Blog

Our thinking, things we've spotted elsewhere, and vistas into life at Helpful...


Simple jQuery accordion

8 Jul 2016 in Writing elsewhere

Anthony’s rebuilding one of our products, and shares a simple accordion pattern he’s been working on

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Hemingway rates your words for readability

Make digital easier with these useful tools

29 Jun 2016 in Blog

There’s always a new online tool to try, so it’s easy to forget about our favourites. Those are tools that make digital easier. I shared these with Action Plan participants last week, so thought I would post them here too, for easy reference. Write more clearly: Hemingway A second pair of eyes on your words, in seconds. […]

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Digital skills for Regulators

9 Jun 2016 in Blog

Friends and family nod approvingly when I explain our training work. This is a first for me, as a former civil servant and journalist – until now the looks have been blank, or furrowed. What’s less easy to explain are the types of organisation we help. Large Government departments and financial services companies are recognised. […]

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Screenshot from Simplur website analysis of Twitter engagement for the #NHSgetsocial learning event

#nhsgetsocial and the power of networked learning

19 May 2016 in Blog

I was in Leeds this week, meeting NHS staff who want to find out more about how to start, or develop, their use of social media. You can read about all the different talks and learning sessions on the hashtag: #nhsgetsocial The stand-out theme for me was about the importance of empowering staff to use […]

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Testing… testing…

17 May 2016 in Blog

On the Digital Action Plan we like to challenge participants who are already confident producing content across a wide range of channels. One of the ways we do this is by asking them to test and improve their content. Here are a selection of examples which demonstrate the value of regular testing and improvement. Netflix: emotional […]

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Screenshot of Democracy Club results for the recent May 2016 local elections

How better online engagement supports digital democracy

13 May 2016 in Blog

I was pleased to discover The Democratic Society is holding DemFest 2016, a new democracy festival this weekend, although sadly I won’t be able to make it to North Wales where the event is being held this year.  Digital democracy: beyond Boaty McBoatface One of the parts of the festival I’m most interested in the session […]

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Abandoned house in White Marsh Virginia

Time to abandon your own blog and switch to Medium?

5 May 2016 in Blog

A couple of weeks ago, the Free Code Camp project made headlines by announcing they had decided to abandon their independent blog in favour of posting content directly to Medium, the popular online publishing platform. Go where your audience is On the Digital Action Plan, we advise participants to engage with their audiences in the places […]

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Person instructing people

Be more bossy

28 Apr 2016 in Blog

When we’re helping people think about their online communications, to sell products, services or spread information, one of the most common mistakes we see is a failure to include a call to action. On the web, everyone spends a lot of time worrying about what happens if something goes wrong. If your post upsets some people, […]

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Little Free Library box spotted in the Stirchley neighbourhood of Birmingham

What would the digital equivalent of the Little Free Library look like?

20 Apr 2016 in Blog

I stumbled across my first ever Little Free Library on Sunday afternoon whilst out in my local neighbourhood in Stirchley, Birmingham. My encounter got me thinking about what the digital equivalent of the Little Free Library would look like and how we can build it. What is a Little Free Library? The Little Free Library is […]

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Making a molehill from a mountain: keeping up with digital developments

8 Apr 2016 in Blog

One of our aims for participants on the Digital Action Plan is to help form digital habits and some ongoing curiosity. People often ask: ‘how can I stay on top of all this stuff?’ The short answer is: you can’t, really. But there are other people who are great at identifying trends, inspiring ideas and case studies. […]

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Listen by Ky licensed by CC By 2.0

Why you should always listen carefully on social media

4 Apr 2016 in Blog

One of the key aims of the Digital Action Plan is to broaden participants experience of digital tools, and the many ways they can be used. Social media is so much more than just broadcasting messages. As the name implies social media should be social and involve engaging, debating, and listening. You can learn a […]

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Badge with less is more written on it. Photo: othree CC by 2.0 https://www.flickr.com/photos/othree/5009084934

Making your online communications more engaging and accessible

30 Mar 2016 in Blog

The Digital Action Plan learning programme gives participants the skills and confidence to listen, explain and talk with their audiences online. But how can we be sure we’re communicating in ways that are accessible to all? Here are some some tips for making your communications more accessible and engaging. 1. Sharpen your writing Attention spans are short […]

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Participants using laptops at Digital Action Plan workshop

Running a great workshop

20 Mar 2016 in Blog

I’ve just finished delivering two weeks of digital workshops on behalf of different organisations. Mostly, I really enjoy planning and delivering workshops. There’s a nervous rush in anticipation of the characters you might meet, and an opportunity to be creative in how you set up the session. Workshops are an integral part of our Digital […]

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What the Hackney Rat can teach us about online engagement

16 Mar 2016 in Blog

I’m sure you will have seen something about the Hackney Rat this weekend, it has been a popular news story on Twitter, Facebook and national news. The story, and how Hackney Council chose to respond to it, can teach us a lot about effective online engagement. The story really took off on Friday lunchtime when the […]

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