Tag Archives: location

How Decoded is on a mission to make everyone feel comfortable with coding

6 Sep

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I don’t tend to make a habit of being in Central London before 9am on a Saturday, but I chose to break my own rules as part of my quest on learning how to code.

International technology school Decoded has generated a bit of a buzz in recent months. From Brand Republic‘s Editor in Chief Danny Rogers giving it a thumbs up to founder Kathryn Parsons ‘selling it’ in Stylist, my colleague and I were eager to check it out. On a Saturday. Have I mentioned that already?

Wooed by the appeal of a continental breakfast, we made our way there. But, on the way, I made a mental note of what I wanted to get out of the day. After all, at more than £400 a pop (and that’s just the weekend rate), Decoded needs to deliver results.

So, how did it do?

1) I’ll be able to read code well enough to understand when, and where, there is a problem within the text
Going through the fundamental principles of HTML, CSS and Java Script, in theory I should be able to read and write in code. It helped that Decoded’s system underlined errors in red, but going forward this is a case of practice makes perfect. If I keep at it, and focus just as much on the coding – opposed to just the visuals – it won’t be long before I’m fluent.

2) I’ll be able to simplify the fundamentals in order to make recommendations or flag issues to clients
The demonstrators did a great job of breaking the complex content down for us. And, like the above, if I can truly understand the basics then I’ll be well-equipped to explain it to others. But, in the meantime, I can always rely on Decoded’s follow-up resources pack to ensure I become a savvy wordsmith.

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3) I’ll get to know what elements generate the best call to actions and how to input these into my projects
Because this is a starter course, we didn’t delve into techniques that manipulate websites to increase engagement, interaction or sales etc.

Instead, we spent the day working on an app that allowed customers to check-in from a single geographical location, in order to collect rewards. That in itself was definitely more than I bargained for – teaching me the ‘not so subtle’ differences between the front and back end of websites.

4) I’ll be able to code an aspect of the projects I work on without simply rewriting existing templates
Yes and no. Using the foundations of coding, technically I can create content from scratch. But, whether I could do this within my company’s house style is yet to be tested. We remained very much in the safe territory of Decoded’s web design editing system. And, after nine hours of intense learning, I was grateful for that.

Overall, I was highly impressed by the professionalism of the course. It was relaxed and informal, but very effective. It’s definitely empowered me to carry on pushing myself to learn new things. After all, I can’t have primary school pupils showing me up in a few years time now that coding is on the curriculum.

Having these skills now will help a budding brand storyteller like myself profit in the future.

And, I must admit, it felt darn good to be sat around a big table carving out a digital masterpiece on a MacBook Air.
Very New York.

Have you been ‘Decoded’? What did you make of it?

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#StayAlive: life-saving technology

24 Jun

When it comes to PR, charities are pushing themselves harder than ever to get noticed – and it’s paying off.

From WaterAid’s social media waterfall to Macmillan’s tube strike tweet, charities aren’t just sticking to their marketing strategy, they’re also going after ‘quick wins’, which is putting pressure on press teams to generate more column inches.

Having said this, I was surprised to see that Grassroots, a Brighton-based suicide prevention charity, is launching a new app next month called #StayAlive.

The app, not to be confused with the British Heart Foundation’s Bee Gees‘ inspired Staying Alive campaign, will offer support to people who feel suicidal.

Up to 4,400 people in England end their own lives each year, and 10 times this number attempt suicide, so why am I so shocked?

It’s one thing for a charity to empower you to save a life – whether that’s through a quick dose of CPR, donation or volunteering opportunity – but it’s another story to encourage people to keep living. It’s brave and the reality is that it’s a partial solution to a growing problem.

How will the app provide support?
1) Using location data to identify local services
2) Encouraging users to upload positive images to remind them of happier times
3) Advising on what those thoughts might mean and how to overcome them

My issue is that the apps on my very old iPhone are split into various categories: social, news, entertainment, lifestyle, shopping and utilities. So, I’m not entirely sure where #StayAlive would sit on my desktop. And, if I did need to refer to it, how often I’d revisit. And, if I was experiencing mental health issues, would I seek comfort in an app?

But, for a digital generation that’s logged on 24/7, there is some logic in the fact that our phones – a simple photo or a quick call – could mean the difference between life and death.

But, the one thing Grassroots lacks is maximising its social media presence. It took me a while to find the charity on Twitter – not ideal when the app name is actually a hashtag!

However, the charity’s already got the backing from regional newspaper The Argus and works closely with key stakeholders. But, I predict that it’ll get a lot of questions from the media on launch day about its innovation. So, it’s a prime opportunity to boost followers and starting conversations by setting the agenda.

After all, how often does a regional charity get to do that? This is definitely a campaign to keep an eye on.
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