We’ve revamped our website!
Today we put the new version of our studio site live. We last did a major redesign in 2010, with several tweaks along the way between then and now.
We’ve always had good feedback on the site, with people saying it really represents our culture, work and ‘Bluegg way’. Whilst we were pretty happy with it, we’ve come quite along way in 3 years, so we wanted to better reflect the digital services we offer, which now make up more than half of our work.
It was very much a team effort with the design led by Tom, illustrations created by Gareth, content written by Rob, built by Paul and proofed and prodded by Mike. We made the decision to keep the content to a minimum in terms of amount of copy, remove the Twitter feed and ensure our personality oozed from every part of the site. Attention to detail was key.
As well as more colour, we now have a feed from out Instagram account on our about page, so users can get a warts and all look into life at Bluegg. We also took some nice new team photos – in a back alley of Newport on a windy day, that’s dedication. We’ve also condensed our services, we still offer the same but wanted to make it more clear what we do and we also added a nice section about how we do it, our process. We find that people like to know how we work so including that here was an important part of the new site.
If you take a look at our work section you may notice some projects there that weren’t on the previous version of the site. We’ve been waiting for the new site to show them off in the way they deserve so if you have time, please take a look at the work we have done for Zoosme, Whitgift Care and St David’s Hospice Care. There’s loads of new work due to arrive soon.
Of course a Bluegg site wouldn’t be complete without our doodles so this section is well and truly included in the new version. We’ve even got a new doodle set, Oscar Nominees 2013. There are also some lovely little gems throughout the site but we won’t reveal them here. Hopefully people will stumble across them as they take a peek at the site.
From a structure and layout point of view the old site served us well, so although the site has been rebuilt from the ground up, we haven’t drastically changed the form. To ensure the code is as clean and lean as possible we decided against using an existing frontend framework, opting instead to build the layout entirely from scratch. Where possible we’ve introduced features and functions specific to touch screen devices, such as the swipe based slideshows. We’ve also used SVG’s and double size PNG’s to ensure pin point sharpness on fancy new retina and high-resolution screens.
From the technical side, we’ve used a mixture of rem and em sizing throughout the site to ensure as much flexibility as possible. Using LESS as the css preprocessor during the project has helped speed up the build considerably and also helped in maintaining a clean stylesheet. With this incarnation of the website we’ve taken extra care to ensure that the site looks and functions perfectly at all conceivable device widths, and not just at predefined breakpoints.
We really hope you like how the site has turned out. As with all websites, it’s not finished. We’ve got improvements and tweaks already planned, although don’t tell Paul, he’ll go mad. Have a poke around and drop us a tweet with your feedback!
Bluegg help launch CoinDesk!
There’s nothing quite like a bit of pressure to get the blood pumping. Well this week we had a super tight deadline as one of our clients decided to start up a new business, brand it and launch a site within 4 weeks.
We were tasked with creating a brand identity for CoinDesk. The first step in this process was to learn as much as we could about Bitcoin and digital currency as a whole. This is one of the things we love most about our work as designers!
Developing a relevant icon for CoinDesk was going to be key, as the identity was going to be used heavily on social media sites and feeds. We produced a range of ideas and directions and eventually created a simple ‘dot’ based icon. By using different sized dots, we wanted to create the feeling of fluctuation in a volatile market. The large dots also create the letter ‘C’.
A simple colour scheme of yellow and black links to coins, and creates a strong, eye catching look when surrounded by visual noise, such as a twitter feed. For the type we used Helvetica Neue Bold, which some minor customisation to the letterforms, including replacing the square dot on the ‘i’ with a round one, to link it with the icon.
As the CoinDesk team had a very short timeframe to launch, they used an off-the-shelf WordPress theme. Using the theme as a basis, we re-skinned every element to help create continuity with the brand identity. We also added a bunch of new functionality and features.
Shakil Khan, the founder of CoinDesk tweeted —
What we’ve been up to
We were doing so well at blogging… Right up until 2013, where we haven’t blogged since the end of January!
We do have legitimate reasons, although we feel a little sheepish saying it is due to being busy. We promise to try harder. So what’s been keeping us busy? Here’s a summary of our first quarter.
We have taken on some lovely new local clients this year including Ballet Cymru, Sport Wales and the Wales Millennium Centre. As if that isn’t enough, we’re also designing the new Canmol website.
We also worked on a branding and web project for buytolet.com which was rather exciting. Speaking of exciting, we’ve designed a weather app for another client which we hope to be able to share with everyone soon enough. It’s been a pretty smashing year so far in terms of new clients and we have added a new theatre in London to the list, a Venture Capital firm and a company that work for the international entertainment industry. We have to keep pinching ourselves.
As well as new work, we have been kept busy by our long term clients too, including the PHS Group, SSE and DS Smith Recycling. We will be sharing this as often as possible but you can see some snapshots and sneak peaks on our Instagram feed.
In other studio news, a few weeks ago we welcomed Gemma to the team. Gem is our new Account Manager and you can find out more about her on our about page. She is settling in really well and it’s been a pleasure to have her on board. Tom and Gareth are boring us all with their chilli plant growing competition, we enjoyed the first ever Bluegg poker night (congrats to Gareth on taking home all the moolah) and Paul has been serenading us with his guitar playing most lunchtimes.
If you’re reading this you may also have noticed that we have refreshed our website. We wrote a separate post on that if you’re interested in the nitty gritty.
That’s 2013 so far at Bluegg HQ. We’re lucky dabbers and hope the rest of the year is as kind to us.
Our trip to New Adventures
It’s rare for the whole team to be out of the studio at the same time but now and again something happens that warrants a mass exodus. Last Thursday was one such day as we all attended a brilliant web conference in Nottingham, New Adventures in Web Design.
We all went last year too and I was also at the very first one in 2011. This year’s was the last ever (maybe) and it really did finish with a bang. But don’t just take it from me. The whole team have noted their highlights from the event —
Throughout the year, there are countless conferences with great speakers – but New Adventures is a little bit special for me. Not only was it the first conference I ever attended, but I also get to listen to what my design heroes have to say. The stand out talks for me were:
Jason Santa Maria
With a name like that, he was always destined for greatness. He shared some great points about his process and the importance of sketching out rough ideas. Sketching should be used as a thinking tool, and should definitely not look beautiful (in most cases).
I love typography, and it doesn’t come much better than in Jessica’s work. It was really good fun, listening to her talk about life/work balance and some of her projects. Good and bad. The talk was brought together perfectly by a striking pair of cat leggings.
They say it’s the final chapter of New Adventures. I for one, hope that it’s not.
So my one and only tweet at #naconf went something like this:
“Haven’t heard anything I didnt already know from #naconf…”
I sent this halfway through the third speaker, I did however append the following hashtags – #blatantlie #tellmemore, and those hashtags throughout the day rang true.
The industry that we are in is diverse, we know that, as designers, developers, and/or owners of companies the list of technologies & skills required to compete seems to be constantly growing. NAconf reaffirmed this by both its range of speakers and the content of the talks, and that for me was what I loved about NAconf, whether it was Jon Tan’s enthusiatic stance on typography, the brilliant Seb Lee-Delisle programming on stage or Wayne Hemmingway’s opinion on design and its effects both positive and negative. Each speaker had something which made me think, that’s why I love this job, and yes I should:
- Read more
- Stop copying and pasting code and just code
- Think about design past just the site I’m working on
Finally and most randomly for me it was Stephanie Troeth’s talk which I seem to remember most. Why? Possibly because of its abstract nature but most likely because, it was a topic I never think of or deal with in my ‘web designer’ position, and for me that is what I loved about NAconf and indeed any conference coming away with a new perspective, new ideas, and inspiration.
NA Conf 2013 continued its high standard with another stellar lineup. Whilst every speaker had interesting info to disgest, here are some of my highlights:
Although not directly involved in the web design world, Wayne’s life story serves as an inspiration to us all. His insight into how he built up his fashion empire shows what can be achieved with hard work and determination.
As well as dabbling in web design, Jessica is a well respected typographer (or ‘Letterer’ as she likes to refer to it) and illustrator. Amongst her beautiful and broad portfolio of work lie many gems; a particular favourite of mine is her recent work on a series of book covers for Penguin. Oh, and the cat leggings she was wearing ruled.
This year, New Adventures really was an adventure. We battled snow, sleet, hail, slush and blizzards to make our way to Nottingham. We arrived with enough time to dance our way over the icy patches over to a lovely place called the Antenna to watch Rob strut his stuff on stage at the NA Conf warm up event, Second Wednesday. He did an hour long talk about communication, which covered many parts of his book. Personally, I think he did us immensely proud. I’ve seen him talk a few times now, and this was certainly his best to date. Well done Bertie!
As the for main event, all I can say is ‘wow!’. The organisers did an absolutely sterling job, as they did in previous years.
Out of the 9 talks, I liked 4 (Wayne Hemingway, Jessica Hishe, Tyler Mincey, Michael Heilemann), loved 4 (Jason Santa Maria, Jon Tan, Tiago Pedras and Seb Lee-Delisle) and only one didn’t quite do it for me (Stephanie Troeth).
That’s not a bad result, and here are my personal highlights:
I think to stand on stage in front of 600 people you need nerves of steel, confidence, but above all a huge amount of knowledge and passion for your subject. Jon Tan ticks all those boxes. He talked about his favourite subject –Type, and boy does he know about it. It didn’t feel like he was doing a talk at a conference, more like chatting to friends, covering many areas of type including emotion, technical and visual. I tweeted during his talk that he’s like some kind of design scientist, such is his depth of knowledge. Awesome.
This one might catch a few of you off guard, as Tiago is not as big a name in the web world as some others, but I loved his talk. He’s a designer and a teacher. His talk was mainly focused on the teaching part. This is something we really struggle with in our industry, mainly down to how quickly things change. Tiago talked of his unique approach of splitting his class into teams, and getting them to spend a whole year building a web based product. The winning team had the honour of being awarded a Golden Coconut. I love this idea, it seems so much better than the traditional modular approach, but still covered planning, strategy, business, maths, design, programming, production, marketing and management. As well as it being a terrific way to build team spirit.
It’s probably no coincidence that these 2 guys also had the most beautiful slides.
That just leaves me…
For me the highlight was the whole day. That’s a cop out right? No way. Every talk was informative and presented in an engaging way, I left feeling very inspired and I was able to catch up with industry pals, make new ones and even had the chance to give my own talk at a fringe event the night before. If I really have to single out a talk then it has to be Jon Tan’s as he always talks about topics close to my heart and I love to hear about the emotion and psychology behind design.
We may have been AWOL for a day but we have already caught up and thew inspiration and knowledge we’ve brought back with us only makes us better. We’re disappointed there won’t be another New Adventures conference but what we gained from the last few years has been invaluable.
We made a thing – Is It Vatable?
People come to us for ideas. They need solutions and creativity and we like to think we provide both in abundance. Sometimes we have ideas for ourselves too but as is always the case, any internal projects play second fiddle to client work.
Well we want to do something about that in 2013. Our clients are still top priority, always will be, but we are going to make more of an effort to work on turning our ideas into ‘things’ this year by treating them like normal projects. So they will be planned, scheduled and allocated deadlines.
It seems to be working barely a week into the new year as we have finished our first one. We work on a lot of print projects, managing production of these items for client and ensuring they are delivered on time.
Every now and again we hit a wall when we are reminded that some print items in the UK are vatable and others aren’t. Cue head scratching. So we have made ourselves a handy little tool called, wait for it, Is It Vatable?
It’s a simple, online tool where you pop in the item and it will tell you if it needs to have VAT applied or not. We’re going to use it as and when we need to and maybe other agencies and freelancers will find it handy too. Perhaps printers can refer clients to it as well. But ultimately, we made it for us as it is a chance to keep learning new things and experiment.
So what’s next? Well we have some other ideas that we’re going to be rolling out soon, some big, some small, some for us, some for others.
Our day at Handheld Conference
On Monday, Rob, Paul, Gareth, James and myself attended Handheld Conference, a day of talks celebrating all things mobile web and app related.
It seems, for us Welsh folk, web conferences are like buses. You wait around for one for years and two rock up within a couple of months of each other. And that’s great! It’s great that Wales is becoming known as a player in the web industry. It’s great that we get to show off our beautiful land to people further afield. It’s great that such high quality speakers choose to come over the bridge to share their knowledge. It’s especially great as it only took me 15 mins to get there!
Much like Port80, the conference Rob and I spoke at in May, this was the first one for organiser Craig Lockwood. I applaud him for pulling it off with what only can be described as aplomb! The timings were precise, the beautiful St David’s hotel was a fantastic venue, the food was excellent, as is normal for these sorts of things, the attendees were chatty, open and friendly, and most importantly of all the speakers were brilliant.
Among the established speakers from the likes of Google, Facebook and Microsoft was our very own Rob, who did one of three quick-fire 15 minute talks. He did us proud. He spoke brilliantly about content, and how it plays such a vital role in any web project, mobile or otherwise. He used some examples of how we’ve adopted a content first approach, described in this post about a project for Solas.
All the speakers can be found here, but for me the speakers that stood out (apart from Rob or course) were Dave Addey, owner of iOS App development company Agant and Aral Balkan a well known user experience designer. I think the reason why these talks appealed to me is that both speakers showed both a huge amount of detailed knowledge of their subjects and intense passion for design and detail.
As a business we try to attend conferences to help grow our knowledge, passion and connections in the industry. I thought it might be nice for the team to tell you their highlights, so over to them…
Rob said –
As a non-techy person who doesn’t code or design, I got an awful lot out of the day. It is always insightful to learn about what others are making and how they are pushing the boundaries. The range of speakers was a real coup for the day and though they each had their own expertise, there were common themes throughout the day, such as content!
It was also useful to be reminded of things that sometimes get lost as we get bogged down with just doing the day job. It was good to be reminded that there is a difference between designing websites and crafting experiences. As a speaker at the event, chatting to others before and after has really left me pondering a wealth of content related issues, many of wish I hope to blog about in the coming months.
James said –
When you go to a conference you want to be engaged, enthused and if you’re lucky, informed. I’m glad to say that handheld conf provided all of these and a few more, not only did I come away enthusiastic about the industry I’m in, but also encouraged by the feel of community and overall willingness to share and inspire.
For me there were a few speakers that stood out, Dave Addey – Great to see someone’s passion and simple idea lead to so much more, Andrew Spooner – always good to hear from such an enthusiastic speaker from such a great company, Robert Mills (our very own) Good to see he finished his slides and talk, but more importantly gave an insight to a subject most of us avoid, and finally, Well done Craig Lockwood for placing Aral Balkan at the end of the day, whose use of images, video, humour and unbridled passion lifted everyones spirit after such a long day, his was without doubt a great great end to a brilliant day!
Paul said –
Aside from the renewed motivation in myself that these conferences generally instil, I found the varying viewpoints on the Native Vs Web apps discussion to be particularly interesting. Dave Addey’s talk was a highlight for me; his insight into how Agant projects the potential success of an app project will become, I suspect, a useful template for many of us in the future.
Gareth said –
For me, Handheld Conference was a huge success. Craig Lockwood, a conference rookie, put on a great show. It ran (almost) very smoothly, the venue was fantastic and most importantly the line-up was solid.
The talks obviously catered for developers, but luckily for me – many topics included design and content. As a designer, I think it’s important that I have an understanding of how developers work, and I really got that from Handheld. None of the talks were to techy – which meant nothing went over my head. One thing I now know for sure, is that PhoneGap is the worst thing since unsliced bread.
Several talks really stood out for me.Dave Addey gave us a good insight into what makes great apps and how to become a multi-millionaire from making them (not really). His well made points really got me thinking differently, about how an app can make money.
Simon Cross, from Facebook produced some mind-blowing statistics. More people use m.facebook.com than the iOS and Android app combined.
Whilst, Aral Balkan had the tough final slot, he was the perfect speaker for this. Despite the long day, he perked the crowd up with an entertaining talk, not about great design, but about terribly, awful, horrendous design. He had picked some very funny examples of this, many in hotel rooms.
Oh, and the food was incredible. Hats off to Lockwood.
So, I think it’s fair to say that the day was a success, and we look forward to both Port80 and Handheld in 2013! Did you go, what was your highlight? Let us know in the comments.
We’re off to Web Dev Conf – Friday 19th October
It’s rare that the whole team are out of the studio at the same time, but on Friday 19th October we’re making an exception.
There’s a web design and development conference (appropriately named Web Dev Conf) happening over the bridge in Bristol, and the design and web teams will be attending. This means taking a day off from client work to concentrate on learning a whole bunch of new stuff from some clever speakers. But don’t fret, we’ll be back on Monday, cleverer that ever (maybe) and ready to get back to work.
If you do want to call the studio, Mike will be manning the phones and emails, but please don’t ask him to design anything as it won’t end well.
Doing stuff like this is only good for us as a team, but also helps us stay ahead and gives us new ideas to pass onto our clients. So don’t shout at us :-)
If you’re going along, make sure you say ‘hi’ to Tom, Rob, Paul, Gareth and James, and if you want to find out how it’s going we’ll be tweeting the odd snippet from the Bluegg twitter account.
Fishing To a conf —
New branding, illustration and website for Zoosme
We often refer to the ‘Bluegg Way’. To us, that’s the way we work, how we deal with clients, our tone, personality and agency culture. Fortunately, most people get it and they are the ones we have long lasting relationships with.
Zoosme came to us a few months ago as they liked the Bluegg Way, and wanted us to inject some life and personality into their brand which was, by their own admission bland and uninspiring.
Here’s a little background. Zoosme was found in 2011 to help SME’s manage their businesses. From payroll and HR, through to marketing and accounts, Zoosme do all the tasks that business owners don’t want to do, allowing them to focus on what they are good at.
Being from an accountancy background, Zoosme founder Murray wanted to step away from typical formal and corporate looking marketing materials and make a dent in the market with their new approach to these services. Fresh, vibrant and brimming with personality were the key objectives for the brand refresh, stationery, website and brochure.
The existing logo was the word Zoosme with the two o’s doubling as heads to businessmen characters. There was no real personality, the colour pallet consisted purely of blue, white and grey resulting in a bland and clinical look. We considered keeping some sort of businessman type character but after much tinkering we decided to keep it simple, we would simply focus on the word Zoosme and communicate the personality through the use of bold colours, illustration and the content.
We also provided copywriting services. Using the existing content as a starting point we developed the tone of voice based on research we carried out with Zoosme and also tweaked it so it was consistent and authentic.
Determined to avoid cringeworthy stock imagery, we created bespoke illustrations that bring the site to life and really hammer home the point that Zoosme aren’t your typical accountants.
The website itself is relatively small, static with a WordPress blog. Again the colour and illustrations share the personality. This translated to the brochure too which also takes a big step forward from your typical corporate brochure.
Working with a client that understood us really made a difference and that sentiment was felt from the client too as Murray explains:
“The Bluegg team produced top quality work in the form of a website and corporate brochure for Zoosme. The bespoke design work complimented the brand perfectly and the team demonstrated a great understanding of what we were trying to achieve. Working with Bluegg was extremely easy and stress free as they know how to manage and deliver projects and respond efficiently to technical changes. But most of all, working with Bluegg on this project was fun.”
Thanks Murray! So Zoosme came to us to experience the Bluegg Way and we are proud to have played such a big part in creating the Zoosme Way.
You can see the website here www.zoosme.com and as always, we’d love to know what you think in the comments below.
Now, that’s how you do an annual report!
The Seren Group are one of our longest serving clients. We provide design services for all 6 companies within the group and also work on group wide projects such as their annual review document.
For the last few years this has been an A4 printed document that was fairly costly to produce. This year, in order to help them keep costs down, embrace technology and to make it more friendly to the environment, we suggested they opt for an online version of their annual report. To our delight they said “oh, go on then”.
The design style was already dictated by the previous print versions so the real challenge was how to get staff and partners engaged with what could potentially be very dry information. We knew that it couldn’t be static pages of text and tables. We had to have a level of interaction and oodles of personality. Challenge accepted.
The first thing we did was explain to our client that content had to be reduced in comparison to the printed versions. We didn’t want to bombard people with text so the key facts, figures and stories had to be extracted and condensed as much as possible. We also need good imagery and thankfully our client delivered.
We decide fairly early on that the review would be one page that users were lead down as they went further. Applying the illustrations from the printed version immediately brought personality and vibrancy to the overall design. We wanted people to interact with the page so we included doors that changed colour, info bubbles that pop up and various sliders that tell stories. It’s not super advanced in terms of functionality, but in terms of how this sort of information is usually presented it’s certainly different.
The annual review is divided into several sections. Once you start moving down through the content the navigation becomes fixed so people can get to which ever part they need quickly as this is now a resource and tool that they may need to refer to throughout the year.
It was interesting taking something that was traditionally a formal and very corporate document (although Seren have always embraced the benefits of personality) and turning it into something interactive, that engaged users but was still taken seriously. We experienced a significant learning curve but we’re so grateful to have clients that allow us to challenge ourselves and push the boundaries of their marketing and communications. As far as we know, this is the first annual review of it’s kind for their sector so it’s also great to be helping clients stand apart from their competition.
Denise from the Seren Group said: “It is not often you work with an agency that provides you with great a great idea or a concept that provides a completely new and fresh approach. That’s exactly what Bluegg did when we asked them to produce our Annual Review 2011/12. Not only did they suggest we produce an online version, but they came up with the design concept and made the whole experience fun and interactive for the reader.
“We work in the serious business of housing and support, and our work is all about making a difference to people’s lives. Ever since Bluegg worked on our rebrand, they have evolved the look and feel of our web based design and print work. They know us so well, they are able to create designs that are all about people, produced in a colourful, fun and friendly way.”
Feedback on this approach to the annual report has been great and has also grabbed the attention of other organisations. Although it only went live a few weeks ago we, already have ideas for next years version. If Seren thought we blew their socks of this year, they ain’t seen nothing yet.
You can view the online review here, and make sure you let us know what you think in the comments.
We’ve been shortlisted for a Canmol Award!
We don’t design for awards. We design for our clients and their audiences, crafting good user experiences and materials brimming with personality.
Every now and again though we like to shout about our work – if we can’t blow our own trumpets, who will? We have been especially proud of our involvement with two unique networking clubs, Woko Woco and Fiftyone3.
From design, through to marketing and sponsorship, we have worked with partners over the last year to create two very different networks targeted at different segments. Since we designed the branding and websites they have both experienced growth in terms of membership, event attendance and interaction with social media, which was an integral part of the strategy,
We entered our work on these projects into the Canmol Awards – Wales Marketing Awards from the Chartered Institute of Marketing in Wales. A couple of weeks ago we were told of the exciting news that we have been shortlisted. Last week we were filmed for a video to be shown on the night of the ceremony which is later next month.
It would be an amazing result if we won, but if we don’t, being shortlisted is a pretty big deal and is reward enough. It is great publicity for us and the clubs, and as we mentioned, we don’t design for awards but any recognition is always nice to have.
Will we have to find our Morph and He-Man figures a new spot in the studio instead of the mantlepiece? Who knows, we’ll let you know either way after October 5th!