blog

from island to island

Possibly the best Android Home Screen replacement

I’ve tried many replacement home screen launchers for Android, but have recently found and fallen in love with Themer http://themerapp.com I was driven by a desire to lose the Lollipop Google Search box on the top of every page – something I used rarely and that took up a lot of screen real estate, and Themer deals with this perfectly. With hundreds of themes to choose from, I found myself switching to a new theme several times a day before settling on a favourite. There’s a split between themes that deliver all you’ll need on just one screen (which is quite a challenge considering all they need to do), or themes that show elements over 3 or so screens. The challenge is to find one that shows what’s important to you – I need easy access to my fave apps, the weather, and a big clock. Many of the themes focus on screens for weather, news and the media player.   I’ve barely tweaked the theme or played with the built in widgets, but that’s entirely possible. Overall, its a brilliant app. And it’s...

Remarketing gone crazy

Here are some fine examples of bad remarketing. Giffgaff As a happy customer with several SIM cards, I don’t need another. Remarket me a top up, a phone, anything but a SIM card. Wrong: targeting visitors who logged on with products they are bound to have. Better: showcase optional products or services to people who log in Gumtree I’m selling a car, I don’t need to see 3 cars for sale. Unless for comparison purposes, but I did that when creating the ad. Wrong: target visitors who searched for a type of car, regardless of status. Better: target free ads with paid options/upgrades.   In short, there are so many pitfalls with remarketing, but there are also many ways to avoid them. Try setting exclusions, or frequency-capping the number of times an ad is shown to one user. There’s a great resource on remarketing...

Still waiting for the Windows 10 upgrade?

Wait no longer! If you visit http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/software-download/windows10ISO you’ll be able to speed up the process. While this page will also let you create an ISO image, it’s main value is in forcing the W10 update.

Running commentary

In which Liam is encouraged to provide a commentary on our walk around Adlington Hall, Cheshire....

Using the new Google Tag Manager

The latest incarnation of the Google Tag Manager make it a must-do to implement for Universal Analytics. Easy to use, easy to deploy, and it make a whole load of analytics features a dream to implement. For instance, in the old days we’d put our analytics code into the site, then add event tracking code like: ga(‘send’, ‘event’, ‘button’, ‘click’, ‘nav buttons’, 4); to a link. With GTM, we have no need to add any other code beyond the overarching GTM code. Everything else is done within the Tag Manager console.   Here’s a quick step-by-step guide. 1. Create an account and a per-website Container, and add the GTM code to the top of the pages. 2. Create the general Universal Analytics tag. Tags are the things that get fired by triggers, so the one tag you need firing across the site is this tag, so make sure the Trigger is set to fire on ‘All Pages’! 3. Then for more specific actions, we need to create Trigger-Tag pairs: in other words, a Trigger to fire a Tag.  So set up a Trigger that fires when there’s a click of a link to an external website, and a associated Tag that makes this trigger create an Event. 4. Finally, don’t forget to Publish!   More to...

Duck!

Click to view video. Feeding the ducks, geese and gulls at Redesmere...

The Google Mobile Algorithm Change

Those in the SEO world will need no reminder that this week sees the roll-out of the Google algorithm that penalises non mobile-friendly websites in mobile search results. What’s interesting is that I’m seeing so many non-responsive sites out there. Sure it’s a big job, but we’ve had notification of the for several months, and major (or even small), commercial sites should have been rushing to roll-out fixes. But I’m not seeing a rush. Or rather, I’m seeing so many non-responsive sites out there. So if you need help making the transition, get in...

The Greatest Tricks The Devil Pulled

Here’s my list of the greatest and most devilish tricks pulled on the general public. 1) Council Car Parking Machines That Don’t Give Change Was it ever technically impossible to give back change when someone puts money into a vending machine? I think not, but councils have been doing this to the tune of £30 million over the last few years. 2) The TV Licence renewal date A little known con – if you buy a new license any time of the month, the renewal date is not when bought, but at start of the month in which it is bought. So when I got my new license mid-month and expected to renew mid-month, I was a little surprised when the date was at the start of the month! The BBC claims it would cost ‘hundreds of thousands‘ to make the renewal date the same day as when it was bought. This radical idea however does not deter the insurance industry… 3) The TV License Detector Van Not much more to say about this con, other than that so many still do fall for it. 4) Being an EPL football supporter If football is entertainment, for extras who provide so much of the atmosphere to have to pay so much to do so is outrageous. Especially given the £5 billion that will be paid to the EPL by TV stations....

Analytics: Time Lag vs Time To Purchase reports

Time Lag, in the Multi Channel Funnel (MCF) of the Conversions menu, is the time from the very first interaction to the conversion. However, the Time To Purchase report, in the eCommerce section of Conversions menu is just a measurement of the last non-direct click to...

Bounces versus Exits

What’s the difference between a Bounce and an Exit within Analytics? Well a Bounce is a single page visit – a visit to a page that leads to no further interaction with the rest of the site. Which might actually be A Good Thing if the page is a long, informative blog post for instance. An Exit on the other hand is the end of a session – a visitor views page A, B then C but then no more – page C shows as an exit...

The Tooth Fairy

Liam’s big Early Life Crisis – a wobbly tooth. He was frantic, and even refused to eat at one point. We talked of how it happens to everyone, how he should look around at his classmates for toothless smiles, and of how the Tooth Fairy would see him right, but he wasn’t convinced. He was definitively in the ‘downy dumps’. We couldn’t even talk between ourselves in front of him for he would get to the verge of tears. But as time went on, the more it wobbled. Then one day the inevitable – it came out whilst he ate a yoghurt. Except he swallowed it. I’m told he was most agitated. We told him the Tooth Fairy would make an exception, which seemed to help. Now every time he sees a pound coin around the house, he claims it.  ...

Weekly walk: Biddulph Grange Country Park

Often overlooked by it’s National Trust neighbour, this park – and especially on a gorgeous summer day – is simply delightful. Shaded forest walks, babbling brooks, little lakes and even an mysterious cave, there’s something interesting around every...

Walk of the week: Coombes Valley

  A wonderful RSPB bird reserve between Leek and Ashbourne, you don’t have to be a twitcher to appreciate it. The trail meanders along hillside and down and across the river (a tributary of the River Churnet) a couple of times. And there’s a lovely bench when you can take a break and eat a...

Using TripAdvisor review widgets in WordPress

TripAdvisor reviews are the life-blood of any hotel, but if your website is run on WordPress, you’ll be hard pushed to add their widgets to your site (WordPress doesn’t like the <script> side of the widget). For a while, the workaround was to use the TripAdvisor RSS feed for your property, until TA stopped even that a few days ago. The solution is fiendishly devious: pull the code from a simple html page on your server using an IFRAME in your post or page. Specifically: 1. Get your review widget code, and save to a file called say ta_review.htm2. FTP the ta_review.htm page to your web server.3. Insert an IFRAME in your post/page (don’t forget to switch to HTML view). Something like this: <iframe src=”http://www.yourwebsite.com/ta/ta_review.htm” height=”600″ width=”500″ frameborder=”0″></iframe>4. And Robert is truly your mother’s...