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When Things Go Quiet…

December 7, 2018

We try to be as responsive as we possibly can be to clients’ needs. We try to get back to emails and calls in a timely fashion, and if we can’t we will always try to post something to explain why we haven’t been able to respond. We also always try and respond to invoices in the same way. If someone has done something for us, and provided us with a service, and we are benefitting from it, we think they should be paid quickly for it. Luckily, most people we work with feel exactly the same way. However, sometimes, things can go very, very quiet on this front. And, do you know what?

silence

We know that cash flow/budget etc are huge considerations for people and totally understand that when we invoice, people may be juggling other invoices, and sometimes decisions have to be made about what gets paid first. We encourage people to communicate with us and we will always find a solution. It’s really hard to do this though, when the work has been done and delivered and the communication just stops. We hate sending reminders – it feels like we’re hassling and maybe exacerbating a delicate situation AND it takes up loads of our time, when we could otherwise be doing something much rewarding. Like designing.

We try not to send final artwork or put websites live before final balances have been paid, but we have to take each project on its merit and sometimes we feel that this is the right thing to do. So it makes it even more insulting when we have done this, and then the communication dries up, and no sniff of payment is forthcoming.

Like everyone, we have bills to pay. Like everyone who provides a service, we like to be paid for it – when that service is provided. We’d never consider going into a shop, or a restaurant, or a salon, benefitting from the service provided and then leaving, going quiet and paying at a later date. Going quiet at such a critical time, really isn’t the decent thing to do…

 

 

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Distance Is No Object to Good Design

November 16, 2018

We’ve always loved that many of our design clients come from a tight knit, independent business community in Manchester. We could easily meet up. We often saw many of them socially. However, mainly through word of mouth recommendations, we started to work with clients who weren’t so geographically close. At first, we wondered if this would work, given that the main premise of our We Are Life design business was that we were local to our clients. We had concerns that if we couldn’t physically meet with people, the design process might be more complicated. We were also worried that we’d lose our credibility, if everything we did was online, and if we didn’t meet people face to face.

But then we had the lightbulb moment. Everything we did was online! Our whole business was online. And, if we couldn’t capitalise on this, and therefore be more productive, then we were wasting an opportunity. So, when a design enquiry came in from a wedding venue in Devon, we embraced it.

We’ve never actually met Paula, the owner of The Barn at South Milton. Everything was done by phone or email, but we very quickly realised that we were coming from the same position. Paula wanted to showcase her beautiful wedding venue, and having researched our portfolio, realised that we would probably have a good understanding of her vision. We also soon realised that communicating by email really eliminated any misunderstandings and we had a record of what had been discussed/agreed, meaning that any queries could be resolved very quickly.

Paula’s brief was that the design should be whimsical, but not overly twee, and with a real nod the beautiful countryside location of the venue. And of course, mobile friendly. We had the advantage of some stunning photography – which always makes our design job so much easier – and these were treated to give them a slightly nostalgic feel. Coupled with the chosen fonts and colourways, a design soon started to emerge.

Screenshot_2018-11-05 Wedding reception venue in South Devon - The Barn at South Milton

Looking back, we think The Barn At South Milton was the first project we completed without actually meeting our client. But, it gave us the confidence to realise that this way of working was achievable. Especially as Paula was delighted with the results :

I tracked Pete and Helen down whilst searching the internet for inspiration for my new website. I was searching for web designers that not only knew how to get as many couples to my website as possible, but also to have the creative flair to put across the individuality of our unique business. I haven’t looked back. I now constantly get amazing comments from my couples about how they love the website, as well as letting me know how easy it is to use. As if this isn’t enough, Pete and Helen are amazing to work with…they’re always quick to respond, and totally dedicated to making sure my website design is perfect in every way. I wouldn’t have the slightest hesitation in recommending them to anyone who is in the market for a new or improved website…since changing our website we’re now constantly fully booked for 2 years in advance! What more can I say!

We continue to work with Paula, having developed a brilliant relationship – something which is so important to us.

This change to our way of working has now paid dividends. As many people know, we no longer live in West Didsbury. We’ve swapped the grey clouds of Manchester for the blue skies (mostly!) of northern Istria, very close to the Italian border. We could not have made such a shift if we did not design websites, or if our particular way of approaching design projects still meant many face to face meetings. But, after working with clients such as The Barn At South Milton, we realised we could make things work from a distance. We’re realistic enough to know that this approach will not work for everyone and that some people will much prefer their designers to be local. That’s absolutely fine, as there are more than enough clients to go round.

Although we’re now a little bit further away, you will still be able to communicate with us regularly. We don’t work 9-5. We work from home, so within reason, we can be available by email or phone, quite easily. We also send regular emails to our client group, keeping you informed of things we think you will need to know about. So, you see, distance really is no object to good design. And, if you really do insist on meeting up, why not come out and do it in the sun?

Drop us line if you’d like to know more…

 

 

We’re Ready When You Are…

November 15, 2018

We first met Aquarius Plumbing quite a few years ago, when they came to us, having been recommended by another client. We had a couple of meetings where we got to know the guys, and worked out their ambitions for the website. We discussed our approach and emphasised that we could work, as best as we could, to their timetable. We also discussed pricing, and how we can be as flexible as we can be, with clients who are running fairly small, independent businesses. A price was quoted and agreed and we expected to begin the design work, fairly soon after.

However, not everything works out as expected, and work did not begin soon after. In fact, all went quite quiet. We could have pushed the situation, emailing and phoning, especially as it had all seemed that all was going ahead. But, that’s not our style. Perhaps we should be a little bit more direct, but we guess that people have their reasons for going quiet, and we don’t feel it’s our business to perhaps exacerbate a situation. If we don’t know why things have stalled, we assume that people need a little bit of space. It’s what we would want, and we think it’s only right and fair that we treat people as we would want to be treated.

It was a good couple of years later, when the following email pinged into my inbox :

Do you remember us? I hear from my friends at Thyme Out Deli that you did their site – very nice! Could we resurrect discussions to redo our plumbing site?

And so, it was over two years from our initial meeting, that we started to work on the Aquarius Plumbing website. Two years in which they had grown and developed the business, building a bank of experience and projects and testimonials from satisfied clients. Meaning that we had so much more information from which to design a website.

They wanted a website which was easy to navigate, pleasing on the eye, with all of the information that you might need if you needed a plumber. And, quickly! As many people need a plumber in times of emergency, we ensured that contact details and services were clear and prominent and that the site was uncluttered. FAQs were kept simple, but prominent. We also wanted to deliver a website which was stylish and good to look at. In the way that a plumber will take pride in his/her work, we too take pride in ours and we always want to produce a good-looking website. After all, we do say on our own site, that we have a knack for designing gorgeous websites…

Here’s what we came up with for Aquarius Plumbing.

Screenshot_2018-11-15 Aquarius Plumbing - local, friendly plumber in the Manchester area with no call out fee

Screenshot_2018-11-15 Aquarius Plumbing - local, friendly plumber in the Manchester area with no call out fee(1)

Screenshot_2018-11-15 Aquarius Plumbing - local, friendly plumber in the Manchester area with no call out fee(3)

It doesn’t matter how long it is from you contacting us, to us beginning your design project. If it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be. Of course, some enquiries do dry up – and this is absolutely fine too, because this means it was never meant to be. Meaning we can focus on clients like Aquarius Plumbing. We’d prefer you took your time, and worked out exactly what you want, as well as deciding if we are what you want. And when you’ve made that decision, just drop us an email, like Aquarius did. We bet we’ll remember you!

As a small independent business, we wanted designers who understood us & our ambitions for our website. We are delighted that We Are Life ticked our boxes!

 

 

 

Thyme For A Change…

November 14, 2018

Way back, when Thyme Out Delicatessen had chickens in the garden, we designed the orginal website. At the time, we were all more than happy with it. It incorporated the chickens in the design. It incorporated nods to the garden in the design. It had a swanky online ordering form for the new catering arm of the business. It was editable, allowing the guys to make updates, such as “Soup of the Day”. But , over time, it started to become a bit creaky and not quite as fit for purpose.

Thyme Out Delicatessen website

Thyme Out Deli Online Catering Form

It wasn’t mobile friendly. The chickens had gone to the big coop in the sky, and so the references were no longer relevant. Ben and the team were becoming so busy, as the deli expanded, that the Soup of the Day became the Soup of the Month. The physical deli also underwent a revamp, and became more contemporary with industrial fittings and white decor, meaning that the website wasn’t reflective of the actual business any longer. The website was a little bit too twee and country-cottagey, and perhaps a bit too busy, and so it was decided that the everything brand-wise and online, had to have a revamp too.

First up was the logo – and we took inspiration from the more stripped back, industrial style new interior…

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…which, when back lit as signage, looked – and still does look – pretty cool on the exterior of the building.

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The deli website too, was stripped back, with a less fussy design and with large images, which really did the talking about the Thyme Out Experience.

Screenshot_2018-11-14 Thyme Out Food Co, Manchester catering specialists for any event, Didsbury, Manchester.jpg

 

As the previous website had been labour intensive in terms of updating, we kept this one simple. Menus can be much more easily edited and the gallery is simply the Thyme Out Instagram feed, embedded. A very effective way of quickly updating images. There is also a dedicated page for the brand new catering side of the the business, taking visitors immediately to this site, which we built and designed.

Screenshot_2018-11-14 Thyme Out Food Co, Manchester catering specialists for any event, Didsbury, Manchester.png

The new website, as with all websites we now design, is mobile friendly and cross tested across all devices and browsers, meaning the user experience is much, much better.

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We decided to go a little bit different on the business cards, and rather than the usual front/back design, opted for a gate fold design, on thick, slightly rough, card. Again, reflecting the new industrial interior style.

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The guys at Thyme Out Delicatessen, in West Didsbury, have been clients of ours since we started out and we are really delighted to have been a part of their journey and growth, especially taking on the design challenge of a whole new outside catering website. But that’s a whole other blog…

So, over to Ben, owner of both companies, about his experiences of working with us.

We have worked with Pete and Helen at We Are Life Design for a number of years now. They designed our original website for the deli and when we decided it was time to refresh the website, we had no hesitation in going straight back to them. Our deli has developed and evolved over the years and we wanted a more cool, contemporary website and this is exactly what was delivered. We also commissioned We Are Life to design and build a separate website for our catering company – this was a lot more involved, but Pete and Helen ensured that communication was clear and concise and regular, so we always felt involved and in the loop and part of the process. We now have two websites which complement each other and give our company overall a feeling of cohesion. Although Pete & Helen are no longer just around the corner, communication is still very easy and as regular as we need it to be. They are very proactive and swift in responding to any requests we have for changes/updates and also keep us posted with relevant news and information via regular emails which they send to all clients. We feel in safe hands with We Are Life and would not hesitate in recommending them for your design needs.

If you’re contemplating a new website, or a re-design, and you like what you see and read, why not get in touch? It’s what Thyme Out did once upon a time, and look at where we are now.

 

 

A New Look

November 7, 2018

However cutting edge, or beautifully designed, your website is, like everything else, it will, over time, show signs of age. Technology develops rapidly. Styles evolve. What was current three or four years ago, may be looking a little dated now. In exactly the same way that we change our looks and style, you should really think about your website in the same way. Sometimes, a whole new look is required. Sometimes, all that’s needed is a little bit of TLC. But we can guarantee that if you show your website a little bit of love, you will reap the benefits.

We’re at that stage in our business where websites we created a few years ago for clients, really need a bit of attention. Everything we design now is mobile friendly, but that wasn’t the case five or six years ago, and so a lot of the redesign we do, involves ensuring that design is now consistent across all browsers and devices. Sometimes this will involve a change of look, to ensure that consistency – no bad thing, as it means we can refresh your website.

Often, it’s just a case of updating copy on the website. There’s nothing worse than a site which is woefully out of date, referencing staff who moved on many moons ago, or highlighting services you no longer offer. Or, worse still, not mentioning new services, or changes you’ve implemented which mean you can offer clients and customers more than before, or great new additions to your team. Sometimes, clients reach the decision that it is time for a whole new look – and we have to approach this very systematically. Usually, the original website will be left in place while we design in the background. This means that you are still retaining your online presence – albeit with a website that probably by now, you can’t wait to see the back of! If a build, or design, is going to be quite complicated and we know will take some time, this our preferred option. Another option, is to have a new holding page in place, signalling the imminent changes, but with a link to the current site, so you have the best of both worlds.

All of this is done in collaboration with you. YOU tell US what you ideally want, and what your budget might be. We then work with you, to achieve your new look. In order for this to happen smoothly, we will need a few things from you :

  • Updated copy – you know your business, so we need the initial copy ideas to come from you. Not everyone feels comfortable writing about themselves, so we’re happy to work from bullet points and craft this text on your behalf.
  • New visuals. If your business relies on good imagery to sell your services, we’d always recommend a photoshoot. Obviously a professional photographer will make the world of difference, but we know that not all clients will have the budget for a shoot. So sometimes you have to be a little bit creative – perhaps you know someone who is studying photography who could do a shoot to be included in their portfolio? Perhaps you’re a dab hand with an iphone? Whichever way you decide to do it, be aware that visuals are key – and more so now, as many designs do rely on large format images, for impact.
  • Timely feedback. We know that if we send designs over to you, you are not going to feed back immediately. In fact, we’d rather you didn’t. We want you to revisit designs. Show other people. Take your time – but, obviously not too much time. If we’re waiting and waiting for feedback, chances are we will have involved ourselves in another project, so please try to come back to us in a reasonable time frame. That way, if any changes are to be made, we can do them as quickly as possible – meaning that your new website will be up and running more quickly.

So, without further ado, please take a last look at a number of websites we’ve designed, which are going to have the We Are Life TLC treatment. Some will change completely, some will have quite subtle changes, but all will be bang up to date.

And beautiful..

Screenshot_2018-09-07 boutique hair salon, West East Didsbury MacleodBradley - south Manchester's most contemporary hair sa[...](1)

Screenshot_2018-09-07 Evie's Beauty Spa, West Didsbury, Manchester

Screenshot_2018-10-18 Monkey Wrench Plumbing Services

Screenshot_2018-09-14 Vintage, China Hire Afternoon tea Catering Cheshire Manchester North West Finishing Touches – Pebble [...]

Screenshot_2018-10-01 Maths and Physics tuition in Manchester - Didsbury, Chorlton, Withington, Burnage, Northenden(1)

Screenshot_2018-10-12 Wedding Venues Cheshire, Cheshire Wedding Venue Styal Lodge

If you think it’s time for a New Look, why not get in touch? We’ll have you looking better in no time…

 

A Little Bit of Context…

November 6, 2018

If you don’t know anything at all about us, it might be useful for you, in making the important decision of selecting a designer, to know about our situation.

Although we loved (and still do), West Didsbury, we were becoming increasingly fed up with the weather (too much rain, too little sun), the pace of life (too frantic, too little down time) and never seeing a sunrise or a proper sunset. So, we made the decision to move and try and find all of this – and guess what?

We did!

We now design from a stone farmhouse we are renovating in northern Istria, very near to the Italian border. We still get rain (quite a lot of it actually, in the winter) but we also get to see sunrises and sunsets, the sun shines and life is nowhere near as fast paced.

With good internet connection we’re able to continue our design business, communicating with clients as normal via email or calls. Since we’ve been out here, we’ve taken on new clients from the UK, and continue to work with our wonderful group of We Are Life friends. Choosing a website designer is a BIG decision, and we hope we can help you make the right one. We think there are a few ways you can find out a little bit more about us, before you make your decision:

  • Call  – 0161 445 7759 – or email us (helen@wearelife.co.uk). We’re very happy to answer any questions you might have, as you do your initial research.
  • Read our blog.
  • Check out what other clients say about their experiences with us, on our website.
  • Perhaps make contact with one or two of our clients – testimonials are all well and good, but sometimes you can glean a bit more by actually talking to someone about their experiences with us.

 

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We have an amazing group of clients. We don’t particularly want a bigger client base, as we are more than happy with the work we have currently. However, we are always keen to work with people who present us with really interesting design opportunities, and we especially like working with independent businesses and people who are just starting out.

We know that for some people, the fact that we are no longer in the UK full time, will rule us out of the equation, and that’s fine. For others, however, this won’t be a problem, because they will have done their homework, done research on us and have been reassured that it doesn’t really matter where we are, because will always give our best.

And, as they say, distance really is no object…

The following websites, and design projects, have all been completed post move from England:

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Screenshot_2018-07-18 For Baby and Me and Pramactive - award-winning baby massage and parent and baby fitness classes in St[...]

Screenshot_2018-08-20 Sofra Mediterranean Cuisine, West Didsbury, Manchester

Screenshot_2018-09-11 Tanning and beauty salon, Ladybarn, Manchester, Glow 'n' Beauty

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If you are interested in speaking to us, you can make an initial contact either below, or via the Design Enquiry form on our website. We look forward to hearing from you.

Back To Work…

September 11, 2018

So, the glorious summer we’ve enjoyed is drawing to a close and the new season is emerging. It’s still very warm out here, although evenings are becoming a more chilly – but there’s a definite feel of “Back to School” in the air. Truth be told, we didn’t really stop working over the summer, but with visiting family and friends, we maybe didn’t work at the usual rate. However, looking back, we think we did pretty well, doing what we did, whilst managing a house renovation, having regular guests and trying to get away from time to time, to recharge our batteries. So, with no further ado, here’s a selection of what we achieved…

Screenshot_2018-08-20 Sofra Mediterranean Cuisine, West Didsbury, Manchester

 

We were contacted, earlier in the summer, by a Sofra, new Lebanese restaurant on Burton Road, West Didsbury. It’s obviously a bit more difficult to meet with clients now that we are abroad, but we ensure that we work hard to keep in regular contact with clients via email – and as a result we were able to produce this lovely new website. Without having ever met our new clients.

Claire, another new client, approached us to update and integrate two websites she had – Pram Active and 4 Baby and Me. Taking our advice, she arranged a photo-shoot of classes in action, which really enhanced what we could do design-wise. Working with Claire, we were able to seamlessly integrate the two fitness businesses into one website, with a whole new look.

Screenshot_2018-07-18 For Baby and Me and Pramactive - award-winning baby massage and parent and baby fitness classes in St[...]

We love working with small, independent businesses, especially start-ups, and The Conker Crew, based in Chorlton, ticked all of our boxes. Chantel, the owner, came to us with nothing design-wise, so we had a beautiful blank canvas to play with – as well as a super client who was incredibly easy-going and always willing to take on board advice and suggestions. As a new business, we’ve started small with The Conker Crew – the website will hopefully emerge as the business grows, but so far we’ve created a brand and designed promotional flyers, posters and banners and business cards. Out of small acorns, as they say…

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Another client, Jamie, expanded his business and wanted a new website (and branding) for his new kettlebell classes, Better Stronger Faster. The new logo was carried through to merchandise including gym wear.

Screenshot_2018-09-11 Kettlebell classes, Manchester Better Stronger Faster.jpg

Additional design work has also been done with Jamie and his other website, Northern Krav Maga – we updated the website and designed a number of promotional flyers for new classes.

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Something that is really, really important to us is building, maintaining and developing long term relationships with clients. It would be oh-so-easy to simply design a website and then move onto the next one and the next one. But, we don’t like to work like that. Like in “real life”, we like to cultivate friendships and meaningful relationships, so nothing makes us happier than when a client comes back, having decided that their website needs an update or a revamp. We’re usually always pleased with a finished project, as it will have come about as a result of a collaborative approach between us and client, but everything has a shelf life, and nothing more so than a website, which can show signs of age relatively quickly, as things web-wise develop quickly. So, as well as launching a number of new projects over the summer, we’re now planning for some super-duper revamps.

Although we’re definitely not touting for more work – we have more than enough to keep us quite happy – if you like what you see/read and would like to find out more about us and how we might be able to help you, do get in touch. And don’t forget, if you’re a small, independent business, you’ve probably already ticked our design boxes!

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