Extra Hours of Design

No complaints so please don’t read this as a moan just a vent 😉

Is it a by-product of design in the modern age that’s watered down by online bidding and overseas outsourcing, but margins are less and clients are looking to pay a lot less for a lot more so when constant contract work is available you take it especially in the current economic climate.

Getting the contract work on a guaranteed long term scale is great but then when new clients and old all come online at the same time wanting work yesterday it means working evenings and the scorn of the wife :-O

Mustn’t grumble it’s all good just thought I’d blog for a change rather than tweet.



SEO is great but not at the expense of the Brand?

Okay, to cut a long story short I’m a designer, I specialise in design predominantly branding but also over the years now code, build content managed websites along with the more traditional marketing. I also offer full SEO solutions.

In a conversation the other day with an SEO ‘specialist’ I was interested by his approach? To gloss over a situation he works in-house for a web company who predominantly run in-house projects but he does get involved with the odd customer but never delves into any other form of marketing but online.

The opinion was that the only thing that should be considered at the start of a web project is the SEO and all other elements should fit that.

My argument being that if that were so we would end up with a design industry comparable to a template era as there would be a finite design layout that Google liked the most, that be the layout that has the largest SEO footprint, the result being the one that everyone would use.

I then brought up the what about design question to which it was simple you just make that fit the SEO, okay I can see his thinking but that’s okay if you work inside a bubble of a brand that has been built that way from its conception?

So I broached the question … A large corporate comes along with a strong internationally recognised brand accompanied by it strict brand bible wanting a new website, good accessibility, and of course great SEO, me being a designer sees this as simple, I produce the design to the best of my ability within the brief taking into account elements of Optimisation with the SEO being added to its upmost once the design is signed off.

His opinion was no, start with the SEO and do the design as best you can within the optimisation framework as that’s what’s important?

Brand > Design > Optimisation

Optimisation > Design > Brand

Just a quick summary of an interesting chat which I’m sure happens a lot these day but it does raise interesting questions?

Who is right? I would argue myself but in a rapidly changing online landscape is the SEO Guru the man to lead?

Walking down the high street now seeing empty shops in still busy towns I agree with some is a sign of e commerce and online savings, I know shop owners who have closed down as they could not compete online or off with web wholesalers.

Getting you products online is key to success now, getting found is a fundamental part of this, but once there the design has to engage, and is a brand that in the past stuck so rigidly to its brand bible now okay to be forced to be flexible?

John Whalvin
Creative Director


Design Industry shift?

It’s only after a lot of years 10+ in a business (and im not that old) that you start to truly see the changing face of an industry and it’s effect on career paths. I always remember being told that “there are twice as many designers out of work than in work and every job you apply for you will be up against at least 100 others etc”, this was back in 1995 but I for one have never been out of work since leaving university, be it luck, talent or just a bit of blag I’ve been working.

Fast forward to present day I’m running my own agency, it’s small but busy and suits my life setup but I did this on the back of years of experience in a number of different industries from large corporate blue-chip in-house design to advertising agencies to working for local web design agencies, even a stint as a marketing manager but the one thing that was always constant was that when design was needed clients looked to the design industry which you found through a number of sources.

With so many online services the question I now ponder is from a clients point of view who is the design industry? I obviously consider myself part of it but so many potential clients are posting work online and accepting bids based on price rather than on quality, don’t get me wrong there is a lot of talent out there but the Internet gives everyone the ability to be a designer just because they own

I’m busy, I have a great core of customers and a constant workload so there are no sour grapes from me I just worry about the changing face of design based in an economic downturn. A lot of people are trying to start small home businesses and are keeping the purse strings tight so I understand why they are price governed and students are looking to boost grants so a bit of extra design work on the side is great, I get that too not to mention overseas trying to grab lots hence I see a lot of bids include the phrase “UK bids only”.

I just worry that anyone can get a hooky copy of creative suite from their mate Dave or Colin, nick a bunch of logos and design off the web to pass off as their own and bid on work with no regard for quality just a quick few quid in the pocket.

There is an amazing industry out there and I love looking at the daily feeds via Twitter etc and I dont see that changing but a lot of let’s call it interesting design is and will be produced at the lower end of the Market and not all of it that good!

John Whalvin


Idea – Freedom Beer?

Just had an idea tonight, I’d like to see a brewery launch a beer called Freedom Beer and Market it to Universities and Student Unions, then at dredgers week and throughout the year it’s available.

Imagine being away from home, parents, own digs or halls, walking into the union bar for the first time and ordering your first pint of freedom! It’s an advertisers dream, you could hand out promotional keys on lanyards which entitles them to special promotions all throughout the term and if they lose it that’s it so they become sought after.

Just an idea?


Design it’s what human does

New website launch www.designitswhathumandoes.co.uk

At first glance an eclectic jumble but did deeper, not very deep to be honest you will find a simple site containing a new brand and some great Volkswagen related unofficial merchandise.

A number if t-shirts produced to a high quality branded human (with a vertical twist) and the main brand subtly added. Add to this mousemats both left and right handed, a variety of messenger bags, iPad sleeves, iPhone sleeves plus a coffee mug and what you see is the conception of a new brand, okay it’s early doors and starting small but Rome wasn’t built in a day 🙂

The Christmas Rush!

Every year as expected I hear a lot of companies talking about it being a hard time over the Christmas holidays and that nobody is spending. People are spending it’s just that it’s on consumables such as food and toys, I know that’s a bit sweeping but I’m sure you can fill in the gaps.

Over the last years as with most I have found the post-christmas lull a common factor but it is a joyous time I look forward to as a great catch up period. The reason for this is the yearly pre-Christmas rush, I was sat in my office yesterday as normal and found half my day was bombarded with new work. Some from existing clients some from new via referrals but all the same new work!

Not one to complain as this is all great but i still find it goes against the grain but then again even though I do my fair share of company branding which has all proved successful I am not a leading trend statistician so maybe I am missing out on something.

Could it be as clients businesses slow for Xmas they have more time to think about there current marketing outlets, or possibly the approach of a new year brings out the “must do something new” attitude.

Either way it’s s great time of year, being busy is great and will be a heathly start to the New Year.

Website Design is like baking a cake!

When people say to me ah, your a web designer I get offended, sorry if that offends web designers but I am a graphic designer who does both print and web and approaches both the same way!

I was recently on a forum I frequent, vehicle related not design but someone asked “does anyone know a web designer”, I did not respond as the guys on this forum moan enough and I need that like a hole in the head but i did follow the thread with some interest, just from a point of Market research let’s say.

The question was followed by about 20 responses saying “go here” “go there” but all said one thing ‘templates”. Now I have no problem with templates, they are nicely designed and allow a lot of people an ‘in’ to Internet existence but from a company presence point of view spending a few quid is worth it, the one that did amuse me was the one from the only other designer I know said forum who said,

“I have designed a few sites don’t know how to build them but . . . . “,

Ifelt like replying with “I have sketched a few pictures of a chocolate cake, don’t know how to bake one but . . . “,

the trouble is everyone knows someone who can build a website or knows someone who’s dads brothers aunts mechanics son can!

If I wanted to bake a good cake I would ask someone who could make a good cake or buy a Delian smith book – a designer,

if I wanted to just get something quick that would ‘do’ I would get a pre-mixed packet add water and go – a template,

what I would not do is ask my mate down the pub who has heard his mum talk about making cakes once, the ones suggesting templates.

Listen to Delia Smith and have a cake worthwhile of your tastebuds!