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Design Update

May 7, 2020

The world feels pretty crazy right now and like everyone else, we’ve been hunkering down and working our way through things. As most people now know, we don’t live in Didsbury anymore – we’re in northern Istria, very close to the Italian border. This hasn’t affected in any way our day to day design work because everything is obviously done online and we keep in touch regularly with clients via emails and calls. However, as soon as the Coronavirus started to take hold, we feared like everyone else, that our business and our livelihood would be impacted. If our clients were focusing on their own businesses, then the last thing we thought anyone would want to do would be to think about websites or design work.

As soon as it became clear what the impact on businesses was going to be – especially small, independents as these are the kind we work with – we contacted all clients. Being in another country, we figured that any support/help we could offer would be fairly limited, but we offered the best that we could. Immediate help with any website updates which would inform customers/clients about our businesses’ current situation. We also advised that going forward, whilst everything was so uncertain and frightening, we would be as flexible as we possibly could be regarding charges for design work. It was a pretty horrible part of the email to write – offering support but broaching money – but, we’re also an independent business and what we earn enables us to live. If we don’t earn, we’ve very little else to fall back on. So, as much as we wished that we could do these essential updates for nothing, we couldn’t.

But, we didn’t count on the creativity and adaptability of many of our clients.

Some have decided to have a complete refocus and launch new ventures, such as Thyme Out Delicatessen. Initially they were going to operate as a takeaway only, but pretty soon, these plans were changed as governemnt guidelines made this impossible. Out of a pretty scary situation, business-wise, Prepped was launched – and working with Thyme Out, a whole new venture emerged. A logo was designed and the concept included on the website – basically each week, a new menu is devised. Dishes are prepped by the Thyme Out chefs and delivered, safely, to customers. Since Prepped was launched, Sunday Roasts have been added, as well as wine delivery after teaming up with another local West Didsbury business, Reserve Wines. This venture has grown in popularity and we provide the design side of things and assist with the marketing and promotion via social media, ensuring that new menus are uploaded at the same time each week. We’re now working with Thyme Out on another new venture – a whole new, very exciting direction, which will be revealed imminently…

Thanks Helen and Pete, you guys have been amazing and very quick at coming up with the web and design changes to help us adapt. Ben, Thyme Out Food Co


Prepped by Thyme Out Food Co, West Didsbury


Another business which has been hugely affected, is Azzurro Italian restaurant. Like many, whilst closed, the owners still have to pay rent on the property and upkeep it. They too, initially, decided to operate as a takeaway, but as with Thyme Out, these plans had to change as government guidelines were announced. Working with Azzurro, we helped them to develop the idea of a voucher scheme, so that it went beyond just a voucher for a meal at some point in the future. As well as the design of the vouchers, we created a new page on the website, which integrated a payment option, and wrote the copy. We also suggested that people who purchased vouchers, be recognised in some way – and the Azurro Wall of Fame was born! Being able to support in this way, enabled the owners of Azzurro to focus on more pressing concerns such as staffing, stock issues and forward planning.

Helen & Pete are THE best people to work with FYI. If you are an independent business, they speak your language & know your needs before you do. They’ve held us up behind the scenes over the past few weeks. We love you xx Emil & Anna, Azzurro

Other clients have requested that we update their websites with Covid-19 statements, so that their customers and clients are aware of the current situation…

A number of clients have decided that this enforced “downtime” is the perfect opportunity to update and refresh their online presence. As a result, we’re working on new designs and updates with The Flower Lounge, Serendipidity Brides and The Conker Crew. And, in an entirely unexpected turn of events, we’re actually designing brand new websites – one for our long-standing client, wedding photographer Jonny Draper, and two for completely new clients, a wellness coach based in Switzerland and family run pseasonal plants business, based in the north west. There’s one other, but on this occasion, we’ve been to sworn to secrecy until it’s launched. But it’s good. It’s very good, in fact 🙂

We’re also trying to use some of this time to sort our own websites out. I haven’t blogged on here for quite some time, because our new design website is in development, but as always happens, your own projects take a whole lot longer than you imagined. In the meantime, we have launched one of the new websites, which come under the umbrella of We Are Life Collection –

Before lockdown, we also found a new property with serious renovation potential and decided that it was too good an opportunity to miss, so we started the process of marketing our renovated house. We designed our own website, and although it’s all obviously on hold at the moment, we are starting to get the ball rolling again…

So, whilst we are still designing websites, we’re finding that we can offer a little bit more these days, in terms of business support, especially as we can offer quite a lot of flexibility to our clients. If you’d like to discuss anything with us, you can either fill out the simple design request form on our website, or pop some details in the form below. We’d love to hear from you…

The Importance of Paying On Time…

October 15, 2019

As a small business ourselves, we are looking to tighten up certain of our procedures – this information is so that everyone is aware of how we are going to do certain things from now on, and so that there is no confusion, or any chance that people have not been informed.

We try to always be as flexible as we can be regarding payments and if informed, always take account of individual circumstances, as we know that running a business can be financially challenging at times. However, this also means that sometimes we are chasing invoices, long after they have been issued.

Website Hosting/Domain Name Renewal

This seems to particularly apply to website hosting/domain name renewal. I have added a blog about this on our website and I do try and refer to it, especially if an invoice is long overdue, and it can be found here. In a nutshell, if we host your website/emails or manage your domain name(s), we ensure that payment is made, on your behalf, prior to the renewal date, so that there is no interruption with your website or emails and so that you do not lose your domain name. Sometimes, we are chasing invoices weeks after we have made these payments. Our only recourse is to take down a website, something we are very reluctant to do, and which we would only ever do if there is absolutely no communication whatsoever from the client.

From now on, we will invoice at least one week in advance of any hosting or domain name renewal. Should you wish to pay this when invoiced, we would obviously be delighted, as this would then mean that we were then not “out of pocket”. However, we appreciate that with cashflow etc, clients may prefer to pay on the actual day of renewal. Whilst we always, always try to be as flexible and as understanding as we can be, we need to make everyone aware that we can’t just keep on sending reminder emails and getting nothing back, if invoices aren’t paid. Reluctantly, in an instance like this, we will now go down the route of taking down a website if we’ve not been made aware of any issues re non-payment. A fee of £35 would then be additionally payable (see small print on our own website) for it to be reinstated.

Website Updates/Artwork

Previously, we have sometimes sent final artwork or put live website updates, prior to an invoice being paid. Again, we have done this in good faith, knowing that if a client has requested this kind of design work, it it is important. However, there are again instances where we are chasing invoices for work which is being used and we can’t let this continue. From now on, any website updates which are invoiced for (ie anything other than small tweaks etc), or any artwork, will only be released upon payment of the invoice.

We don’t like posting blogs like this one, but we think that it is better that everyone is absolutely aware of how we are going to do things from now on. And, it obviously goes without saying, that communication is key – if you are a client, and there is a reason for you not being able to make a payment on time, just let us know. Apart from actually paying, this is the easiest way to avoid any kind of issues with websites, artwork etc.

The Flower Lounge Website

July 31, 2019

We are really delighted to have found out that The Flower Lounge, in Didsbury, has been nominated for the British Florist Association Industry Awards Florist Website of the Year – the website we designed 🙂

We’d be so proud if The Flower Lounge scooped the award and so, we’re going to be really cheeky and ask, if you don’t mind, if you’d cast a vote for a We Are Life Design client. It’s really easy and takes about 30 seconds, via this link – and we think Siân and the team will really appreciate your support. (The Flower Lounge is listed in Category 9, so you’ll need to scroll down the overall list).

Many thanks in advance – we’ll let you know if The Flower Lounge wins!

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury


The Flower Lounge, Didsbury

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury

The Flower Lounge, Didsbury

For Baby And Me

July 8, 2019

I need to incorporate the design so that everything is in one place, rather than two separate sites and would maybe like to re-launch in the new year, to mark ten years since I started postnatal exercise classes…

Claire, the founder of For Baby and Me, contacted us via our design enquiry form, and this was the start of a very lovely relationship. Originally with two separate websites, she was finding that as the business grew in reputation and client numbers, things were beginning to become a little more confusing. The two sites were overlapping and Claire felt she needed a much more clear focus so that she could develop her brand more effectively and more easily convey the nature of her business – post-natal exercise classes, primarily aimed at new mums who wanted to get fit after the birth, but also including new classes aimed at new dads and partners, who wanted to learn baby yoga techniques in a hands-on way.

The brief was to design a website which would be more user friendly and with a simple integrated registration system. We felt that a website which promoted outdoor activity would benefit from a professional photoshoot, of actual participants, rather than going down the stock imagery route, which we always encourage clients to try and avoid. Stock imagery has its place, but often isn’t an authetic representation of the business. Claire took this advice on board, and although a photoshoot wasn’t initially included in the original budget allocated to the project, we were able to look at costings to enable it to go ahead. Great photography meant we had a fantastic starting point for our design – and enabled us to much more effectively convey the nature of the business in a visual way.

Class information was simplified and displayed in a clearer format, ensuring that visitors to the site found what they were looking for, quickly and easily. We’re great believers in “less is more” and so if appropriate, encourage keeping copy succinct, but with obvious means of contact, so that if more information/clarification is required, the means of getting touch are clear. As the business, and therefore the website, is aimed at parents of babies, we didn’t want the design to be too formal or corporate. However, we also didn’t want it to look unprofessional or too “homemade” and we think a good balance was struck with the Lunchbox Light font and the contrasting font colours, sitting on the signature purple background. As well as the navigation arrows, we used a scroll bar, to create a one page website, again ensuring that the site was easy to navigate. As with all of our websites, it’s now standard practice to test across all devices and browsers to ensure that they are mobile friendly – it’s a lot more time consuming for us than it used to be in the days when one size almost fit all, but it’s definitely worth it when you know that a visitor will have a pleasant browsing experience, whatever device they are viewing on. And if a website is easy on the eye and well designed and informative, we know it’s much more likely that visitors will connect with the business.

A horizontal scrolling gallery was added, incorporating more of the in-situ photography, which really showcase the essence of the classes and give a good indication of the experiences. And, of course, permissions were sought and granted, from all who were photographed!

We were delighted that we were able to mark the tenth anniversary of this community focused South Manchester fitness business which really is going from strength to strength – and we think that Claire is delighted that she made the leap from her two separate websites, to a much more streamlined online presence…

I first met Helen a few years ago and immediately liked her! I knew that if I was to pay for a web designer to update my business website I needed to know the person and feel they would ‘get my business’ and the client group that I work with.

It was therefore a no-brainier that I would chose Helen and Pete at We Are Life Design. Right from the start I was in the driving seat, I decided on how much I had to spend on the website, the look and content and at every stage I could review, tweak and sometimes start-again! But what I loved was that Helen and Pete offered advice on a new colour scheme, updated logo and suggested professional photography – these were aspects I never expected to get, so the finished result is the content I wanted plus the sleek look I could never have achieved on my own.

I would have no hesitation in recommending We Are Life Design to any business and Pete and Helen have continue to offer support going forward. Plus I feel I’ve joined a great local community of We Are Life Design clients 🤗Thank you!

If you too are considering a redesign – or a brand new website – why not get in touch like Claire did? We’ll be very clear and very honest about what we can do for and will always try to deliver something you will be very proud of, whatever your budget. You can email us via the Design Enquiry Form on our own website, or send your initial enquiry via the form below.

We’d love to hear from and help make your design dreams come true!

We Recommend…

April 11, 2019

We are very lucky because we work with fantastic businesses, doing all manner of design projects. The vast majority of them are like us – small enterprises, who’ve taken a risk and followed a dream. The kind of people, and businesses, who can’t hide behind a vast team, or ignore phone calls and emails, or basically treat customers and clients in a shoddy fashion. They – and we – can’t do this (even if we wanted to) – because reputations rest on our actions.

Because of what we post via this blog and social media we tend to attract the kind of clients we want – namely, those referenced above. We rarely get enquiries from large, blue collar companies – and if we do, both parties soon realise that we’re not really right for each other. Which for us, is good news, because it means we get to work with the kind of people who really inspire us.

Another benefit of collaborating with quite small, independent businesses is that through the design process, we really get to know who we are working with. We get to to know them as friends, rather than just clients, and this enables us to develop long term connections. We also get to know what their clients and customers think about them, as we encourage the use of real, well thought out and considered, testimonials on their websites. In this way, we get a real feel for their business, their ethos, their ways of dealing with people – and we think this puts us in a pretty unique position, to do what we are about to do.

Many of the people we’ve designed for, have also done work for us. We’ve collaborated with Jonny Draper on various professional photography shoots for websites. We’ve had property work done by Paul Andrew Jones Interiors and Monkey Wrench Plumbing Services. We’ve worked with Words Inspire, to create tantalising copy for websites. We’ve been delighted to have the legal services, and advice, of Ruth Sutton and LLB Solicitors, when we’ve needed them. When we’ve had aches and pains, Link Chiropractic is always there to help, and for a bit of pampering, Claire Jones, Evie’s Retreat, Conley Hair & Beauty and MacleodBradley are our go-to people.

We could go on and list more clients whose services we use, but we think you get the picture. We use them because they are superb at what they do and we trust them. However, we’ve been missing a bit of a trick here. Although we blog about the work we do, which will mean that from time to time, other people may contact our clients because they see something we’ve posted, we’ve not really done any kind of strategic promotion of them. Until now…

We’re going to be more regularly sharing the expertise of the diverse group of people and businesses we have the privilege to work with. We’ll mainly be doing this via our Didsbury Life Twitter and Facebook pages, so if you think you might ever the need the services of a plumber, a landscape gardener, a caterer, a solicitor, a bridal boutique, an exercise class, a tutor, a wedding venue, to name but a few, we suggest that you keep an eye on what we post.

Hopefully, you will understand that we will only ever recommend businesses we have personal experience of – and this will be by means of us getting to know them inside out through the design work, and additionally, on occasion, by paying for their services. We absolutely believe that this is the best way to get the best people. As we said, right at the beginning – 

The kind of people, and businesses, who can’t hide behind a vast team, or ignore phone calls and emails, or basically treat customers and client in a shoddy fashion. They – and we – can’t do this (even if we wanted to) – because reputations rest on our actions.

You can find out more about us and our clients over on our website, or if what we have said here, piques your interest, do drop us a line. We’d love to hear from you…

I Need A Website. How Much Will It Cost?

April 4, 2019

OK, so we’re completely honest here. If this is one of the very first questions you ask us, we have absolutely no idea. None whatsoever. Sorry if this unnerves you a little bit, especially if you’re probably thinking we should know because it’s what we do. We’ve designed many websites, so we must know what they cost. Right?

Wrong! And here’s why…


The thing that will ultimately determine what your website will cost, is down to you, not us – because it all depends on your budget. And this is why, even though it’s often the subject that most people don’t want to discuss initially, we encourage you to do so. If you have big design aspirations, but a small-ish budget, this isn’t a problem – we just need to know so that we can deliver you something which will make you very, very happy but won’t break the bank.

This is why you won’t see a section on our website, detailing our prices. We’re not trying to be secretive, or are unsure of pricing our services, or trying to pull the wool over your eyes. (If you really want to find out what people have paid, we’d encourage you to contact clients of ours – as well as finding out the kind of figure they paid, they will probably also give you the lowdown on us).

We very, very, very rarely use off-the-peg-templates. If we do, we adapt and tweak and add individuality to the template – but it’s extremely rare for us to do this. Our design work is therefore…


We are aware that this word will put people off. There will be potential clients who pursue enquiries no further than reading this blog as they will be of the opinion that BESPOKE = EXTORTIONATE.

But, in our design world, it doesn’t. If you’re still reading, we have a very simple belief – you and your business are unique and so your design should be, too. We absolutely love designing and so starting projects from scratch is what ticks our boxes. There will definitely be companies out there who do charge a lot more than us for their services – sometimes people seem to *trust* designers more if their prices are high. We don’t get this, as we don’t like conning people. We’re lucky that we work from home and so don’t have huge overheads to cover, so we don’t need to factor in swanky office rents and fancy car repayments, to the price we give you. There are also only two of us – me & Pete – so we also don’t need to factor in staff wages. If you feel you’d better off in the hands of a design team who work in a swish, trendy office, and being passed from pillar to post as your project progresses, don’t waste your time on us. Honestly. We really mean it. You’ll be wasting your time.

However, if our clients on our website strike a chord with you, we may just be the people you need, design-wise. All of these clients came to us, with a budget in mind – although very few told us initially what it was 😉 – and a vision. And together, we worked out what we could do, to achieve that vision, on budget.

So, we hope you don’t think we’re being vague or hiding anything when we can’t give you a price for a website, straight away. We can’t do that on our own – we need to determine that with you. And if you like the sound of how we operate, maybe we can just work out how much that website of yours is going to cost. Pop your details in the box below and we’ll come back to you, as soon as we can.