Friday, 24 February 2012

Prince2 and iMedia Project Management update

Prince2 Project Management training has moved to a new level called Prince2 Professional in January 2012. We've discussed the previous 2 levels, Foundation and Practitioner, before. Just to put things in context though, Prince2 qualifications are often stipulated for any UK government projects and for any contractors that they may employ in the course of a project. Hence the knock-on effects on iMedia project management since the UK government spawns a lot of work for our industry.

In our previous discussions Prince2 - the name arises out of Projects in a Controlled Environment - took the lead for project management training because it organised any project into controllable pieces, it gave a common language and approach for people across disciplines, and it gained credibility through its moderated exam paths. We backed it as giving you an edge in the employability stakes too. Our own project management methodology reinforces and extends Prince’s. iMedia project managers found it useful to apply the Prince2 methods to iMedia projects instead of mythical mainstream business projects.

So, here we are a few years later and over 250,000 project managers have the qualification in the UK. Now people are saying that it doesn’t provide the 'differential' for employability anymore because of its popularity. Enter the new level qualification: Prince2 Professional. It has a new-style exam based on assessment of applying the Prince2 process to a case study. But you have to work on teams/groups, it doesn't involve multiple-choice questions, and you will be assessed against competency criteria by moderators interviewing you as well as assessing your interaction with your team colleagues. See Balance Global, Jackie Hewitt, 6th February 2012.

This qualification takes two and a half days at an assessment centre. Sounds tough and apparently it is. On top of that, the pass rate is projected to be worse than the Practitioner rate of 73%. See Digital Arts 31st January 2012.

I tried to find information for you on the costs of this new Professional Course but failed. The closest I got was through the APMG’s (Association of Project Management) pdf describing the course and saying that assessment centre fees varied! However, seeing as the Foundation and Practitioner courses were, by reputation, expensive ... hold onto your proverbial hats!

Friday, 17 February 2012

Interactive Media: what's that?

This term still poses problems for definition because the technology enabling interactivity keeps evolving. Here we are in 2012 with computerised access to the web: including social media sites and gaming, interactive phones and interactive television. But looking at the technology alone doesn't give all the answers either. Many feel that the interactive bit is all about the user experience not the technology features. The integration of text, audio and graphical information that users can control is now taken for granted, when once this wasn't the case.

There are spin-off areas of note that depend on fields of interactivity too. So we get ludology. Yeah really! This is the study of the interactive gaming experience based on the Latin ludus for game. See’s blog What is ludology? A provisory definition. Forget luddites (as in workers against technology) here which is where I started unfortunately.

Then there's media literacy. This looks at how people relate to and absorb interactive information instead of static information - and the information can be any media-based content. For an introduction, see Media Literacy in an interactive age by Art Silverblatt (July 2000).

But even all this doesn't encompass the reach of interactive media. Skillset have tried hard to segment the interactive sector into groupings that demonstrate its pervasive nature. They talk in terms of creators, enablers, clients and end-users. See Our definition of the Interactive Media and Computer Games Industries, for a useful overview of how they see the movement in the UK.

The user experience has proved to be a driving force, since positive interaction can lead to more time spent, more receptivity to what's on offer, better sales and brand awareness, among other key drivers. Facit Digital in Germany seem to have a strong view on this type of interaction at:

If you belong to back-end, harder-core computing, you might feel left out. Not at all. Your contribution is as key as the rest of this multi-disciplined sector. You only need to look at the incredible breadth and depth of the areas that need you in the call for papers from the IEEE Multimedia 2012 to appreciate that – Multimedia Systems and Architecture, Multimedia Communications and Streaming, Multimedia Content Understanding, Modeling, Management and Retrieval, Multimedia Coding, Processing and Quality Measurement, Multimedia Interfaces, Multimedia Security and Multimedia Applications. Shame it's still called multimedia but that means interactive media, right? See

Well, it's true we haven't really defined social media within this romp through interactive areas. So to put this right we hand over to Heidi Cohen, May 2011, who has gathered 30 such definitions. Tickle the brain cells more at

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Interactive sites and marketing – time for a review?

So your older clients are satisfied with their interactive sites whether internet, social media, or mobile. Perhaps you can suggest that in the present difficult market they might like a review of the efficiency of their interactive marketing. Does the site feature as high in the rankings for their type of product and service as it did at the beginning? Many things can change that can affect this: more competitors in their market can drive the ranking down, more companies might be paying to get higher in the rankings because the leads become more crucial in the erratic market, customer needs have shifted in response to the economic situation so they may be going elsewhere, the client's brand image might have changed in the marketplace, return business may have weakened, fewer leads might be generated as the market shifts and so on.

Even though companies get interactive service analytics often and respond to the feedback regularly, they may not fully appreciate how many aspects have changed over time. That's the value of a true review so that you can say, 'This is where you were and this is where you are now. Where do you want to be?' This type of review focuses the mind so that you get good data to help you tweak the site to operate better for your client. This should lead to more business for you, and better performance for them. Of course, with the spend on online marketing now outweighing non-interactive, specialist companies for online marketing exist. Are you using them? Shouldn’t you be? Do you have an alliance with any? Maybe it's time for you to recognise that expertise.

On a different tack, do any of your clients use Google Analytics? Are they using them optimally? Offer a review because people get locked in to a set way of analysing so when a system is updated, they do not take advantage of the new features. Are you using them for your own site? Are you using them optimally? Take a look at a hint and tip from on February 4th 2012 , Are you using visitor flow?,

Then there’s the bounce rate to consider too at The Read Aloud Creative site, in their piece called, What exactly is a Bounce rate, and what can I take from it? by Richard Golding on January 26th 2012.

How are your Google Goals and Funnels then? PS Website Design discusses these posted on 30th January 2012 at

More than enough to get you thinking and possibly doing! Any tips appreciated. Way to go!

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Cautionary tales

Two legal items caught my eye this week, and reinforce the care needed when building web sites.

The first is a copyright infringement case heard in the Patents Small Claims Court, which provides a 'low cost' route to justice in intellectual property cases in the UK. In this case (Hoffman v Drug Abuse Resistance Education (UK) Ltd [2012]) a charity web site had included some photographs illustrating types of drug. The web designers and their client believed that the photographs belonged to the UK government (and they had been used on a government drug information site) and as a result could be used on this web site. Unfortunately this was not the case as they were copyright of a long-established photojournalist named David Hoffman and no permission had been given for their use in this way.

The photographer successfully took action for copyright infringement against the charity who published the web site and the judge calculated and awarded damages. The judgement is clearly set out and makes useful and interesting reading.

In the book we recommend that you don't necessarily believe it when your client says that assets are cleared for their web site. You are probably aware that most contracts that involve clearance of assets include some kind of indemnity and that this, in turn, should be covered by professional indemnity insurance. I should add that if whoever had used Mr Hoffman's photos originally had included correct rights metadata with the image this whole show could have been avoided. So that's another good reason for making sure images on your web sites have appropriate metadata.

A few days ago the RNIB initiated legal action against the bmibaby airline over accessibility (or lack thereof) on their web site. Apparently this has been ongoing for some time and the impression I get is that the RNIB felt the airline had been given enough time to fix the accessibility issues but there had been no progress.

I suspect many of us thought that accessibility was no longer the problem it was a few years ago and that the basic techniques were now common practice. In any event, with more and more web sites using content management systems the feeling would be that the CMS would do the heavy lifting on accessibility as it does on other things. Clearly we, and our clients, should not get complacent.