Run Android Apps on your Mac or PC

Bluestacks, the app player that allows you to run Android apps on your PC has now been launched for Mac. With a huge library of apps available it allows users and developers to experience these apps on their desktops or laptops.

The big appeal of Bluestacks is for playing games, many of which don’t have native ports on the desktop. I installed Angry Birds and the game worked well with no lag.

Some apps don’t work so well such as those that require specific hardware like GPS receivers but in general with its intuitive interface, Bluestacks is a clever piece of software.

Download Bluestacks now.

Shop Locally Online This Christmas!

We’re huge fans of supporting local businesses and with more of them having websites you can do this without having to leave your sofa! We’ve helped a lot of them over the past few years build their online presence, often holding their hands with e-commerce principals, training and support. Here are a few of the local companies we’ve supported that might help with your Christmas Shopping

Pied Piper

Based in Milk Street, Shrewsbury, Pied Piper sells a range of good quality childrens clothes. Brands include Hatley, Emile et Rose and Steiff.

www.piedpiperchildrensclothes.co.uk

Chris George Cards

One of Shrewsburys’ favourite indie shops closed down back in June this year – Cath Tate Cards in Hills Lane. Sadly the shop was a victim of the current economic conditions and Chris was made redundant. Now Chris has been busy setting up a new business – Chris George Cards.

www.chrisgeorgecards.com

it’s a nomad life

With a shop in the prestige location of Shrewsbury’s Wyle Cop, it’s a nomad life has an excentric collection of vintage gifts and collectables.

www.itsanomadlife.com

Little Gifts & Things

With a great selection of Christmas gifts for men and women Little Gifts & Things has something for everyone. With their under £10 category they have something for hopefully every budget too.

www.littlegiftsandthings.com

Smoke & Pickle

Based on the Shropshire Enterprise Food Centre, Smoke & Pickle have their food in shops across the country including Harrods in London.

www.smokeandpickle.co.uk

Think you’re local business could do with the support of The Web Orchard? Contact us today on 01743 343411 or email [email protected]

Speaking at Coventry University

On the 31st of October I will be giving a talk to the Computer Science students at Coventry University. It’s been six years since I graduated and I’m really looking forward to going back. I will be speaking about commercial web development and my experiences since graduation. Hopefully students looking for a career in web development will find it useful.

ShropGeek Theory of (R)Evolution

It’s not very often that Shropshire gets a web conference and last nights ShropGeek Theory of (R)Evolution certainly didn’t disappoint. The four speakers gave fascinating insights into their past and current projects and it was interesting to see the success and failure.

Jake Smith from JP74 spoke about app and systems development for creative awards organisation D&AD. Specifically he talked about the challenges they had to overcome to develop a system to allow judges to be able to use second generation iPod Touches for casting votes on entries at Olympia in London.

Neil Kinnish and Mike Kus gave a fascinating account into their start-up WorkFu and the highs and lows of the development process, attracting investors and eventually calling day on the project.

To end the evening Paul Annett, Creative Lead for the UK Government Digital Service (GDS), spoke about the challenges behind the new www.gov.uk website and how integrating the many different services the government offers into one place. His focus on usability was especially interesting and how through feedback in testing the site has evolved into what it is today.

How Real Time Stats Help us Love Shrewsbury

On the Love Shrewsbury site we average around four new articles per day, over weeks and months this is a lot of content. What is really key for us is knowing what content is popular so that we can target specific events and topics that we know will engage our readers.

We have two main ways of gathering data, firstly through Google Analytics and secondly through our trending data.

Google Analytics

Google analytics gives us a huge amount of data, from where people have come from geographically, how they found the site on the Internet and how long they spent on the site. We can gather reports of popular articles over a given time period so that we can see which are the most popular.

Through Google Analytics we also have access to real time stats. These are useful for when an article goes viral on Facebook or Twitter as we can react quickly and interact with the community to build a relationship with our reader base.

Statistical data is especially important for seeing how successful a particular article or campaign has been. For instance if certain articles have a higher proportion of online shares we can measure the social impact of an article and compare to other traffic sources such as search engines. If we’ve promoted articles using Facebook ads or promoted Tweets we can measure the impact in real time as well as over longer periods.

Trending Data

Trending data is collected by Love Shrewsbury rather than a third party and is used to show which articles are currently the most popular. Its calculated based on the number of hits an article receives. A score is generated and then halved every three hours (ie a half life) so that we only see current popular articles rather than popular articles of all time. Twitter and the BBC use similar calculations when showing their trending data.

This data then forms the basis for our trending page and our weekly newsletter

By keeping a close eye on both our analytical and trending data Love Shrewsbury are able to not only provide great quality content but interact and establish a vibrant and lively community using social media.

The Web Orchard Receives World Bank Accreditation

Shrewsbury based Web Developer, The Web Orchard part of the  award winning Information Solutions Group have been accredited by the World Bank to work on projects funded by the organisation. The Vendor Accreditation will allow the Web Orchard to be engage in World Bank projects worldwide.

The Web Orchard’s Director Pete White says the recent accreditation is significant. “Our highly successful work in the middle east, in particular websites that focused on the needs of Iraq and Libya, attracted the attention of investors and the World Bank who encouraged us to enroll as an accredited vendor. This will enable us to leverage that experience to World Bank sponsored projects around the world.”

Over the past two years, the Information Solutions Group has managed the website of the Iraq Business News (www.iraq-businessnews.com), helping to take the site from ten thousand visitors to over one hundred and fifty thousand per month. Earlier in 2012 a similar project was setup in Libya (www.libya-businessnews.com ) to help promote business growth in the country.

Some of the World Banks mandates include being:

  • The world’s largest funder of education
  • The world’s largest external funder of the fight against HIV/AIDS
  • A leader in the fight against corruption worldwide
  • A strong supporter of debt relief
  • The largest international financier of biodiversity projects
  • The largest international financier of water supply and sanitation projects.

Information Solutions paired with their web design consultancy, The Web Orchard, offer world class technology solutions from their offices in Shrewsbury, UK. In May 2012 the company was awarded a ‘Mayor of Shrewsbury’ award for their outstanding contribution to the community in Shrewsbury.

For more information, please visit www.theweborchard.com or telephone 01743 343411.

New Website – Love Shrewsbury

The wrap has officially been taken off an exciting new website for Shrewsbury today. Love Shrewsbury has been set-up to celebrate everything that is positive about the county town, promising to deliver the very best for Shrewsbury in terms of news, what’s on, business and much more.

Loveshrewsbury.com brings together various strands and areas of the town – and the site has immediately been attracting positive feedback from Councillors, local townspeople and business owners within hours of launching. There is already the unique chance for visitors to the website to enter a competition to win free tickets to the Fields Forever festival at the Shrewsbury Showground in September.

The What’s On zone of the website enables people to discover the wide variety of events that are taking place across the town and this is enhanced by the Tourism area, which highlights things of interest to those considering spending a day, weekend or even a week in Shrewsbury. A Community zone will showcase worthwhile community initiatives and is destined to become a popular feature with site visitors, whilst other areas of the new website include Pulse, an area for younger residents of the town – and finally business, for the commercial community of Shrewsbury.

The Love Shrewsbury site has been set-up via a partnership of Michael Tinkler from the increasingly popular Severn Magazine, Peter White and Nathan Bensley-Edwards from The Web Orchard and Habib Malik-Mansell, Marketing Assistant at the Hive in Shrewsbury.

Habib Malik-Mansell said “We are excited to finally be launching the Love Shrewsbury website. Based on the positive response so far, we are confident that the Love Shrewsbury website is just what is needed to promote all that is positive about the town, encouraging a sense of community and pride in everything that Shrewsbury has to offer – for both those who live and work here, plus tourists from elsewhere”.

People are invited to check out the new website for themselves, by visiting http://www.loveshrewsbury.com/

Shrewsbury IT Firm Recognised For Their Work With Local Businesses

Shrewsbury based Information Solutions Limited have won an award at the Mayor of Shrewsbury annual awards ceremony. The award was presented by the mayor in recognition of Information Solutions’ “outstanding contribution to the community in the business sector”.

On receiving the award, company director Simon Atkin said: “It’s great to be recognised for the hard work we do in the town helping local businesses with their IT requirements. We’ve been helping local companies to improve their competitive edge with advanced information technology for the last nine years. Information Solutions also trade as The Web Orchard and we’ve been very involved with local creatives to add web development to our portfolio. We like to think that the services we provide are of great benefit to the town”.

Presented by Mayor of Shrewsbury, Councillor Tony Durnell, the awards are held annually at the town’s Guildhall and cover categories including Business, the Environment, Tourism, Community and Youth activities. Shrewsbury takes civic pride in being an innovative and dynamic area for businesses.

Information Solutions have been providing IT Support and Services to businesses throughout The Midlands and Wales since 2003. They serve some of the largest – and smallest – organisations in the area from their offices in The Pump House, Shrewsbury. The company provides a wide range of services, from advanced ecommerce websites and advanced network installations through to computer maintenance and IT consulting services.

Building the New Information Solutions Website

It’s ten times harder to build your own website. With a customers site you can find out exactly what they want, make suggestions of what they could do and come up with a specification covering the site plan, design, structure etc.

When building your own website however you already know what you do as you do it every day yet it seems a whole lot harder turning that into an appealing website.

As with most of our projects we turned to our designer to put together the graphical elements. We’ve been slowly building on our marketing material over the past 18 months with folders, business cards and more recenltly our brochure so we had a good selection of branding material to base the design on.

Next we turned to our copy writer to help turn what we knew so well into content that would be informative and appealing to the reader. We spent a lot of time working through every paragraph to minimise the jargon and waffle.

Finally we needed to turn the design and text into a website. We went through several iterations with some of the finer elements, the block at the top that fades between services took us especially long to get right.

The end product we hope showcases the business in the way we want it to be seen, the balance between professional and business IT services works well and compared to the local competition we feel we’ve got a really strong offering.

Let me know what you think and find out more at www.info-sol.co.uk.