For this project we worked with Derek and Ailsa to redesign their existing website for their holiday rental cottage, as well as to develop them a strong brand which would make them stand out in a crowded market place.
Derek and Ailsa approached us and asked us to take a look at their current business website as they felt that it was dated, not mobile friendly and did not represent the beauty and quality of their holiday cottage. They wanted a bright, vibrant website which made the best use of their surrounding areas, alongside the history of their Grade II listed former miners cottage.
They also wanted a brand that was strong, unique and professional, and which reflected the history of their cottage. The brand needed to be appealing to their customers whilst also standing out in what is a very crowded market place.
Read through our approach below to see how we worked with Derek and Ailsa to firstly design their new branding and then how we used this to redesign, build and launch Derek and Ailsa a new business website.
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Understanding Derek and Ailsa
Whenever we work on a project, we like to get to know the people that we are working with. We feel that is important to understand who they are, what they stand for, and what they want from the project. Especially when we are working with the owners of a small business, like Derek and Ailsa, we have learnt that their company tends to reflect their own personality and style, and so it is important for us to get to know them better.
So, we did what we always do, we sat down to talk to Derek and Ailsa, to understand who they are, to understand what Clydfan Cottage is about – it’s WHY – and to learn from them about what they wanted from their new brand. Through the wonders of Skype we were able to do this quickly and easily.
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To kickoff this project, we began by taking our time to look at their existing branding. We wanted to understand the existing user experience of booking a stay at Clydfan.
What we found was an almost non-existent brand. There was no clear message that said “this is Clydfan – this is our brand, this is us”.
The consistent points that we noticed was the use of photos of the property – both internally and externally. There was no clear logo or style, nor a clear branding colour scheme.
The first thing that we started with was a colour scheme. This would direct the rest of the branding scheme and ‘brand voice’.
Having looked at the current branding on the website the thing that caught our eye was the colour of the cottage – it was the only property of that colour on the street so we used that as a starting point.
We then liked the way the green contrasted, yet sat comfortably with, the slate grey of the tiles on the cottage roof – so we added the slate grey in to the mix.
Part of our belief is that white is an essential part of any colour scheme – so we added that in to.
During our conversations with Derek and Ailsa, Ailsa shared her preference for a pink colour that we had used on a previous project – so we added that to the mix. With direct input from Ailsa we then tweaked the type of pink we used and ended up with a more neon version.
We settled on the colour scheme below which we sent to Derek and Ailsa to agree –
Once we had a brand colour scheme, we started to consider what font scheme would suit the ‘brand voice’ that Derek and Ailsa wanted.
We looked at their existing font style and then looked at how we could use that inspiration to develop them a scheme that was more appropriate for the brand and for the cottage itself. We wanted something that mixed the history of the cottage – it is Grade II listed – with a font that was more flowing and represented the closeness of the cottage to the river (in our view it is one of the unique selling points of the cottage).
After much deliberating, and much testing, we settled on the following font scheme –
After we had received agreement from Derek and Ailsa on the colour scheme and the font scheme, we looked at how we could bring those together into a logo design that was strong, unique and professional, and which reflected the history of the cottage and its uniqueness.
Derek and Ailsa had some ideas of what they wanted – they wanted to reflect the river, the al fresco dining (table and chairs in the garden which overlooks the river) and the cottage itself.
We come up with a number of concept ideas to give Derek and Ailsa some food for thought –
Some of these were liked by Derek and Ailsa, and some went straight into the bin. But they served their purpose, they helped us narrow down what they wanted. They learnt that the table and chairs looked more like a cafe, so that went. We kept the cottage image idea as that grew on them.
As we were working on the logo we were also working on the new website design, and in particular, the photos for the website – and there in one of the photos was something that became our inspiration, the Clydfan sign outside the front door. It was a plain sign of the name of the cottage on a piece of slate, see below:
What we liked about this sign was its mix of simplicity, its timeless feel and how it represented the cottage – the slate, the straight lines and the link back to the mining industry. The font on the sign also linked very closely with the font scheme which we had chosen – it was like it was meant to be.
By mixing this with what we learnt from the previous exercise, and the wishes of Derek and Ailsa, we came up with the final logo design –
We also created a number of secondary logo formats –
These were all then provided to Derek and Ailsa in a number of formats – png, jpeg, sag and eps – and, as per our approach, the logo is theirs to own forever.
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The other part of the project was to redevelop the existing Clydfan Cottage website.
We began by taking our time to look through the existing website. We wanted to understand the existing user experience with a critical eye.
This is what we found –
One of the first things that we noticed was that it looked a little dated. It also wasn’t mobile friendly. Additionally the branding was a little muddled, and some of the photos were very blurry and pixelated. In essence, it wasn’t doing the cottage justice.
So these points became our simple guidelines for the new website –
1/ It needs to be designed using the new branding with a clear ‘brand voice’
2/ It needs to clearly showcase the unique selling points of the cottage
3/ It needs to be easier to navigate
4/ It needs to have more of a ‘wow’ factor when you opened it
5/ It needs to clearly promote testimonials from previous customers
The new site
For the new site we came up with a simple, initial structure, and then through input from Derek and Ailsa, we expanded this to the following 6 core options, wth a couple of pages which float off of the main structure –
4/ the local area
We also added the contact details and a ‘Make a booking’ link into the footer of every page along with =the site map and a map of the cottage location, and links to their Facebook and Instagram accounts.
We also made the site bright, vibrant, and consistent on the ‘brand voice’. It is also mobile friendly and SEO friendly.
It makes the best use of the cottage’s unique selling point – its location overlooking the river. We built in bright, large and colourful photos of the cottage and its surrounding areas throughout the site. In addition, we also embedded videos that Derek and Ailsa had taken of the local area.
One of the key elements of this project was to make the most of the history of their Grade II listed former miners cottage. Alongside adding in details about its history into the text and title of the website, we also included a large historic photo of the cottage from either the 1800’s or very early 1900’s.
We also wanted to make it easier for customers to give their reviews within the website. Currently customers are encouraged to use Trip Advisor; however, Derek and Ailsa wanted to move away from this, so we built a ‘How was your stay’ form directly into the website. We also built a form for people to submit questions if they are not already covered within the frequently asked questions page to help Derek and Ailsa understand the questions that their customers, and potential customers, have.
This site was also the first site which we were not going to host. Therefore, the website was designed to be hosted by a different company that Derek and Ailsa had previously used.
We also had to build in the external booking system that Derek and Ailsa used.
You can view the new Clydfan Cottage website at
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View a gallery of our work with Derek and Ailsa