2009

I stumbled across this article on SEO the other day, although I agree with him, I’d like to distance myself from Powazek’s vitriol, I don’t think everyone working in SEO are bloodsucking vampires, systematically destroying the web for their own diabolical ends…I do however want to weigh in on the subject, as its something that we get asked about quite a bit.

(more…)

Meta-Art: How two unrelated projects can create something new

Filed under: We Like — Tags: , , — Martin @ 5:01 pm

September 29, 2009

If you can stomach the pretentiousness of the phrase ‘meta-art’, then please read on;

(more…)

Incredible new products

Filed under: We Like — Andy @ 10:30 pm

September 23, 2009

An old favourite of ours:

“…Drop your overpaid, colourblind designer….”

Watch on YouTube…

But wait…there’s more…

Sheffield as a Creative Centre

Filed under: Thoughts — Andy @ 12:59 pm

August 30, 2009

Sheffield has come a long way, even in the 16 years we’ve been around.

(more…)

Back to School

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , , — Studio @ 2:59 pm

January 16, 2009

Andy has just returned from an afternoon at the Virtual Classroom at Red Tape Studios helping out some students from Sheffiled’s Abbeydale Grange School to design a set of posters.

He was asked by Jo and Nigel from the Sensoria Festival to help out on one of their training days. The festival is more than just a fortnight of music and film – it has an ongoing commitment to education throughout the year and is involved in the new Creative Diploma courses (an alternative to GCSEs).

Andy:”By chance, we have already had a work experience student from the same school and course on a two-week placement here and we are the designers for Sensoria, so it seemed obvious to continue the connection. The help I gave was mostly technical in the end – the creative skills were already there. I learnt a lot from them !”

We’ll be doing some more work with the school soon.

Labels: Abbeydale Grange, Creative Diploma, Red Tape Studios, Sensoria, Sheffield

It’s a Runner!

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Studio @ 11:58 am

January 10, 2009

10th Planet have just finished work on the new-look Complete Runner site.

A totally redesigned and reprogrammed ecommerce site, this update builds on our previous version which has made the Complete Runner one of the country’s top online sportswear retailers.

They’re having a sale to celebrate the relaunch. Why run over for a look…

www.completerunner-online.com

A Taxing Job

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Studio @ 5:53 pm

December 18, 2008

We’ve just launched the Tax-effective Giving website for the Institute of Fundraising.

A completely content managed solution, the site is now administered by the office staff at the Institute without the need to call on us.

The site is the UK’s official (and very comprehensive) source of information on the tax implications of giving to charity. Hopefully, we’ve made it a bit more interesting than that sounded.

www.tax-effective-giving.org.uk

K-Pasa is open!

Filed under: News — Tags: , , , — Studio @ 1:50 pm

October 18, 2008

Despite making the most of the free food and drink last night we’ve still managed to make it into work this morning.

We were at the launch party of K-Pasa which turned out to be a very good evening…the place was packed. Thanks to the management for inviting us and bravely allowing us to meet some of their future customers as well as the press and other Sheffield high-flyers.

Feedback for our work was excellent and coupled with the excellent food, we’re sure everyone will return with their friends and make K-Pasa the success it deserves to be!

Now who’s got the headache tablets?

The Beat is the Law !

October 15, 2008

10th Planet have just returned from the “teaser” premier of the new film “The Beat is the Law”.

The film is a sequel to 2001’s “Made in Sheffield”, a chronicle of  the rise of music in the city from the early 1970s to the early 1980s when pioneers such as the Human League, ABC, Cabaret Voltaire, Heaven 17, Pulp, I’m So Hollow, Artery, The Extras, 2.3, Clock DVA and The Comsat Angels set about their mission…to “kill off Rock and Roll”!

That film was premiered at Sheffield’s International Documentary Festival (another client of ours!)  and has since become an international success, becoming part of musical history itself as well as making it into Time Out’s list of 50 greatest Musical Films Ever. It also features one of the last interviews with John Peel, as well as contributions from all the main players.

“The Beat is the Law” continues the story through to the 1990s taking in Pulp, Babybird, Longpigs, Moloko and more and also follows the rise of dance music from Warp, FON and  WAU!MrModo as well as interviews with Jarvis Cocker and Richard Hawley.

Eve Wood (director) and Richard Wood (Producer) asked us to create a website for this project after a conversation between Andy and Eve which started in the Showroom cinema in 2001, got interrupted, and then, strangely, resumed in 2008 in exactly the same place.

The film has been entirely funded by Eve and Richard’s Company Sheffield Vision. Tonight’s premier hopes to allow the film to be finished and marketed by gaining the support of Sheffield businesses. Plenty of local artists, designers and musicians were in attendance and are hopefully, spreading the word. Eve Wood showed a compilation of highlights from “Made in Sheffield”. Human League and Heaven 17 founder Martyn Ware made an inspiring speech to drum up support before a tantalising teaser trailer was shown leaving all who were there wanting more. Music was courtesy of a DJ set by Ralph Razor.

10th Planet are proud to sponsor and support the project and we wish it every success.

Keep checking the site for updates…

www.thebeatisthelaw.com

In case you wondered, “The Beat is The Law” comes from the pioneering 1987 Krush track “House Arrest (The Beat is Law)”.

A Load of Hog

Filed under: News — Tags: , , — Andy @ 9:41 am

September 20, 2008

10th Planet have just completed work on the update to the Loadhog website.

How do you make reusable pallets interesting, then? Why not have a look…

www.loadhog.co.uk

¿qué pa·sa?

Filed under: News — Tags: , — Andy @ 10:35 am

August 20, 2008

¿qué pa·sa? means “What’ s happening?” in Spanish. So why are we asking ?

Well, what’s happening is that we are designing a restaurant!

Frequenters of Sheffield’s West Street might have noticed that the K-Pasa restaurant has been closed for refurbishment. The restaurant is under new ownership and undergoing a complete upgrade in all respects.

To complement the new chef and menu we have created a completely new look including a new logo, corporate ID, signage, printed material, advertising and PR material and, of course the website.

Oh and we also designed the interior and the exterior as well !

We’ll show you the results when we can…all is still top secret.

www.k-pasa.co.uk

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