Category Archives: Responsive web design

The Real Rise of the Silver Surfer

There has long been much debate over the use of the Internet and its role in support of the elderly.

The issue has long been the balance between the benefits that the Internet can offer in terms of communication and support for independent living, versus the (perceived) complexity of the devices needed to access these benefits.

Having been involved in both public sector and private projects looking at supporting independent living since the 1990s, the team here at Big Media are watching with interest as the debate rises again. In particular I’m referring here to the article in the Sunday Times about Whiteley Village published on the 19th February 2017.

The article covers the quest for the secret of longer life, and how this English village retirement community in the Surrey stockbroker belt is being studied alongside communities in Japan, Greek islands and the Himalayas. Apart from the encouragement from the Whiteley Homes Trust – who run the village – for residents to take control of their lives, and to interact socially as much as possible, it is also interesting to see that the whole village is to be wired up to become a “Smart Village”.

The idea behind the Smart Village is to allow scientists from surrey University, and tech companies, to experiment with new ways of promoting good health and wellbeing.

There is little doubt that much has been done to improve the interface and ease of use of many devices over recent years, including smartphones and tablets. This is good, especially when compared with the high hopes and subsequent failed realisations of tech service providers in the past when trying to encourage elderly users to adopt computers. The sheer complexity and number of buttons meant what these would-be new silver surfers actually had in their home was a £500 doorstop.

Experiments with Interactive TV

As a team, Big Media’s foray into Interactive TV started in 2003, and explored many different aspects of using the TV to provide interactive services in support of Independent Living and care of the Elderly.

“Why Interactive TV” I hear you ask? Well, cast your mind back to 2005, which is when our concept services were in full development. The announcement of the iPhone was still over a year into the future, and we were almost 3 years away from the first Android G1 smartphone. So what could possibly provide the means to encourage the use of the internet by people who were anti using computers?

whiteley-village-companion-channel-crt-tv

Screenshot of Whiteley Village “Companion” channel on TV – circa 2009

The TV was recognised as the only other viable, and importantly TRUSTED, screen device through which any kind of meaningful service could be delivered to a non-computer audience. And an overriding element behind this is that it was SIMPLE to use.

A delve into the archives

I’ve included some links to concept videos we put together in 2008 that were working examples of the kind of ideas that could have a part to play in supporting Independent Living and care of the elderly, using Interactive Internet TV – apologies for the quality, something else that has advanced since we put these together!!

2008 video of medication reminder delivered on TV


Video showing housing application to report a repair via TV


A simple interactive game played on Interactive TV


Video of “CareWatch” concept, remote monitoring over TV

Our work had the internet services available to users as another channel on the TV. Delivered using a Netgem iplayer hybrid digital TV / internet set-top box, these services were seen as an advanced teletext. Pages could overlay or embed live TV, or could be viewed completely separately.

The main difficulty we faced back in 2009 – 2011 when we were testing the acceptance of the Companion channel at Whiteley was the lack of connectivity – a problem it seems will now be resolved. It will be interesting to keep an eye on how this latest iteration of ideas and experiments evolve. As time has passed, will more and more elderly users be comfortable with computers? Or will simple services on intuitive devices be the order of the day? Either way, perhaps alongside smartphones and tablets, PCs and laptops, the TV might yet have a place.

A New Year, A New You

A New Year, A New You … us … well me, anyway!

Welcome back from the stint in the silly season, and to the business of sharing insights and views on matters pertaining to the industry we’re in.

And that, dear reader, is the business of supporting the online presence of whatever business you are in.

So what’s changing?

Well, despite the best efforts of those with a grudge (religious, cultural, commercial or just downright malevolent) who keep attacking, Continue reading

I did it my way – the iPad – chapter 1

The iPad can be hard to please when designing websites

Responsive web design techniques are all the rage at the moment, and represent a fabulous way to create websites that look good and work well on handheld devices like mobiles and tablets. However, responsive design can come up short.

Responsive techniques work by checking the size, well width really, of the screen you are viewing the site on, and applying different design rules based on that.
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Hurdles versus the High Jump

It pays to know what you are letting yourself in for

The much anticipated “Mobilegeddon” seems to have passed by without the world stopping on its axis. True, Google’s algorithm change in April of this year is taking effect, and mobile-friendly websites are rising to the top on search result pages on mobiles. And this is a good thing, as it improves customer experience and makes the web work better for all of us.

But it has not, from all the evidence I can see, been the death knell of many businesses and websites that some have been predicting. Continue reading

Online training and elearning strikes the right note at EXPO 3

A great reception for Big Media’s Online training and elearning platform at EXPO 3

We were very encouraged by how much interest was shown on the day in our mobile-friendly and fully multiplatform online training solution – easy2training.

Built on our in-depth knowledge and skills in mobile-friendly and multiplatform web design, the easy2training platform has been specifically implemented to work on mobiles, tablets, PCs and Smart TVs.
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Google Mobile Web Doctors at the EXPO

A great day at the Woburn April 29 business EXPO 3

A BIG thank you to everyone who took time to talk to us about our online training platform and our FREE mobile-friendly site converter

Our thanks also too from us to the organisers, Vicky and her team, for all their efforts before and on the day.

The Big Media team built on the “Mobilegeddon” story and the recent announcement by Google by theming our stand as the “Google Mobile Web Doctors”.
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How to PASS the Google mobile-friendly test

Big Media’s gecko mobile adjuster can get you mobile-friendly in minutes – for FREE

Google have announced a change to the way they will display mobile search results, starting 21st April 2015, which is just round the corner now.

Essentially, mobile-friendly sites will start to rank higher in mobile search results than those which are not. And as 30% of all searches are done from mobile now, this is a significant change.
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Milton Keynes – centre of the mobile-friendly web

Milton Keynes web developer Big Media leads the way in helping clients become mobile-friendly

As a Milton Keynes web development company, Big Media are not only pretty central geographically in the UK, but are also central in the emerging mobile-friendly web market.

Things have moved on regarding mobile web usage to the point where it is now essential to have a site that works properly on mobile, not just a “nice to have”

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Chameleon Software

Chameleon Software

Making mobile-friendly sites truly adaptive

In general, people are much more aware in 2015 about the need for websites to be mobile-friendly than they were only a couple of years ago.

The industry’s answer has been to develop responsive designs, sites that respond to the size of the screen the visitor is using. It is the technique we build on with our Chameleon Software.

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Google rewards mobile-friendly sites

Are you ready for the “mobile switchover?”

Google announced in February 2015 that it is making a major update to its search engine ranking algorithms on the 21st April.

Google are making another move in the drive to offer users a better web experience. Building on initiatives including the mobile-friendly label found on (most) mobiles when you search, the change on 21st April 2015 will see owners of mobile-friendly sites standing to benefit even further in mobile search result rankings than those without.
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