We are delighted to announce Infotex have been accepted into the Crown Commercial Digital Outcomes 6 framework, which will be live from 10th August 2022.

Crown Commercial Service supports the public sector to achieve maximum commercial value when procuring goods and services.

Acceptance onto the framework allows local government and healthcare organisations access to services provided by Infotex. Our ambition is to work more closely with a wider range of organisations in order to design, build, improve and support the back-end systems that sit within healthcare and government to produce better outcomes for all.

Frameworks are agreements between the government and suppliers to supply certain types of services under specific terms. Infotex Ltd have been accepted to provide:

As a digital outcomes supplier, we must:

Jonathan Smith, Director of Infotex Healthcare Systems commented “We are delighted to be accepted onto the framework. It gives us greater opportunity to support the NHS and wider services using our experience in the development of the systems we are already delivering into the care sector”.

“This additional platform reflects the hard work and dedication of our team to really deliver systems in the right way, to the right audience. We can continue to support healthcare teams and patients on the path to better digital assessment and care which is so important.”

Most recently, the team launched a digital self referral platform that allows the smooth and carefully managed assessment of podiatry patients which decreased our client’s 800+ patient backlog to manageable levels within just a few weeks.

Take a look at a review by Dr Hinkes of this system.

In 2019/20, CCS helped the public sector to achieve commercial benefits worth over £1bn – supporting world-class public services that offer best value for taxpayers.

For further information about Infotex’s health systems get in touch.

We all know the importance of keeping tech up to date, whether that be your phone, tablet or laptop. At Infotex we host, support and maintain over 600 client websites, with our DevOps team working tirelessly to ensure that security patches are in place and servers are running smoothly.

As part of our site maintenance we carry out regular updates to all of our WordPress sites, and the next update will bring WordPress 6.0 with which we are including an enhanced CMS (Content Management System) experience for all of our direct clients.

The new-look dashboard will include updated branding, quick access to our support team via a handy form and a news feed, keeping our clients up to date with helpful hints and tips to manage and improve their own site.

WordPress, of course, will continue to allow you to customise your own choice of dashboard widgets, show/hide and reposition any widget should it be required.

This is just the initial release in our plans for improving our WordPress client’s CMS experience and we hope that our clients feel the benefit of these changes.

If you’re considering refreshing your website or just want to chat about how to ensure your site is secure and up to date then get in touch.

In March I reported on our office closure.  Last week we held the first of our quarterly “All Company Gatherings” since then.  The format of these gatherings is an evolution of how we used to gather together in previous years – in an age before words like “covid” and “pandemic” were in our vocabulary.  We have enjoyed on many occasions the opportunity to spend extra time together, and do something unusual, not specifically about our work, but often related to it in some way.  Events have usually been based in Suffolk, which is where the company is rooted, and included sailing trips, barbeques in remote fields, country house sleepovers, and visits to arts and crafts centres.

HMS Queen Elizabeth

This time, released from our “Suffolk HQ” constraints, we branched out and chose Portsmouth as the location. The rationale behind this decision was characteristically eclectic.  In January we had set the dates for 4 gatherings across the whole year, and asked everyone to keep their diaries free.  Around that time, I also happened to enter my newly acquired sailboat in the Round-the-Island race, which is a 1200-yacht yacht race around the Isle of Wight.  This was on 25 June, the day after our Summer Gathering. 

Realising I had a formidable logistical challenge looming – to spend 2 days with the company and then get onto the water and across to the island on the Friday evening – I just needed to persuade our head of production Katie, who has assumed the role of “chief gathering organiser”, that we could go to Portsmouth.  Leveraging some of the tactical persuasive skills learned from my children, I was able to make the argument that it was high time we headed further afield, several of our staff live and work in Surrey, Sussex, Kent and London, so how nice it would be for them to have the Suffolk mob make the effort this time.  She was quickly persuaded and seized the opportunity to create a fantastic company event. 

In our maritime hotel next to the historic Portsmouth Historic Dockyard, we all soon grasped what a fascinating and fun place Portsmouth is – steeped in maritime history, packed with things to do and interesting mixture of serious stuff going on – university, MOD, shipping, business – blended with a holiday atmosphere, the bars and restaurants of course all brimming with potential.

Portsmouth Get Together

During our visits, we were able to carry on working operationally, and also spend a useful afternoon discussing the world we are in, our place in it and our own strategy for the business. Reflecting on these, we set ourselves the challenge “how  can we improve Infotex in a time of climate emergency and facing economic uncertainty”.  We have committed the business to work on projects that aim to do more with less, so that we can help our clients to beat inflationary pressures, and we can operate using fewer resources. Over the summer, our ideas will be developed into projects, and when we next gather in October, we aim to pick up the best projects and move these forward.

Portsmouth

Outside of work, we had a vibrant and competitive escape room session, which taught us all more about ourselves, followed by a visit to Boathouse 4 in the Royal Naval Dockyard, and a tour of Portsmouth harbour in their restored landing craft, which everybody who likes boats and naval history (like me) loved, but that might not have been everybody!

Portsmouth escape room

Portsmouth

 

Apple have stormed forward with the announcement of IOS 16 this month, which will be compatible with the iPhone8 onwards – leaving behind some much-loved Apple models including the iPod touch, which was discontinued recently.

A decisive end to two decades of the iPod led to a trip down memory lane for some of us at Infotex. We asked some of our team to share their stories about their music listening habits and what the iPod has meant to them over the past two decades.

James Fulford

“To a 14-15 year-old boy it was a complete game changer!”
James Fulford, Account Manager

James’ first (and best) iPod – a 4GB green iPod mini, 2nd generation – was one the greatest bits of kit he’s ever owned, he says. It transformed his 40 minute school commute on public transport with its 1,000 songs and 18hr battery life. “No one needs more than 1,000 songs…” he says, “whoever says they do are lying!

Now James has an iPhone with access to 2TB of cloud storage, which is used for a lot more than just songs but would be capable of storing c.2,000,000 songs (definitely too many songs!).

Apple iPod website 2005

Katie Robinson

Our Production Manager Katie’s love for her first iPod – a purple Nano given to her by her (now) husband over a decade ago – kickstarted her desire for more Apple products, and it wasn’t long afterwards that she got her first iPhone.

Michael Letley

Whilst Michael, our developer enjoyed listening to podcasts, thanks to the hard drive capacity. “This completely changed my life, the most memorable podcasts were “The Skeptics Guide to the Universe” and “The Bugle” (both are still going and I still listen to them).

John Harman

“That iPod touch was my reliable friend for emergency notifications overnight for many years, as well as pumping out a steady stream of 1980’s rock ‘n roll music for many long days during a house renovation where there was no internet connection. It is still sat close to me now!”
John Harman, Infrastructure Manager

Remember the days when hours were spent burning CDs to listen to in the car? For John (aka Moz), this ended in 2006 with the purchase of an iPod Nano 2nd generation (2GB), for use listening to podcasts in his car via a tuner add-on that created “iPod FM”. Moz’s podcast passion outgrew his storage capacity, so his birthday present in 2009 was an upgrade to an 8GB 4th generation Nano, which still works today. As a developer, but not an Apple user, Moz needed a simple way to do browser testing on iOS, so later he upgraded from the Nano to an iPod touch.

Although nowadays Moz’s music and podcasts are primarily handled by his (Android) phone, he is still close to his iPod touch and iPads. Like Katie, the iPod was Moz’s first dip into the Apple ecosystem.

Kris Parker

Not everyone jumped on the iPod bandwagon. Account Manager Kris Parker opted for the DAH-220 – a clever cassette tape shaped MP3 player, so you can load it into a tape deck and play your music – ideal for cars in the early 2000s! With only 256mb of storage, you had to be very selective over what tracks you put on it.

mp3-cassette


Whether the discontinuation of Apple iPods marks an inevitable end of simple music players or not, we will always feel nostalgic about the time these small devices transformed music and podcast listening forever!

Healthcare systems in practice – understanding the need and how Infotex can help.

We launched Infotex UK Systems just before the COVID-19 hit. We were excited about its potential to support the NHS at the time but throughout the last 2 years we have really been able to explore how critical well designed, value for money systems will be for trusts and CCGs\ICSs.

The NHS is ramping up its focus on digitising itself, its staff and providing better channels through which patients can engage with practitioners and also help determine how best to manage their care.

The expectation is that as a result of the epidemic, all technology will see a jump forward but that any used within the Healthcare Industry will see a more poignant increase in pressure to deliver.

Infotex healthcare brochure

With this in mind, we are excited to be attending a number of key shows across the year so we can purposefully engage with operations and administration leaders to understand their actual and specific needs and challenges. Though we have gained enormous information through careful research, the best way for us to deliver value is to speak directly with those looking to improve their systems as each team and trust have such a vast range of requirements and challenges (even if they can broadly be categorised together).

We next plan to attend THE HEALTH PLUS CARE SHOW, in London on the 18th-19th May.

It is FREE to attend for healthcare professionals, you can find the show guide and other details at healthpluscare.co.uk/digital.

The show will cover 4 key areas;

Topics we hope to explore include:

We are looking to speak to anyone that is working in the healthcare sector that would like to share their thoughts and experiences of patients facing AND internal administration systems so we can better meet the needs of patients and the CCGs\ICSs we hope to work with.

Get in touch if you would like to chat either online or in person!

“The Healthcare Show in 2022 provides that long-awaited opportunity for the NHS to come together to reflect, respond and re-organise in the face of the monumental challenge it has endured over the past two years.”
www.healthpluscare.co.uk

Want to arrange a meeting at the show or find out more about our systems? You can reach the team at:
debbie.keating@infotex.uk or via LinkedIn
alex.rawlings@infotex.uk or via LinkedIn

We hope to see you there!

To find out more about our healthcare solutions please visit www.infotex.uk/healthcare-systems or contact us for a brochure.

We’ll also be at:

A wise advisor, someone I admire and respect, once said to me “Strategy is What Happens, not what’s Supposed to Happen”.   What Has Happened to our offices is, perhaps, just such an example.

In 2020 we made the decision to close our small London office, amidst the drama of the pandemic and lockdowns. This week we have said a final goodbye to our head office in Melton, Suffolk. 

Riverside House has been our home for just 5 years, 2 of which have been lost to the pandemic. But we have always had our head office in Melton since 2004, so this is a big change.  

We have opted to make working from our own homes our default mode, with flexible hours to boot, but we are aware that this will have consequences, so we see this as an evolving story.  

The abruptness of the pandemic jarred so many businesses into adopting, at scale, remote working practices that have been in place for years.  In Infotex, as in many businesses, we had already been working for a long time remotely with clients and staff across the world, on Hangout, Teams, Zoom and Skype, with all of the benefits.

Scaling this up to become the default taught us about new positives.  For our staff who have always worked remotely from “the office”, having everyone on the same level has resulted in a new closeness within the business.  Our daily chats mean that all of us see and hear more of each other than we used to, and our teamwork has improved through the flexibility of being able to make up teams so flexibly (although we tend not to use Teams, preferring Google Meet for its immediacy).  

Having overall responsibility for the business, I feel more connected to all of our team of 25 than I ever have.  Maybe that’s a damning indictment of how I was doing things before!  Or maybe I am deluding myself.  Certainly, this sense of connection has made me eager to find the ways and means to spend more time actually together.   So far, we have had three 2-day “gatherings”, where the whole company works in one location.  These have all been enjoyable, and constructive and important for our business.  Now that we no longer have our building, we are free to roam. Our next gathering, in June, will be in Portsmouth.  This is a welcome relief to our minority “Staff in the South”, who are relieved not to have to journey to Suffolk this time. It will no doubt invoke a nautical theme, and plans are afoot to visit the historic dockyard.

In the meantime, like so many other businesses, we are free to meet with one another and our clients in a variety of locations, many of them regulars. Serviced offices and workspaces offer the ideal answer for providing us with stimulating and enjoyable working environments when needed.  For some of us, having somewhere to go is beneficial and needed, so this option always remains available to us all.  But not being constrained by a rigid structure is an important step forward and feels like a step forward.

Propelled by events, we are following a new strategic direction, which is modern, flexible and resilient, and fills us with confidence.  But it wasn’t supposed to happen.

Cyber Essentials Plus is a UK Government-backed scheme designed to guard organisations against cyber attack

It ensures our systems are up to date, secure and fit for purpose meaning our clients can rest assured that they are working with a business that is confident in its digital security. Plus, we have the hands-on knowledge to guide their security measures when we develop their websites and systems.

By having a clear picture of our organisation’s cyber security level, we can remain vigilant and keep ourselves ahead of any risk. Further securing our position as a reliable and trusted provider, particularly in the more heavily regulated industries and strengthening our position to further support larger government-backed organisations.

We signed up for Cyber Essentials Plus as part of our ambition to be transparent, accountable and authentically proactive for higher standards of security and support – meaning our clients can be confident they are in a safe pair of hands.

Our Cyber Essentials and Cyber Essentials Plus reviews were overseen by URM Consulting Services.

We were assessed on critical pillars of security

Doing more to be sure

Why PLUS is different – self-assessment and independent review of our position

We decided to work to achieve the higher assessment level – Cyber Essentials Plus which ‘To achieve Cyber Essentials Plus, you must already be certified to Cyber Essentials. Gaining the extra qualification will also involve a technical expert conducting an on-site or remote audit on your IT systems, including a representative set of user devices, all Internet gateways and all servers with services accessible to unauthenticated Internet users. “

Working with Lauren and the team has allowed us to elevate our security measures and we can step confidently forward knowing we are in the best position to support ourselves and our customers.

We signed up for Cyber Essentials Plus as part of our ambition to be transparent, accountable and authentically proactive for higher standards of security and support – meaning our clients can be confident they are in a safe pair of hands.

How did we do?

URM’S assessor commented, “Infotex has a strong set of controls in place and an exemplary patching process where the organisation is applying the most up-to-date operating systems and system software which provides both security and stability.”  

Richard Howlett, a Lead Developer at Infotex said ‘We are very proud of achieving Cyber Essentials Plus certification.  Infotex has made some significant investments in its cyber security infrastructure and this external validation provides a clear demonstration to our clients and partners of our commitment to protecting the organisation from cyber-related attacks.”

The bigger picture

Understanding the bigger picture, and the impact COVID and working from home measures have had in the background of businesses.

“The government reports that as many as two in five UK firms have experienced cyber attacks in the last year.”

Throughout the assessment process, we learned that many businesses have experienced issues similar to ours. 

Martin Jones, who leads the Cyber Essentials Plus initiative commented “During the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant number of organisations have struggled to keep up-to-date with the latest patch cycles and security updates as the patching systems were kept on the local network.  With many, if not all, machines being remote, the patches could not be applied effectively.  Some organisations have relied on end-users to apply patches manually, but this relies on the users’ technical aptitude and conscientiousness.”

A significant portion of the effort surrounding mobilising our staff to effectively work from home was the proactive management of our IT kit by our talented and experienced staff members. 

This was a key concern for our team, as our stability and security mindfulness directly impacts our clients and their business. We decided to boost our online resilience by taking the proactive steps to work with the team at URM Consulting Services to thoroughly assess our position, and take any necessary corrective steps.

“Infotex managed to keep their applications up-to-date despite the challenges being faced. They achieved this by applying updates remotely and  by keeping the number of applications they use to a minimum hence reducing the effort required.”

If you would like to learn more about what we did, and how we can support your business – give us a call. Every project starts with a chat.

Cyber Essentials Plus

It is extraordinary how much human beings like being together. We are social animals and we do well to remember it. As we have all braved our way through the past 18 months of lockdowns and working from home, much has been written and said about the positives and the move towards a new normal.

In Infotex, everyone has certainly embraced the opportunities presented when working from home, to be able to do our jobs whilst also enjoying less time travelling and more flexibility in our working days. We have been focussing on these positives, and in doing so I wonder if we have almost been experiencing a mild form of “Stockholm Syndrome”, whereby we were deluding ourselves that we are better off held in captivity.

With the knowledge that we were going to be allowed to emerge in the Autumn, as the Covid restrictions finally abated over the summer, and having entered a team to take part in a running event for charity, we took the opportunity to block out the diary across 7-10th October, and I was pleased that we were able to bring the whole company together for two days in our Riverside House Suffolk HQ. And I was amazed at how enjoyable it was to simply be together again. Perhaps after 18 months of daily video communication, I shouldn’t have been amazed. It was almost like meeting a whole bunch of people I am used to seeing on TV, the excitement of meeting the cast.

Team Meeting Room

We spent the two days holding overdue discussions about our business – technical and commercial strategies were explored, productivity workshops held, along with team discussions about how we can work more effectively together as an integrated unit.

We continue to discuss across the business the pros and cons of working-from-home. As we approach 2022 we are carrying out a thorough review of our working patterns to make these as effective as possible for the future. We all agreed on the importance of meeting up in person, and we are now committed to regular sessions like this at least 4 times a year, whilst we also remain committed to supporting the work-from-home infrastructure which has also proved to be so durable and effective.

So will we keep Riverside House? This is currently not certain, but we can be sure that we do continue to see value in having our own “HQ” in Suffolk and a physical presence around which we can all congregate. Meanwhile, we have had a reassuring reminder that we still have our “home from home” in Suffolk, and another happy memory of time spent there….

Infotex Team Outside

Infotex has joined forces with some of the biggest brains in healthcare digital technology, bringing on board a whole new range of opportunities for the company.

 

If just one good thing has come out of Covid-19, it’s the blanket national appreciation of the National Health Service and those that work within it. Never before have so many interacted with the NHS, utilising the latest in digital technology from Track-and-Trace to the booking system behind millions of vaccinations. 

Even prior to the pandemic taking hold, users of the NHS had started interacting digitally with the service with far greater frequency – and we at Infotex are extremely proud to announce that we’ve partnered with three of the exceptional software engineers who, for the past 20 years, have led the charge in such developments.

The team of Jonathan Smith, Gareth Barnes and Mark Boreham join us from NEL: the London-based commissioning support unit that covers nearly 25% of the UK population and manages over £10billion of NHS contracts. 

Projects the trio have developed and implemented include, amongst others, the Allied Health Professionals (AHP) physiotherapy self-referral platform, which processes over 80,000 cases per year; the Call Information Management Application System (CIMAS), which enables police custody officers to book clinicians for those in their care requiring medical assistance; and the Lawmunion Library System, which connects over 150 hospitals and healthcare providers to share essential journals and books, both physically and digitally.

As part of their work with Infotex, Jonathan and the team have integrated several of their existing clients into the Infotex roster, most notably AHP for whom they will continue to offer technical support while developing new solutions. This influx of new clients has prompted Infotex to open an entire new healthcare division.

“After 25 years in the public sector with the NHS, it’s really exciting for myself, Gareth and Mark to join Infotex,” claims Jonathan. 

“We bring a wealth of experience and skills from both the NHS and the private sector, utilising Microsoft technologies to complement those already in Infotex. We look forward to continuing to work with our existing customers, as well as developing new products in the healthcare sector.”

Anthony Agar, Infotex managing director, said of this new chapter in the company’s 20-year history, “It’s an exciting development for Infotex to bring on board three great developers who bring with them substantial new skills and experience.

“With a Microsoft.net development team focussed on building systems for healthcare providers – and combining this capability with Infotex’s core purpose of delivering websites that really do improve things for people – we’re going to do a great deal to help patients access services all over the UK.”

For more information, please contact Infotex on 01394 615 615.

Monday 23rd March 2020, 9am. 

I’m at my desk, in “the TV room” at home, which I have claimed in a military manoeuvre. It has undergone an upgrade over the weekend from “where I work when at home” to “the office”. 

I click the “Google Hangout” popup alert and in a few seconds I am presented with a striking array of familiar faces.  We have 22 people working in Infotex.  Not all are full time, but today everyone is on the call. I can see a wall of anxiety on my desktop and I am not sure what to say to it. So at first I waffle on about how this is all unprecedented and we must brace ourselves for a commercial shock.  But unlike many managers out there, I am able to turn to something more concretely positive: the silver linings at our disposal as an online business able to continue to operate more or less unaffected. How there is an opportunity for us to show leadership and courage, and to advance our online services in new ways, as the internet is now about to come to the fore. 

Work from Home

We start to have a general chat.  James picks up the theme and adds that it’s as if we just pressed fast forward on the things we have all believed in for years – the remarkable ability of the Internet empowering individuals and organisations to communicate and collaborate in ways that are so much more effective than ever seen before. We observe that the very meeting we are all having now is, well, comfortable and extraordinary in its quality. A reassuring facility in uncertain times.

This concept hits me with a force – that in a world which has suddenly become utterly unpredictable, we need to create some new certainties. The handrails and toe holds of life are about routine and certainty. I tell the team boldly “right we will meet here online every day at 9am for 15 mins for a catchup and general chat about things, then let’s take things one day at a time”.  I do this as I sense everyone, me included, is going to need a new structure.  

 After three days of 9am catch ups, I start to meet resistance. Everyone is facing multiple challenges at the start of each day, with numerous Hangouts, Zooms and Meets, plus lots of production operations to get through.  “Let’s try meeting at lunch time from tomorrow onwards”, I suggest on the day 3 catch up.  There is then a typical Infotex discussion – friendly but firm, with plenty of opinion and sense of humour – about when lunchtime is. ‘Turns out some go for lunch as early as 12, and some as late as 2.  This is not as disorganised as it sounds, it’s all about making sure we have people available all of the time for our clients when they need us.  “Right”, I say, determined not to be outmanoeuvred, “we’ll have our catch ups at 11-45 daily – no one can say it’s too early, and no one can say they’re off for lunch”.  And so it begins. 

Video call

June 2020

Lockdown continues and like thousands of small businesses all over the country we are now experts at working from home.  We have had the Company Catchup at 11:45 every working day since March 23rd. The team has worked hard throughout to support our many clients with updates to their websites, as they all adapt to their changed worlds.  Some clients have been exceptionally busy, with online sales many times greater than ever seen before.  This produces challenges all round – one client, for example, quickly ran out of the small bags they use to sell to consumers, as their flour business was mostly selling to trade in large bags.  Another client had to adapt their shops to become pick-and-pack centres and had streams of demand from customers wanting deep freezes and more audio visual equipment.  Many of our clients had to shut down and just needed us to update all their messaging to tell customers about their new arrangements.

Like our clients, we are emerging from the mist and thinking about future plans and what will be the new normal.  Already we know that we are never going back to the way we were before March.  So how do we want to organise ourselves in the future, in a post-Covid world?  We decide it’s time we did a survey, so Katie polls the team. She asks them to talk from a personal perspective (what they want for themselves) and from the company’s (what they think is best for the company’s future).  The results, perhaps unsurprisingly, reveal how none of us can yet see very clearly into the future… but they do also show a distinct preference for working from home.  

Meanwhile we make the office “Covid Secure”, although it remains mostly empty, and we offer our unused space to three small businesses that are struggling their way through the pandemic and are in need of working homes.  My grown-up children offer to re-paint it so that it will feel fresh on our return in the Autumn.

September 2020

When term starts, we reopen the office for a handful of those who want to go in part time, which feels like a reassuring step in the right direction.

With no sign yet of Lockdown 2, we decide to do a proper plan for 2021, which calls for a repeat of our June survey.  Same questions, different answers this time.  It seems about half the team believe they will work best if they can come and go to the office flexibly when restrictions are lifted.  The other half want to keep working at home.  There is much less indecision.

Return to work in office? Jun Nov
Part time 1 11
Full time 2 0
Undecided 8 2
Never 12 10

The Company Catchup has sustained throughout the summer.  Even as lockdown eased, with calls to “Eat out to Help Out” and “Get Back to Work”, bolstered by our June survey results, we decided to hang on to our newly formed habit, reluctant to let go of all the benefits we are feeling.  The Catch Up has found its own rhyme and reason:

Mondays – we pick up from the weekend. Then our production manager Katie runs us through all of the projects going on across the business, and highlights key events – launches, workshops, client meetings, internal sprint reviews.

Tuesdays – The week is underway and scheduling has been finalised the day before, so Cameron our Support Manager highlights how things are on the front line of support – any major maintenance upgrades, clients facing operational challenges and needing priority support.

Wednesdays – There will have been digital marketing and development meetings in the morning, so things can turn a bit geeky.  We hear from Tim our Digital Strategist about cool stuff he is doing with clients to help them improve website performance.  And Chris, John, Richard and the developers all chip in with updates on technical stuff they are up to.

Thursday is People Day – we raise admin matters – holiday plans, documentation, etc. And this is when we might have a guest speaker – our shareholders or creative partners for example.

Friday is think about the weekend. I tend to turn to our designers (the art department) to bring some colour and light to the conversation, and remind us of the importance of nurturing the artistic soul in our world of design and technology.  We are blessed to have Jonny as our head of design, supported by Alice, they are a winning combination team.

By now we have also been successful in winning new business – engaging with, and selling to our clients online, and now working with them creatively.  Out went the old one or two day workshops, involving car and train journeys and fabulously complicated logistics to get the necessary people together for quality time. In replacement we are seeing 2-day workshops achieved in  several 2 or 3 hour remote sessions , with all the people we need to be there – Infotex and Clients – always able to attend, and with the luxury for our designers to be able to sit in on tech meetings, and our developers to sit in on design meetings, which so often in the past had been difficult to resource.

So, slowly, we feel, we are finding our sustainable path through this new world.

February 2021

Lockdown 2 (or is it 3, or 4?) is now well underway. This time round, the whole nation, and nations abroad, seems more subdued.  Our intention, stated in September, to re-open the office in January, was abandoned before Christmas, by then we knew it wasn’t going to happen. The Company Catch Ups have become about more than just routine and certainty, they’re about keeping well-being and companionship up too, in a world where human connection is at risk of slipping.  

Our view….

There are no rules. I have heard of all sorts of ways that businesses are helping employees navigate this new landscape. Each company and organisation needs to find what works best for it.  As always with the adoption of new technology, it’s important not to let your natural tendency to want things to stay the same hamper your ability to adapt and grasp the positives.

For us, we will re-open our offices at the end of June and everyone will have a place to come to work.  But as a company we have seen the benefits of working remotely and we intend to build on these learnings.  For example, meetings will continue to be video based by default, so that they are always attended by the right people and the logistics can be frictionless.

After Covid

The UK now has a road map and we can, at last, plan against a framework that will see an end to the lockdown and the most severe restrictions.  All the indications are that there will be no “after Covid”; we are now in a “living with Covid” world.  But regardless, and whatever restrictions remain on movement and social contact, we have all been propelled, as James said in our first lockdown meeting, into using the Internet with more imagination than we thought we had, for the improvement of how we run our lives.

 

There are a wide range of website styles and designs used in the construction industry, ranging from single page versions to the more complex mobile responsive designs for smart phones and tablets. Regardless of formats used, excellent photography is key to the visual impact of construction industry websites today.

Great photography boosts website appeal in the commercial construction industry. A varied assortment of our favourites follows:

ANDERSON

Anderson

www.andersongroup.co.uk

Some great photography and moody atmospherics helps give the site a dramatic intrigue and a certain magnetic appeal.

BALFOUR BEATTY

BALFOUR BEATTY

www.balfourbeatty.com

A really good showcase of global projects making Balfour Beatty a powerhouse when it comes to international infrastructure operations.

BECHTEL

Betchel

www.bechtel.com

A superior website from one of the most respected engineering, construction and project management companies in the world. A pictorial feast of engineering wizardry.

GRAHAM

Graham i

www.graham.co.uk

A vast array of impressive infrastructure projects throughout the UK. The showcase menu is structured well and easy to read – a nice touch with each project swapping around when scrolling across the sub headings in each category.

KIER

Kier

www.kier.co.uk

A fun vector graphic used as a footer showing in simplistic form of some of the services that Kier provide from construction and property development to facilities management and project investments.

MASTERSON HOLDINGS

Masterson holdings

www.getjar.co.uk

The use of a concrete image for the background makes for a very masculine website and in the words of the Ronseal ads ‘does exactly what it says on the tin’ – after all the company are reinforced concrete and groundwork specialists.

MORGAN SINDALL GROUP

Morgan Sindall Group

www.morgansindall.com

The triangular grid background of this website forms a good basis for the geometric shapes of the imagery and text panels to work together. The movement of these layers shifting independently when scrolling down gives extra appeal to the browsing experience.

RG CARTER

RG Carter

www.rgcarter-construction.co.uk

A straight forward layout design making the navigability very easy especially for the uninitiated.

SHERRI BUILDERS

SHERRI BUILDERS

www.sherribuilders.com

Very professional imagery used made all the more interesting with the way that each image emerges into view giving the site a more dynamic feel.

WILLMOTT DIXON

WILLMOTT DIXON

www.willmottdixon.co.uk

A visual treat showing full width photography for the greater impact emphasizing WD’s commitment to being proud of their chosen industry and in particular their achievements.

If you’re interested updating your web design or digital marketing strategy, then get in touch with us today!

I wanted to see how easy it was for small businesses to grow followers on Instagram without the input of a marketing resource. Aside from my role at Infotex I am a digital artist, I sell limited edition prints and commissions so for this experiment I featured my Instagram around my small business as an artist.

SETTING UP

I already had an account with around 29 followers (pretty meagre). But if you haven’t you need to download the app onto your phone and set up an account. To aid being found I recommend both your username (known as a handle with the @ sign) and your name having reference to what you do in it. For example I set my name as Abstract Landscape Artist. You are then more likely to come up in a search of your your specialism.

Write your biography wisely and link to a relevant page on your website in the URL (web address) field. This is the only small area you have to promote what you do and direct people away from Instagram.

POSTING

Then choose the amount of times you think you can feasibly post each day and get started. I went with one but three is optimal.

STYLE QUALITY

Your pictures need to be good. Look around, there is a very ‘glossy’ magazine feel to Instagram. It is also starting to be more common to see the animated gifs or video loop images offered by new smart phones.

ETIQUETTE

Friendly and kind. This is not twitter.
People are more reserved about who they follow than on other social platforms, they are much more likely to ‘like’ than give you a full resounding follow.

Etiquette seems to suggest you should have more followers than be following.

HASHTAGS

Make sure you use the hashtag (#) in each post.
The only way for you to reach those outside your own following is including a hashtag they may be interested in. Think clearly about what subjects your audience would look at and make sure that your hashtag includes:

Six hash tags is about right. if you want to set your hashtags away from your post text, you will often see people use ‘–’

For example;
This is the text for my insta-post

#hashtags #subject #location #etc

THE PROCESS

You can indeed increase your following by good old fashioned hard work.

DAY 1

Quite excited I surfed around on Instagram looking at people trending on hashtags similar to the ones I was using. I commented on their pictures and in return got some nice comments back, a few likes and some thank yous but not really any follows.

DAY 2

I checked out the ‘settings’ tab on my instagram and under ‘Find & Invite Friends’ trawled my contacts stalking anyone I had ever known – and followed – with not that much response.

Then I looked at ‘Suggested Users’ and, being a little more sensitive here, I liked or commented on their images and then followed. The response was good, better than my real friends! I got quite a few follows back and increasing likes.

DAY 3

So I now knew that if I made the effort to look, comment and then follow I was more likely to get people taking the time to look at me and follow, but more often it started in lots of likes. I found if I checked the ‘grammers’ that had left likes (but no follow) commented or posted on their feed, then followed them I was getting a higher rate of follow returns.

I also noticed that my activity and engagement was snowballing I was reaching wider and growing likes, comments and follows.

DAY 4

Next I checked how my time of day was affecting numbers.
Currently I was posting at 9pm  so I tried at 7am and 12pm. The numbers were considerable; midday doubling and early morning tripling so I moved my daily post to 7am.

Small trick – I also learned to cull dead followees, those I was following who were not attentive to my path to greatness.

DAY 5

I did some real world research.
I went about my day asking anyone I could what they thought of Instagram and how it worked for them – there are definitely industries that thrive on Instagram and I found many people and small businesses for whom Instagram is a brilliant marketing tool bringing them many sales. These industries are generally fashion, food, lifestyle and outdoor adventure.

So what if you aren’t in one of those industries?

DAY 6

In one word….Keywords.
#Hashtags are key but tagging just for ‘your’ industry is not a way to approach a wider audience so I started #ing the industries that worked. Adding #interiors #interiordesign #womensfitness #wheretonext and apparently blueberries and donuts do wonders for likes too, but no, even I had a limit to how low I would stoop. That said using the hashtags from popular industries definately increased likes which in turn after I had engaged, cultivated follows.

You can see a few popular hashtags in this article; www.postplanner.com/best-instagram-hashtags

DAY 7

So numbers were growing, this was great wasn’t it?
Now I just focused on those liking my posts. I checked them out, liked, commented and followed. This showing of interest in them over just following increased my follows, but as this grew as did my time responding and although I discovered new, nice and interesting stuff it was taking up my time which should have been spent doing actual work.

‘I wasn’t doing this out of enjoyment but for the benefit of my business’

Unlike pinterest where I surf just to find ephemera and inspiration I wasn’t doing this out of enjoyment but for the benefit of my business, this is very different from using a social platform for social or personal purposes. So was the return on investment enough for the time (and therefore money) I was spending?

THE OUTCOME

I was pleased, I had more than tripled my following and it was easy to see that this was a snowballing effect. As I continued posting and tagging once a day, my numbers were growing at a much quicker rate than the virtually ‘zero’ movement before this experiment.

There is no doubt that Instagram, and all the other social media platforms help build very successful businesses, however choose wisely, test, decide, create a strategy and importantly –  stick to it. Even those that have millions of followers all say it is hard work, and just posting with the odd hashtag and sitting back and waiting will not bring you riches.

With 300 million active daily users on instagram yes that means you have a far reaching pool but it also means you have a big ocean to navigate through, with your lone voice needing to rise above other – dare I say – natives, and many millions of those are of course not interested in your line of business.

SO IS IT WORTH IT?

Yes and no. Social media is not a magic wand but if you choose your social media platform carefully, have a strategy and a campaign – and stick to it – it is likely to work. But sporadic posting across random platforms is less likely to help your business and more likely waste you time.

Stats on conversion rates seem to vary considerably but most say social platforms are around or below 1% with newsletters being much higher than that so finding the right platform and finding the right person (not everyone has the knack) is an expense that needs to be factored in. In the end, social marketing is no different from traditional marketing, find what suites you and stick to it, routinely making sure the return is worth the outlay.

You can find a large selection of stats here if you want to know more: www.expandedramblings.com/

And finally, if any of these alarm bells have rung for you and finding the right marketing avenue to turn down is on your mind why not give us a call.
All our advice is born out of hands on experience and delivered with unbiased recommendation.

Every project starts with a chat

Discover how our team can help you on your journey.

Talk to us today