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Archive for the ‘Training’ Category

Learning is a life long event – and there’s no better way to learn than in a classroom of new students. I mean learn from the students. Collaborative learning is so inspiring – and nothing lends itself more to it than a topic like web design. Here is what I learned from the students in my Web Design for Business class at Kendal College‘s Creative Arts Centre.


The students arrived at the first class nine weeks ago with limited exposure to websites and design. But, they had a passion for a topic. Whether it was a business, a service for a client group, a past time, or a promoting themselves to find work – they all embraced the task with passion. It showed in the final results.


Despite a steep learning curve – image creation, HTML, SEO, and an unknown template, social media sites – they were confident that this was the right media for their message. They tried new things, shared ideas with each other, and when it came to evaluating each other’s sites, they provided helpful ideas – most which were acted upon immediately. It takes a confident person to critique another’s work, and a confident person to receive and accept it.


But, most impressive was their perseverance. They stuck with it. Overcame technical difficulties. Tried different ways until they found the best one for them – and their audience.

Have you got the 3 P’s to build your own website? Of course you do. But, it’s always more fun in a group. If there isn’t a class available, ask your local college to put one on. Or, form a Jelly and work together in your own group. There’s nothing that can make you feel prouder than having your own website – and with all the free platforms out there – WordPress, Blogspot, Weebly – there’s no need to delay any longer. A little passion, panache and perseverance and you’ll be live in no time!

Despite all the promotions of the importance of website content being accessible, usable and understandable, it still rates low in web planning commitment. A study by Next Communications, website teams are still rating design, SEO and development as top priorities (over 50%) and content at the bottom of the web planning chain at 10% importance.

Yet, users continue to report their frustration at not being able to find, understand or use information on websites. So how do we bridge this gap?

First get a clear picture of your audience, readers, site visitors. Who are they? Where are they coming from? How old are they? What is your relationship with them? What do they want?

Then adopt these three top web writing guidelines:

1. Use headlines to help lead your readers through the text. Newspapers are popular for a reason. Ease of finding information is one of them.

2. Write in a concise style to meet the scanning style web readers use, which is different from print readers. People often know what they want before going to a website – so make it easy for them to move through your content to find it.

3. Use language that is understandable by your readers. Avoid lingo, tech terms and abbreviations they may not be familiar with. If you have to use unfamiliar words define them, or pre-empt problems with a FAQ section.

Content is still king. But don’t turn it into a pauper by ignoring tried and tested website content guidelines.


Plain Language Websites

Jacob Nielson’s Writing for the Web vs Print

Website Tips

With all the great content management systems built into blog and web platforms, who needs HTML code? We all do. It’s like having an SLR camera. Yes, everyone has gone digital. But, many are going back to digital/manual models for control. That’s what HTML code, that backbone of all sites, is all about – control.

If you never studied it, here are three top sites to help you – or refresh your memory if it’s been a while.

HTML Goodies:This is a detailed, step-by-step guide with more than just HTML. If it’s been a while since you’ve put in a list, an image, or an email link, this is the place to go for a quick refresher.

W3C – Intro to HTML: Dave Raggett’s lesson in using HTML code to build pages is excellent. And as it comes from the ultimate guide to accessible websites, the World Wide Web Consortium on standards, you get two for the price of one.

HTML Code Tutorial: This site breaks using HTML code down into bite-sized pieces. It has tutorials, a forum and a quick list. Very helpful.

A little bit of knowledge, can go a long way.

Many people are shy about talking in public and (understandably) feel fear when presented with a microphone and a room full of people. But, gaining the skills to present confidently can provide access to potential clients you might not otherwise have access to. But, where do you start?
Some of the key business organisations offer opportunities to speak and learn to speak in front of potential customers – the Chamber of Commerce, Federation of Small Business, adult education programmes and networking groups. There are also some great coaches out there who will help you one-on-one.
An executive friend of mine went to professional acting lessons to help her with presentation, public speaking and confidence. She said it made the world of difference.

My three presentations on social media for business at the Ulverston Business Alliance meetings, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, have given me an introduction to fellow consultants in the region, numerous opportunities for marketing, some key partnerships – like with Best of Barrow and Furness’ Helen Penny – and generated revenue. Despite the work putting the presentations together and the time, the payback has been beyond my expectations. Also, I now have the basis of workshops I can add to my service portfolio, which have been market -tested. The feedback has been invaluable.

So, if public speaking isn’t in your skill comfort zone or repertoire – put it on your 2010 ‘to do’ list, because the answer to the question is ‘Yes, talking for free can generate income’.

I invited Ben Tyson, job searching journalism graduate, to do a guest blog here to help him out. His message is strong and clear – and his strategy is paying off. Best of luck Ben! Kate


I used to have it drummed into me that working hard at school, heading off to university, and gaining a degree, enabled you to walk into the job of your dreams. Employers would fall at the feet of graduates; throwing projects and salaries at them in whichever direction they turned. Reality, however, is an altogether different story.

As the recession deepens, and unemployment rates soar to nearly 3 million; the job market is swamped with graduates – all vying for the same few positions available. That’s the biggest problem most graduates are faced with right now: for every job they apply for, 500 others are doing the same. And when every one of those 500 has a degree, no one stands out from the crowd.

Graduate schemes are a popular way of finding employment after university. Websites such as and advertise these in abundance – each one offering a fast-track route to management, or a high-up, important role. But again, with so many graduates fighting it out for the same position, it’s difficult to get noticed and remembered by the human resource team sifting through the stacks of application forms. The fact is; work experience is counting for a lot more these days, often more so than the degree itself.

I can’t begin to explain the amount of reply’s I have had which claim I “lack experience”. It’s about having that little bit extra on your CV that others don’t have. It makes it all the more difficult, however, to gain experience if no one is offering it! So how do you survive this period of uncertainty? This article on, offers some advice – some relevant, some not. The stand-out point for me is number 7 – Learn.

When a job opportunity does eventually present itself to you, an employer can only be impressed to see that although you haven’t been able to find employment, you have shown your passion and work ethic. Show them you want to be involved in this line of work – even if it is on your own time, and without being paid or thanked.

Another thing I have learned as a valuable importance is the value of having contacts. Keep in touch with old university colleagues. You leave university in exactly the same boat as them – find out what they are doing now. Have they found work? How did they go about finding it? Ask them to keep you updated if anything comes up in their company. Networking, and having plenty of contacts can be a very valuable source. My philosophy has been to keep my eyes and ears open.

I’ve applied for roles I never thought I would see myself doing – but I simply can’t afford to be picky at the moment. If I am offered a job doing something completely different to my degree, I believe it would be foolish not to take it. I always think it is easier to find a job when you are already in one. This doesn’t mean to say I’ll wave goodbye to my dream of being a writer. If I find myself doing something completely different to what I originally intended; I’ll still pursue that dream job I set out for when I set off for university.

And one final utterance: you wait months for a bus to come along, and then two come at once. This will probably be the case for a lot of graduates. You apply for so many jobs, hear nothing for so long, and before you know it – you’ll probably have to choose between two of them. But if one thing is for sure – a job isn’t going to knock on your front door, offering itself to you – you have to go out and find it.

My persistence may well be starting to pay off. Through a series of contacts, emails, and telephone conversations, I have been introduced to the Ulverston Business Alliance, and its Chairman, Paul Jarvis. I have been given the honour of helping to write a few articles and blogs, as well as apply some media to theUBA website. This is precisely what I have been hunting for: work, experience, invaluable contacts, and a professional-looking portfolio to show potential future employers.

With the expertise and guidance of Kate Harrison Whiteside, and the help and assistance of everyone associated with Ulverston Business Alliance, this could well be my first step on the path to success. This is a valuable message that all unemployed graduates should be aware of – that you must persist in chasing roots into your chosen career, and an opportunity could well arise when you least expect it.

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