Open to Opportunities, or Closed off from Chaos?

Work. The average adult will work around 40 hours a week. That equates to, in simple maths, 2,080 hours worked a year, and just under 25% of our time being given up to be in the workplace per week.

When you take out the time spent on sleep and travel, we all know that feeling: we actually spend more time at work than we do at home.

Looking at it this way, we should do as much as we can to make work feel less like work and instead a place of comfortable surrounding that promotes well-being, creativity and innovation. After all, nobody wants to feel like they are at work just to make ends meet. That’s where dreams go to die.

Enter the debate: Open Plan Offices vs. Closed Plan Offices.

At Jask we can say we have experienced both. You may have noticed we moved offices last year, (if you didn’t, where were you for this monumental occasion?) and during that move we also made the switch from closed plan to open plan offices, uniting the office and studio in the process.

For us, as creative marketing folk, the benefits were clear:

  1. Less walking from office to office relaying information across
  2. Better communication between account handlers and designers
  3. Creativity bounces around quicker and innovation can come from anybody as conversations are overheard and allows people to join in
  4. Making everybody feel part of one team and promoting dialogue between staff who wouldn’t normally talk to each other unless at lunch

However, where there is yin, there is also yang and some unforeseen drawbacks have come back round to bite us. The biggest of all?

Too much dialogue.

See, when you have an open floor, it can get pretty darn noisy. Acoustics-wise, with no walls or doors, the cavernous office can create a cacophony of noise that is impossible to escape from. Fridays, as you can imagine, are particularly chaotic.

And when it gets noisy, it gets hard to concentrate. And when it gets hard to concentrate, it gets frustrating. And when it gets frustrating…you can see where this is going.

Not only that, but we open ourselves up to being disturbed and so having that alone time to focus on getting jobs done is hard to come by. This is particularly troublesome for the graphic designers/web developers who are being asked to jump from job to job making various client amends.

So where do we go from here, you ask? Well, we aren’t going full circle back to being all closed off again as there will always be that need for collaboration between office and studio, but dividers will be put up between the two so it makes it less tempting to shout at each other from one side to the other.

Perhaps we might even consider hotel style ‘Do Not Disturb’ signs to hang off the backs of our chairs, who knows.

Of course, it’s not just us that face these problems. Facebook recently underwent the same considerations as they look to have ‘the largest open floor plan in the world’ as Zuckerberg expands into a new campus. Kevin Kruse, Forbes contributor, expresses similar concerns and wonders if it’ll work for better or worse.

I myself am a personal fan of Google’s London offices for its fun and creative spaces, which while looking open enough, also seem to have closed personal spaces. Judging from the way Google are progressing it seems innovation is easy to come by at their offices.

Give us a shout if you have your own thoughts on what works best!

Ricco

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Web Developer Needed!

We are looking for a talented Web Developer to join our team. Reporting to our Creative Director, you would be working with an existing web developer to build websites that have been designed by our creative team.

At Jask we work mainly with WordPress, so experience working with this CMS and PHP in general is a must- a good working knowledge of MySQL would also help. We also have some older projects running in Joomla so a basic understanding of this CMS would be useful.

Main duties include:
• Assisting with proposals for new work
• Sketching / wireframe development
• Development of web projects
• Working with creatives and account managers
• Managing use of freelancers when required

Skills and experience required:
• Over 2 years experience in a similar environment
• Advanced front end development (HTML, CSS & JavaScript / jQuery)
• Experience building sites with PHP (ideally 2 years +)
• Experience setting up and maintaining WordPress sites (essential)
• Working knowledge of Magento
• Experience building responsive websites and testing those sites on physical and virtual devices
• Working knowledge of Git for version control and collaboration
• Ability to debug and code around the various quirks in different browsers
• Good working knowledge of MySQL databases
• Good understanding of user experience design
• Knowledge of the latest web trends and open source projects
• Basic Photoshop
• An understanding of SEO best practices

We would expect applicants to be able to demonstrate some of these skills at the interview with some past projects.

Click here to email a copy of your CV to apply!

(No agencies please!!)

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How to make your business better at SEO

If your business has a website, you’ve probably heard about Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in some form or another. It can be a complex process to understand, part technical and part marketing strategy – but why should you be doing it? And how can you do it better?

What is SEO? Why should you do it?

Search Engine Optimisation is the process of helping search engines better understand your website’s content and signaling to them that your website is the most relevant and authoritative one in your industry.

By getting the technical basics right and having a pro-active, ongoing content marketing strategy in place – your site will rank for search queries specific to your business, therefore increasing the amount or quality of traffic, quotes or sales you generate online.

How do Search Engines work?

Search Engines rely on complex algorithms and search robots that navigate through your website and rank your website based on its relative ‘authority’ for a given keyword.

Firstly, Google will crawl through your entire website to identify the most common search terms people would type in to find your businesses website – for example, flower shop in Surrey, computer repair in Oxford. This relates to a tactic called On-Page SEO.

Secondly, Google looks at the amount, quality and context of the links pointing to your website – to figure out if you’re the most relevant or ‘best’ website to rank for that query. Links, in the eyes of Google, almost act as a vote – the more votes (‘authority’) you have, the more likely you are to rank higher up the search results.

Google’s algorithm uses over 200 signals to determine a site’s authority, but on-page SEO and good quality links gained from a well thought out content marketing strategy are arguably the biggest influencers that decide the search terms your business will rank for and your overall visibility.

K2165-Jask-SEO-Graphic

 

Want some help increasing your site traffic and on-line enquiries?

Click here to contact Jask now for a full SEO audit showing how we can help improve your rankings and generate more sales from your website.

Embed 5 Ways to do SEO Better on Your Site: Copy and Paste the Code Below

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Brand Recognition – How to shape your Graphic Identity

Brand Recognition - What do you notice apart from the logo?

Brand Recognition – What do you notice apart from the logo?

So any budding marketeers, design agencies and creatives worth their salt will know that branding matters. In fact, I would like to think anybody and everybody knows branding matters, even if they don’t fully realise it.

Branding, quite simply put, is the identity that distinguishes one product from the next, e.g. Coca-Cola to Pepsi. What goes into your brand is determined by a number of aspects; culture, company values, your value proposition, messaging etc. I could go on but I’d be boring you then.

Basically, your brand encompasses everything you do. You live and die by it.

From our creative marketing standpoint, you would do well then to regard branding as one of the most important parts to your marketing arsenal. It is a lot more than ‘just a logo’, as we have heard many a person describe it before (you wouldn’t believe how irritated we get when we hear that).

By all means your logo acts as the most tangible touch point to your consumers. It is what they see and come into contact with first. It is what builds trust, elicits confidence and resonates your brand values to your consumers. Your logo is a visual representation of what you are about.

BUT!!! Don’t be mistaken. Your logo is not the be all and end all to your branding.

Think Cadbury. What are one of the first things you call to mind? I’ll bet my bottom dollar that somewhere in those first thoughts was the iconic Cadbury purple. (Disclaimer: I have no dollars, hence I can make this bet safe in the knowledge I won’t be losing anything).

Cadbury is a great example of how they have taken purple and made it truly their own. Likewise Coca-Cola have so many parts that make up their brand, including their own distinctive red colour, the shape of their bottles and the iconic Christmas trucks.

In fact, Coca-Cola’s so recognisable to us now that they were able to do away with their logo completely for the extremely effective Share a Coke campaign in Summer 2013.

It’s these important factors that make up your brand. Why else do you think Cadbury and Nestlé have waged legal wars costing God knows how much over a simple shade of purple?

These facets are the building blocks to having an individual Graphic Identity.

Susan Gunelius hits the nail on the head in part 2 of her blog post on Developing Brand Identity Guidelines. Your brand is made up of numerous aspects, including colour palette, typography, positioning, size and more. It is multifaceted in its nature, and it is these parts that make up your brand as a whole.

Possessing a distinctive graphic identity is even more important in today’s day and age with the multitude of mediums we can use to get messages across, including digital, apps, TV, print media, large format print media, promo items etc. These are what we call touchpoints, i.e. the place a customer might experience the brand.

Building trust, recognition and resonating your brand values from a graphical standpoint now stretches beyond simply dashing your logo across touchpoints and through adding consistent individual elements your brand recognition increases over time.

Being more than just a logo is what will add to your graphic identity, makes your brand recognisable from afar and serves to increase the awareness of your brand and its values.

Need help with your own branding? Give us a shout!

Ricco

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Following rapid growth, we had a need for a secure, online, searchable staff directory

As well as producing a fantastic looking and user friendly site that really engages our employees, the team at Jask have shown they have the skills to ensure that a complex directory is technically solid. They very quickly understood exactly what was needed and their ideas and enthusiasm for the project from the outset have made a real difference to the end result, making a large project an enjoyable experience for all involved.

Mari Mills

Greenergy International

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Sketching – How it helps the creative process

As the old saying goes, “the pen is mightier than the sword”. Well in this case “the pencil is mightier than the graphic design software on a shiny Mac” (or at least for idea generation it is).

Ever since computers were introduced, the technological advancements in graphic design software have been astonishing. With a computer full of pixel-bending software at every designer’s disposal, it can be easy to forget about the humble sketch pad when coming up with ideas. Not to mention its partner-in-craft, the once popular, graphite filled wand is consigned to the back of the draw, gathering dust; a forgotten relic almost.

As creatives we find it crucial to keep the idea process free and easy. By no means are we rising up against the mighty Mac or software conglomerates as they are powerful tools in a designer’s arsenal. They are however much more suited to bringing an idea to life after its conception. So sharpen your pencils (or take the lid off your Sharpie) dust off your sketch pads and start drawing. It is as important for the modern day designer as it was years ago.

Here’s why:

  1. Sketching is free form - Sketching can be as much or as little as you want it to be. You don’t have to be an amazing artist either. If you can ‘tell what it is’ or at least explain it to someone it’s good enough at the idea stage. As idsketching have identified, there are 5 levels of sketching, from the simple doodle to the full on emotive sketch. Depending on what you’re doing and who you’re doing it for, sketching is a way for you to express concepts, draw up layouts, or even use in full on pitch work.
  2. Sketching is quick – Putting pencil to paper to form rough ideas is much quicker than firing up the mac, wasting precious time to mock up concept designs that you then find out don’t work anyway. We’re firm believers in the phrase ‘you can’t polish a turd’!
  3. Sketching is more versatile – Just by being free hand rather than tied to a computer gives you more freedom to explore the possibilities. This is particularly useful in terms of logos, storyboarding and advertising. Most importantly, sketching brings about development of ideas from their initial beginnings through to the end product themselves.
  4. Sketching can improve creative thinking – Our designers have told us that looking away from the screen from time to time and sketching out some ideas or even freehand doodles keeps them sharp and their eyes fresh.

For us as a creative marketing agency, sketching goes hand in hand with the work we do in all mediums- online or offline. By using rough sketches we can involve our clients to make sure they understand where we’re coming from and heading to. This allows us to throw the ideas around first before taking them through to realisation.

If you don’t already, pick up a pencil and pad and get drawing. You may just surprise yourself.

Ricco

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Come and join us – Senior Graphic Designer wanted!

We are looking for a self driven, experienced and talented graphic designer with a real interest and love for anything creative.

Jask is a creative agency that has recently celebrated 11 years in business as well as a move to brand new offices. Our work ranges from simple adverts through to full campaigns, so you should have the ability to work on a range of multi disciplinary projects.

Working under our Creative Director and alongside our creative team, you will get to work on a range of projects, from the everyday, right through to some very high profile work.
You must be comfortable developing creative ideas from client briefs, creating initial layouts as well as creating the final output.

The ability to work independently to tight deadlines on multiple projects whilst maintaining a keen eye for detail is essential. The successful candidate will benefit from career enhancing prospects within a growing company.

Near expert knowledge of InDesign, Photoshop, Illustrator and general print processes is vital. Digital knowledge will be greatly beneficial.

Requirements at a glance:
• Indesign – expert standard
• Illustrator – expert standard
• Photoshop – expert standard
• Good understanding of print/colour processes
• Preparing artwork for print
• Ability to work to tight deadlines (accurately and quickly)
• Excellent eye for detail, layout and design
• Good communication skills
• All software will be Mac based – so Apple Mac experience is vital
• Minimum of 5 years experience.

Please email jobs@jaskcreative.co.uk and send through a full cv and portfolio. Salary will be dependent on experience and skillset.

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Christmas Time…Lots of Meat and Wine…Drunk and Singing Christian Rhyme…

Yes, you guessed it, modified Cliff Richard lyrics signals that time of year, where we Jaskians get all festive, merry, lairy, rowdy, and generally just a little bit silly.

And so the story…

For it was the (14th) night before Christmas, where all the Jaskians were excited to be going out, enjoying each other’s company and letting the hair down. A long, eventful year drawing to a close, fruits of our labours to be enjoyed.

5pm chimed across the office from our imaginary grandfather clock, and off we set to The Mailbox, where drinks and food awaited.

By the power of the guiding star, we ended up at Bar Room Bar for pre-drinks. Well, it was either the star or the fruity cocktails, I forget, probably the latter though. Here’s our John, getting his feminine side out with his Little Richard.

John and his Little Richard...getting fruity!

John and his Little Richard…getting fruity!

3 rounds later, off we wobbled (yes I was wobbling!) to Rodizio Rico, where the great feast of Brazilian grilled cuisine awaited. Fair to say, we all stuffed our faces, and 10+ servings of meat later we were fit to burst. Luke was enjoying his moment with the delectable chicken hearts, whilst Matt was either describing the size of his stomach or debating how big baby Jesus was when he was born.

Luke and the Chicken Hearts Man

Luke and the Chicken Hearts Man

Matt Wyatt

Baby Jesus was THISSSSSS big when he was born…I’m certain!

A few of these later:

The potent national Brazilian cocktail Caipirinha...a heady mix of lime, sugar and mostly cachaça

The potent national Brazilian cocktail Caipirinha…a heady mix of lime, sugar and mostly cachaça

led me to getting far too handsy with Luke…tipsy is probably not my best side…sorry Luke this is what Christmas does to me…

 

It's not what it looks like...

It’s not what it looks like…

A great way to round the year off, see you all in 2014!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

Love

Ricco & folks of Jask

 

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Develop Your Business at Birmingham City University

Develop Your Business

Develop Your Business

Hello again and Merry Christmas, for the festive season is upon us!

I’m sure we’re all feeling the festivities now and certainly one eye is on Christmas already. The feel good factor is spreading, and I personally am looking forward to gorging myself on all the chocolate I can get my mitts on.

This feel good factor is spreading throughout the business world too of late, particularly in the West Midlands as we ride along the train of Jaguar Land Rover bringing back plenty of business to our manufacturing heritage in the West Midlands, HS2 is in the pipeline and generally speaking, things are looking rosy.

Business is booming, and we’re doing our bit to help keep the metaphorical train going by re-branding Birmingham City University’s (BCU) Business School.

Possessing first class facilities and a central location with good transport links, the re-brand’s purpose was to position BCU as the first class education institute for business professionals, encouraging HR managers to get their staff trained at BCU, whilst also showing what the BCU graduates can do for businesses.

Forward arrow graphic and graduates in business

Forward arrow graphic and graduates in business

Using a new photo-shoot we captured graduates in real business situations along with case studies to showcase the impacts graduates have on businesses, what they bring to the table, and crucially how they help in developing your business.

Our graphic design solution to give the brand an identity was by introducing the new “forward arrow” holding device, as well as a complementary colour scheme to the brand.

Tied in with the launch of the National Graduate Recruitment Exhibition, we’ve successfully increased the uptake in courses at BCU’s business school.

See the full case study here. To keep up with what we’re getting up to, subscribe to our blog!

Ciao for now and remember, ’tis the season to be jolly!

Ricco

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Greenergy’s new staff directory gets the go ahead

Greenergy Staff Directory - Responsive Website

Greenergy Staff Directory – Responsive Website

So not long after we launched ARTSM’s responsive website, hot on the heels is Greenergy’s inaugural staff directory, again built on a responsive platform.

Having started out in the bedroom of the CEO just over 20 years ago, Greenergy has charted phenomenal growth and success to now be one of the largest suppliers of road fuel in the UK.

Naturally, with growth in business comes growth in employees too and in Greenergy’s case they are no different, recently going from 200 employees to 500+ employees. As you can imagine, you’d be forgiven for not knowing who your colleagues are.

To this end our help was sought out to build an internal staff directory to keep lines of communication established, knowing who is responsible for what and most importantly helping staff recognise who they’re walking past in the office.

With drivers being a key group in Greenergy’s staff, it was a requisite that they could access the site whilst on the move. Our solution to this was by using responsive web design to keep the site mobile optimised and accessible on smaller screens.

Importantly the directory’s purpose was to promote staff engagement and allow employees to stay in touch with each other from different departments. By using colourful iconography, “top trumps” style employee cards and a full flood header graphic it gives the directory a means to keep staff updated with employees in focus, news and other things happening around Greenergy.

The full case study can be read here.

Until next time folks!

Ricco

 

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