How to Create the Perfect Email Template

OK, so you may not be a graphic designer, but you can still create an email template that your clients or followers will love.

It is vital that you have an email template which stands out from the crowd, why? 205 billion email messages per day means almost 2.4 million emails are sent every second and some 74 trillion emails are sent per year. That’s why! Make sure that your mail isn’t lost in translation.

Adding in some design elements into your email marketing campaign will only enhance it, make sure you are up to speed with the latest email marketing trends. Read More

Book Boxes

How to Store Your Designs with Packing Boxes for Books

We all know that keeping on top of your designs can become a bit of a headache. You’ve tried to fit all your paperwork into drawers and folders but you are drastically running out of space and find yourself looking for places to keep your work. Thankfully, someone has gone and thought of a solution to your problem. Read More

Packaging Design

The Ultimate Top 5 Packaging Designs

There are a lot of moving parts that go into attracting the eye of the customer to your business, service or product. From marketing to development, the list is extensive and can be a tricky formula to pin down. One important aspect is the visual representation that a company puts out there. An issue which stems from this is one of the most crucial aspects of selling a product. That’s right, you guessed it, packaging. Getting the packaging of a product right is essential in creating the right first impression with the customer as often split second decisions will be made based purely on how the product looks. Have a look at a few businesses that got it right when it came to designing their packaging and as a result attracted the attention of the world.


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Traditional Islay Whisky bottle range

How To Design Islay Whisky Packaging

They say an image speaks a thousand words. This holds true in product design, where the first influence on a customer’s perception of the brand of product is the design of the packaging. For Islay whisky, part of this packaging is the bottle itself. There are no Islay whiskies in standard looking bottles; each has it’s own style inherited from both the distillery it hails from, and the spirit that inhabits it. Some even argue that the bottle design is in fact the first step in the tasting process, as how a bottle looks creates certain expectations.

This is true. Looks matter. That doesn’t mean that we are being superficial – it means we are being typical, at least in the whisky world. The design doesn’t necessarily have to be breathtaking or award winning. It can be demure, traditional, groundbreaking, or myriad other descriptive terms; as long as it creates a sense of connection from the viewer, it has achieved it’s goal.

Islay Whisky Box Design

Aside from drinking the whisky itself, the closest relationship a customer builds with a whisky brand is through the packaging. Packaging allows brands to represent the ideas and ideals that matter to their business. It has to be aesthetic, communicate all the key information, and conform to all legal requirements. As the brand owner, you have to ask: does the packaging convey our values? Does it create the right feeling in the viewer? Most importantly, does it link to the consumer on an emotional level?

This is a lot to incorporate into the design of  what is, let’s be honest here, a box. Creating the “look” of a new brand is a huge task. This is where the trained professionals come in handy. So what does a Islay whisky brand owner convey to a design agency when they bring them on board?


The Stages of Islay Whisky  Design

There are three main stages to creating the packaging – both box and bottle – for an Islay whisky, which are as follows:

  • 2D Conception. Several potential designs will be created in 2D. This usually takes 4 to 6 weeks.
  • 3D Conception. The chosen designs will be advanced to 3D design. No matter how good a design looks in 2D, until you see it on the box of an Islay whisky bottle, you cannot say for certain whether it will work. Again, 4 – 6 weeks is the rough timescale here.
  • Prototypes. A prototpe of the Islay whisky bottle and box designs, including the ability to hold liquid for the bottle, will be created. This allows a mold to be made from which other test bottles can be created, allowing the brand to test the structure, safety, packaging, and a variety of other parameters. This can take several months to complete.

On top of this, the new design and packaging has to be filtered into the marketplace. This means that from concept to shelf, the design process for a new Islay whisky can be upward of 12 months in total.

Traditional Islay whisky bottle design

Islay Whisky Bottle Shape – Does It Matter?

The starting point for the Islay whisky bottle design stage is the style of the bottle, which provides plenty of opportunities to be innovative, traditional, or some combination of the two. Over the past two decades, we have seen a far wider variety of bottle shape and size than what came before. The times have changed, and so have the rules.

As a result, brands have moved away from the “Up and Down” style of bottle design and have looked to non-traditional shapes. Some bottles, such as the Gordan & MacPhail Mortlach, have radical shapes (in this case a teardrop design). This new age of Islay whisky bottle design has allowed for some truly awesome designs to come to the fore. With this in mind, we will hopefully see more interesting and industry changing designs come about over the next few years of Islay whisky bottle design.



User experience design process

The Best Design For Conversion Optimisation or: How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love UX

There has been a war raging for decades now, a secret war, a war none of the general public know is going on. It’s rarely talked about outside the relevant circles, yet it affects almost all of us on a daily basis. From when we use our mobile phones to get the next little widget off Amazon Prime to when we settle in on our couches to begin yet another binge of a TV series on Netflix, this war has influenced how we go about these tasks.

The war I’m talking about isn’t a conventional, physical war based around borders (or these days, the lack thereof) and control of raw materials. It’s an online war. A digital war.

It is the war between design and conversion optimisation.

The Varying Views of Web Design

In reality, no one wants this war to be taking place. Ideally, Design and Conversion should work in beautiful harmony together to increase brand representation and promote sales. Sadly, this is rarely the case, as good design does not always make for good conversion, and vice versa.

Designers will have an image in their head of an end aesthetic that is pleasing for the user, easy to navigate, and laid out in a graceful manner. Optimisers want an end UX that drives people down the sales funnel, regardless of looks. These rarely link up, resulting in both sides scrambling in the mud to gain a few metres of ground.

Understanding The Relationship

It is understandable that designers want a good looking website. It’s what they do. They want to produce an end result that is interesting, engaging, beautiful and, most importantly, one that the end user remembers.

They want to win awards for their design. They want their portfolio to look good, as this is their form of a CV. What they don’t necessarily take into account is that other factors exist in the creation of a website – forces, desires, goals and the like – that impact on the design of a successful website.

Essentially, money.

Websites exist to bring in money. They exist to be used. In specific, they are about conversions. Conversions mean that the user does something, interacts in some way with the website to bring them closer to purchasing, becoming a lead, signing up to a newsletter, whatever the end goal of the website is.

That being said, it’s difficult to convert a potential customer if your website does not look the part. Poor layout and low quality design will drive away the public in droves, ultimately making your website a failure.

Resolving The Relationship

There does in fact exist a sweet spot between these two opposing forces. This sweet spot can be viewed as the spots that exist in the yin yang symbol, small parts of the opposing side existing within it’s opponent.

This sweet spot is a new area of design and development called “User Experience Design”, or simply UX Design for short. The principles of the matter is thus:

  • If you design something beneficial for the user, it will be effective in conversion optimisation.
  • If you design something good for the user, it will be effective in search engine optimisation.

Remember, the user is everything. Know the user. Learn the user. Understand the user. Love the user.

As Sun Tzu said (roughly): “Know Thy User, Know Thy Business”

So how does this translate into UX?

web design at work

Less Is Better

The quickest way to make a website worse is to clutter it with more stuff. When talking about “stuff”, I’m talking about anything. Forms, image content, nav bars, you name it.

A now-common means of web design is a wireframe. This is a simple means of laying out the whole of design in such a fashion as to see where each element lies. If the wireframe is not simple, the website will not be simple.

Front And Centre

Whatever the main point of the website is should be instantly recognisable and as in your face as possible. It is, after all, the entire reason your customer base is on your website in the first place.

Contrast your colours. Use borders. Do whatever needs to be done to make sure that it sticks out.


White Space Is Key

White space, also known as negative space, is the absence of design elements on the page. The more white space, the better.

This is due to the fact that white space does not let the eye rest on it, forcing it towards points of interest. This, in turn, forces users down a funnel that will hopefully end up in the creation of, you guessed it, money.

Remember, UX Is Your Friend

This article has only touched on the topic of UX, but the point should be clear: Do not forget about or underestimate the power of UX.


Website Design

Web Design Tips to Help You Achieve Success in 2017

Designing a website has its ups and downs. There is a lot of information out there on how to design a credible web page. Most of the advice will come at a cost and will have you out of pocket before you have even started. Some of the advice will be informative and free. That’s where we come in to play. Have a look at our Top 7 ways to make sure your website design is as well-developed as you want it to be. Apply them to your site and wait for the masses come and make your site one of the most attractive, well-developed and popular around.


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email design

Top 5 Things to Avoid When Designing a Website

Designing a website can be a challenging task if you are unsure about how to go about it. There are businesses out there that will do it all for you. There are individuals that will undertake your endeavour. If you are braving the task on your own, however, there are a few things you may want to consider. The pitfalls of designing your own website are vast and varied and could come back to haunt you. Have a look at our Top 5 things to avoid when designing a website to make sure that you don’t end up getting caught in the same trap as those before you.


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office space

How to Have the Perfect Designed Office

Whether you are moving into a new office or redesigned your old one, it is important to create the perfect designed office unit. These tops tips will help ensure that you have the perfect designed office that meets all your needs.

Having a well-designed office is extremely important to the success and morale of your company. If your office is completely designed to meet the needs of your employees, then the overall morale will be higher. A well-designed office will enhance the workflow and productivity of the staff.

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