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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.

 

 

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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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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.