This year I decided to return to Red Ant Solutions to complete a second, albeit shorter, period of work experience after having spent a week here last summer. As ever, I was greeted by a room of friendly faces throughout the three days I spent working here, some familiar and some new. My first task of the day was to read through a website’s technical audit, which is essentially a list of both issues with their site and how improvements could be made from an SEO standpoint. As you can imagine, there was plenty of jargon involved, but with the help of Google I was able to decipher a good portion of the document, learning some interesting new terms along the way. Thankfully, however, having already spent a week being introduced to concepts like SEO, I was able to get stuck in pretty much from the outset. After reading through the audit, I was given the task to change the titles and metadescriptions of a number of pages about Red Ant’s case studies; while recreating a single layout for the titles, it was my job to summarise a number of pages’ contents into a brief meta description that would appear on search engine results pages, thus making each page uniform and unique in its own way. In doing this I inevitably also learned plenty about the company’s work and the range of clients it has worked with. After finishing these, I observed some coding work being done for the new website, specifically to enhance the responsiveness of the new email on a variety of different platforms and email providers. As interesting as it was, my lack of knowledge regarding computer programming led me to be in a perpetual state of nodding, smiling and occasionally pretending I knew what was being typed into the program. Regardless, it was fascinating to see how a single document could be altered to be compatible with a number of distinctly different platforms and providers. Afterwards I was brought back more into my comfort zone with a brief lesson on SEO management and the systems used, such as Google Analytics, to measure a website’s progress regarding web traffic and Google rankings. Systems such as these are vital to determining areas of success and areas where SEO needs to be improved, so it was both important and interesting to learn more about them.
The next day, I was advised to dress smartly – we had a meeting to go to. In a slick conference room in Camberley, I sat and listened to John and Mark present their ideas on how the client could enhance their website and their overall online presence in an effective yet cost-efficient way. With a personal goal of one day working in a management position, it was both interesting and enjoyable for me to witness the processes of determining what the ideal marketing strategy for a company of this size would be. Upon returning to the Red Ant Solutions offices, I again shadowed one of the programming team, this time constructing an alert system for incorrect field entries on the registration page of a client’s website. Whilst again being disadvantaged by my own ignorance of computer language, it was intriguing to see the nitty-gritty development of a feature that we have come to expect from any website. Having mutually concluded that prolonged exposure to the intricacies of computer coding would likely fry my circuits, I shifted my attention towards the more creative side of marketing, observing the designing of a presentation for a company’s upcoming seminar. This proved to be a gratifying experience as it was good to recap on the different aspects of Photoshop that I had briefly covered during my previous time at Red Ant, as well as even getting to participate somewhat in the process. Furthermore, it was interesting to see the various stages of the design process, with concepts being regularly revised and altered in order to produce the best possible final outcome.
On my final day at Red Ant Solutions, I spent the morning observing the coding of an email alert system informing a client’s customers of new additions to their individual ‘saved searches’. Faced with a number of problems, from determining which factors should trigger an alert to even a rare appearance by the mythical blue screen of doom, it was engaging to watch members of the team work together to solve the issues at hand and come up with a finished product that suited both the client’s and the end users requirements. This element of teamwork was an underlying theme that was prevalent throughout the office; whether the task was designing an image or deciding on a website’s format, co-workers collaborated to optimise their results. In fact, if I could take away only one thing from my time at Red Ant Solutions, it would be the awareness that a second pair of eyes is often exactly what is needed to resolve an issue. Fortunately for me, I am not limited to only one life lesson per session of work experience, and as such can also take away with me the aspects of professionalism, thoroughness and general decency that are so apparent in Red Ant Solutions’ team. Once again, I was lucky enough to have an enjoyable session of work experience that proved to be both informative and engaging in a variety of areas of marketing, and I am doubtless that the knowledge and experience gained during my time here at Red Ant Solutions will be of great use to me at a number of stages in my career.
By Chris Farthing 06 June 2014