Staffer in the Spotlight

Welcome to our brand new, regular feature ‘staffer in the spotlight’ where we do exactly what it says on the tin, put our staff, under the spotlight.

So without further ado, it’s over to you Andrew...

Name: Andrew Norris
Title: SEO/AdWords Team Manager

Hello Andrew, congratulations on being Optimise magazine’s very first, ‘staffer in the spotlight’.

1. By day you are busy helping businesses to improve their presence on the World Wide Web. However, by night you are something of an internet sensation yourself ... or at least your cat Jeff is. Tell us about Jeff.

Jeff is an 8 year-old, portly Norwegian Forest Cat and with the exception of the cat that appears in the opening credits of Coronation Street, he’s quite possibly the most famous Mancunian feline in the world! At least, I think he’s a Norwegian Forest Cat. It seems the breed that is closest to how he looks and behaves. He certainly got quite excited when the last Eurovision Song Contest was on and tends to have a wistful look in his eyes whenever fjords are mentioned.

He’s the star of and his sleeping and washing habits are broadcast 24/7 through a webcam I have pointed at his favourite sleeping place.

2. Has fame gone to Jeff’s head since becoming an international superstar? Rumours are he demanded his own trailer and seafood supper flown in from Zilli’s restaurant. Or is this just ‘Chinese Whiskers?’

He’s always been a bit of a diva to be honest, even before Jeffcam came along! A good example of this is whenever I go on holiday, he’ll always go to stay with my mum who teaches speech and drama from home. He’ll frequently barge in, mid-lesson, and lie with his belly in the air, squirming around and demanding attention right in the middle of someone’s audition piece. He’s certainly not keen on other people stealing the limelight. I think the actor in him has been around from the start and he seems quite at home in a thespian environment!

3. When did you first set up Jeffcam and how did its success develop from there?

It came about by accident really, I was actually testing out a new webcam just to see if I could broadcast something that could be viewed live through a web page anywhere in the world. Jeff just seemed the ideal test subject. I ran it for a few months and it turned out to be the ideal way to check on his activities whilst I was out of the house. It was only really at that point that I thought I’d turn it into a website in its own right.

As with most new websites, it took a little while to gain popularity. With my knowledge from work though, it wasn’t too long before I’d generated links from other websites and got it to the top of Google for the phrase ‘cat webcam’. This brought about more and more visitors as Jeff’s activities were mentioned around the internet.

4. Tell us about your television debut with Jeff - and what you have planned for him next?

I was emailed out of the blue by a researcher from North West Tonight, our BBC regional news programme. She had seen the website and thought it would make a good feature for the ‘and finally’ section of the news. I was a little hesitant at first, initially because I wasn’t sure if it was genuinely the BBC that had contacted me and secondly because, if it was the BBC, what kind of angle would they take on the story?Would it be ‘look at this cute furry cat’ or ‘look at this nutter from Manchester who broadcasts his cat sleeping on the internet’. Thankfully, they chose the former and the focus was more on Jeff than his crazy owner!

I’ve a lot to thank the BBC for as Jeff’s audience has grown ten-fold since the feature on the show. The fan base has grown enormously, it stretches across the globe and I’m now averaging around 10,000 unique visits a month.

I’ve quite recently added a live stream (the website only used to have a static image updated every minute) and Jeff now has his own Facebook page. He’s even featured in his own cartoon strip.

The next plan though is to have more than one camera; ideally one in each room of the house. A cat flap cam is my current favourite, as well as a feeding cam by his food bowl. I’ve also had several requests for a garden cam so that people can see him frolicking outdoors. I’m also working on having a movable camera so that it’s possible for people to follow him around the room, although I guess I need to be quite careful with that one. The last thing viewers of Jeffcam need to see, is me in my underpants eating cornflakes!

5. On a more serious note, you are English language/copywriting wizard and FirstFound’s top man when it comes to website hosting issues. What excites you about the future of the internet?

I really like the way the internet has been changing over the past 2 to 3 years, especially how it’s getting so easy now to share the information you find with others. Things like Twitter, Facebook and are very exciting. This is great from a marketing point of view too, as it means there are more and more channels available to successfully promote yourself or your business.

As for the future, faster broadband speeds and newer, faster fibre-optic connections are something to really look forward to, meaning more information at much quicker speeds. Streaming video is getting better and better, and as speeds increase, it will mean being able to watch video in high definition live through a web browser.

The internet’s also developing hand in hand with other technologies. More and more devices are going to be connectable to the internet and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’ll be too long before your microwave oven will automatically update its own firmware by connecting wirelessly to the internet!

It is also very exciting to think that what we are seeing now is likely to be just the start of it. There are great things ahead, both for internet users and those using it for advertising.