Calum Shepherd Digital Mulling, Marketing & Projects

Saying hello to Jekyll

Goodbye WordPress. It's been great working with you! Hello Jekyll. Jekyll is a static site generator, an open-source tool for creating simple yet powerful websites of all shapes and sizes. To quote the project's readme:

Jekyll is a simple, blog aware, static site generator. It takes a template directory [...] and spits out a complete, static website suitable for serving with Apache or your favorite web server. This is also the engine behind GitHub Pages, which you can use to host your project’s page or blog right here from GitHub.

GitHub you say? Sounds good to me.

So, we're now up and running on GitHub, with Poole as the template of choice for Jekyll.

Migrating from WordPress is a breeze when you make use of some of the useful apps out there for doing exactly that. Interested? There is a great post from leon Paternoster that explains all.

However, if you are less code savvy - there is a great windows app that does it in a flash wpXml2Jekyll - pick it up on GitHub.

Revisiting an old favourite called URLs

When we embarked on our most recent public sector project, there was a big focus on shifting mindsets towards agile practices and away from traditional approaches to product and software development. I blogged briefly about this personal switch to agile back in February.

So, where are we now? We are approaching our first alpha release, we have begun sharing some early thoughts over on inside.mygov.scot we are on twitter and continue to code like crazy.

As part of our hub and spoke model to content contribution within the team, I went back to an old favourite - URLs.

You can read more over on the mygov.scot blog.

The blog is filling out nicely with content from a wide range of people within our teams - including a post on user research by Paul.

I'm also leading on the release of material supporting people in the delivery of digital public services. You can find this under standards and guidelines.

Adapting to agile methods in the public sector

Working in an agile manner, after a history of creating bulky project briefs and requirements to front load work, is a little challenging to say the least. I had a history of attempting to nail long documentation, with the aim of realising as many outcomes and outputs as possible. However, long development times, a lack of flexibility in relation to change and worries about launching too early were always common.

I'm now sketching out ideas on whitewalls, snapping photos of doodles, holding short stand ups and working with product owners who have a real passion for the creations under their guidance. We're aiming to release frequently and we're aiming to ensure that anything we do is backed by real, robust user needs - something that Government Digital Service have really been a champion for over the last few years.

It all feels very liberating - in a technical / work kind of way.

If you are interested in finding out more, the web is full of details around various flavours of agile project management methods. Within the division we work through a hybrid approach, utilising DSDM for more robust governance and fuller project documentation, alongside a more Scrum like method for the delivery teams themselves.

Exciting times and more to come.

Talk @ Scottish Borders tourism partnership conference 2013

I was kindly asked along to the Scottish Borders Tourism Partnership Conference at the tail end of 2013. Whilst there I spent a bit of time talking about digital marketing and some wider thoughts on digital in general. The deck has now been made available via VisitScotland.

There are plenty of talks available, including my own, so feel free to go check them out.

Google Adwords certification study guides (fundamentals / advanced)

Updated: 15/01/2014 (Google Partners Program)

Looking to expand your Adwords knowledge? Whether or not you actually manage Adwords campaigns, an understanding of how they work and paid media terminology in general is always going to be a benefit to you.

A lot of people will thus look to Google Exams to help with this, as they bundle revision with certification. To help with this, I've listed some Google Adwords Certification study guides that may aid in getting you through both the Fundamental and Advanced Search exams.

It is perfectly possible to pass your Google Adwords exam without the need for physical guides or online revision packages. However if you do need some additional reading or would like something for your desk, check this book - Google AdWords For Dummies - Amazon.

Introducing Google Partners program - things have now changed.

  • Google Partner Exams are now free! This means you don't need to pay for your Adwords exams anymore.
  • The new Google Partners website is designed to allow you to revise and sit the exams, all via one portal.
  • Resources from 3rd parties tend to be out of date and don't match the current Google Adwords Interface, nor the exam material. They do still provide value however and will no doubt be updated post launch of Google Partners.
  • Google resources are at times a different from the interface, however you can bank on the Google material matching the exam.

In short, things are become a whole lot more clean when it comes to revision resources. Digging around for Google Adwords Certification study guides for your Fundamentals / Advanced Search exams is far less important post Google Partners launch.

1. Official Google Study Guides

The Google Partners area provides all the initial steps to get you up and running. You will be able to access to seminars, study guides and much more. Essential for you kicking off your Google Adwords Certification study.

2. Google Adwords Help Centre 

Provides help resources for terminology and a run through ranging from basic setup and basics to billing. A strong resource for referencing as opposed to studying for your exam directly.

3. Google Adwords Interface 

The Adwords interface will give you the best exposure possible help for you to pass your exam. You will need a valid Google account alongside a name, address and credit card. Don't worry, you can remove your card once you are setup.

The real value is assigning budgets and getting some campaigns live. Google regularly provide vouchers of around $50 to new customers via email to get people up and running, so look out for these in the days after activation. The Adwords Coupon page is also useful and currently has £75 free for a £25 spend (Confirmed live Jan 2014).

4. Google YouTube Adwords Playlist

Various videos on anything and everything Adwords. You can find a specific playlist for all the introductory videos for adwords via the link below.

5. Other Websites

Please note, these are additional resources are pretty out of date. However they do provide a bit more context for you if you have additional study time available.

I would also recommend downloading the free uCertify trial, as they do offer an extremely robust package with a decent number of questions available for free.

Good luck and let me know how you get on with your Google Adwords study!