news

SGE Travel Coach Tours reaches out to the Midlands from the Highlands

SGE Travel based in Dunoon has recently launched tours to the wild highlands of Scotland from the Midlands via Executive Coach Tours and offering a fantastic deal on their chain of wonderful hotels. We have developed, as part of an ongoing update for the group on their hotel websites, the new tour operator’s website. Available here, the new website also displays the new logos for SGE Hotels’ chain of hotels. Including a hefty element of picture research, illustrator and photoshop work alongside social network integration and a live help system, this site (and her soon to be launched sisters) are state-of-the-art.

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Our other development blog at Argyll Communities

During the last 6 months, ARBU has been engaged in one of the most complex installations of WPMU we have ever had the pleasure of working on. With a standing 40 websites already in place on the original Argyll Communities website and requirements for newsletters, community toolkits, external search engines, a portal-wide announcements engine and sundry other items, we had our work cut out for us. But throughout it has been an utter pleasure — not only because the AVA team are feedback positive and precise about what they require, but because the work has involved working with many of the individual communities which run sites through the Argyll Communities site. To gather more insight on the process, and how we have developed the project since November last year, visit the Development blog, here.

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Bassira.com Goes Live!

Arbu’s latest WordPress site, Bassira.com, goes live. The Bahrain-based company delivers state-of-the-art business control and management applications to financial institutions in the Middle East. Bassira asked Arbu to provide a user-friendly, search engine optimised and superfast loading site with an easy-to-use content management system with which to administer it. WordPress was of course the solution.

bassira.com

Something Lairdly this way comes …

We have just finished design and writing the copy for the new A4 Presentation Folder for the ScottishLaird.com 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.

dunans-welcome-pack-big

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The Blog is Dead! Long Live the Blog!

Charles Arthur declares the long tail of blogging dead in “Blogging: The Long and Short of it” and he’s got some persuasive observations about how the small fry of the blogosphere are pulling the plug on their weblogs and migrating wholesale to the likes of Facebook, Bebo and of course Twitter. Unsurprising really, given the effort it takes to keep a blog going if not relevant. For those who stick with it though, their audience is likely to increase simply by the ongoing attrition Arthur identifies.

The great effect of blogs has been to universalise the creation of webpages, to allow the common-or-garden user to make their mark on the internet. The logical development of the blog is the microblog and the social network, both of which have made the publication of these thoughts, links, pictures and connections easier again. The trade-off is between creating a clear online identity which can market your brand, your product or yourself, and swimming as part of a shoal in a more anonymous, transient mode, albeit one that may make meaningful connections between people easier.

In this light it is interesting to explore the way that WordPress – the leading open source blogging platform – has adapted and been adapted to incorporate these new forms of web-expression. The most notable and extraordinary development has been the BuddyPress project led by Andy Peatling. This converts a vanilla installation of the Multi-user version of WordPress into a reasonably fully-featured social network. Its success can be measured in the amount of spam sign-ups the software is already generating even on test installations. Is this supercharged modification an implicit acknowledgement that Blogs are on the way out? Perhaps. But then you can also use a WordPress installation as a shop (ScottishLaird.com), a members’-only website (PerfectPresenting.com), a corporate brochure (TheSportsConsultancy.com), a Group Blog or Community Newsite (ForArgyll.com), an online aggregating application etc etc. The blog doesn’t remain a blog for long it seems, but becomes the lead endeavour among many others. And in pinpointing this, it becomes clear that the form’s longevity depends upon this interaction with time and narrative, and how attractive to the user this remains. I think it will, afterall how many diarists pre-1999 were instantly published like this?

And then there are the other integrations which augment and support the older model, like posting to Facebook, or tweeting your posts to twitter (like this blog does), or using your flickr account as your picture library (I’ve used this one to great effect on ForArgyll.com) or aggregating a relevant youtube channel or … Well, you get the idea.

I’ve been running an experiment for a while at charlescharliecharles.com using a plugin called WP-o-matic: I aggregate all my online prose pieces* into one blog, which link directly back to the source post. (I could have done this with chi.mp, but I discovered it too late). ccc.com been going now for eight months, and its allowing me to see both the common threads in all my online endeavours and also the places where it ain’t working. It also means I tweet from this aggregate blog, and therefore create a vibrant and ever-changing thread which is always backed up with reasonably in-depth content, which in turn is publicising my work through the newer networks. In short, my blogs are getting more traffic from exactly the source which has killed off the long tail.

So Charles is right. Both of us. The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog!

* and yes, I do have a poetry blog which for reasons we need not rehearse here I keep separate

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VisitGlendaruel Reinvigorated

Destination development in any small community is usually more about individual businesses’ efforts rather than collective pushes towards higher visibility. In Glendaruel (and Colintraive) this has started to not be the case, and with the reorder of the VisitGlendaruel website, small steps have been taken to ensure this delightful corner of Cowal remains generally unknown no longer.

With the use of a different front page, a re-editing of the blogroll, insertion of more and relevant news items and a clean up of all the internal links and menus, the site is now ready and waiting for the publicity generated from the publication of this year’s Cowalfest guide.

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Bring Your Heritage To Life! A Gorgeous Cover for the ABMHF

…. even if we say so ourselves. This project continues to intrigue and delight us here at Arbu, not only because the visual material we have been sent is so strong, but because of the variety of historical material these Museums and Heritage sites exhibit. When we were writing the back cover copy, something which I took particular pleasure in, we could draw upon the entirety of Scottish history for inspiration. The result was some of the bast marketing copy I have written for a while:

“Viking, Celt or Pict, Sassenach, Gael or Scot, Argyll & Bute‘s museums will bring your heritage to life.

“From bronze age man to the Picts and the Gaels, from the Spanish Armade thrugh the Clearances to the rise of the Victorian Industrialists, the museums and heritage sites in this guide, together create a stunning narrative of life in the region which spans its beautiful geography as much as its complex and ancient past.

“Learn about the lives of the ordinary folk as well as the clan chiefs, of the battles fought here as well as the peace lived, of the craft and artistry of the West Coast people as well as the harshness of some of their lives.

“This guide is designed to introduce you to the full breadth of Argyll and Bute’s heritage, and perhaps connect you with yours!

Now aside from writing superlative copy, one of our underplayed strengths, the branding and visuals have provided us with some challenges we have relished. For example, the original logo, works extremely well on its own, however in this context we needed to give the visitor a guide on what the Forum actually means and how it is trying to connect with its audience, hence the tag, “Bring your heritage to life!”. We wanted to subliminally empower the visitor, ask them to see these venues as being of value because of their, the visitor’s, attention. It also brings in the idea of folk tracing their genealogy, taking a positive role in constructing an historical narrative in which their family plays a part – after all what are we most interested in? Ourselves. And then there is also the idea that these 15 Great Museums create a really fantastic themed tour around Argyll, allowing the guide’s users to bring their heritage to life in a narrative of the actual journey to each of these venues.

090518-front-back-cover

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Branding the Hope MacDougall Collection

The work we have done for The Hidden Jewel Project has been so successful that we were asked by Dunollie to create a basic branding concept for the Hope MacDougall Collection which is about to move into a museum space in Oban. The logos were required for a multitude of applications, from creating merchandise such as t-shirts and mugs (and no doubt I’ll post the results here) to creating a sign for the museum. What was lovely was that we were given a very clear brief and were able to turn this around very very quickly.

Hope MacDougall Collection Logo Hope MacDougall Collection Museum

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Making a Roadside Impact at Dunans

We’ve just sent these out for printing with a signage firm. The brief was to create roadside impact to ensure visitors don’t miss Dunans. The red is designed to contrast with the surrounding rhododendron foliage and also ties in with the existing signage we designed over two years ago.

dunans-front

dunans-below

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ABMHF Map First Draft

This is in development, but is sufficiently advanced to show here as a piece in and of itself. We particularly like bringing the 2D cartographic environment into the 3D with our square, Frappr-like pins. Evidently the ongoing “map-everything” meme which Google began with GoogleEarth is infecting all areas of the design industry, and in this case for the better:

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