Water colour sky

Water colour sky

Whilst my son was having his weekly swimming lesson I went for a mad dash around Duns Castle and Hen Poo whilst it was still light.

As I cleared the darkening woodland and came around onto the path by the lake, the swirling mottled clouds above looked like something from a water colour painting.

The sun had disappeared below the tree line to the west and the sky varied in colour and light intensity from shimmering cream to silvery blue and dark gun metal grey.

Rosie Sugden blog design

Rosie Sugden blog design

Rosie Sugden, Edinburgh
I read an article recently that stated that internet users are now sending over 200 million emails, making nearly two and half million Facebook posts and uploading 72 hours of YouTube videos every minute. An entire years worth of video is uploaded to YouTube every day. Factor in the Google Panda update (which demands original and fascinating content from websites), and it’s not surprising that more website owners want to be able to expand their content more easily, not to mention wanting to try alternative ways to reach potential new customers.

Full on content management isn’t for everyone. Nor is social media marketing. However, an integrated blog, or a blog set up alongside an existing website, is often a very useful way to allow website owners to become more involved in content marketing.

I designed Rosie’s logo and website back in 2011 in order to allow her to start promoting her new Scottish cashmere fashion label. Following some recent conversations about the changing landscape of online search, she asked me to set up and style a blog to sit alongside her existing shop. Her website (shown below) was to be updated with some stylistic changes, and the blog (above) was set up to allow her to expand upon website content and showcase behind the scenes photos, news and stories relating to her business.

Rosie’s feedback? “I really love it, I am so pleased with it. Thanks so much!”

Rosie Sugden website update

Free blank 3D button icon set

Having gone through my design archives this is the last of the blank icon sets that I came across. This set of blank multicoloured icon backgrounds feature round buttons with delicate shading, a small white border and a faint drop shadow that helps lift the button off the page. These would make ideal buttons for a media player or navigational elements within a Flash presentation. You can change the colours, convert to grey scale and overlay symbols to make the icons your own. Check out the free download category for more free icons too.

Download this free blank 3D button icon set (multicoloured)

Download this free blank 3D button icon set
To use any of these free blank 3D button icons simply right click on the icon set and select “Save image as…” from the on screen menu and the high quality image will download to your computer. This is a royalty free icon set, free to download, and there is no need to obtain a license or refer to the Scottish Borders Website Design blog or website. Enjoy!

Allanton Inn responsive website design

Allanton Inn responsive website design

Allanton Inn, Allanton
The Allanton Inn is a historic coaching inn located in the peaceful conservation village of Allanton (between Duns and Berwick-upon-Tweed) in rural Berwickshire. The inn offers a warm, relaxing, family-friendly atmosphere for those wanting a drink at the bar, a meal made from delicious local produce, or an overnight stay in the lovely Borders countryside.

Having seen sample menus and read the clients copy detailing all the local produce and seasonal ingredients, it was clear that exceptional food and a charming friendly welcome were key sales points. I was keen to factor these elements into the new site design, along with photos, awards, a map and a responsive layout (to ensure that the site could be viewed on desktops, tablets and smart phones alike).

I selected a calm colour scheme that complemented the interior photos of the inn, a web font that tied in with the old sign that hangs above the door, and integrated a photo based slide show to highlight the best qualities of the accommodation. The reservation number, awards and promotions relating to online booking were all positioned in prominent locations, and each page features a carefully designed blackboard menu (but in this instance, instead of listing dishes, there are links to each of the Allanton Inn’s menus, to help get visitors salivating).

Along with information about interesting local attractions, easy to follow directions and a huge volume of glowing testimonials, I hope the charming nature of the inn spills onto each page of the website.

Client feedback? “Thanks very much, it looks great.”

Suspended rain

Suspended rain

Whilst out on a walk around Marchmont Estate at the weekend I noticed that mist and light drizzle had been captured and suspended in mid-air by heavily sagging spider webs.

Not the easiest thing to photograph (brushing against a branch, or a step too close would cause all the water to instantly drop) I managed to find a saturated web next to an old stone wall.

With the droplets in the web catching the light of the low sun, I managed to get close enough to photograph the suspended rain drops and highlight them against the dark shadow of the background dyke, the glistening spheres of water hanging motionless in the air.

Maden Eco responsive website design

Maden Eco website design

Maden Eco, Berwick
Scottish Borders Website Design were delighted to be asked to design and build the new Maden Eco website. The dedicated server that hosts our websites is powered by 100% renewable energy from wind turbines, and 75% of the electricity used in our office comes from our very own solar panels. Despite our own green credentials, a quick meeting at the purpose built Maden Eco office in Berwick showed just how much more can be achieved from sustainable renewable technologies.

Ultimately, that was the drive behind the requirements of the new website too; to highlight the broad range of renewable energy products that Maden Eco design, install and maintain for domestic, commercial and agricultural customers across the north of England and throughout Scotland. Solar panels for houses or factories, wind turbines for land owners or businesses, biomass heating solutions for individual homes or entire estates, and construction and renovation services all needed to be promoted.

With the rapid advance in green energy solutions, the choice of products on the market, and the evolution of the energy sector in general, it was clear that the website also required full content management software (to help Maden Eco keep their content up to date) as well as a flexible structure to allow for new promotional activity in the future as new green technologies emerged and existing solutions matured.

Working with staff at Maden Eco a site structure was discussed and arranged to help highlight core elements of the business. A clean, no-nonsense design was required and the finished site reflects this desire for clarity and ease of use. In order to allow Maden Eco to keep the site up to date it was also built around a leading content management system.

Several months of hard work on the part of both parties, a little client training in content management, and the site was ready to launch. Client feedback, short and sweet: “The website looks fab!”

Free blank 3D square icon set

Following an earlier exploration of the archives these were another set of icon files that I came across deep in folders of an external hard drive. I finally found some time to update the blog and upload these blank multicoloured 3D squares for all to use. They could be used as buttons or social media icons (with your own symbols layered on top) within a design or on a blog or website. Check out the free download category for more free icons too.

Download this free blank 3D square iconset (multicoloured)

Download this free blank 3D square icon set
To use any of these free blank 3D square icons simply right click on the icon set and select “Save image as…” from the on screen menu and the high quality image will download to your computer. This is a royalty free icon set, free to download, and there is no need to obtain a license or refer to the Scottish Borders Website Design blog or website. Enjoy!

Fiery Cheviot dawn

Fiery Cheviot dawn

I awoke the other morning to a truly fiery sunrise. The dawn view over the Cheviot Hills to the south looked absolutely spectacular.

The fields in the foreground jet black, the sliver of cloud capped Cheviot purple grey, and a dazzling strip of orange fire arching diagonally into the sky above.

I rushed down stairs to grab my Canon only to find the battery (and the backup) flat. Luckily my Nokia Lumia 1020 didn’t let me down; as a camera phone it’s ability to capture stunning high resolution photos, especially in low light, is amazing.

Fun with Photoshop – The Persistence of #Bentgate

The Persistence of Bentgate

The Persistence of #Bentgate
The iPhone 6 was recently launched with the usual level of hysteria and over reporting (with the BBC dedicating nine separate website articles to Apple products in just one day), but subsequent reports have shown that it seems to be prone to bending if left in the users pocket when they sit down.

This was the queue for BBC reporter Marc Cieslak to carry out one of the most unscientific experiments I’ve ever witnessed – the “sitting down test“. He firmly and unscientifically concluded that the iPhone 6 doesn’t bend, but #bentgate continues, and as usual Apple have stalled with a response (as is often the case when unexpected problems are discovered with their new products).

Thinking of the surrealist artist Salvador Dali, who I studied during A’Level art countless years ago, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to have some fun with Photoshop and output my version of The Persistence of Memory (or in this case, The Persistence of #Bentgate).

Tech commentators are divided when it comes to whether Apple should respond to claims that the phone can bend if it’s left in a pocket when someone sits down.

My source within Apple has stated that a fix will be available shortly, and that Apple will soon unveil an optional Titanium iPhone 6 Pocket Liner, designed to be installed in any standard load-bearing trouser pocket. The optional Titanium iPhone 6 Pocket Liner will be available for just £399 (or £499 with 12 months support).

Affinity Herbals logo design

Affinity Herbals logo design

Affinity Herbals, Cornhill on Tweed
Affinity Herbals is a new business that was set up to produce, market and sell a comprehensive range of organic herbal remedies. All of the remedies, be it a lotion, oil, cream or ointment, are made from completely natural ingredients using traditional techniques, and it was important to the client that both these elements came across in the logo design.

Scottish Borders Website Design were tasked to design the new logo, but also provide advice on the brand and packaging options. The starting point was the client mentioning their appreciation of Indian design, typography and illustrations. Having researched the subject, a serif font was selected to emphasise the traditional nature of the business, and a number of possible icons were illustrated to highlight that natural source of the products.

The icon that was selected is based on an Indian lotus flower, with the stem growing out of the H and intertwined around the Y; a central focal point that binds the two words together. The soft, muted blue grey and greens complete the logo; a design which is clearly linked to nature, and a unique new identity for a traditionally run business.