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Payment Flexibility

February 4, 2022

No two websites are ever the same. (Certainly if designed by us, as all of our sites are bespoke, not off-the-peg templates). And no two clients are ever the same. And this really focuses our thinking in terms of how we work with them. Often things with clients are very straightforward, especially in terms of payments – our standard terms are 50% deposit and the balance payable prior to launch. Any subsequent work on the website is then usually costed out by the hour/day, depending on what needs to be done. However, this does not work in every instance.

Luckily, because we are a small team with a small client base (and deliberately so), we can be extremely flexible, and we always find a solution which works all round. Read on if you like the sound of working with a small team who will always be flexible, because they totally get that budgets and cash flow are right up there as main client priorities.

So, what do we offer?

If the usual 50% deposit/balance just does not work for you, don’t worry. We have this covered. We know there’s nothing worse than really wanting a website, and knowing that it will work for you and your business, but just not being able to afford quite a big investment in just two chunks. So, how about this?

We provide you with a quote, based on the information you have provided, and when accepted, we work out with you, tranched payments. These are generally monthly payments, and often the website has been designed and launched before the plan ends – meaning you are hopefully benefiting from payments coming in. We have never had a problem with doing things this way and we are finding that more and more clients like this approach.

Many of our clients have websites which require either quite regular, or ongoing, updates, which, if we were to cost out these updates by the hour or day, it could become very costly. There are also periods when no updates are required at all, and during these times we are obviously working on other projects. However, experience has taught us that when such clients need updates, they kind of need them NOW, often to tie in with a product launch, a new menu or an event. “Now” is always difficult when you are in the middle of another project so we had to find a way around this, and through testing the waters with a small number of clients, we came up with a solution. An ongoing monthly retainer.

Working with our client, we agree a figure and a monthly standing order is set up. This guarantees that if & when updates are needed, they are done as soon as is practically possible, as the payments are being made regularly. It helps that we know our clients so well, because we know which ones will benefit from this because of the nature of their website and we can generally gauge when updates will be needed, meaning that even if we have to jump temporarily off another project, we can plan for this.

Making the decision to have a website designed is a HUGE one. You will probably either have saved up or will have allocated hard-earned cash to enable this to happen. The last thing you need is to choose a designer who is only interested in securing the job and then doesn’t really care about YOU or your business or your future plans. That’s why we could be the people for you. We don’t want flash-in-the-pan clients who we part company with after the website has been designed. We want to be in it for the long haul with you, and as such, this enables to be extremely flexible. Because with clients like the ones we like, a lot of TRUST has been built up, and so we know that our flexibility won’t backfire.

Look forward to hearing from you if you like what we’ve said…

Taking Our Own Advice

February 3, 2022

I’ve always thought if we were builders or plasterers or electricians or plumbers, the renovation of our home would have been a whole lot easier. After all, with those skills, you’d do it yourself, wouldn’t you? But then we know people who have these skills, who generally get other people to do their building/renovation work – simply because they are too busy working for clients, and doing it yourself means you are not earning.

The same kind of applies to website design. It’s always bewildered me why we can’t just have a new website when I want one. Surely it’s easy? It’s what we do! But, being more and more closely involved in our design business has made me realise that we are way down the list of priorities, as clients always come first and if we have sufficient work, why change our website?

But, with a new year and spring just around the corner, the time has come to take our own advice, grasp the nettle and design a whole fresh new look and feel…

A number of our clients have recently opted to have website refreshes or redesigns and seeing the results, has made me realise that we need to do the same. We need to make the time to completely overhaul our own online presence as it was becoming dated, and in some places, out of date. We like to showcase the work we do for clients, but when those clients have moved on or are no longer actually in business, we need to focus on tidying up our portfolio. We need to make the time to add new designs, and illustrate the kind of work we now do, as we have also moved on. Testimonials are great and like everyone, we love reading positive affirmations – BUT when we still have quotes online from long-gone clients, often with websites now designed elsewhere (because, every now and again, this happens…), we need to have a clear out. And that clear out is commencing!

We are finally taking our own advice and doing what we advise our clients to do. Reflect on your current online presence. As pretty as it might still look, is it still doing what you want it to do? Is it still relevant? Does it demonstrate exactly where your business is now, rather than when it was initially designed? Does it tell your customers and clients exactly what you do now and what you can offer? We’ve reflected and realised that our current website, as pretty as it is, definitely does not do these things. As well as being a bit stagnant – we always tell ourselves we are too busy to actually update our own website – *BIG MISTAKE* – it’s also out of date in places. Our design skills and practices have moved on massively since we created the current version of our website, and it now looks and feels a bit clunky.

But, the most awful part of the website, is this bit – the blog. Our blog was never intended to be a stand-alone WordPress one, tagged onto the website. It was done as a quick-fix and the intention was always to deal with it. It never happened. Every time I blog, I shudder. Maybe no-one really reads the blogs and if they do, maybe they don’t even notice that it’s still WP branded and that we’re pretty constrained in the way it looks. We’d NEVER, EVER do a client blog like this, so it does beg the question, if we are supposed to be designers, why on earth is ours like this?

And so finally, we are taking our own advice and giving ourselves an overhaul. I obviously want it done NOW. Or, by tomorrow at the latest, but I know that’s not going to happen as our clients still take priority. But, I am going to ensure that we carve out time to get this website sorted. As we constantly remind clients, your website is like your shop window. And our shop window is going to be a show-stopper. Just like these websites we’ve recently launched for clients…

www.elegantium.co.uk
www.styallodge.co.uk
www.cocoa-cabana.co.uk
https://phosphorescience.com/

Are you ready to do what we’re doing and take our advice?

If you are, and you feel that your online presence needs to be injected with a bit of oomph – or if indeed, you need to get online – then why not get in touch? You can still fill in our design enquiry form and see examples of our work here, whilst we work in the background. Or, alternatively, send us a message via the form over to the right, and we’ll reply asap.

Hello. A Little Bit About Us…

April 30, 2021

WHAT MIGHT PUT US OFF TO SOME PEOPLE :

1. We work from home

2. Home is no longer in Didsbury, but in Istria

3. We don’t drive big, flashy, executive cars

4. There’s only two of us – me (Helen) and him (Pete)

5. We don’t bombard clients with salesy bullshit. We deliberately keep our client base very small

WHY THIS MIGHT ATTRACT US TO SOME PEOPLE :

1. Working from home means we don’t have additional overheads which could be passed onto clients. Meaning that we can price projects fairly, knowing that we don’t have to cover a huge rental payment each month for state of the art offices, for example. Which would be too corporate for us anyway.

2. We made the decision four years ago (although it had been in the offing for far longer) to move to Istria. It’s mostly sunny here, the pace of life is slower, under normal circumstances we can be in our beloved Italy in under 40 minutes and the cost of living is a bonus! If 2020-21 is showing us anything, it’s that working remotely is not at all strange now. And, having been doing it for years – and having all of our clients still UK based (apart from one who lives in Switzerland, but like us is from the NW of England), we think we’re a bit ahead of the curve here.

3. Our cars are our personal cars. Not associated in any way with the business, so again, no passing on of costs to cover finance repayments etc

4. So, just the two of us. We’ve found, after years of working with other people, this is what works best for us. I do all of the client contact work and keep people in the loop. Pete does all of the design – and obviously speaks to clients in this regard. But it also means that we both always know what is going on with every project and every client. No hiding behind account managers, secretaries etc. It’s always *us* you will be in contact with. No-one else.

5. We don’t up-sell or try and convince clients to part with money for things which aren’t necessary. We are very honest and open. We will advise if we think something we can do will benefit you, but we would never push anything on to you. Ultimately, we don’t want to create additional work for ourselves, if you don’t really want it. I invite clients to join our We Are Life Design mailing list and I only email if there is something we think you need to know about or could benefit from.

6. We don’t pitch for work. We don’t reply to posts on FB from people we don’t know who want a website designed. We generally only take on new clients if they come to us from an existing client, OR if the project is something which ticks all of our very particular boxes. Meaning we are not overstretched and can always respond whenever we are needed by clients.

Intrigued? Visit our website here.

What clients say : https://web.facebook.com/wearelifedesign/reviews/…

Lockdown Working : Our Norm

January 13, 2021

If you are client of ours, you will know we no longer live in the UK. If you know nothing about us, you won’t know that we live abroad, but we are able to continue to run our design business as if we were still in Manchester. This gives us a unique insight into how to continue our business during lockdown and how to continue to provide the high level of both service and design, that our clients have come to know. And expect.
Since we moved abroad, ALL of our communications with clients have been done via regular phone calls, online meetings and emails. We’ve been doing, for a long time now, what many businesses are now having to get their heads around.

This does not mean we are declaring ourselves to be better than other designers out there. It just means that how we are all forced to work now, is the norm for us, and so we’ve had longer to hone the way we work.
We’ve retained the vast majority of our UK based clients and since moving, have taken on new clients, all of whom apart from one, are UK based. This client, like us, has relocated to Europe, but came to us from a current client recommendation. Therefore, a number of our clients, we’ve never actually met. However, that has made absolutely no difference, as we’ve been able to forge really excellent relationships, as well as friendships, through the design process. We continue to work with our (deliberately) small group of clients, many of whom came to us quite a long time ago, and during lockdown we have :

  • supported new business ventures – lots of talking and discussion and idea sharing and advice, even before any work was agreed
  • designed new websites & print materials for these ventures
  • used social media to help spread the word
  • updated and added to websites, to reflect current working practices
  • offered very workable solutions to clients re payment options – we are very open to discussing things with clients as although we are all essentially in lockdown, all clients have different needs
  • welcomed new clients and delivered high quality, but affordable (see point above) designs

We try to always be open and honest about how we do things and why take the approaches we take. Our blog provides a whole lot more insight into us. (Please forgive that this is still on a WordPress platform – as well as client work, we are also working on the redesign of our website).

If you are looking for designers and think we might be just who you could be looking for, take a look at our work and drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you.

Helen & Pete

(Yes, there’s only two of us – so, if it’s a big, flashy agency you want with a fleet of super-duper cars parked outside swanky offices, we’re not for you. We do have quite a nice car, but it’s parked outside our home – and more often than not, filled with rubble, as we’re embarking on our next renovation project. In between designing websites).

A Little Politeness Goes A Long Way…

December 17, 2020

When we receive a design enquiry, we take it very seriously. If someone has taken the time to approach us, we assume that they have visited our website and like what they see. Like it enough to actually make contact with us.

The first thing we do, when we receive an enquiry, is acknowledge it. We say thank you and give a time frame for when we will reply in more detail. We think this is very important, so that the potential client knows that we are dealing with their enquiry and that we are thinking about, and considering, what they require.

We then begin the process of considering the enquiry. What we can deliver for the budget. Or, if no budget is indicated, trying to elicit an approximation. We explain about the importance of budget, at the outset, here. We think about questions we need to ask, to obtain more information, to provide a quote. We explain how we work. We provide suggestions and options. We don’t do template, off-the-peg designs, so we tailor our response to each individual client, and this takes time. Someone approaching us, having just found us and who we don’t know, is as important to us a long-standing client, and so we treat them with respect and hopefully, in these initial contacts, convey the kind of people we are.

Generally, because people seem to do their homework about us, these initial enquiries blossom into full blown design projects and we’re delighted that over the last year or so, some really lovely clients have joined our design family…

The Cheese Hamlet, Didsbury : www.thecheesehamlet.co.uk
Lindsay Guest, Wellness Coach, Switzerland : http://www.lindsayguestwellness.com
The Atman Practice, Yorkshire : https://theatmanpractice.com/
Dough-Re-Me, West Didsbury : https://www.dough-re-me.co.uk/

Design work with these clients all started because from the outset, a sense of mutual respect was established. Both parties responded in a timely fashion, acknowledged emails/phone calls and understood that the creation of a great relationship is key. However, it doesn’t always work out like this. And this is a little bit of a bugbear of mine. Not because we may not secure the project. But because sometimes, people are just downright rude. And it always follows a pattern…

  • We receive a design enquiry, often with quite a lot of key information missing, but usually with a deadline for delivery of the project
  • We acknowledge the design enquiry
  • We follow up with a detailed email, either providing a quote if we have sufficient information, or requesting more info so that we can the provide the quote – and this is done in a very timely way as we are conscious of the deadline
  • Days will pass and nothing. So, just to check that the email has actually been received – as sometimes emails will fall into junk folders – we follow up. At this point, we make it VERY, VERY clear that if someone has received the information but has decided not to proceed, this is not a problem at all. We just need to know so that we can close down the enquiry and move on.
  • And still nothing…

We give everyone the opportunity to just say “Thanks, but no thanks…” as we think this is the right thing to do. We do it, as we don’t feel that it’s right to just keep people hanging on. But we guess not everyone operates in the same way.

So, if you want to work with someone who will not only deliver your design requirements, but will be polite and respectful and communicate with you effectively, we could probably work together.

However, if you don’t value these things, we’d politely suggest you might be better looking elsewhere for your design…

Lockdown Packaging Design

November 6, 2020

Although website design makes up the bulk of our work, we can turn our hands to quite a lot more. Recently, our clients at Azzurro Restaurant, in West Didsbury, decided to diversify a little and provide a little something else for their customers.

Their own hand roasted coffee. And in keeping with the restaurant branding, we wanted to ensure that when this coffee was bought, it was absolutely on brand. The coffee is now for sale in the restaurant, and our clients are delighted – as are their customers, as it does appear to be flying off the shelves!

We also designed promotional posters, informing customers of the new products. These were launched over the first lockdown, and as the restaurant was (and still is) operating as a takeaway, they needed a visible reminder of the Coffee Alchemy products, to be prominently displayed in the window…

As our clients have to had to respond to lockdowns and new regulations very quickly, so have we, as their designers. Gone are the days of us being able to work on just one, maybe two, projects at the same time. We have to reconsider our ways of working, because, in the nicest possible – and most understandable – way, nearly all of our clients need design work NOW.

We have to juggle balls and spin plates. We have to understand design briefs VERY quickly now, and be able to turn around jobs quickly. However, we are liking this new way of working – our minds are very focused and we think our design is becoming sharper as a result. But, that’s just what we think. It’s what our clients think that is important. And, importantly, what potentially new design clients think. Could you be one of those?

MacleodBradley, West Didsbury

October 28, 2020

We’ve worked with MacleodBradley for over a decade now and have seen the designs change over the years. When we started working with the West Didsbury salon, their website was a little dated and not too easy on the eye. As an award-winning, and very renowned salon, we felt that their online presence should reflect this and perhaps be more subtle. It was agreed that there should be a move away from the bright, vibrant colours and that the branding needed to be updated too.

The first We Are Life Design website, took its inspiration from the salon itself, using colours which complemented the interior – much fresher and softer than previously used.

We also encouraged our clients to use a professional photographer to shoot the salon and the products and to also have team shots, to bring personality and life to the new website.

With a wealth of new imagery and the idea to strip the design back, we worked on the branding, producing something which as now stood the test of time, as it is still used.

Reward cards, appointment cards, price lists, A-boards etc were also designed, as well as the salon signage, to bring a whole new look to the business.

The website definitely had more of a feeling of space. It was less cluttered and the colours were a whole lot more soothing.

However, being a business which doesn’t stand still, MacleodBradley keeps up to date, not only with trends in the industry, but also in terms of design. Knowing that things move on quickly, Helen, the owner, is always keen to keep the online presence fresh and contemporary – and although the branding has remained, we’ve since updated the look of the website.

This time, we’ve gone for a one page design, which scrolls down. Again, things have been stripped back so that the site is a whole lot more visual. We considered what clients will actually want when they come to the website – the prices – and these are now much more prominent, and more simplified. Instagram has been integrated as a gallery – a much more cost effective of showcasing styles and trends and products and salon events, than constantly re-shooting and us having to regularly update the gallery.

As MacleodBradley has evolved, we think the design has also evolved. Looking back, we’ve come a long way since the orange…

Having worked with Helen and Pete for over ten years, both whilst they were on my doorstep as well as being abroad, I could not be happier with any of the design results they have delivered. My website has evolved over the years, and I hardly ever have to say what I want or need, as Pete and Helen just ‘get it’. They always communicate with me as the client, effectively and efficiently and regularly, keeping me informed regards progress. You would never know where they are really, location-wise, as the service they offer is exactly the same as it was when they were only round the corner! Who says long distance relationships don’t work? I cannot fault them one bit and would highly recommend them for any website/design work.

Serendipity Brides, Northampton

October 27, 2020

In 2015, we received the following email via our website design form :

We are looking for a company to help redesign our website with the same vision as us. We have been unable to find anybody local to us in Northamptonshire. Would love to talk to you further to see if this is something you can do.

We definitely felt that we could enhance and improve the online presence of Serendipity Brides and soon after, we had a new We Are Life client. We’ve never actually met Lisa, the owner. When we started the re-design, we were still in Manchester so communications were done via calls and emails. We’ve introduced Zoom now – living in Istria and a global pandemic has made us rethink about how we communicate with our clients. However, we had already established a very successful working relationship with Lisa, so distance and lack of actual physical face-to-face contact hasn’t made any difference, at all.

So, what did we do to improve the website (above)?

  • Bespoke design and build
  • Blog / contact form / mailing list / social media integration
  • Full Content Management System for editing
  • Responsive, smart-phone/tablet friendly design

Over the past five years, we have continued to improve the design and functionality of the website. We very, very rarely deliver a site, and that is the end of things. One thing we really focus on, and work hard at developing and maintaining, is our relationship with clients. We don’t want to work with people who have no interest in this side of things – we would much rather collaborate with people who share our ethos. And so, the Serendipity Brides website has also grown and developed. We are in regular contact with Lisa, and she is very pro-active in thinking about how her site can continually improve. She gives us regular feedback, which makes our job so much easier. If know what you are thinking, as a client – even if we’ve done something which you are not too keen on – we’d much rather know, because we can then work on putting it right, and delivering what you want.

We think that the Serendipity website looks pretty smart these days – and all down to the collaborative approach, between us and our client, which works brilliantly for us.

Being a bridal boutique, there are often events such as Trunk Shows, Sample Sales and designer days/evenings. We suggested that rather than continually creating and then deleting new pages for these events – which would be quite costly for something which either might not provide sufficient return, or was only online for a short period of time – we use subtle pop-ups to advertise the occasions. We’re not fans of fussy, flashy, blingy pop-ups as they are super annoying – but they do have their merit, if used in a less-is-more way. Hopefully, like the one which is currently on the homepage…

Lisa, the owner of this particular bridal boutique, has also chosen to take advantage of a service we offer to clients who require regular website updates – a monthly retainer. The latest version of the website, which was given a design overhaul earlier this year, was paid for in this way, meaning that the cost is spread out – and because a retainer is received, any additional work, going forward, is done as soon as possible, rather than sitting in a queue.

Not all clients pay in this way – and for some it wouldn’t really be worth it, as updates are less frequent. But, as in everything we do, we want to be as flexible as possible – especially in the current climate – and so if a plan like this sounds like just what you need, as well as gorgeous design, why not get in touch and let’s see what we can do together? Either complete the form below, or pop over to our website, and complete the design enquiry form.

Working With You…

October 14, 2020

We know that deciding to have a website designed, is a HUGE decision. We are very aware that budget is a major consideration, especially in these very uncertain times, and so we are very transparent in the way we price projects. We always discuss pricing with clients and we look at ways to be as flexible as possible. Our normal terms of 50% deposit and 50% upon completion, are sometimes no problem. However, sometimes, cashflow is an issue, but we absolutely believe that this should not prevent you from having the website or the design that you want.

We will always look at finding solutions to help you. Some clients find that paying by tranches is helpful – often the website has gone live before full payment is received, but if this is all agreed beforehand, we have absolutely no issue with this. Some clients find paying a monthly retainer to be the answer. Again, this works for us too. So, if you get to the point of approaching us for design work and start to complete the design enquiry form on our website, please don’t fret over the “approximate budget” field. This is exactly what it says – an approximation. Having a budget of £2000 is very different to a budget of £200, but we just need to have an idea, so that we can be realistic with you, in what we can deliver, initially. Leaving it blank – which we know is tempting, and we know why people do it – doesn’t help in the initial stages and really only wastes time as we need to dig a little deeper to find out what that magical figure is. But – don’t worry. You will not be held to it. It’s only a starting point.

So, what are you waiting for?

If you are desperate for a new website, but think that especially in these days, it would be out of your budget, think again. Pop over to our website and complete that design enquiry form. We can help make this work for you.