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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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The Future of Life…

May 31, 2018

In the words of Abraham Lincoln…

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…and this is just what we have been trying to do. If you’ve been on our Didsbury Life or WestFest mailing list, you’ll have received an email, explaining that we are deleting these lists. A part of this decision was made because of the GDPR legislation, but part was made because we/our lives/our business have taken a bit of a different direction and we’re going to seize the exciting opportunities that might lie ahead. So, if you’re not aware of what’s happening, here’s a round up.

Didsbury Life

We’ve had Didsbury Life for over fifteen years, and have made some fab friends and acquaintances through it. We’ve seen independent businesses come & go, we’ve had our ups and our downs, we’ve seen Didsbury & West Didsbury change almost beyond recognition and we’ve seen lots of similar businesses set up, some in aggressive competition, some rubbing alongside us. Our actual lives have taken a bit of a turn recently – we no longer live in West Didsbury. An amazing opportunity presented itself and we had to take it and we now live in Istria, near to the Italian border. We still have our very close ties with Didsbury – in our main business, We Are Life Design, we still work with many of our long-standing clients, so Didsbury Life, as a concept is going no-where. This will come as a surprise to some people, who will feel that we are disingenuous in promoting an area in which we no longer live. But, quite frankly, they can sod off. We still call West Didsbury home – we lived there for over twenty years and whatever anyone may say, we know that we did contribute, in a small way, to the development of the area. So, no, we’re not going anywhere – we’re just going to be changing the focus of what we do.

We Are Life Design

Our design business, which we did worry about when we moved (will clients stay with us, will we attract new clients, will we still have local credibility etc?), has amazingly gone from strength to strength and we have taken on a number new clients from Didsbury and Manchester since we’ve been away, as well as retaining the majority of existing clients. We’re not looking to expand the business – in fact, we have stripped it back a little, as we would like to enjoy a slower pace of life, and enjoy quality time with visiting family and friends. So, no, we’re not going anywhere here either – we’re just going to be changing the focus of what we do.

WestFest

This is the one area of what we have done, that we are changing. With Justin, from Folk, way, way back in 2007, we had a little dream to put something on which showcased the very best of West Didsbury and which would hopefully open up to the area to a new audience, who would engage with the independent businesses and hopefully help to grow the area and the local economy. It kind of worked for a few years, but it became increasingly more difficult to drum up the real enthusiasm of the early days. Criticisms were levelled against us that it was “all about the bars”. And, yes, it did become like that, simply, I think, because licensed premises had more to lure people in with. I can’t imagine how difficult it must have been for some of our small, independent retailers, trying to be enthusiastic and putting on a show, only to see their premises largely empty but bars and restaurants fit to bursting. It also took a lot of organising, and last year, I made the decision that we just couldn’t do this from abroad. And, we won’t be doing it again. I don’t know what will happen in the future, but it was good while it was good. I hope!

So, where now?

A new website is being planned, which will now pull together the different strands we are focusing on. We’ll still have We Are Life Design and Didsbury Life, but we’ll also be incorporating three new ventures:

Istria Life – a bit like Didsbury Life, this will be an opportunity for us to let people know about the beautiful area that we now live in.

We Are Life Travel – this is already a blog and documents our travels, recommendations etc as well as being a bit of a diary (We Are Life Escape) of the renovation of our new/very old house.

The new website will be much more lifestyle driven and informative and will hopefully give people ideas for travel, accommodation etc, whilst also still showcasing what’s going on in and around Didsbury. And for those who think, this will never last, as the ties will fade – you’re wrong. We’ve spent the best part of the last 15 years building up strong and solid relationships with people, and this will continue. We are loyal and we have a real connection to the area and many of the businesses, and that won’t be changing.

So, we’d love you to follow us on any/all of the above Twitter accounts and stay connected. You never know what you might discover or where you might up end up going for your next holidays!

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GDPR…

May 22, 2018
tags:

Four little letters.

G.D.P.R.

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But what a head-ache they have created! Like probably everyone else in the EU, we are being bombarded with emails from mailing lists we have previously subscribed to, asking us to re-opt in or unsubscribe. I have lost count of how many have dropped into my inbox over the past few weeks, and I have to admit I’ve either ignored some of these or unsubscribed.

With the job that we do – primarily website design – we are contributing to this GDPR madness, as we work to update client websites and sort our own (and some clients’) mailing lists, before 25th May. Safe to say, our heads are royally mashed with it all…

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We completely understand the need for data to be secure and for people to feel confident that their details are safe. It’s what we’ve always done with client information, and we feel very sure that every single one of our clients has taken as much care with their data as we have with ours. But we do feel that this legislation is a bit like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut. We are concerned that like us, our clients (like many businesses) will have taken great care in building up a mailing list. And these mailing lists are usually crucial for small, independent businesses. We are concerned that people will be suffering from GDPR fatigue and may just either unsubscribe or not bother re-opting in to mailing lists, even if they do still want to hear from businesses. And this is not good, as all of a sudden, a small business can have lost a very important database.

We do hope that our concerns are not borne out, and that once the GDPR dust settles, our small, independent businesses clients do not suffer as a result of this legislation.

And, we personally cannot wait for post 25th May, so that we can get back to doing what we love. Designing…

When Size Really Does Matter…

February 28, 2018

Back in the olden days – about fifteen years ago – designing a website seemed so much simpler. Smart phones were yet to be unleashed on the world and most people viewed websites on PCs or laptops – meaning that once you had designed a website it pretty much worked on whatever device it would be viewed on. The good old days, eh, when things were much simpler…

But now – oh, my word, how things have changed for designers! As a client, you might not be aware of just how much things have changed. After all, you’ve come to us for a gorgeous website, and quite rightly, you just want the end result. But we think it’s useful for you to at least be aware of what goes into your website, as well as the designey-stuff, that we love.

Today, we have many devices – smartphones, laptops, tablets and PCs. Some are Android, some are Apple. Some are small. Some are big. Some are in-between. Then we have the variety of browsers people can use – Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Internet Explorer, Microsoft Edge, Opera, Safari etc. See where we’re coming from? We have to ensure that YOUR website renders across all browsers and devices. And with technology advancing as quickly as it does, this can be a really big task.

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Once you have agreed the design of your website with us, we then set to work on this cross-testing. Usually, because of the way your website has been designed and built, we find that there are few issues. But – and it’s a very BIG but – sometimes we do run into issues, and these have to be resolved before your website is launched. We like to think our designs aren’t bog-standard, and so sometimes we do have to delve a little deeper and change styles on an individual basis, so that the website will act differently according to specific code within each device size.

So, you see, whatever they say, size does matter. And sometimes it takes a bit of time to make sure that that size is perfect…

Cross testing across devices and browsers.

Cross testing across devices and browsers.

If you’d like to discuss any kind of design work with us, we’d be delighted to hear from you. You can pop some info onto the form below, or complete the design enquiry form on our website. Alternatively, give us a call on 0161 445 7759.

A Knotty Design Problem

February 21, 2018

We are very lucky to have some very varied clients – award winnng florists, venue stylists, a wholesale bakery, a community run leisure centre, a legal firm, artists, bridal boutiques, independent restaurants and bars, to name a few, meaning our design work is very varied. So, when we had an enquiry about branding and developing a website for a company who deal with the problem of pesky Japanese Knotweed, we relished the challenge. It would have been very easy to just knock out a template full of immediately recognisable stock imagery – but we don’t do that. And the reason we don’t do it, is because it would give us absolutely no job satisfaction. And, we firmly believe our clients deserve a whole lot better than a bog-standard template.

First up was the logo for the company – Solutions For Japanese Knotweed. Our client asked, to be incorporated into the logo, “…a small Japanese Knotweed leaf and a bit of stem (maybe a cartoon/simple version) just above the S…” The company name is quite long and therefore quite tricky logo-wise, so the decision was made shorten it and add an explanatory graphic, with the whole name being the smaller “strapline” underneath, along with a knotweed stem…

New logo for S4JK

New logo for S4JK

We still felt however, even with the inclusion of the background image, that we weren’t conveying the essence of the company – and after a mini-brainstorming session, came up with something our client really liked, and was used on the holding page, whilst we designed the website…

"Liberate Your Garden"

“Liberate Your Garden”

The brief for the project was to design a website which showcased the services offered and to encourage potential clients to engage the services of S4JK. As previously stated, we could have could just knocked out a template website, but we wanted to deliver something more personal – and, despite the fact that the website would be promoting  weed removal services, we also wanted to design something that was quite beautiful. The navigation and flow of the website was crucial too, as we wanted to ensure that once people landed on the website, they could find the information they needed – including contact details – easily.

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Enquiry Form with option for image upload : S4JK

Enquiry Form with option for image upload : S4JK

We also produced business cards and a letter head to complement the website, incorporating the new branding.

Business cards : S4JK

Business cards : S4JK

We think our client is very happy with our service and what we designed

Helen and Pete at We Are Life, helped us with the designing of our website, branding, and everything else, as we were completely clueless before we came to them! We were recommended to use them by a local business and we’re so pleased we took their advice. They are friendly and approachable and we are thrilled with the end result. We are also going to get them to redesign another website we have. 10/10.

If you like the look of what we did, and like the sound of how we worked with S4JK, and are looking for design company yourself – one which works hard to understand you & your business, have a closer look at our website. Get in touch either below or on our website. We might just get to know each other…

A Little Bit of Context About How We Work…

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. Alhough 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 is getting warmer 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. So, as they say, distance really is no object…

Istria - just around the corner from Venice :)

Istria – just around the corner from Venice 🙂

 

 

Are We Right For Each Other?

February 7, 2018

Choosing your designer is a big decision and we’d like to help you make the right decision. We’re not right for everyone – and not everyone is right for us – so if we can tell you a little bit more about us, you can make a more informed decision. Unless you already know us, our website will probably be your first introduction to us…

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But, if you’re curious, we’re guessing you’ll want to know a bit more about us…

We work from home. Up until quite recently, our home used to be in West Didsbury, but we’ve made quite a big Life change. We’ve moved. Our new home – and where we now do our design work from – is in Istria, in northern Croatia, very close to the Slovenian and Italian borders. Now, we may have lost you at this point, because what you want is a design company, who is geographically close to you. But, if you’re still reading, we’re thinking that this isn’t necessarily a huge issue for you – after all, everything we do is online. And, although it’s always nice to meet people face to face, even when we were back in England, we did a lot of design work for people we didn’t actually meet.

So, since we moved nothing has really changed, work wise. Check out our website and see who we work with and what they have to say. We’re really happy that since we moved, we’ve taken on new clients, for whom the fact we live a bit further away, has made not a jot of difference…

We received an extremely professional service from We Are Life and are so grateful to them for their help and guidance- we are a start up restaurant and needed an organisation who could understand our needs and also work within our budget. Despite them not being geographically the closest agency we could have chosen, they were very responsive with emails and calls and have an excellent understanding of the local area. Their hard work and effort to put together our fantastic new website in a short timeframe is much appreciated! 

Nadia Ezzat, Sofra Restaurant, West Didsbury

Helen and Pete helped us with the designing of our website, branding, and everything else as we were completely clueless before we came to them! We were recommended to use them by a local business and we’re so pleased we took their advice. They are friendly and approachable and we are thrilled with the end result. We are also going to get them to redesign another website we have. 10/10. 

Dean Wild, S4JK, Stockport

We don’t call ourselves a design agency – we’re just people who love designing and are very lucky that we can actually make a living out of it. We’re a very small team – and that’s just how we intend to stay. We get most of our work in the most brilliant way possible – through word of mouth and through recommendations. So, you definitely won’t see us putting ourselves up for awards or promoting what we do through any other means than our own social media. If you’ll feel better having your design work done by a bigger agency, with receptionists and account managers, then we’re not the people for you.

We like to really get to know our “clients” – who we prefer to call “friends” because once we start working with people, that’s generally what they become, if they’re not already. So, if that all sounds just a bit too informal, maybe we’re not for you. And we like to stick around too – once we’ve worked closely with you on something as important as your brand, or your website, we don’t like to walk away and leave to your own devices. So, if long term relationships aren’t that important to you, maybe we won’t be your kind of people.

I’ve known Helen and Pete for around 10 years. They have actually created three websites and numerous marketing campaigns for me over the years. I can honestly say they are two of the most patient people I have ever met. I am, shall we say, not the most technical person in the world! They not only gently helped me get past all of that, but in their creative process, they actually cared enough to really feel what my business was about and also who my clients are too. Personally I think that’s kind of important. They keep everything fresh with new ideas – they are travellers and adventurous and this in turn keeps them fresh as well so that they always have something new to bring to the table. 

Carole Hilton-Stone, Ripon Massage

I must have been working with Pete and Helen at we are life for nearly ten years  and have no intention of stopping. The length of that relationship speaks for the quality of work they’ve produced for my business. That ultimately comes from their understanding me, my business and what ‘I want’ when it comes to design. I can’t thank them enough for all they’ve done over the years. 

Tim Lynch, Link Chiropractic, Didsbury & Alderley Edge

We are extremely professional, diligent and hard-working and will always, always try to make things as fabulous as possible for you. Sometimes, things can go wrong, but if you’ve come to us because you share our values, we’ll always work it out. Life’s too short not to.

So, now you know a bit about us, what about you? Basically, if you’re a nice person, we’ll want to work with you. That’s about how demanding we get…

A New Year Update

January 23, 2018

We are decidely unsure where the last few months have gone, as it seems absolutely no time since I posted the last blog about the launch of the West Didsbury Residents’ Association website. But that was back in October. Yes, nearly four months ago! So, it got me thinking – what we have we been doing between October and now, nearly a month into 2018? Well, not sitting idle, that’s for sure 😉

On The Design Front

There’s definitely been no  let up here, which is brilliant. We have been working on a number of new websites, which will be launching imminently:

  • Solutions for Japanese Knotweed, run by the brother of the lovely Siân, from the Flower Lounge
  • The Ginger Fox Cafe, in Bourne, Lincolnshire
  • Sofra Lebanese Restaurant in West Didsbury

We’re also working with current clients to revamp, and update, design work. These include The White Closet, Evie’s Retreat, MacleodBradley and Vintage Afternoon Teas, as well as the on-going day to day design we do with a variety of clients.

As well as the WDRA website, towards the end of 2017, we launched new websites for The Flower Lounge, Carole Hilton Stone Massage Therapist, Words Inspire and Aquarius Plumbing and blogs will follow, detailing what we did and how we did it.

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Screenshot-2018-1-23 Massage therapy, Ripon - Carole Hilton-Stone(1)

Screenshot-2018-1-23 Words Inspire Delectable writing for brands Copywriting, tone of voice, verbal branding - Manchester, UK

aquarius

New clients have been welcomed to We Are Life Design, and as such, we are looking forward to beginning work with Didsbury based Claire Currie, to amalgamate her two current websites, into a more cohesive design. Projects are currently being worked out with another couple of potential clients, giving us an amazing range of design work we can get our teeth into.

On The Personal Front

As many of you will know, we relocated from Didsbury to Istria in northern Croatia, in March last year – can’t quite believe we’re coming up to our first anniversary out here 🙂 Things are progressing really well – as well as having a fab set of clients who keep us busy work-wise, we’re pressing on with what is turning out to be quite a big renovation project on the house. Days are split between design and DIY – although we have sourced some brilliant builders who largely get on with things, freeing us up to focus on the business. Today has been a good example of how our days pan out – website design, blogging, keeping on top of social media etc, whilst Misko, one of our builders, power drills through the kitchen wall (no mean feat as the walls are 80cms thick), while at the same time, draining our internal well so that we can explore – and possibly excavate into – the chamber under the house. We’ve also just returned from five weeks back in Didsbury and the North East, spending time with family and friends – lovely to catch up with so many people, and to also turn it into a mini adventure, as we drove this time, taking in France and northern Italy.

On The Life Front

We’ve been growing our business over the past few years, adding new bits to the Life family and it was becoming a bit confusing for us, so therefore definitely for visitors to our sites. So, a decision has been made to streamline and have all of our interests under one umbrella site. Excitingly, this will also include our new venture, We Are Life Escape – currently we only have a Twitter account but plans are afoot to create a lovely Istrian retreat that people can come and escape to. And find out why we have fallen in love with this heart shaped peninsula in northern Croatia…

So, we hope you will understand our lack of blogging about recent work. We promise to get back on track, because we have gorgeous stuff to start sharing with you 🙂

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