MEET DIGITAL STRATEGIST: SAMUEL SKINNER

As regular readers might know we have had some amazing hires already this year and we haven’t slowed down yet. With an ever-increasing workload we put the call out again for a new team member. No experience was necessary, we just needed someone with genuine enthusiasm, an aptitude for learning and, most importantly, someone who is the right fit for the Optix family.

Well, the call was answered and we are pleased to announce that Samuel Skinner has now joined us as our new Digital Executive.

Hiring with a willingness to train the successful applicant is a great way of broadening the talent pool we can pull our next team member from while also giving us the chance to find someone with useful supporting skills for the team.

As a self-declared creative Samuel has over five years’ experience offering freelance graphic design and illustration services at www.samueltskinner.co.uk while also working for a software company in Somerset and boarding trainee guide dogs at his home in Devon. With an educational background in film and photography too Samuel has a broad skillset that we will enjoy putting to the test while also helping him to learn and develop in his new role (We think those dog-training skills might be especially useful for the office dogs).

We thought we would give the final word to the man himself, over to you Samuel:

“After spending the last year contemplating, deciding on and searching for my career move in marketing I’m absolutely thrilled to have got my chance to break into the sector and very thankful to Optix for the opportunity. I’m looking forward to throwing myself into new role. Please don’t get your hopes up about the dogs though, I’m fairly sure all the guide dogs that graduated did so despite my help rather than because of it!”

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Another month, another new recruit

As regular readers might know we have had some amazing hires already this year and we haven’t slowed down yet. With an ever-increasing workload we put the call out again for a new team member. No experience was necessary, we just needed someone with genuine enthusiasm, an aptitude for learning and, most importantly, someone who is the right fit for the Optix family.

Well, the call was answered and we are pleased to announce that Samuel Skinner has now joined us as our new Digital Executive.

Hiring with a willingness to train the successful applicant is a great way of broadening the talent pool we can pull our next team member from while also giving us the chance to find someone with useful supporting skills for the team.

As a self-declared creative Samuel has over five years’ experience offering freelance graphic design and illustration services at www.samueltskinner.co.uk while also working for a software company in Somerset and boarding trainee guide dogs at his home in Devon. With an educational background in film and photography too Samuel has a broad skillset that we will enjoy putting to the test while also helping him to learn and develop in his new role (We think those dog-training skills might be especially useful for the office dogs).

We thought we would give the final word to the man himself, over to you Samuel:

“After spending the last year contemplating, deciding on and searching for my career move in marketing I’m absolutely thrilled to have got my chance to break into the sector and very thankful to Optix for the opportunity. I’m looking forward to throwing myself into new role. Please don’t get your hopes up about the dogs though, I’m fairly sure all the guide dogs that graduated did so despite my help rather than because of it!”

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Fun at Ocean’s Blogger Day

At Optix, we’re all about celebrating and engaging with the local community, particularly when it comes to digital. To take one example, we recently launched our We Love Lucy event, a chance for local marketers to come together to network, share ideas, and enjoy some drinks and nibbles too. But anyway, that’s enough about us…

 

A few weeks ago, we had the pleasure of attending a blogger meetup event hosted by Ocean Exmouth. An afternoon session was geared mainly towards some soft play fun for the kids, and a well-deserved break for the mums and dads to relax on the terrace and enjoy some lovely views of the waterfront with a delicious coffee in hand. The evening brought pizza, prosecco, and jazz, as well as a chance for everyone to enjoy a game of bowling… which became just a little bit competitive within the Optix team. A certain somebody even achieved 4 strikes in a row, and a place on the leaderboard!

 

As well as the food, drinks and fun activities, we had a great time chatting to bloggers from across Devon- and it certainly seemed like the bloggers did too. Everyone had a chance to mingle and chat about their blogging experiences, from writing about the local area to the joys and challenges of parenting. It was also a great chance for Ocean to showcase their range of activities and facilities, from bowling and soft play to the private hire rooms and wedding suites.

 

Following the event, we’ve been thrilled to see so many positive comments on social media and the bloggers’ own websites about the event. As one of our clients, Ocean had been discussing with us ways to become more involved and active in the local community. After recommending and helping to plan the event, it’s been fantastic to see such a positive response!

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8 reasons to come to an Optix Workshop

On the 30th of June, we are holding 2 workshops: 

  • Driving Results through Digital, 10am-12pm
  • Creating the Perfect Website, 1pm-3pm

And here is why you should come along…

  1. Expert speakers – we love passing on our 15 years of knowledge and sharing the highs and lows of starting an online journey. As well as being Google Partners we are also RAR recommended – which we achieved by receiving glowing reviews from our clients.
  2. Insights – you’ll get an insight in to how an agency runs and the types of processes we’d recommend to businesses starting digital.
  3. Get inspired – feed off our passion and mirror this when growing your business online. As well as excelling the business as a whole, our team take time outside work to improve on their personal brands and ‘team brands’. Have you seen Director Alastair’s vlogs? Or the digital marketing team’s blog? 
  4. Get seen – we’ll help you get started about thinking how you can get your business seen on search engines through a number of methods
  5. Lunch – if you opt for both sessions lunch is included! If not there will still be refreshments available to keep you going
  6. Learn best practices – you’ll come away with loads of ideas you can implement into your marketing straight away which won’t just improve what you already do but also optimize your digital presence in the future.
  7. There’s proof they are worthwhile. “Another great workshop today, really informative and we took a lot away – thank you.” – Aspect Windows
  8. Network – with other like-minded businesses to share experiences and connect.

There are limited spaces, so if you are interested…

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Bringing Git to Optix

We have recently implemented a new system called “Git” into our development lifecycle. Git is a version control software application created by Linus Torvalds (creator of the Linux operating system). The idea of version control, is to keep track of all changes made to files in a particular project. It works by developers making changes locally, then performing a ‘push’ to a remote repository. Other developers can then ‘pull’ those changes and continue working on their own changes. This ensures that all developers are working on the same codebase. For Optix, it is used to manage the development and changes to all of our websites.  It also allows many other features to enable developers to keep track of changes to our sites.

Git is slowly becoming an industry standard in web development, but why the big fuss?

  • Collaborative Development – When multiple developers are working on a project (which can happen fairly often), sharing the same code can become unproductive, particularly if one developer is making site-breaking changes. Git allows developers to work independently of each other without affecting each other’s code. On the other hand, because each commit (a bunch of changes to a site) has to be documented by the developer, it also makes code reviews and project management much easier, as each developer has visibility on all code created.
  • Responsibility – Once a developer has ‘committed’ their changes, they are then responsible for that code. This means that if there is a later issue with the website related to some previous changes, a developer can see who committed the last changes, and what they changed.  This aides in fixing issues more efficiently for our clients and ensuring that once the fix is in place, it can be documented and referred back to later.
  • Restoration – Every so often, things go wrong. When they do, developers should have a way of reverting code back to its previous state. Trawling through our regular backups can take time, but Git allows us to do this seamlessly with the click of a few buttons. This leads to less downtime for our client’s sites. 
  • Codebase Lifetime – Any developer will tell you how difficult picking up old, undocumented code is. With Git, you have the entire history of the codebase for a project; every feature, change and tweak is documented and explained. For our web application development projects, this is crucial, and allows our developers to maintain sites over a longer period.
  • Deployment and Testing – Most developers, for better or worse, are still using technologies that have been around for longer than most web development companies (FTP being the most common, which was created in the 80’s) to deploy their websites to a server. These technologies are good, but they introduce human-error, they have encoding issues and they are pretty slow. Git allows us to use modern Continuous Integration tools (to automate testing and building our code) and deployment tools (to automate all of our deployment and rollbacks). This means changes can be rolled out to our customers smoothly and with little downtime. 

We realise this isn’t thrilling content for everyone, but keeping our tools and technology up to date is very important to us. Our web development team is always testing and reviewing tools like Git, to enable us to delight our clients with faster deployments and ultimately leading to more successful and engaging products.

If you would like to hear more about development or have a project in mind, call us now on 01392 667766

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Gaining Work Experience in the Digital Marketing Industry

A few weeks ago, Chris Mastris completed an 8 week work placement with us after he tracked us down on social media and asked if we had any vacancies. We asked Chris a few questions about his time with Optix Solutions.

Who are you?

Although I’m now interested in digital marketing, I previously studied biology at the University of Exeter, and graduated in 2015. After graduating it took me a bit of time to figure out what I wanted to do, after deciding that a career in biology wasn’t what I was looking for. After experimenting with different things for a while (I can now write some basic code- maybe that will come in handy one day), I decided to capitalise on my interest in the digital world… and here I am! 

In my spare time, volunteering for a local community organisation keeps me fairly busy. Aside from that, I like playing pool (I recently got my own table!), try to get to the gym now and then, and (like a lot of “millennials”) enjoy some TV and gaming.

Why digital?

I’ve been asked this question a lot- although usually it’s because people can’t understand how I suddenly went from biology to marketing. It’s more common than you might think, however, and there are actually quite a few similarities when you look at what both science and digital actually involve. This is most obvious when you look at something such as analytics and conversion rate optimisation, both of which require a somewhat scientific mind-set. Beyond that, I’m really enjoying the opportunity to be a bit more creative, particularly when writing content on a variety of different topics.

What is your specific area of interest?

I’ve touched on this already, but I’m particularly interested in the analytical side of things- I guess it appeals to my scientific side. It really amazes me how much tiny changes (e.g. a single website button) can affect metrics such as conversion rate.

Any future predictions?

This might be a bit of a cliché, and maybe I’m just being nerdy about the latest hot topic in technology, but I think virtual reality (including augmented reality) is really going to revolutionise the world of digital. It’s already incredible what the top VR headsets are capable of, and within a decade I anticipate that VR will be fairly mainstream. Once it gets beyond being just a novelty, I think sponsored experiences (more so than direct advertising) are just one possibility of utilising VR in digital marketing.

What did you learn at Optix?

Honestly, it’s hard to summarise 8 weeks in a short paragraph. To list just a few things, I’ve learnt loads about on-site and off-site search engine optimisation, content, social, and some analytics. Aside from that, it’s been really interesting learning more about the general workings of a digital agency.

What next?

Generally, I’m looking forward to applying everything I’ve learned in a digital marketing role. More specifically, I’d like to learn more about PPC and delve into analytics a bit more, as I think it’s something I’ll enjoy. At this point, I’m pretty much going to explore the digital marketing industry a bit more, and see what happens from there. In any case, it’s been a great experience working at Optix, with a really good bunch of people.

Everyone at Optix was really impressed with Chris’s work… so impressed in fact that he is now a full-time member of the team! Follow Chris on his journey via Twitter or his blog

If you’re looking to gain more experience in an established, digital marketing environment get in touch by emailing hanna@optixsolutions.co.uk or call us on 01392 667766 and we’ll see what we can do.

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