Toolkit Websites Blog

Website of the Week: Soccer Champs

This week's website of the week goes to Soccer Champs. Soccer Champs offers after school club football, summer camps, girls football classes, over 50's walking football, birthday parties and more!

Their policy is simple. They provide a very warm, friendly learning environment for your child, who will gain social confidence being part of our groups.

Senior Project Manager Andy started by creating a fully responsive one page website, using parallax scrolling. The back to top arrow features football shape graphic so that it's easy for people to get back to the top of the website without too much scrolling.

The website uses strong imagery, and the website colour scheme uses a dark effect with the accent colour of red taken from the clients logo.

The website features an about section that lets people know about the clients experiences and qualifications which is an important feature of the site. It also provides a testimonials section and a chance for people to leave a review.  The website features a free download to the clients brochure/ leaflet for the respect campaign.

The font used is easy to read, and very clean looking. Google fonts like these make a change from the standard web safe fonts like Arial or Times New Roman.

The website has some great call to actions, including pop up forms for people to fill out in order to get in touch. It's important that people feel that they can interact with your brand and get a response to any queries or questions they may have.

The website also passes Google's mobile-friendly test with flying colours, meaning that the website is responsive to the device it's being viewed on. This is a must when it comes to people viewing the website on the go!

The client kindly awarded us 5 out of a possible 5 stars and said: "Toolkit has been very friendly and supportive."

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Walking to Work Initiative

May was National Walking Month and thousands of people pledged to #Try20 and walk at least 20 minutes every day. There were plenty of campaigns promoting walking to work, and encouraging the idea of getting some early exercise first thing in the morning. But really, every month should be National Walking Month!

According to one study, those who walk to the bus stop rather than drive to work weigh at least 5lbs less, according to science. The study, by researchers at London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, shows that tens of thousands could lose weight simply by walking more during their daily commute.

According to a study from the London School of Economics, brisk walking is a better deterrent against obesity than any other form of exercise. That means no expensive gym memberships or the need to buy gym equipment. You and your legs can walk yourself to health.

Why are we talking about this? As a Web Design company, we spend a lot of time sitting (some of us have standing desks too though!) at a computer screen. The team have to find ways outside of work or on the way to and from work to exercise or get moving. From being a dedicated gym member, to playing badminton or squash, the activities are endless.

The NHS promotes walking above all other exercise too. So we know that it's important for health and well-being.

We decided to run our own challenge. We've read a lot about how walking to work has changed peoples lives, and how they feel health wise. And we thought, we've got nothing to lose! For one week, the Toolkit team were challenged to walk to work every day, document how long it took and how it made them feel at the end of the challenge.

Team members also upped their water intake, which is another thing the NHS and other health organisations promote. On average you are meant to drink 2 litres a day!

Here is how it went. 

Remko, our Business Development Manager said: "It takes me 15 minutes to cycle to work. It makes me feel great because I can get away with eating more and not feeling bloated! I also drink between 3-4 pints of water a day as a norm."

We had some team members who lived too far away from work so they couldn't walk. However, both of them get trains and walk a good 15 minutes from the train station to the office.

Operations Manager David said: "I average 7,350 steps every working day. This includes a 5 minute walk to the train station from my home and a 15 minute walk from Southampton Central to and from our office My fitbit tells me how many steps I take per day.  When I drive to work I noticeably feel lethargic due to the lack of exercise! I tend to drink up to 6 pints of water throughout the day anyway, so 4 pints is easy to do, and helps feeling healthy!"

We also had the opposite problem, with some of the team living too close to work to benefit from the walk.

Senior Project Manager Lanara takes 3 minutes or less to get to the office, but admits that she does a lot of walking in her spare time.

For the purpose of this challenge, Lanara got up half an hour early, and used her spin bike for 20 minutes before coming to work. She said: "The difference in how awake I feel has been the most noticeable thing. I don't feel as tired, I feel like I've had time to wake up properly ready for the day ahead. With regards to water, I drink nearly 8 pints of water a day as it is, which is 4.5 litres. It helps keep you hydrated, detoxed and gets rid of bloating."

Most team members accepted the challenge of walking to work, but struggled with the water intake. Results found that tea and coffee drinks struggled more so than those who didn't drink hot drinks at all.  The British Nutrition Foundation say that water is essential for life and it is very important to get the right amount of fluid to be healthy. However they do say:

"Drinking tea or coffee also delivers water, and even though these drinks can contain caffeine, in moderate amounts caffeine doesn’t affect hydration."

Why do you need water?
Your body is nearly two-thirds water and so it is really important that you consume enough fluid to stay hydrated and healthy. If you don’t get enough fluid you may feel tired, get headaches and not perform at your best. You also get water from the food you eat – on average food provides about 20% of your total fluid intake.

Does it matter which drinks you choose?
When you choose your drinks it is important to be aware that although they all provide water and some also contain essential vitamins and minerals, they may also provide energy (calories). These calories contribute to your daily calorie intake in the same way as those from the foods you eat.

So there you have it! Our healthy/ walking to work initiative week in a nutshell.

Let us know what you think on Twitter, using the hashtag #walktoworkinitiative
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Website of the Week: Mexigo

This week's website of the week goes to Mexigo. Mexigo are a Mexican fast-food chain, with restaurants in Southampton, Bournemouth and one about to open in Poole.

Mexigo is a local business to us, which means we love to see it thrive.

Their policy is simple. Buy fresh, Cook fresh, Serve fresh….and that’s what they do. They purchase their meat daily from local suppliers that only buy from Farms that meet Farm Assured Standards. It is free from colourings, artificial flavourings and genetic modifications. They don’t do that stuff, nor do they do frozen, It’s always fresh.

Senior Project Manager Lanara started by creating a fully responsive one page website, using parallax scrolling and image hover overs. The back to top arrow features a nice slide transition so that people can easily navigate the site on all devices.

The website uses the clients branding which is a vivid bright pink and black colour scheme. The imagery is all of the clients own, which works really well in representing their product and what they do.

The website features social media icons so that people can visit the pages. Being active on Social Media can help you with search engine rankings. The website also features delivery information links, job vacancy information and franchising opportunities.

The font used is easy to read, and very clean looking. Google fonts like these make a change from the standard web safe fonts like Arial or Times New Roman. A softer, lighter font is very much on trend at the moment, and makes it look sleek on mobile and tablet devices too.

The website has some great call to actions, including pop up forms for people to fill out in order to get in touch. It's important that people feel that they can interact with your brand and get a response to any queries or questions they may have.

The website also passes Google's mobile-friendly test with flying colours, meaning that the website is responsive to the device it's being viewed on. This is a must when it comes to people viewing the website on the go!

The client kindly awarded us 5 out of a possible 5 stars and said: "Toolkit is very flexible and very responsive."

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The best of wearable tech 2016

To follow on this weeks health and well-being theme, this blog discusses 2016's wearable tech. With more and more products becoming available on the market, from the fitbit to the apple watch... it's hard to know what would best suit you.

We've together a top 5 of the best smart-watches out there currently in our opinion.

5. Pebble Time Steel

There are two type of smart watch around at the moment: Those with a colourful touch-screen like would find on your phone, and those which combine a regular analogue watch with smart features.

RRP: £179 inc VAT
Buy from Amazon for £99.00

"The Pebble Steel may not have a high-res and colourful screen and the square design may not be for everyone, but we think it's stylish and the display has a retro charm which also provides excellent battery life. A good alternative to Android Wear if that's not your cup of tea."

4.  Apple Watch

RRP: From £259
Buy from Amazon for £295.00

"It takes a lot of getting used to, and at times it feels counter-intuitive, something we're not use to with Apple devices. Apple is going to learn a lot from this first generation smartwatch and from the customers and fans that are using it."

3. Motorola Moto 360 2

RRP: From £229 inc VAT
Buy from Amazon for £258.00

"The new 2nd-generation Moto 360 is a decent smartwatch offering excellent build quality and hardware. The value is good if you avoid the extras on the Moto Maker but they are hard to resist."

2. LG Watch R

RRP: £225 inc VAT
Buy from Amazon for £683.00

"It adds much needed style and class to the smartwatch and has an excellent round screen which doesn't have a section missing. It looks more like a traditional watch than most smart-watches meaning that it doesn't look necessary 'techie'."

1. Huawei Watch

RRP: £289 inc VAT
Buy from Amazon for £277.00

"Although it's pricy, the Huawei Watch is best Android Wear smartwatch on the market with its absolutely stunning design and exquisite build quality. There's still work to be done though as the watch lacks GPS, the heart rate monitor etc."

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Electric Bikes - health and well-being in technology

Junior Web Developer Tom talks to us about Electric Bikes:

Electric bikes, Great? Or defeating the purpose?

If you are looking to get into cycling then an electric bike is a great way in, it helps you start getting the distance in. You can start doing smaller distances with the pedal assist or even using the throttle to help you get used to riding. Electric bikes are also useful if you want to ride to do shopping, you can get baggage space on the back of your bike and head off to the shop and on the way bike the pedal assist can help deal with the added weight. Before you know it you will be cycling 15km a week with ease.

When I think of electric bikes one bike in particular stands out, the Vanmoof Electrified S, here are just some of its features:

•    6 hours charging time from empty to full giving you up to 120 km range
•    4 different power levels controlled by the bike display or app
•    Anti-theft tracking using Bluetooth and GSM
•    Smart power assistance boosts your ride by 500%
•    Touch display built into frame for rider feedback and setting changes

All of the parts that make the bike electrified are hidden within the frame so no one even knows from looking at it that it’s electric, however the built in front and rear lights might give it away if you are riding at night.

Whilst I did fall in love with that bike the moment I saw it I took a step back when I saw the price, $2498, which, if your looking to buy your first bike might be a bit of shock but not to worry there is much cheaper.

On the other hand if you like the techy bikes then Volta Cycles are also great. You can connect it to your phone and it will display a range of thing on the screen on the handlebars, from weather to music to beats per minute. It will also show you turn-by-turn directions and will alert you if you are getting a phone call. An electric bike designed for speed ready for the 21st century.

Back in June Southampton had its Sky Ride with a wide range of bikes, experience of riders and ages. With 11000 riders taking part in Southampton it’s a great way to make friends and go for a social bike ride. There are lots of Sky rides around the country so have a look through the Sky Ride site and find one close to you.

After asking around the office, it turns out most people own a mountain bike, that is if they own a bike at all, which most don’t.

Mountain – 5
Road bike – 1
Fixed gear - 1

There is a huge range of bikes on offer these days, from fold up to fixed gear to tricycle, from mountain to road to electric.
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Pokemon GO!

In March, we talked about the intended release of Pokemon GO! on Facebook and what it meant for the gaming industry.

Pokemon Go! is finally here, and the augmented reality game has already overtaken Tinder in popularity as the most downloaded app. In fact, the shares have sky rocketed and people are talking about it left, right and centre.

The jist of it is this. You can view your location (as you would using Google Maps) on your phone. However, in Pokemon Go, areas around you have been turned into 'Poke Stops' where you can get 'poke balls' and 'eggs' to hatch! You must walk to these locations (or drive depending on how lazy you are!) to interact with the 'poke stop.'

There are also designated places that are 'gyms' which is where you can battle with the pokemon you have caught so far once you've reached level 5. You can compete for ownership of the gym and maintain your ownership of it by battling and duelling your pokemon. The catch? You have to GO to the location of the gym to interact with it! Which means a lot more walking and aimlessly rambling.

You catch pokemon nearly anywhere. In your kitchen, on your balcony, down the street in the local supermarket, parks etc. To catch a pokemon, you must throw a ball at them which you can see using your front facing camera. Yes, you can actually see the pokemon through your camera at the location you're at. This is the augmented reality part.

So if you're keen to catch yourself a Pikachu, a Charizard or Squirtle... you really should read on.

What pros and cons are there? 

Well first of all, there has been some negative press already with people injuring themselves on 'poke hunts' by not looking where they are going. Of course there are always ways people find to exploit others using the game also, so it makes sense to keep your self awareness and perhaps only go to locations that you know you are safe and in day light hours.

The pros are pretty impressive. In America in particular there has already been reports of Pokemon Go! helping people lose weight! The whole game is based on walking and moving to different locations. People are finding themselves walking for miles without even realising it. The health and fitness element of it is a shock to those that usually find that video games do the very opposite. This game has revolutionised the gaming industry, making it interactive with your reality.

There have also been reports of mental health being improved by Pokemon Go! too, which is really nice to hear.

Want to know how to play? Take a look at the guide that has been created for users interested in getting to grips with the Poke World! 
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How to create your own font

A lot of research has gone into type design. You can find papers on the history, drawing and technical complexities of creating typefaces. It's an art form in itself.

Unless you’re living in a very isolated area without road signs or street signs, you will find that there will be different fonts all around you in day to day life. From the Tube station in London, to road signs on the motorway, to shop signs and more. It’s so easy to ignore them all, especially as we’re all so familiar to our surroundings.

But where exactly do you begin if you want to make your own font?

If you're a designer or illustrator new to this discipline there are a number of items to think about.

It is advised that you start off creating your font by hand. Take pen (or pencil) to paper. Sketch out your ideas and style you're looking for.

Designing certain characters first can help set the style of your typeface. Often called 'control characters' H and O are usually the characters designers begin with.

When you are ready, it's time to get your font onto the computer. There are tracing programs available if you need help.

Many designers from a graphic design background will opt or Adobe Illustrator to start drawing their type face, because this is what they are used to. It offers brilliant tools that are flexible and customisable.

In order to create a unique font, you need to study other examples and compare and contrast to see what you like or dislike about them. Take a look at what fonts link together such as Helvetica and it's other forms such as Helvetica Neue. 

Printing your progress and seeing it away from the confines of pixels and backlighting will help you view it from a different perspective.

If your aim is to have your font available publicly, you will need to develop a broad character set for every letter and punctuation mark that people will want to be able to use.

Ever wondered what your handwriting might look like as a font?

Well now you can see! have a service where you can turn your handwriting into a font.

Firstly, you have to download and print a template. You can find this template here. In the template there are three rules:

-    Use a medium-thick, black felt pen.
-    Do not write over the inner auxiliary lines
-    Scan with 300-600 dpi.

Other than these, you can be as creative as you like!

Next, scan it at 300 dpi in grayscale, not colour. Don’t try cheating and taking a photo of your template with your phone. This doesn’t work because you have to use an actual scanner.

Thirdly, upload your template to and they’ll give you a sentence displaying all of your characters. If it looks like text, great! If it looks like a completely new alphabet make sure your file is portrait and not landscape.

Install your font on Windows: Go to your Control Panel, then Appearance and Personalization and then go to Fonts. Click on ‘File’ and scroll to ‘Install New Font’.

On a Mac: Open Font Book then click ‘File’ and then “Add Fonts”

Now your handwriting is on your computer, you can write all of your handwritten letters on your computer – who’s going to notice?!
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