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Hi-tech holidays

Posted by Charlotte on 14th December 2011  0 Comments

As school nativity plays and Christingle services are ticked off the list, and office parties provide a little respite from the usual hurly burly, Santa's arrival is just a few days away. With the firstborn putting in a request for an iPod, last week my thoughts suddenly turned to online security.

The opportunity to freely surf anything on the web must be very tempting for a pre-teen; so, just to be a spoilsport parent (and keep my son safe and solvent) I did a little research to find out how to filter content on an iPod. If you're faced with similar challenges, read on!

OK. So my bog standard BT router doesn't support content filtering for my home wifi service. But no matter; you can apply protection settings using the iPod itself, and here's how to do it.

Fire up the iPod Touch, iPhone or iPad. In the App Store, search for and download Safe Browser.

Safe Browser, developed by Mobicip, replaces the default Safari browser on the iPod and iPhone. Its parental controls child-proof your gadgets by filtering the web content, making sure it's safe for your children.

Then, in the device, go to Settings/General/Restrictions and set a PIN code to turn off Safari, iTunes and the App Store (to prevent your web-savvy child circumventing Safe Browser by reloading Safari or other browsers).

You can also click on the settings to restrict access to:

  • iPod songs with explicit lyrics

  • Installing Apps

  • In-app purchases

  • Camera

Safe access to YouTube is still available via Safe Browser, and you can temporarily re-enable the App Store whenever needed using the passcode that you set on the device. Just remember to lock it again using your PIN code once they have downloaded their new app (this also gives you the benefit of being able to verify their App Store purchases).

Now, I realise that this may seem a little heavy-handed. But if, like me, you can't password-protect your wifi router yet you're not ready for your child to surf the web unsupervised, these controls buy you a little time to monitor their online activity and have those important conversations about web safety.

I hope this has been useful - if you have any comments or questions, please do get in touch. I wish you and your family a very merry Christmas.


It’s not my problem...

Posted by Charlotte on 11th October 2011  0 Comments

I must apologise. It’s only my second blog post, and already I’m about to assail you with a rant. Today I’ve found two glaring examples of user-unfriendly text on big consumer websites, one after the other. As the irritation rises, I know that I’m not the only one to be annoyed by big corporates failing to think about how their website messages impact upon their customers.

So here’s the first example. I receive a lot of marketing emails. You know how it is, you hand over your email address in return for ‘finding out about the latest offers’ and over time the trickle of missives turns into a deluge. Recently, I’ve decided to be a bit more ruthless about unsubscribing. I click the (usually well hidden) unsubscribe link and am taken to the company’s ‘Subscription Management’ page, where I dutifully enter my details and hit the button to delete me forever from their mailing list.

Subscription Management’ proclaims the bold page title, officiously. ‘Your request is being processed.’

Now I do realise that I need to get out more, but honestly, I don’t want to be part of their process. I’m a human being, and I’m sure their marketing team are real people too. I mean, it’s not rocket science to follow this good example from a small specialist travel operator:

Your email address has been removed from our mailing list. If this is not what you intended, please click here.
We're sorry to see you go, but we would really appreciate your feedback. Please take a minute to let us know what you thought of [company name] and why you are unsubscribing.

Back to my rant, and one decisive tut later, I went to sign up for a social media tool. Ok, I can see the irony in leaping instantly from unsubscribing from one mailing list to joining another, but stick with me here. To find out more about how it works, I clicked on the ‘help’ link in the registration form. And I see this:

'The page you were looking for doesn't exist. You may have mistyped the address or the page may have moved.’

Not my problem, guv. No apology. No ‘Sorry, we can’t find the page you’re looking for’ or even ‘Oops! We’ve moved a few things around.’ Just a little smidgeon of thought could make this a whole lot better, with a link to the help homepage, archives, search function or contact page.

But it’s not just the big guys who get it wrong. We all do! If a customer called you to say they couldn’t get hold of one of your products, you’d say sorry and try to point them in the right direction, wouldn’t you? If they phoned to ask to be taken off your newsletter list, you’d tell them that you were sad to see them go, perhaps ask them why they were leaving, and reassure them that you’d action it immediately. It shouldn’t be any different online.

What message does your website error page display? Remember; it’s all part of your branding, and your brand is determined by your clients’ experience of your service. Type in a misspelled page address into your website URL and see what comes up.
A couple of tips:
1) don’t include the error code 404 on the screen
2) assume that the error was a result of a bad link, and your fault. Don’t blame your web visitors!
3) provide links to the site homepage, search function and a way to flag the error with you directly.

Ultimately, remember that your pages are being viewed by real people. Why not brighten their day?

Blog post #1

Posted by Charlotte on 26th September 2011  0 Comments

It’s always daunting to start something for the first time. Even as a seasoned copywriter, this blog post proves no exception! So I’m going to begin with what I know.

Before starting my own business in 2008, I’d been writing professionally for over 15 years, from creating web marketing campaigns back in the mid-90s through to writing and managing health information for the national NHS Direct website and Department of Health. I live in Southampton with my husband and three children. I feel immensely lucky to have them, and they are my driving force as well as a reliable source of exasperation...

I’ve always had a passion for the written word (at school, I was sometimes known as the Walking Dictionary). Helping business owners to find the right way to communicate and engage with their customers is something that I love doing, and as part of this blog I hope to convey some of that enthusiasm.

If you follow my Facebook page, you’ll know that one of my bête noires is poor spelling and punctuation in public places. So please excuse my occasional rants here; I promise to keep them in check, although there’ll undoubtedly be a rogues’ gallery of offenders who should know better! I’d also like to pass on a few hints on how to get your own web content, brochure copy, press releases and newsletters looking really tip top.

My main hope for this blog is that you’ll feel happy to remark upon the posts and ask questions of your own. Please do comment and add some interest to my monologue! I really look forward to sharing this experience with you. Thanks for reading.

December 2011
October 2011
September 2011

Branding, Children, Copywriting, Error Messages, Ipod, Online, Punctuation, Safe Browser, Safety, Spelling, User Experience, Web Content

"Always happy with the quality of Charlotte's work."

David Foord, Associate Director of Clinical Governance, NHS Direct