Something Lairdly this way comes …

We have just finished design and writing the copy for the new A4 Presentation Folder for the project. This is the first version of what will become a series of souvenir presentation folders which existing lairds and ladies can purchase. To market this new development we have produced a ‘3D’ artwork for the website.


Enhanced by Zemanta

A Bejewelled Debut at Spirit of the West

Finally the artwork is at the printers and the design project nearing completion (I am just sending off the poster pdf): the Hidden Jewel, as designed by us, will hit the streets on Saturday, or rather, the stands. If you attend Inveraray’s Spirit of the West family weekend, you’ll find the Dunollie House team selling tickets to July’s theatrical extravaganza.

We’re particularly pleased with the work we have done on this project, not because we have found ourselves an excellent printer in the form of CypherDigital, nor because we have been working with the delightful Catherine Gillies, but because the artwork looks really great. Often design happens in an instant, and this was the case here: the central device of the Dunollie Brooch combined with the play’s title was a gift. The rest flowed.

This is the first major treatment we have done which has been developed exclusively using illustration. No photos were used at all.  This gives the whole event a timeless quality, attempting to echo the practice of illumination rather than structuring the artwork around fashionable design trophes. And indeed this is entirely applicable, when one considers that the production covers a period before the printing press, books and modern design.

To Conquer or Die!

Such is the translation of the McDougall motto, which the new Homecoming Production, the Hidden Jewel is using as its strap-line! We have just completed phase 1 of this project (and thoroughly enjoyable it is proving to be too), and we’re now working on the reverse side of this ticket, including maps and terms and conditions, as well as an A4 poster and DL format flyers (all of which more later). In the meantime, here’s the ticket artwork — some of the text isn’t finalised, but the graphical side is ready for go.

To Conquer or Die

How do you measure how successful your site is?

… or Arbu designs the most visited websites in Argyll!

So you’re about to commission a website, you’ve got a competitive tender going and you need some sort of objective criteria to measure the expertise of the companies and individuals quoting. Difficult for SMEs who are focussed on business and products, near impossible for associations and organisations without in-house web expertise. There is an answer though. ranks websites worldwide on how much traffic they get and how long they retain visitors for. The stats look like gobbledegook at first, but once you see the rankings it becomes much easier. I now have the Alexa Firefox plugin which allows me to see the rank of sites as I visit them. The ongoing battle for number one spot is fascinating, but what’s more useful is seeing how successful Arbu’s site designs are in terms of the traffic they pull in.

As you’ll have gathered from this blog, we work on, the region’s premier news service, and top website, and it is this site which has really made us pay attention to Alexa’s very useful stats. Here’s how things looked the week beginning March 2009 with a random selection of other websites from across Cowal and Argyll (Arbu’s websites are marked in bold):

  1.‘s rank this week is 346,703
  2. has a traffic rank of: 357,874
  3. has a traffic rank of:  546,984
  4.‘s rank this week is 596,532
  5.‘s rank this week is 1,101,285
  6.‘s rank this week is 2,204,430
  7. has a traffic rank of:  3,545,293
  8.‘s rank is 4,469,314
  9. has a traffic rank of:  5,008,692
  10. has a traffic rank of: 5,571,596
  11. has a traffic rank of:  5,694,181
  12. has a traffic rank of: 6,149,160
  13. has a traffic rank of:  7,737,864
  14. has a traffic rank of:  10,479,940
  15. has a traffic rank of:  17,706,517
  16. has a traffic rank of:  18,078,371
  17. has a traffic rank of:  22,858,198
  18. does not register

This is NOT a definitive list of websites across Argyll, but it does show how the hierarchy of business turnover or local visibility is completely undermined by the traffic visiting these webpages. For example, there is no way in a sensible world that the ColGlen website should be over three million ranks higher than the main site for the Dunoon and Cowal Marketing Group, but it is. Similarly, and probably more incredibly, a small (but luxurious) B&B run by Michael and Sandra Webster is 15 million places higher than their local friendly-neighbourhood Caravan park.

How do these things happen? Well, aside from saying that Arbu knows what it is doing in terms of attracting traffic, it is probably sufficient to say that a lovely design isn’t as important as knowing how the web works.

So, if you are thinking of commissioning a website in the near future and you want a directly comparable way of measuring how your tenderers’ previous commissions stack up, or if you would like to check these ranking out for yourself, click here

A final thought: if you have a web designer, and you’re wanting a quick thumbnail of how they’re doing in terms of traffic, put their website into – you may be surprised!

Zemanta Pixie

Watermill Goes Mobile

The latest strategy to market accommodation is to go mobile. The rest of the world has, but perhaps not the less technology-driven sectors of the tourist industry, particularly B&Bs. The Watermill’s owners Michael and Sandra Webster gave Arbu the brief to promote their business as widely as possible, and one of the strategies we have come up with is to make their website,, mobile browser-ready. How did we do this? A combination of WordPress, javascript and a little template trickery. The result below, is a ‘thin’ version of the site which carries some all important information on the front page: the phone number and the postcode. The former for the mobile phone to make the booking and the latter for the satnav so no instructions are needed. We’ll be putting the GPS up as soon as possible too.

Enhanced by Zemanta

ForArgyll Awards Logos

This year sees the launch of the first Awards. These are voted for by everyone and anyone without let or hindrance — which should mean that they’re truly reflective of the best and most used sites. As ForArgyll‘s in-house design people we were asked to come up with a logo to tie in with the style of the site. We wanted to suggest a button, create something impactive and ensure the basic message couldn’t be missed. We nailed that, and have something which will adapt over the years as well. At the moment we have a Nominee logo and a Vote logo, the latter is displayed on the ForArgyll site and the former should be displaying on Nominee sites very soon.

As you’ll see from the Developing OFTA blog, the whole endeavour has kicked off a traffic spike, as well as earn both and the nominees (and therefore Argyll) some well earned publicity. We wish our clients luck: The Walking Theatre Company, ArtsFeastCowal, The Kames Hotel, Philippa Elliott Photography and Colintraive & Glendaruel Community Website.

Vote for Argyll Awards 2008

Enhanced by Zemanta

News from the Sports Consultancy

The new version of the Sports Consultancy website was launched today, not that you’ll notice much of a change visually – it is more about Search Engine Optimisation. As you’ll no doubt be aware a constantly updated site will attract more attention than a straightforward static site. While you can change pages regularly, it is also better to create additional content and pages. The challenge for the Sports Consultancy is updating the site while they are on the road and leveraging their expertise in a rapidly changing business environment. The answer is to update via email using the excellent plugin Postie which (delightfully) attributes posts to the correct user from whatever device they’re using at the time, be it Mac, PC, PDA, Mobile or Blackberry. We now show two news items on the front page, and have a fully featured post page which fits in beautifully with the very sharp TSC look.

Enhanced by Zemanta

The Yachties Strike Back

The sequel to Making the Most of Small Spaces … This ad looks at the Kames Hotel’s traditional strength – its location. Sailing has always been a mainstay of the business and this piece will go into Welcome Anchorages, a publication funded by the Crown Estate for those sailing around the West Coast of Scotland. The glorious photo was taken by Philippa Elliott, one of the proprietors of the hotel, one sunny summer day bouncing around in a rib within sight of the hotel. As she says, they were going so fast she couldn’t take photos in raw format and had to resort to jpeg. No problems here given the 131mm x 88mm dimension.

Enhanced by Zemanta

Making the Most of Small Spaces in Big Titles

We expect perfection of weddings and we love a venue which can offer a range of locations. The Kames Hotel which specialises in bringing the urban ‘boutique style’ to a rural location set on the shores of the Kyles of Bute is presently engaged in attracting the Wedding market to Tighnabruaich and the Cowal Peninsula and so has asked us to produce adverts for a couple of the Big Beasts of the Wedding Magazine Industry. We enjoy this sort of project, building on a style developed for the wedding brochure and using the best of Philippa Elliott‘s photography:

The idea is to develop a style which stands out from the common fare of Scottish Venues — which is generally about Castles, big houses and kilts. We think we have achieved something very different here.

Enhanced by Zemanta

WeeRide et les maternelles recently commissioned us to package a short piece of TV on their product from French show ‘Les Maternelles’. Despite our somewhat limited language facilities, we created a short which we are pretty pleased with. The opening and closing screens show well, and the music, Round Midnight by Thelonius Monk fits this piece’s 1.15 minutes beautifully. We only wish we could understand what they were saying!