Tag Archives: training

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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PRs say they lack creativity

28 Nov

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This week I came across the headline ‘PR scores itself poorly for creativity’ on website PR Moment and had to read more.

The survey by the Holmes Report and training specialist NowGoCreate questioned 650 professionals from 35 countries on how creative they think the industry currently is – the answer is not very much. More than 60% believed the industry was lacking BIG ideas.

The reasons for this included: lack of budgets, clear objectives and an understanding of clients’ businesses.

There’s a correlation here. If you don’t understand your what your client wants then the budgets to deliver BIG campaigns won’t materialise.

Obviously most PRs will find these survey findings insulting. I’ve been lucky enough to work on some great campaigns (Unilever Food Solutions’ ‘Ambu-lunch’ and British Roast Dinner Week) this year and be part of a wider agency that refuses for barriers to come between great projects (Make Decent Coffee skip idea and the first-ever chocolate hotel room). If the idea is there, it’s down to PRs to be brave and pitch it in – brief or no brief.

I agree that more can be done to bring out the creativity of PRs in the workplace – and small additions to brainstorms that I blogged on last week can make this happen. Get people engaged with the brief and set challenges to work together to polish the ideas once agreed.

Let’s go through some of the other reasons PRs felt were imposing on their creativity:

Lack of time
Brainstorming and scoping ideas is an investment – for business and personal development. Get involved and learn how it works.

Difference in opinion about what ‘creativity’ really is
If you’re questioning whether you are creative, you’re probably not.

Leadership don’t view it as important
Don’t expect your business to grow with this attitude.

We’re in a rut
Make an effort to get out – show your clients why they hired you.

How creative do you rate your agency?

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