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The Medjool Date Company Website is Faster than 98% of Tested Websites!

We have just launched a simple but effective, clean and tidy little e-commerce website with the sole purpose of selling and purveying information about just one delicious product: medjool dates. It’s always a pleasure to promote something that you love, and medjool dates have been my favourite dried fruit ever since the first time I tasted one – they truly are both delicious and nutritious. If you’ve not had the pleasure yet I genuinely recommend you try them – you can buy anything from 200g to 5kg very easily on the Medjool Date Company website.

We also broke a personal record with this website: it’s the fastest loading site we’ve ever built, loading in less than half a second! Don’t just take our word for it – check it yourself on Pingdom (Disclaimer: the test result will vary depending on a number of factors, you may find it’s not quite as fast when you run the test, but do try again and feel free to let us know what result you’re getting).

Performance is absolutely key when it comes to website development – it’s a fairly well known fact that 40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load, while 47% of consumers expect a web page to load in 2 seconds or less.

We aim to ensure every website we build loads in under 3 seconds, but in this particular case, through some very clever techniques and technologies deployed behind the scenes, we managed to absolutely smash those targets! Amongst other tools, we make heavy use of Pingdom when testing websites – it’s an absolutely invaluable tool!

The super fast website has already proved to be a success, with the first few transactions being made within days of going live. Take a look and let us know what you think!

To Illustrate a Point

I have recently been carrying out Adobe Illustrator workshops for a Theatre company, HunkyPunk. During of one of these workshops, I drew a few shapes to demonstrate the process of creating a custom brush, amongst other things. After we had finished, I was about to close the file without saving when I was grabbed by the urge to turn these vectors into something rather than waste them – an urge I think any creative person feels when they see something with the potential to become beautiful. In this case I decided I could spare a couple of hours of my Sunday evening to play with the artwork and see what I could come up with. Creating this vector artwork made me think about ways I could get more creative with my work, and inject a bit more colour and creative flair wherever possible and appropriate. I really enjoyed the process – it reminded me how much I love to illustrate, and how I used to find satisfaction in the process of taking a scribble or a written note and turn it into a doodle.

As a freelancer, you get into a routine that works for you and it’s easy to forget about skills you have that might not seem relevant to the day-to-day, but taking time to express yourself creatively in ways that may not be directly conducive to your business goals can really fuel your enthusiasm for your work and make you take a fresh look at your projects. I feel more motivated than ever to ensure my clients’ websites are not only fit for purpose and easy to use, but also look beautiful.

Mandala Illustration

When I sat back and looked at the result of this quick design, I was reminded of a quote by Maya Angelou:

“You can’t use up creativity. The more you use, the more you have.”

I think there is a lot of truth in this statement. Looking at what I created in just a couple of hours filled me with enthusiasm to illustrate more, to draw more, to doodle more, to generally spend more time creating. In fact I pitched for a layout project today that involves a large element of illustration.

I would like to mention that this illustration is strongly influenced by the supremely talented illustrator, Jonny Wan, who I first heard about in Sheffield’s most excellent Now Then magazine.

Three Websites for Prime Recruitment

We were recently asked to get involved with Prime Recruitment, a new venture from the lovely people at Prime Education, who were in the  process of building three new websites. We were happy to help, and liaised with recruitment CMS specialists Firefish to design and build three recruitment websites for three market sectors: education, medical and engineering.

Prime Recruitment Websites

Our involvement primarily consisted of redesigning the first website, which was already in progress, and using that as a template for the other two. We created slideshows, buttons and other graphical elements of the interface, and two page templates for each site, working primarily with CSS to alter the appearance of elements generated by the Firefish content management system.

The Prime Teachers website is now live, while the other two are still being populated with content, and the client is very happy with the result.

Update: Prime Medical and Prime Engineering are also now up and running, and all three sites can be accessed from the Prime Recruitment portal page.

The Stretching Clinic logo

Simple Logo for The Stretching Clinic

Sometimes the design process can be so simple and so satisfying, you get from start to finish with zero stress, and it all seems almost too good to be true. I was approached by Active Isolated Stretching Clinic, who had decided to abbreviate their name to The Stretching Clinic, (great move by the way guys), so of course they needed a new logo.

I was given a very clear brief, with certain stipulations such as colour, but complete free reign other than that. Within a few hours I had put together two logo options, one of which the client was extremely happy with straight off the bat. This was the initial response:

You nailed it with the round logo, that’s fantastic!

After a few very minor changes the logo was ready, and both the client and I were really pleased with how the whole process had gone. I have another logo to add to my collection, and the client has the beginnings of a vastly improved brand (even if I say so myself)!

Identity and Website for Patchy Warrior

What, or who, is a Patchy Warrior, you may ask – or, if you have heroic textile tendencies yourself, you may have guessed it: Patchy Warrior, aka Ursula Christie, is a Glasgow based master seamstress specialising in premium quality, custom made patchwork. And we are the ones proudly stitching together an identity and website to promote her wares. Here’s the logo, website to follow shortly!

Deli Breaks product shot

Food Packaging for Deli Breaks

Deli Breaks, a subsidiary of River Village Foods, approached us in September 2012 with an idea for a range of wholesome ready-to-eat microwaveable meals. This was to be our first food packaging… in fact our first product packaging brief, so we were excited to get stuck in. We went on quite a journey, as the exact nature of the product changed, so here is a selection of the steps we took:

You can see the final packaging designs on our portfolio here.

Identity for Speak Out Lancashire

Speak Out Lancashire, part of The Children’s Society and Lancashire Children’s Rights, approached us with a brief for a new identity and a website serving young people in care in the area. This has been a unique opportunity for us to work directly with end users, listening closely to what they want from the website and their ideas about visual language. Here is the simple, bold logo we came up with together, and the new website  is due to be launched in spring 2013. is now live.

Love For Orphans Postcard

Postcard & Certificate for Love For Orphans

Whenever we can, we take on pro bono work for charities and nonprofit organisations. Love For Orphans approached us with the idea of creating a postcard that is to be sold in Tanzania with all profits going towards helping orphans.

Early 90s Style Music Video for Modern Medicine

Modern Medicine – (I Feel Like) A Million Quid from instadesign on Vimeo.

I had a huge amount of fun making this early 90s style music video, from imagining the dodgy Channel 9 style low budget European TV show ‘Muzik Time!!’ and coming up with ridiculously cheesy graphics, to painstakingly mimicking the effect of an old VHS tape that’s been recorded over a few times. Credit to Luke Glover for shooting the video and Pete Cannon for producing the track.