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A social media success story

Pixelhaus were proud to be sponsors this year of the Shake and Stir vintage festival, in Southbourne, Bournemouth and as such, we designed and built their website.

An other key aspect of our association with the festival was in the online marketing of the event. We devised a strategy of daily posts on Facebook, twitter and instagram, video interviews with the sponsors, traders and artists and email shots which we trickled out in the run up to the festival. In the final week we also ran a sponsored post via Facebook for maximum reach.

During the event itself we conducted live Facebook videos and interviews. The upshot of this work was a 26% year on year increase in Facebook activity. Indeed, in the week up to and including the days of the event we reached 29,000 people organically through Facebook alone.

At the end of the day though, what matters is how many people attended and we’re rather pleased that our work contributed to an estimated 25,000 to 27,000 attendees over the weekend, up from 12,000 last year.

As passionate supporters of live music, indeed our very own social media manager, Judy was there with her band it was great to see so many people engaged with this community event and we look forward to taking it to new heights next year.

Essential productivity apps that cost nothing

Businessman stressed by too many tasks   When you’re starting out running an online business you soon discover that those business apps that you simply must have can work out rather expensive. But there are plenty of alternatives, some of which are as good if not better than their premium priced equivalents. Let’s take a look:

Image editing

If you need to resize and edit photographs, say for your ecommerce store you need access to a great photo editor. We’ve all heard of photoshop (the original and still best option) but it’s not cheap and to be honest, you probably won’t use 95% of what it can do. So let me introduce you to PIXLR. Pixlr is a cloud based image editor you access through a web browser. If you’ve used any kind of editor before it will immediately feel familiar and it works very well. Best of all, it’s free to use. Alternatives? If you want to download a more traditional app to your computer, take a look at GIMP, an open source alternative to photoshop that’s nearly as old.

Project management

The web is littered with a miriad of project management apps, some of which are well established such as Basecamp and newer more visual offerings such as Trello. Here at Pixelhaus we’ve used them all but the one we currently use and like the best is called PRODUCTEEV. It has a fairly intuitive layout, allows for unlimited projects and users (most other suites in this area charge per user) and the standard edition is free (there is a premium version with support but the product is still the same). Highly recommended.

Contact management systems (CRM)

How do you manage your contacts ? If everything else you do is online, then it only makes sense to use a CRM that can share your records across different platforms. This is one arena where you will find literally dozens of players from premium, corporate products that require a residential course to get your head around such as Goldmine and Salesforce to cheaper cloud based products such as Capsule CRM and Zoho right down to open source apps you can self install. We love HUBSPOT CRM. This is the core of a suite of inbound marketing add-ons you can pay for, but the essential CRM at the heart of it is free regardless of the number of records. There’s even a phone app for it too.

Documents

Letters. Spreadsheets. Presentations. You can’t have the fun stuff without the boring stuff too. Sorry about that. It may well be that you need Microsoft Office in your life which is fine but did you know Google makes their own suite of productivity apps. And they are all free! Write letters, create spreadsheets and presentations and save them to your Google Drive (a free cloud based storage folder). What’s not to like ? If you prefer a traditional suite of office tools to install directly on to your pc or mac then Open Office is a great open source alternative that is fully featured.

To summarise

All of these apps are cloud based which means they live on a remote server and you access them through a web browser. So you can be 100% productive with zero outlay!

Why can’t I upload images to my site ?

upload

“Why can’t I upload images to my website?” is a question we often get asked. There will always be a straightforward reason and these are the 3 most common:

  1. The file size is too big. There will always be some level of limit and for an ecommerce product image that might be as low as 800kb.
  2. It’s the wrong format. Anything other than a jpg, png or gif will usually fail.
  3. Naming conventions. If your image file is multiple words, hyphenate it (not like this, do-it-like-that and ON NO ACCOUNTS have an ampersand (&) in the file name.

A brief history of Pixelhaus: in websites

old pixelhaus website

As we launch this,  our latest Pixelhaus website, we thought it might be fun to go back and look at some of our earlier efforts. Pixelhaus was originally formed in 1993 by Richard Gosler, our current creative director. As he was a catalogue and commercial photographer the company was exclusively a photographic studio and the world wide web was literally 2 years old.

First efforts

Our first site for Richard Gosler Photography as we were known then was built in 1998 as an experiment just to see how easy or hard this new fangled technology was. As it goes, very easy as you were generally limited to static sites back then. Our first site was made in Microsoft Frontpage in a weekend. By today’s standards an abomination of code and design but it did the job. Alas we cannot show you what it looked like (which, to be honest is a bit of a relief to us also). But it did allow us to start offering the service to our photographic clientele.
Gosler New Media

Gosler New Media (1999)

Gosler New Media

In 1999 the company changed names to Gosler New Media to reflect the rapid changes in technology and also our offering. As well as web design, we were one of the first companies in the area to offer 360 degree panoramas, virtual tours and object movies. Technologies then were largely proprietary such as Apple’s QTVR for cylindrical and cubic panoramas and the notorious IPIX for spherical panoramas. IBM curiously had their own suite of java based multimedia plugins called Hot Media which were not only fantastic but free. Alas they are no more.
pixelhaus1

Pixelhaus Studios (2003)

Pixelhaus

In 2003 yet another name change to Pixelhaus Studios. As design was becoming more important to us as a company we wanted to reflect that and the name is a combination of pixel to represent the digital media we worked with and haus which is our homage to the famous Weimar Bauhaus, probably the most influential design school of the 20th century. The site was also multilingual being available in French and German versions.
pixelhaus2

Pixelhaus Studios (2007)

Let’s get serious

2006 saw our next major revision and the site you see here is also online as a legacy document under www.pixelhaus-studios.co.uk. By this time we were using content management systems for much of our work and a Canadian company took it upon themselves to steal our design and offer it as a template for CMS Made Simple (CMSMS). When it became apparent that this was the case they received a torrent of abuse from the CMSMS community but we took it as a homage to our superior design skills! When we moved onto the next version of Pixelhaus we released a  free version of the template for anyone to use which went on to be one of their top ten most popular with over 4000 downloads.

Silverstripe

Which brings us almost up to date with the previous version of our site which you can see at the top of the page. This was built in Silverstripe, an award winning Content Management System from New Zealand. The site has done well lasting us 4 years but with the changes in the way people use the internet we had to go responsive, especially as we’re always telling our clients they have to.

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