New website for local beauty salon

Just before Christmas we finished another new website, this time for Maison de Beauté, an exclusive beauty salon right here in Hove. The brief was to create something simple that matched the brand's existing marketing materials - especially the printed brochure which gets handed out to clients and prospective clients. We used the Elite theme as well as a great little price list stack which performs really well on small devices - there are a lot of prices on this site. The client chose photographs from iStock but going forward hopes to get personalised shots of actual clients to use on the site. The result is a professional-level site, produced on a budget in less than a week from start to finish. Sometimes these short jobs are among our favourites because you're able to really concentrate on the getting things done, making design decisions quickly and still delivering a great website.

New musician's website

Fraser for blog
We've just completed a complete overhaul of Fraser Nimmo's website. This Scottish singer, songwriter and actor came to us with a brief to modernise his original site, to make it more expansive, while preserving the majority of the content. And of course, to make it responsive so that it works well across all devices and won't be ignored by Google if someone searches for it on a smartphone or tablet. 

We used the Strata theme from Nick Cates Design - the first time we've used one of Nick's themes in a while - and were impressed at how easy to use and flexible it was; and how light on its feet. At a time when some themes seem over-burdened with 'stuff' to the detriment of their overall performance, Strata is a positive midget and damn well flies along. 

Elsewhere we used Doobox' Montage stack for the gallery and Yuzool's Cart stack for the online shop - still the nicest, simplest implementation of a Paypal shop we've seen.

Bensleys Timber Maintenance

We've just completed a new website for Brighton-based Bensleys Timber Maintenance. The brief was to produce a modern, responsive website that emphasised the benefits of looking after all aspects of timber in your house, while demonstrating Bensleys' experience and technical expertise. We used a series of thumbnails and light boxes to show different forms of damp proofing, treatment and timber maintenance in action and the client provided all the technical details for the associated captions. We used simple candid snaps of the three principals to emphasise the friendly, family nature of the company and how it prides itself on personal service. We used the Boutique theme from Themeflood for this site, together with the Masonry stack from Seydesign and the Hunter stack from Doobox.

Brighton Happy - connecting people through play

Brighton Happy
We're delighted to have been part of an extraordinary new venture called Brighton Happy - Connecting people through play. It's a remarkable new business based here in Brighton which is designed to help teams of people within organisations large and small, work together more harmoniously. Is it team building? Yes Jim, but not as we know it. Instead, Brighton Happy uses a carefully tailored selection of group games to help people understand and relate to each other more effectively in ways that are fun and challenging. We built the website using a heavily modified version of the Solstice theme from Themeflood and it works well across all platforms and screen sizes.

Pop up websites

Mint blog entry
Although there's no real right or wrong way to build a website (well there is actually, but that's a blog for another time) Rapidweaver, the program created right here in Brighton by Realmac Software and our development app of choice, is rather good at getting a website out of the door - fast. Take Mint Corporate Clothing. The company came to us needing a corporate clothing website that integrated two existing stores and created a simple but compelling visual brand; and the clock was ticking. Thanks to the excellent Solstice theme and one or two nifty stacks we were able to put the site together in days and have it up and running shortly afterwards. So if you need good value corporate logo clothing, you know where to go.

Coming Soon: WordPress sites

We've been building sites using Rapidweaver, a program created in our home city of Brighton & Hove for years now and we love using it. Rapidweaver is at the centre of a thriving development community and every week new themes, plugins and stacks are released that make the sites we build with it faster and funkier.

But there's no getting away from the fact that lots of customers and potential customers ask whether we can make them a site using WordPress - and pretty soon the answer will be 'yes'.

What's WordPress? It's a CMS or content management system and despite coming from a company that only employs a couple of hundred people, it's the power behind 75m websites worldwide. That's a lot of websites. A lot of websites.

We're not turning our back on Rapidweaver - far from it - but we'll be coming up with a range of WordPress offerings to suit every budget and every kind of website. More news when we've got it.

Be Clear, be brief

When you sit down to write the text for your website you need to keep a few things in mind.

  • First, no-one is going to be as interested in your product or service as you are, so they're not going to want to read pages and pages about how you came up with the idea in the first place
  • Second, you need to emphasise what you can do for the people who visit your site, rather than focussing on your experience or qualifications; those are important but secondary
  • Third, you need to differentiate yourself from your competitors in a way that people can relate to. You can't slag them off (obviously) and you can't just blow your own trumpet at their expense.
  • Finally, you need to give visitors a reason to send that email or pick up the phone to make an enquiry.

Do all that on the front page of your website and you'll be generating business before you know it.

It's your job too

From time to time we'll get an email or phone message from a potential client that sets alarm bells ringing. It's usually along the lines of ‘I need a website. Just a few pages. How much?' We'll reply by trying to find out what the site's going to be used for, get an idea of the content, any technical features and so on; and to explaining that we'll be able to give an estimate after we've got some more information. Sometimes the prospective client comes back with more info and the job progresses; and sometimes the line goes dead.

We're usually grateful in either case. A client who's interested and engaged, who has an idea of why they need a website and what they're trying to achieve is serious about making it happen. Someone who 'needs a website, just a few pages, how much?' doesn't sound as though they're very serious at all.

Of course, you may understand that you need a website but are uncertain about where to start. That's understandable and it's why we created our Free Website Checklist. Download it and you'll find 20 simple questions that will help us understand what you're after and decide whether we can help or not.

Managing Content

CMS screen
For a while now we've offered clients the ability to update the content of their website without having to keep coming back to us for help. This is known as a Content Management System - CMS for short - and is a good, cost-effective solution for customers who need to update parts of their site regularly - perhaps to list special offers or new services. We're now pleased to offer a brand new, much more powerful way to manage your content, using our own customised CMS that makes it easier than ever to change text and photos, add video or even create custom slideshows. There are some simple rules of the road to follow but all you really need is a web browser and a bit of confidence and you'll be away in no time.

Of course, not everyone needs a CMS. In fact most people only change the content of their site once or twice a year. If that's the case, we're more than happy to help out.

New educational website

New-Cilt website
This is the first site we've created using the Freestack Responsive theme. Rather than behaving like a conventional Rapidweaver theme, Freestack is a blank canvas onto which you can drop the various elements that go to make up a page design. This means it offers fantastic flexibility when it comes to custom design - you can essentially achieve any 'look' that you like. This site was for an educational consultant who specialises in making language learning an integral part of the primary school curriculum. It features a blog hosted on Blogger but designed to fit in with the rest of the site's style, together with a Mailchimp signup form which allows subscribers to access to regularly updated content to help with lessons in the classroom.

Website for Hove property consultant

Bowden Property Consulting
We've just completed a new site for a local business here in sunny Hove, Bowden Property Consulting. The brief was pretty simple but we needed a way of presenting lots of information in an easy-to-navigate, friendly way. We chose a nice accordion - decked out in the company livery - to go through the different services on offer (and there were a lot of them) and a montage effect for the various portfolio photographs. The site's responsive so it works well on the smaller devices that everyone's using these days, and uses one of our favourite themes - Solstice from Themeflood - tailored to suit Bowden's requirements. The blog is based on Google's Blogger platform but styled to work as part of the website so the client can update it whenever they like without having to come back to us.