• Low carbon network innovation conference

    Mike Buckle

    We exhibited at the Low Carbon Network Innovation conference (LCNI) again this year. LCNI brings together distribution network operators, National Grid and energy industry suppliers to network and present the innovative ways they are responding to current challenges in the energy industry. As the industry reduces its reliance on carbon-based energy sources – which are concentrated, predictable and controllable – in favour of more distributed and variable green alternatives, the challenge is to maintain electricity and gas supplies and respond[...]

  • Improving our products by meeting users’ and customers’ needs

    Mariana Morris

    At OCC we are always looking at ways to improve our social care products to meet our customers’ and users’ needs. As part of the design process, we run a series of sessions with stakeholders* and users**. Each type of session has different objectives which are described below. Stakeholders interviews The aim of stakeholder interviews is to understand the business and features requirements. We aim to get a complete perspective on the requirements, so we talk to representative stakeholders. These are one-to-one[...]

  • Definition of “user”

    Mariana Morris

    At OCC user research (usability testing, user interviews and feedback activities with users) is central to our design process. However, these activities only add value if we test with real users. Doing user research with the wrong people can be misleading and sometimes worse than not doing any user research. So it’s important that we are on the same page when we refer to a “user” to get the most value out of our user research and test the product[...]

  • Ami wins funding from Nominet Trust

    Mike Buckle

    OCC’s Ami is one of the latest ‘tech for good’ projects to receive funding from Nominet Trust, the UK’s leading social tech funder. There were 298 applications in the recent round of Nominet Trust’s Social Tech Seed programme, of which 9, including Ami, were successful. “Too often older people in our communities can feel isolated and lonely,” said Vicki Hearn, Director of Nominet Trust. “This isn’t just a social problem – it’s damaging to their health too. We’re very excited[...]

  • Power to the people

    Sally Croft

    When we plug in an appliance or flick a light switch, we take it for granted that electricity will flow safely and reliably. Industry and businesses, too, expect power to be available on demand. Yet the high-voltage electric power transmission network across Great Britain, owned and operated by National Grid plc, is today an ageing system. Computational models to optimise its efficiency are becoming increasingly important. OCC is working with National Grid to provide the innovative software solutions its operators[...]

  • React JS on the hack day

    Alex Bokii

    Last month we had our Innovation Delivery hack day where the whole team had fun developing small projects outside of their usual everyday work. For our project we wanted to explore React JS, in particular creating a React JS table component and open-sourcing it. You can see the results here. We have recently started using React JS at Oxford Computer Consultants (OCC) for a major redevelopment of our core social care finance product – called ContrOCC – that allows local[...]

  • Embedding UX into software development

    Mariana Morris

    Last Wednesday, Reynold, our projects director, and I gave a talk at ACCU Oxford. We shared practical UX techniques to embed UX in development cycles and talked about the importance of a good user experience in tech. Abstract Good user experience is essential to the success of your product, it creates a competitive advantage and saves you money by reducing wasted development time. But how do you know that what you develop are the features that users will care about?[...]

  • What the design team is working on

    Mariana Morris

    The design team at OCC has been busy with some really interesting work. In fact, we’ve been so busy that we’re recruiting. We are a team of user experience designers and front-end developers. What excite us are projects that make positive contribution to the world. We love working with complex projects in terms of data, user engagement and user interactions. Our aim is to create user experiences that delight users and make our clients, developers and designers proud. Here are[...]

  • The process of creating our design principles

    Mariana Morris

    I’m very pleased to publish our first version of the OCC’s design principles. This is a set of values and principles that guides our design approach, processes, and decisions for every project. Coming up with these principles was a collaborative process. I wanted these design principles to be something that we built together and that captured what we at OCC believed in. The applications we design are complex, in terms of data and interactions so working as a team was[...]

  • Going for gold

    Mike Buckle

    In sports like running, athletes strive to complete the fastest lap in the hope that they can win Olympic gold. At Oxford Computer Consultants, high performance is just as important. In computing, as in running, high performance is about using the available resources to achieve a specific goal. Computing performance is often measured by the time it takes to make complex calculations or process large amounts of data. Software performance can be improved by scaling up and scaling out. Scaling[...]

  • A question of sport

    Mike Buckle

    How quickly do you need to find out what the legacy of the London Olympics is? Answer: very quickly. Sport England is a non-departmental public body answerable to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport and funded by central government and the National Lottery. Each year, it surveys the population to collect data on attitudes to sport, including what sports are played, who plays them, where and how often. In 2010, Sport England refreshed its questionnaire and ended up with[...]

  • The night shift

    Mike Buckle

    Performance may seem like an abstract concept until it involves the care of some of society’s most vulnerable people. ContrOCC is OCC’s finance management software. It is used by about 50 local councils, has more than 1,000,000 lines of code and took over 10 years to build. The software is used by local council social care finance teams to manage contracts and budgets, make payments to suppliers and collect contributions from service users. ContrOCC payment calculations are complex. As the[...]

  • OCC at UX in the City

    Matthew Standage

    Last week Oxford welcomed its first conference dedicated to UX – UX in the City. A collaboration between the organisers of UX Cambridge and UX Scotland, and the organisers of UX Oxford the conference promised to be two days of learning and networking. We sponsored the event and our Head of Design Mariana Morris (@marianamota) was part of the team from UX Oxford who helped to put together the event. Mariana, Ben and I went to promote user experience and[...]

  • Upcoming design conferences we are attending

    Matthew Standage

    As a design team we love attending industry events. We are fortunate that Oxford has a number of great events on our doorstep for user experience designers and front-end developers. Here is our roundup of events we are attending over the next few months. Smashing Conference Oxford Smashing Conference is back for its third year in Oxford Town Hall. The main conference, spread over two days, is set to be a thought provoking mixture of design and front-end development. Talk[...]