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What Kind of Websites Do We Design?

January 17, 2019

This may seem a bit of a daft question, because surely we should design any kind of websites. Whatever clients want. But the thing is we don’t. We are very, very clear about the kind of websites we design. And the kind we don’t. So, just so you know, here goes…

We don’t design, using off-the-peg templates. It would probably make our lives a whole lot easier if we did do this, but then you’d end with a website which could bear a remarkable similarity to a fair few others out there. And, as you’ve probably come to us because you are a pretty unique and independent business, the last thing you will want is for your online presence to look suspiciously like someone elses. What we sometimes do is adapt our own designs – we may take an idea we have previously designed, but which was not carried forward, and use that as a starting point. Just because we don’t purchase and use pre-designed templates, it doesn’t mean we reinvent the wheel for every project. But, if we design a website for you, you can pretty sure it’s bespoke. Tailored to you and designed with your brief and thoughts and opinions, well in mind.


We don’t do bog-standard, boring, repetitive design. We challenge ourselves with each new project. We take the time to get to know you and your likes and dislikes, what makes you tick, what makes your business unique – and this informs the kind of design we work up for you. If you’re an accountant, we’ll try and avoid the familiar corporate blue. If you’re a bridal boutique, we’ll try and avoid the familiar pinky tones. If you’re a plumber, we’ll try and avoid the stock images of white vans and a perky guy giving a thumbs-up. We’ll try and get you to think outside of the box, whilst still ensuring that we represent your business/brand in a way that will hopefully attract more visitors and therefore more custom. (But, if you are determined that you want corporate blues/dusky pinks/cheesy thumbs-ups, we think that, in the nicest possible way, we’ll probably realise, hopefully sooner rather than later, that we’re not really right for each other).

So what is it we do actually do?

  • We listen
  • We advise
  • We get to know you
  • We design, as far as we’re concerned, consistently beautiful websites
  • We design websites which are functionally beautiful, too
  • We communicate regularly with clients – either individually or via our mail outs, which keep you up to date with news and information which we think you should know about
  • We collaborate with you every step of the way
  • We work with you to make your budget go further, and when we can, we exercise flexibility so that what you really want, becomes achieveable

Our website (and this blog) will give you a lot more information about us and the way we work and the kind of websites we design. If you are now beginning to research designers and are looking for those people who can turn your vision into an online reality, we would love to hear from you. It may go no further than an initial enquiry as you might find someone much more suited to you and your needs. However, it may turn into something very long-standing, just like it has done for these clients…


Sometimes though, you just want to cut to the chase. What are we actually like to work with?

“We approached We Are Life Design after seeing some of the other websites they had designed and being impressed by their portfolio. As a small, independent business, we wanted designers who understood us and our ambitions for our website. We are delighted that We Are Life ticked these boxes. As well as producing a professional website, they also initially discussed with us, the options we had available to us for the budget we had allocated. We found this to be extremely helpful, as it meant that we knew exactly what we were getting. Most of our communications were done by email, and we found the design process to be very smooth and uncomplicated.” Aquarius Plumbing

“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!” Sofra Restaurant, West Didsbury

“Helen and Pete have been amazing since day one of working together.  When we initially chatted re the redesign of my website, I found they ‘got’ the brief straight away and indeed strengthened it which meant that the end result was better than I could have ever imagined.  In my line of business, first impressions are everything.  I wanted to avoid a template look and they certainly delivered with the beautiful design, totally unique to my business.  We are now about to embark on a website update and I can’t wait.  The additional support that Helen gives in terms of spreading the word is also invaluable and very much appreciated. Thanks guys!” Pebble In The Pond, Manchester

“Having known Helen in a former teaching life, I knew that she was organised, diligent and had a great eye for detail. I also knew that she had impeccable taste and that for me meant that We Are Life Design were the first port of call for my new forest school playgroup business. I was clueless and Pete guided me patiently, professionally and honestly. What a dream: I had found support and integrity in a world I felt completely adrift in. Communication was easy and therefore the process of which I was so very fearful was painless and the end result, more than I could ever have hoped for. Helen and Pete took my novice and amateurish ideas and produced some professional and slick marketing designs. They held my hand, worked with my modest budget and actually cared about my business. As Conker Crew grows, I know that We Are Life Design will be a key part of our future and I can’t wait to work together again.” The Conker Crew, South Manchester

“I have known Helen & Pete at We are Life Design for some years now. What they offer goes well beyond a usual project remit to produce a website, for example. Should you choose to work with them, you will encounter a rich ethos of creativity & partnership; they get into the soul of a business & work from that place, bringing out what truly matters to you & conveying that effectively in words, images & style. You become part of a family of businesses, as who they are is also ‘community’. Through them I have met others who they have championed, inspirational people, who remain friends to this day.” Lawrence Yusopoff, Didsbury

“Helen and Pete are true craftspeople, their attention to detail is meticulous and extraordinary. They create bespoke, beautiful and completely unique websites. They take time to get to know you and your business, what you like and want, what you don’t like and want, they take time to get to know you as a person – that’s so important as you are your business! They are also lovely people, they are easy to talk to, their communication is quick and straightforward. They have designed two websites for me, created my logos, ordered stationary and pop up banners etc and I have no hesitation whatsoever is recommending them.” Relaxing Reflexology, Manchester and Cheshire

“I’ve worked with We Are Life for years as a copywriter, and know first-hand the thought and care that goes into each and every one of their projects. They really get to know their clients and understand what makes them unique, then translate that into beautiful design work with clear commercial vision. When I decided to re-brand my business and set up a new website, they were the obvious choice for me, and I couldn’t have been happier with the results.” Words Inspire, Manchester

“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.” Thyme Out, West Didsbury

“Being a bespoke events florist, I struggled to find website designers who would really understand me and my business. I wanted something different and unique something that would reflect my brand and attention to detail. Helen and Pete are absolutely amazing at what they do. From the first time I met with them, I knew they were right for what I visualised my website to be. They created such a beautifully bespoke web-site that was so unique to my business. I feel so proud when I now tell people to have have a look at my website, because from the moment the first page appears, it captivates you into my flowery world!The comments I have received, and still receive, just go to show what a wonderful job they did. They are such ease to work with. Nothing is ever too much trouble. I love everything about them!  I also love the fact that I was also supporting a small unique business! I  would not hesitate to recommend them to anyone thinking of a beautiful personally designed website.” Kelly Louise Floral Artistry

“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.” Solutions for Japanese Knotweed

“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-brainer 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!” For Baby & Me, Manchester

We would really like to hear from you if you are considering a new website, or if you’d like to have a current website revamped and updated. You can contact us in a variety of ways – via our website design enquiry form, or email, or call 0161 445 7759 or pop some details in the contact form below.




January 16, 2019

It seems no time ago that we were informimg all of our clients about GDPR. Remember that panic? Previous to that, it was that all websites must be mobile friendly, or the sky would fall in. Previous to that, something or other that was probably vitally important but was superceded by everything else that was vitally important to stop your website from dissolving into a cloud of dust. Get the picture? Yes, developments are crucially important – you don’t want to be left behind website-wise, and you definitely don’t want to be penalised for something that can quite easily be effected. But there’s always something… So, what’s the next thing that we need to to know about?


That’s right – it’s that little padlock which appears to the left of some website URLs. So, what’s it all about? Known as SSL, (Secure Sockets Layer) this is the standard security technology for establishing an encrypted link between a web server and a browser. This link ensures that all data passed between the web server and browsers remain private and integral.

In short, and simply, the SSL Certificate is effectively a digital public document, which verifies that the appropriate, legitimate company ie you, owns the website which is being accessed, by visitors, by proving relevant ownership. If you are an e-commerce business these certificates are especially important, as they help prevent attackers from impersonating your company and your website. For customers and visitors to your website, an SSL Certificate establishes a secure connection between their web browser and your site server. This protects important information like passwords and credit card details by adding a layer of encryption when the data is sent.

However, it’s not just e-commerce websites that will benefit from having the visible padlock icon, meaning that you have a certificate and that your website has been configured. If you have an online presence, and you are relying on visitors to your website to connect with you, you need to do everything you can to demonstrate that your website is secure and trustworthy. In the words of our go-to SEO guy…

…SSL certification is now a major ranking factor and word on the street, from places I trust, is that Google will soon be putting an “unsecure” warning in search results for all none https websites in a bid to force all sites to go to https. This will reduce clicks on websites, as the public will think something is wrong and that lower click rate (the most powerful seo metric) will kill rankings. Just a heads up of what’s likely to be coming soon…

We are always wary of publishing blogs like this as we are aware that it could come across as us scare-mongering and/or touting for work. Believe us, this is NOT the case. We have more than enough work to be doing at the moment, and we definitely do not need additional work like this, on top of the lovely design projects we’re developing. But, we would be failing our clients if we did not keep them informed and give them the information to make decisions.

Some of our clients have acted swiftly and have asked us to ensure that they are all SSL’d up. Some haven’t. However, we’ve notified all about this situation. And that’s how we try to do things. Keep in touch with clients, provide what is needed for them to make informed decisions, and then act if they require it. We don’t hassle. We don’t keep sending emails about the same thing. What we hope, is that as well as providing the best design service we possibly can, we also communicate with our clients and grow those relationships. Because as far as we’re concerned, our design is not just about designing. It’s about being nice people, who try to add value.

If you think we might sound like your kind of designers, and would like to get to know us a little bit better and maybe take forward your design, why not drop us a line, either below, or via our design enquiry form? If you’ve got this far, we think we’d like to hear from you 🙂

Happy New Year

January 7, 2019


After a long festive roadtrip, where we got see family and friends and recharged our batteries, we’re back doing what we love – designing.

2018 saw us working with some fab new clients and creating new designs for long-standing clients. We feel very lucky to work with the people we design for – the vast majority understand how we work and are completely unphased by us not being just around the corner any longer. Those who don’t get us, eventually move on – which is the right decision all round, as it means we get to focus on the positives.

2018 also seemed to be the year when people decided that they needed to revamp. We worked on new designs for a number of clients, which we’ll be blogging about separately – and there are a fair few revamp projects in the pipeline for 2019. We love this kind of work, as we can incorporate new styles and trends, as well as ensuring that sites continue to be robust and fit for purpose. Design moves on so quickly, and what was probably quite cutting edge when the website was originally done, may no longer be quite as up to date.

We’re also going to be taking a leaf out of our book and doing what we advise clients to do. We’ll be updating our own website and adding some new features, which we hope will add value to the service we offer. More of this later though, as we are going to be heads down for the next few days, ensuring that 2019 gets off to an organised start. In the meantime, here’s a flavour of what we’ve been working on…


If you are looking to kick start your design this new year, we offer the following advice – do your homework. Check out a variety of designers. Look at their websites – but look behind the scenes. Read blogs. Read client testimonials. Check out social media accounts. Contact clients – one of the best ways to find out if what is claimed on a designer’s website is true! We would urge that you do all of this with us – because the last thing we want is for you to waste your time if we are not the right people for you. To make it easy, here’s where you can check us out…

Our website, which showcases our work, what we do, and what clients think about working with us…

Our Twitter account and our FaceBook page give you short snippets of information. And of course, this blog. Trawl back through it, as it’s not all about design work.

If you like what you read, do get in touch. If you’ve done your homework and then make this move, then we’re pretty sure you’re the kind of person we’d like to work with 🙂


When Things Go Quiet…

December 7, 2018

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


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

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

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



Distance Is No Object to Good Design

November 16, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



We’re Ready When You Are…

November 15, 2018

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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




Thyme For A Change…

November 14, 2018

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

Thyme Out Delicatessen website

Thyme Out Deli Online Catering Form

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

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


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


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.

2018-11-14 12.30.08

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.

2016-05-17 12.23.44

2016-03-12 09.14.36

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.