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Designing for the Big Screen

At Screach we have a dedicated Product Team; designers and developers who create the on-screen animated, live and interactive content for ScreachTV.

Dave Potts heads up the team. Here’s some insight from him on Screach’s approach to designing for the big screen.

Our inspiration

We spend a hell of a lot of time in pubs, and we can see that conventional broadcast solutions suck – when a pub isn’t showing live sport, it’s normally just the news with the sound off. We see that the current broadcast model is broken for venues, so many of our ideas come from trying to fix this. We’re also data junkies, so when we come across a cool data stream, we love to experiment with visualising it on the screen.

The Challenges

Television in a bar is not watched in the same way as conventional television in the home, but you’ll notice that the current broadcast in both settings is still exactly the same. This makes no sense to us; few people go to a bar to watch television, and the on-screen content just becomes background visual noise, often with illegible text; it’s designed to be watched up-close in the quiet of your living room, not in a noisy social surrounding. On top of all of that, bars usually have the sound off on their TVs, so not only can viewers not read the content on it, they can’t hear it either. Not exactly the best user experience, is it?

Our challenge is to change this media format into something useful for venues, and interesting to customers, making the television in a venue relevant again. Viewers are accustomed to looking at broadcast content, so our biggest challenge is creating something new and appealing which isn’t jarring to the viewer. It has to be visually stimulating to cut through everything else that’s going on in the venue. It must function without audio too, and text must be completely legible, even from the back of the bar.

The process

The creation process starts with getting the team members together who will work on the project. We sit and thrash out possible solutions, and it’s a great feeling getting excited about the prospect of creating something new and game-changing. Our product team is a talented bunch of smarty-pants; they’re designers first and foremost, but they’re also code ninjas and are just as comfortable when developing software solutions. Most of our ScreachTV products have lots of moving parts, so we develop and design features in tandem. Before testing, we go over every aspect of the project with a fine-tooth comb to make sure the visuals for on-screen and in-phone are complementary, and that the software just works. At this point we do internal testing coupled with live trials in customer control groups, before rolling out to our nationwide customers.

What’s Next

The product team moves fast. We are working on a brand refresh across the whole platform that we hope everyone will love, it’s to keep the advert templates and interactive games feeling new. We also have some cool new television channels coming that we can’t wait to release. And in my work stream right now, I’m building some cool tech for smartphones that will change the way users play games in venue. I can’t say any more than that for the moment!

Supporting venues from ScreachHQ

As our roll-out of ScreachTV continues to gather pace, our Support team play an ever increasingly critical role in ensuring venues are happy and able to make the most of our platform. Steven O’Neil manages support from ScreachHQ – we caught up with him to find out more about his endeavours…

ScreachTV venues

Hi Steven! Tell us more about your role at Screach

I’m responsible for supporting all of our venues, making sure they have great content that appeals to their customers – I’m here to advise them on how they can make the most out of ScreachTV and really benefit from the fantastic features it offers. This involves lots of calls to make sure we regularly keep in touch with all of our sites, and I also produce the newsletter that is sent out every two weeks to share the latest updates on ScreachTV. I manage the ScreachTV Facebook page and that’s proving to be another great way for our venues to follow the latest announcements. I’m also on hand to offer training on how to navigate the on-screen content and how to use the ScreachTV web portal, so whether it’s a simple question or a more intricate guide to creating content, I’m here to help! I get lots of content requests from venues and so spend a significant proportion of my days creating new advertisements as well.

Your days must be incredibly busy! What do you enjoy the most about your role?

I really enjoy the variety of my job – whilst it can be very demanding, it’s brilliant to work with so many different people and apply myself to such a range of tasks. I particularly love the marketing aspect of my role and the opportunity I have to be creative – using Photoshop to design the adverts is a lot of fun and I am learning new skills and tricks from our Design team every day!

Advert creations

You mention working with a variety of people – who does that include?

My focus is understandably on working closely with all of our venues and maintaining regular contact with each one – that alone includes a real diversity of people! Having such a frontline role means that I truly get to work across all areas of the business too – from liaising with the Sales and Installation teams on the introduction of new sites, to working closely with our field Support team as they visit venues for regular updates in person. My relationship with the Design and Development teams is also fundamental, with testing of new features before they’re launched and also sharing feedback from our customers to shape how the product evolves. My CRM systems are invaluable to keeping on top of everything!

What kind of feedback on ScreachTV have you received from venues so far?

It’s been incredibly positive – venues love the flexibility of the system and enjoy so much value from being able to personalise their playlists. The advertising opportunities are a real favourite and there is a lot of excitement about the new Screach app functionality and the prospect of learning more about the demographics of their customers. The product and our processes have evolved significantly over the last nine months and venues really appreciate having a dedicated support service on hand to help at all times.

Have venues helped to influence any of the product development?

Definitely – we always seek feedback from our venues so that we can look to adapt the product to suit the reality of how ScreachTV is used; whilst there is focus on designing a cutting edge platform, we also need to be acutely aware of how the product is used in everyday life. Our train time experience emerged from one such request – the Sportsman Hotel in Eaglescliffe has a prime situation near the station and suggested that being able to keep their customers updated on train schedules would be helpful; we explored the idea and found that it would be a great offering for many of our other venues too, so we progressed into development and now have a live experience that gives our customers extremely relevant, real-time content for their screens.

Train Times

What is your top tip for venues using ScreachTV?

First and foremost, keep it on! Realise its potential, keep playlists fresh and use as much content as possible. ScreachTV can add such value and it’s always going to continue evolving, with new features constantly in the pipeline.

Rambo has joined the team – most certainly not our “worst nightmare”

Wayne Rambo Groves is our ScreachTV Content Producer – working alongside our brilliant Design and Support teams, he makes sure the content across our network stays fresh and entertaining. Not a mean feat when we have over 15 million plays of content chalked up across our venues!

DJ

With so many new sites joining ScreachTV by the day, we recognised the need for a dedicated producer to focus on finding new and interesting content – with a background in magazine publishing, Wayne has proved to be a perfect fit. His current project outside of Screach is NE Online Magazine, shining a spotlight on local people, places and events. He also DJs at venues across the north east and has worked with icons such as Judge Jules, Alistair Whitehead and Phats & Small. And when he’s not writing or mixing, he can generally be found MCing at MMA fight nights. Being such a socialite, Wayne knows a lot of people – something that has really helped him in his new role at Screach – the more people to share content with and source content from, the better!

MMA MC

When it comes to content for the ScreachTV playlists and channels, Wayne is always on the lookout for new videos, whether they be epic fails, awesome stunts or daft animals – cheap laughs are surprisingly effective! The past few weeks have all been about sourcing content to complement the launch of the new football season, with fresh media pulled together for every individual Premiership team, allowing venues to choose specific content that is directly relevant to their customers. From goals to gaffs to general footballing genius, the content has already received a great reaction from landlords and customers alike. There are oodles of ideas in the pipeline too, designed to work around upcoming events and festivities.

Wayne is relishing his new role and still “waiting for someone to tell me off for watching videos all day!” The variety and creativity of the job is something he really enjoys and whilst the technology behind the platform is pretty overwhelming, Wayne is concentrating on putting himself in the mindset of venues’ customers to pick the right content that people will love.

Superman

So, the final burning question I’m sure you all have is “is his name really Rambo?” Happily, the answer is yes! Wayne has always been a keen campaigner for charity – to name just a few of his mad crusades, he’s spent a week dressed as Superman to raise money for the children’s charity ‘Variety’, he regularly organises a whole host of fundraising Race Nights and Quizzes at local venues for Cain’s Dream to Walk, and – spectacularly – he changed his name by deed poll to ‘Rambo’, all for a good cause! So there you have it – our Screach philanthropist bringing new content to a venue near you! If you have cool content you’d like to publish on the ScreachTV network, get in touch with Wayne at wayne.groves@screach.com.

officially Rambo

Pub crawling the UK

Our ScreachTV sales team has expanded significantly in recent months and so we thought we’d check in and see how they’re all doing. Martin, Clair, Simone and Jo are based across the north of the UK, visiting sites from Durham to Carlisle, Liverpool to Oldham, Harrogate to Rotherham and Chesterfield to Leicester to name but a few – if there’s a pub to visit, these guys are on it! Life on the road is a busy way to spend the days, so we wanted to see how they all cope with the perpetual pub crawl…

ScreachTV Sales Team

What types of venues do you visit on your travels?

Martin: Pubs, clubs, Student Unions and those generally within the leisure industry.

Clair: Exactly – nightclubs and hotels too, though I’ve also visited hospitals, car dealerships and tyre companies!

So a real variety of places! What are the major benefits of ScreachTV for the venue owners you meet?

Martin: It’s about making their TV screens relevant and interactive, driving customers back into their venue time and time again.

Simone: Absolutely – many customers I speak to love the opportunity for advertising and the ability to generate extra revenue, as well as being able to interact with the customer.

Clair: The advertising can create real community spirit and helps to bring venues into the 21st century. The real-time social media experiences using Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, also help people to understand more about what’s going on in their local and are entertaining to all different age groups.

Jo and Clair

What are the key challenges of your role?

Simone: The licensed trade is a really interesting industry to work in – it’s about presenting the complementary balance between traditional practices and the real accessibility of something as modern as ScreachTV.

Jo: That’s it – we demo the product live on site and, whilst that can have its challenges, it’s a brilliant product to present; it’s so visual and our customers can immediately see the value in what we’re offering.

What are your favourite features of ScreachTV to showcase to venue owners?

Martin: I love the flexibility to select different channels for different times of week – venues can always ensure their screens are fresh and showing new content.

Jo: The Fail Army video feeds are great and always go down well in venues! The interactive experiences are fantastic too – they give venues the chance to offer their customers something really different.

Simone: Definitely – I always find people love the Quiz and On Screen Messages experiences.

Martin

Lots to enjoy then when you’re out meeting so many new venues! So finally, what are your top tips for surviving a perpetual pub crawl?

Jo: Comfortable shoes!

Clair: Well, on my off duty pub crawls! Jaeger bombs, glass of water with every drink, don’t fall over and give yourself a curfew!

Martin: Agreed – a pint of water before you go out and before you go to bed is key!

Simone: Never drink Sambuca and always remember your milk thistle before and after nights out!

ScreachOnTour

Introducing Jo and Clair – Our new sales managers

Jo 1

 We’re looking to spread the word about ScreachTV across the country.

As a result, we’ll be welcoming a few new faces to the team over the next few weeks. Our new sales managers will be meeting pub owners around the UK to let them know what ScreachTV has to offer. And if you haven’t already seen for yourself, check out what current user Harry Vaulkhard of Newcastle’s Pacific Bar has to say…

The first new addition is Jo Richardson, who’ll be meeting people around Yorkshire.

Jo says:

“I’m currently living in Marske By The Sea, having travelled the country over the last 20 years running pubs, Students Unions, restaurants, and hotels. I thought it was finally time to come back and settle in my hometown. Any spare time that I have, is spent walking my dogs and occasional wine tasting with friends!

The job advert for Screach caught my eye as it was something a little out of the ordinary that covered a lot of a pub’s needs and being an ex-publican I can relate to how a pub owner could utilise the system.”

We’re also excited to welcome Clair Woodhead, who will be working in the Manchester area. Huddersfield-born Clair is the daughter of a pub landlord, and is a huge Formula 1 fan. She also likes cycling, travel, socialising, food and wine.

Clair says:

“I have spent the last 17 years selling into the leisure industry, mainly bingo and casinos, supplying promotional goods UK-wide as well as traveling regularly overseas to China to source new products.

“I am now very excited to start a new chapter in my life, joining Screach TV and selling their amazing interactive entertainment system .”

We’ve just bringing on board another sales manager for the Nottingham area, but there are spots available in the West Midlands and London. If you think you’d be great for one of those roles, get in touch with Helena Wade at helena.wade@screenreach.com

We’re also looking for an enthusiastic telesales agent to join the team. Check out our jobs page for more details

Screach: A Part of Tech Britain

techbritain

A few months ago, we got a visit from Doug and Shaun from TechBritain.

For those of you that haven’t come across the project before, it’s the brainchild of two startup founders that decided to get a flavour of the bubbling tech communities springing up around the country.

Doug Ward and Shaun Gibson travelled up to Newcastle by Megabus to meet founders making a splash in Newcastle, a journey which took them to Screach’s offices in Hoults Yard.

In this video chat, Paul Rawlings and Sam Morton chat to Doug about Screach’s ambitions, working in America, the role of the government and the tech scene in the North East.

Introducing Version 3.3

NewHomeNewKey

If you’ve updated your phone apps in the last few days, you might have noticed that Screach has undergone a bit of a makeover…

Screach3.3Screach version 3.3 is now available for iPhone and Android, and we’ve been focusing on making it as simple as possible for Screach users to get stuck into some fun experiences, whether they’re on the bus, at home or in a pub.

Screach’s chief technology officer David Challener says:

“We’ve made some changes to the interface, and the main purpose has been to simplify it down to some core features. We’ve made the app very simple so that people can get an idea of what it is straight away. The profile page is much clearer, we’ve redesigned the offers and we’ve focused on just having the four screens for now.”

Screach at Licensed Trade International

LTI2013

In the space of a couple of days, we’ve met a lot of people, hung out at a supercar bar, and made cocktails live on stage.

And there’s still a couple of hours to go.

Yesterday and today, the folk from Screach made the short hop to The Sage in Gateshead for Licensed Trade International, a trade show featuring some big names in leisure and hospitality.

Big news for ScreachTV

ScreachTV

It’s been a busy last few months, but we were pleased to be able to announce this week that we’ve raised $2.5m to really push ScreachTV in the UK and beyond.

As reported in The Next Web, Sixteen:Nine and others, we’ve got funding from Northstar Ventures, Hotspur Capital Partners and other strategic investors to accelerate the rollout of ScreachTV across pubs and bars around the country. We’ll also be keeping an eye on other markets too.

Dispatches app shortlisted by One World Media

 

A few months ago, the Dispatches second screen app made it to the final of the British Journalism Awards.

The Guardian’s Reading the Riots project won the Innovation of the Year award that time around, but news reaches us that the second screen app has been shortlisted for a digital media award at the One World Media awards 2013.