All Mamas Children Baby Store

Stunn have developed the branding, customised theme, much of the product photography and built the site and marketing strategy for new concept baby store


The site is growing rapidly, largely through organic SEO and social strategies, with above expected conversion rates and average order values, great customer feedback and a growing feature set. The project was launched with sensible and conservative budgets and is a testament to the power of elbow grease and flexibility. 

Here at Stunn we are more known for our bespoke development than our platform work, but we do have successful web sites running on Magento, Shopify and Wordpress for several of our clients. 

We continue to work on the marketing and growth of All Mama’s Children and are looking forward to a successful ongoing project.

How do I claim a custom Linkedin URL

Already using Linkedin? Here’s a 2 minute job to make your Linkedin profile look more professional and to make you much easier to find in Google; simply by changing your public profile URL.

This is a free service provided by Linkedin on a first come first basis.. If your name happens to be Dave Jones.. chances are you might need to get a little creative, but you can still get yourself a tailored and infinitely more readable Linkedin web address by following these simple steps…

1. Log in to Linkedin and click the edit profile button in the box at the top of the page. Here’s mine with a slightly lurid hand icon so you can see where I am on the page..


If you look below the photograph of me, you’ll see a web address - this is the link to your public profile for sharing. It enables people who aren’t connected to you on linkedin to see basic information about you. (You can customise this too, from the same page)

2. After hitting “edit profile” Your public address will have an edit link next to it just like the one shown in the next screen shot.


Click on this edit link and you’ll be taken to the next screen.

3. This edit page has a lot of options. I’ve left the whole top section in to help you navigate to the right part of the page. You’ll see a link on the right hand side in the 2nd box called “Your Public Profile URL”. Again - look out for the green hand on my screen shot.


Click this link, which leads you to the final step.

4. When you click the link, a modal window will appeal. (A model is similar to a pop up window). Simply fill in the custom URL you want. If its available, Linkedin allows you to save and set it, or if it is taken, it offers you alternatives or allows you to type alternatives of your own.


I was beaten to the chase by another Karl Baxter. Mysteriously, that one doesn’t seem to have a public profile. I chose to add UK to the end of mine. We work internationally and there’s a product designer in New Zealand who goes by the same name, so the UK made sense. I could have chosen to tell everyone my year of birth, I suppose, but this isn’t hotmail, or 1998!

So that’s it. 2 minutes flat and you’ve got a much more memorable Linkedin  address to share as you see fit.

If you want to talk to me - feel free to connect with me - but do send me a message rather than using the Linkedin default, that way I know why you want to connect with me.. but Linkedin etiquette and how to best use it for networking is another article..

Connect with me - click my custom Linkedin URL

KBBranding, SEO
Self Help SEO. Quick Tips for Better Ranking & Better Conversion

If you feel like you’re not getting your fair share of traffic via the search engines, here’s a self help (mostly!) guide to getting more of the right bums on the right seats.



    Over 50% of web searches now originate from mobile devices… Google in particular places a MUCH HEAVIER EMPHASIS on local results on mobile and even with its desktop results; the page often shows local search results for general searches. Our own web site sees almost as much traffic to our Google+ page as to our actual web site. It doesn’t matter that you can’t afford to spend huge amounts of time maintaining another social network – we can’t either; just make sure you’re there and any content you do add has the right keywords for you. If you’ve got more than one location – list each separately. Your London Office won’t show up on a Manchester search!


    Don’t write your content for a search engine – write it for a human. It might mean you sacrifice top billing for a while, it might even mean you sacrifice it forever on a specific key term. Get there or thereabouts in the search results with naturally written and informative copy and your users will likely stay longer, improve your stats overall and have a positive impact on search terms all over your web site. It’s not about the silver bullet, you need to build a consistent user experience with an eye on your keywords… not the other way around


    Finding the right balance between relevance and traffic is really important – if you are very specific in your content, you are more likely to be found on a search – it’s also more likely to be relevant. Think about how people buy from you and tailor your page titles and articles accordingly. If someone is looking for a red winged butterfly marketing specialist in Guildford and you appear in the listings – it’s unlikely you’ll be facing too much competition… granted it’s also unlikely to generate many searches, so the balance between the time you spend generating the content, the quality of traffic, speed of success and overall traffic volume all need to be considered.


    This applies to all businesses, but especially if you’re in the B2C space. There is a direct and demonstrable a relationship between the number of reviews and higher rankings in Google. What’s more, the search results listings are also more compelling with a glowing five stars beneath your name. Start with a few “friendlies” and ask them for a short and honest review for your Google+ page. Google is the easiest because so many people have Google accounts of some form or another.


    If you’ve done a job for a business in Birmingham and you’re writing about it – say where that business is from and if you project managed the job from your office in Manchester – well, best mention that too. If you’re adding an image to this sparkly new page you’re making – give the image a good filename “printing-brochures-birmingham.jpg” and caption it with a geographic caption too. It’s amazing how regularly you can pop up in an image search and it’s also a good way to get that keyword in without stuffing your copy so it reads like a search engine piece, rather than content meant for real people to read.


    Over 50% of global web searches are mobile. If your web site isn’t mobile ready, you won’t show up in mobile searches if anyone does it better. So this one isn’t so much “self help” as “talk to your web developer”. The self-help, I suppose is to build mobile readiness into your marketing plan, if you haven’t already done it.


    Content really is king, I’m afraid. Your neglected web site won’t sit and do the work for you just because you paid someone to build it properly. You taking the time to keep it and your customers up to date tells the search engines that your web site is important to you – what you write about tells the search engines which content is important to you and when a user arrives, up to date and relevant content tells them they’re in the right place. It’s the archetypal win-win.


    Site speed has a direct impact on positioning in search engines – it also has a marked effect on use experience. If you’re using images on your pages – crop them to the size you need them, compress them as much as you can without them looking muddy and pixelated then save them out as a new file ready to upload so you still have the original. Keeping the originals is important – you may want them bigger if you redesign!


    Even a few decent links back into your web site can make a big difference to your search position. They have to be relevant though, or its just seen as spam. If you have multiple web sites – link them. If you have friends with web sites – swap links. If your customers and suppliers are willing to swap – link to them too. Link building is a huge topic in its own right, but get yourself started with a quick flick through your contact book and a couple of friendly calls. If you comment on blogs and news – use it as an opportunity to link back to your own web site.


    This simple strategy will really help with long tail geographic searches. Simply adding your address could have you popping up in searches on pages that you otherwise don’t touch, or return a local / hyper local search on something you wrote years ago. This web site still sees traffic to images and pages that haven’t been reviewed in a couple of years, simply because someone was looking for some niche element of what we do “in Birmingham”

Did you find this article useful? Great! If you’d like to thank us in kind, please follow us and leave us a nice rating or review on our google+ page.. it really does help

If you’d like to talk to one of us about anything raised here.. just give us a call on 0121 616 0098 and ask for Karl

The End of Keyword Marketing?

Google has announced that all searches on its network will now be secure – meaning an end to keyword statistics in Analytics. Google has been moving towards more equitable search results for some considerable time.. The mantra from web marketers has been produce good content and plenty of it, link it well, focus on the web site user and make sure your friends and colleagues contribute to your visibility via links and blog contributions and your traffic will grow.


In the real world, many many web site owners don’t have the resource, or indeed see the value in concentrating efforts on inbound marketing and use keyword tracking as a “how are we doing” overview in analytics. I’d be amazed if keyword tracking wasn’t the most popular measurement of success outside of the hard core inbound marketer set.

Why have Google done it?

Who knows.. Some say to prevent “fake searches” where software generates searches and clicks for a particular client around a particular topic – increasing their link performance artificially. Others say it is to move the focus away from keywords. Yet more suggest it is an attempt by Google to “lock down” search data to make sure people can only guarantee key phrase performance through the Pay Per Click platform, Adwords.

What does this mean for SEO?

Well, nothing, really, but it changes the way it is measured quite significantly. We can still use 3rd party software to rank keywords – checking if you’re #1 on your chosen terms. What becomes more difficult to see, is if we’re concentrating on the right keywords, because we can no longer measure click traffic in that way.

From a web site owner’s perspective, you need to decide how important it is to understand the performance of your web site is. We’d say its vital. Although people may question Google’s motives, what this move unquestionably does do is move us towards the needs of the user. If we aren’t measuring keywords (by its nature an introspective measurement), then presumably we’re best to actually look at what the user is doing – how much time they are spending on the web site, their individual and collective “journeys” through your web site and what proportion of them did we manage to convince to complete the journey we tried to guide them through.

So where next?

As I’d said previously, we can still rank keywords, so we know how the web site is doing, though this can’t be done through analytics and frustratingly, Google continue to try and make software measurement of this kind more difficult. What we expect to see is that inbound marketing budgets will begin to shift to where they should be – better definition of site goals, and design (and content!) to support those goals. We’ll continue to monitor time on site, levels of engagement, completed actions and all the important stuff. We can anonymously record mouse actions to understand which parts of web sites and pages are used most, and analyse why. So perhaps the internet is finally growing up and user experience is replacing search engine optimisation. On page SEO becomes on page user journey optimisation, but all other rules apply.

In the longer term, this move away from keywords will be fantastic for the internet. Anything that pushes web site design towards the user and away from a silo’d brief, has to be a benefit.

What is the long term outlook?

Those who invest… win. I’m sure there’s as many word press houses worried about the long term implications as there are half baked SEO houses this morning. This move from Google yesterday has put yet more question marks over their long term success in the mid and top market, because most of the platform based tools simply don’t allow you to work in the most flexible way for a user. They will still have a place of course, but just as developers and SEOs are having to deal with a new era, so too are the open source platforms and few of them, with the exception of Magento are equipped to do so.

What Can I do Now?

Start thinking about your user and your web site in a different way. You should have been thinking user first anyway,but now the key way we can monitor your web site performance is by optimising for user experience and to keep doing the good bits well.. (writing copy, linking properly, generally being a useful content provider).

We can help.

  • Keywords and content: We can use webmaster tools from Google to understand search volumes and your web site’s general ranking across a wide range of Google searches – we can also use this tool to monitor for web site errors, duplicate content and any of the bad stuff Google doesn’t like.

    We also use tools to optimise pages and keep an eye on keyword performance. This is still a valid thing to do – keeping on top of on page optimisation is important – its just measurement of click through that has disappeared.

  • Popular content and UX: Analytics still lets you see which of your pages are popular, how long people spend on them and what people do next (most of the time). This can be used to drive user experience improvements, additional calls to action and to generate in depth reports on how your web site is being interacted with day to day.

    We also use specialised tools that monitor movement, clicks, hover time etc. on pages so we can gain a deep understanding of how a web page, or web site is being interacted with. This is particularly useful for landing pages (either marketing / sales landers, or just popular web site entry points)
  • PPC: Well optimised pay per click campaigns don’t have to cost the earth, and should provide a genuine and measurable return on investment. If you want to be sure you’re hitting page 1 with a keyword, it can still be achieved in Adwords – the sales revenues generated (or otherwise) will also bring your keyword choices in sharp focus and help you to understand what the triggers are for your customers. This knowledge can then be taken back into your content marketing and “organic” activity.


These activities and lots more can be undertaken on your current web site (whether we built it or not, in most cases). Next time you are considering a web site upgrade – if measurement and performance is important to you, and we really hope it is, we can help you plan and design the way we like to do it, from the customer up, instead of from the board down.

While this move does represent a huge change in emphasis, hopefully it becomes a positive for the engaged web site owner and their better engaged users and customers.

To discuss and of the matters raised in this article, please call 0121 616 0098 and ask for Karl Baxter

KBSEO, innovation, development
Responsive, Professional and Flexible Web Design for Lockton Solicitors.

Our latest live responsive design web site has been produced for “Lockton Solicitors”. This division of Lockton Companies focuses on the insurance and risk management needs of the UK legal sector. It’s a mature audience with a very defined set of needs. Our remit was to cut into the copy and language and find the touch points with as little possible flab, to work a design for a UK audience that didn’t rock the boat on a wider branding level and to produce a final web site which not only had to work across a number of devices, but which could also be migrated as far as possible into an independent “logged in” client web portal / extranet. 


The content pages are necessarily quite heavy. taking professional indemnity insurance as an example… Legal profession PII is complex and the sales offering varies greatly from one broker to the next. Lockton’s focus on service meant that we were asked to present information, documentation, FAQ and reinforcement vis client testimonial, tailored to each offering.

This of course brings with it significant design challenges. There’s no getting away from the fact that the content is needed, so we tried where possible further up the hierarchy to keep the content concise and punchy and although there are a significant number of calls to action, we maintained, wherever possible a personal approach, synonymous with the way Lockton Solicitors like to do business.


Project Lead Calum MacLean’s take on the project:

Karl (& Stunn Ltd) were brought in to help us realise our aim of implementing a really effective client-service oriented website - one that was intuitive & with impact. He and the team have gone well beyond the extra mile - and crucially, demonstrated a real flair for identifying potential problems, and engaging with our decision process - and providing real value with honest, practical advice and best solutions. Karl is also totally switched on to all aspects of digital marketing. 

What he and the team at Stunn have achieved within a really tight timeframe and budget has been transformational - and I am very keen to continue working with them. Indeed I have already instructed them on an associated piece of work. Stunn really stand apart from many web design/build teams.

KBresponsive web design
About Responsive Web Design

As the title suggests, this is an article about responsive web design. What it is, why it is important and what the alternatives are. There’s so much diversity now in how users are grabbing web content, that the design community has had to react. For many, “mobile” is the elephant in the room.. the latest in a long line of “on costs” that keep coming your way as digital information matures to be the kingpin in most organisations communications strategy… From a web developer’s perspective, we see it more as an opportunity to engage with your audience. As marketers, an opportunity to reduce cost (or at least increase your “bang per buck”) for the long term. Responsive web design or RWD, to adopt an ugly but useful acronym, is a modern and increasingly important component of effective design for the internet. So let’s start at the beginning…

What exactly is Responsive Web Design?

RWD was first coined as a term 3 years ago by writer / speaker / web designer Ethan Marcotte in an article in A list Apart Magazine. The basic premise is that instead of designing to page and object widths, you design to a fluid grid that allows content to reorganise and reformat itself, providing a “best fit” user experience on whatever device you are viewing the website on. Most commonly, the width of the browser window is used to determine a set of “rules” that are applied to the web page content and then design elements such as image size, text size, hierarchy of content and navigation and so on, are ordered and presented as a “best fit” for the screen… The design responds to the user, rather than the user responding to the design.

Why does RWD matter?

Well implemented fluid design will:

  • Maintain familiar design across a huge variety of screens, improving cognition and retention.
  • Present web sites for mobile that have a reasonably consistent “workflow” from designer to designer - most have adopted a top of page navigation that uses the mobile device operating system to reach key navigation items.
  • Reduce creative and code implementation costs for organisations who take mobile internet seriously.
  • Increase conversion rates for mobile devices (compared with desktop optimised web sites).
  • Reduce bounce rates on mobile devices.
  • Maintain full web site functionality rather than stripping down content based on an assumed mobile requirement.
  • Remove the need for some organisations to maintain specifically designed and developed mobile apps.

Mobile web traffic is huge and growing at an ever increasing rate. Over 15% of global web traffic is now mobile originated and in many sectors in which we work, that figure is as high as 40%.

Does Responsive Web Design Limit My Content Management Options?

It shouldn’t do, is the short answer. Content management systems are generally independent of the web pages they serve. For some time, separation of design and content has been the chosen way of working for most sensible web development companies.

In our business we deploy responsive web sites on our own content management system, and also for Wordpress and Magento, two of the most common open source CMS’s for general web site management and e-commerce.

What are the Alternatives to Responsive Web Design?

There’s two main options. The first is the simple option “do nothing”. For some business, doing nothing is kind of OK. If you’re a start up desk-to-desk type business with no real web traffic and a host of outgoings, then yes, the extra expense involved might be better spent elsewhere. The other option is to tailor specific mobile web sites to cater for your mobile audience, and again, for some applications, there’s a strong argument for this. The downside of producing fully formed mobile sites.. and here I don’t mean just ripping an RSS feed into a basic style sheet and assuming you’ve “done enough”, is up front expense. You’re designing twice or more, deploying twice or more, updating twice or more and increasing your time to market into the bargain. If budgets aren’t an issue and timescales are manageable, we would (and do) often advise that mobile specific is the way to go. All that said, with responsive web design now becoming a mature discipline, and users getting used to the benefits and nuances, we’re advising more and more of our clients to unify their web presences and just “go responsive”.

What are the Downsides.

There aren’t many downsides really, though you do need to keep an eye on page size and ideally optimise images to serve smaller versions to mobiles, even if this has to be automated to save cost and resource. The search engines are beginning to put more weight on page speed, so a fast web site may rank better than a slower competitor. This really comes back to usability and user experience again, Google in particular, are looking to serve up the best web experience they can through their search engine. As a result, one of the key design modern challenges is to create a web page that works well for each of on page search optimisation, user experience and speed.

If you serve 3rd party banners, some additional coding might be required to make sure that the right advertising content is served to the right device. For most, of course, this isn’t really an issue.

The only other consideration really is cost. There’s no doubt that designing and coding a fluid web site takes a little longer than designing to a fixed width, but the benefits for most applications far outweigh the cost. Where e-commerce is concerned, we’ve seen enormous  conversion rate jumps, meaning “on cost” becomes tangible “ROI” in the space of days and weeks. A few months in and that on cost becomes pure profit.

Doe this mean rip it up and start again?

Difficult to say without seeing your current web site, but for many, a site might just need a “spit and polish” and may already have been designed in a way that makes implementing RWD easy.. for older sites, it might be time to think about a redesign. If we accept that most web site will have a 36-60 month life cycle, there’s certainly no need to panic but responsive should be part of your next web site plan, you can guarantee it is part of your competitors, especially if they are already working with us here at Stunn.

More Information / About The Author

If you’d like any more information about responsive web design, or any of the topics raised in this article, please contact Karl directly on 0121 616 0098. Stunn Ltd are a full service agency specialising in bespoke and complex web design. We are based in Birmingham City Centre.

Some examples of recent responsive web sites that we have built can be seen here;

Customised Magento E-Commerce for PB Brakes

For the last few months, Stunn have been working on a bespoke e-commerce web site design for Taipei based PB Brakes. PB supply brake kits and coilovers for almost every application of car around the world and needed a new web site that was both easy to buy from, and paid credence to the quality of their products.


We built the site on a base install of Magento Community to take advantage of the billing and reporting functions that are built into the platform. Out of the box, Magento lacked several key functions we wanted to really round off the user experience and performance of the web site.

The site is built on a responsive grid so it works brilliantly on multiple devices from a central code set. A custom theme was introduced, the navigation was adapted so pages not directly related to e-commerce could come into the main navigation bar, an integrated blog and improved social integration were also added into the site.

Next came the clever bit. The brake kits come withy a large number of options for both components and colours. We designed and created a “generic” set of alloy wheel types and made 3D renders of all of the brake components and options that are available. As a user selects the components, a visual representation of the parts you are buying appears on screen in real time. As far as we know this is a first for aftermarket parts manufacturers and retailers.

The site must also compete well in search engine results and despite being only 3 weeks old, it is already beginning to appear on page 1 of Google results on some relatively generic search terms; of the 100s of daily visitors, over 40% are already arriving via search engines and visitor numbers are climbing rapidly.

Stunn are fully managing the web site for performance optimisation, conversion rate optimisation, on page SEO and hosting.

Visit the web site at and don’t forget to check out our custom configurator in the brakes section. PB’s geographic location of Taipei makes PB Brakes our furthest flung E-Commerce web site.

Are you looking for a custom  / bespoke designed web site to help you sell online? Contact Karl on 0121 616 0098 for a chat.

Point Of Sale Design For Zandra Rhodes Handbags

Karl recently went to London to photograph Zandra Rhodes’ spring / summer 2013 handbag and purse collection. We were briefed with photographing the collection to produce POS, brochure, web site and show card imagery for the coming season. We shot the project at Zandra’s London home, turning the open plan living space into a temporary studio.

We have photographed a combination of model and still life campaign style photography which has since been retouched by us and cropped for use on standing cards / show cards and will later be used in brochures and on the web site.

Casting, planning, art direction, photography and production have all been undertaken in house at Stunn.


New Video Production for BIG Lottery

Ron’s story was produced to promote the launch of a new Lottery Fund that aims to tackle social isolation in the elderly.

Ron was part of the panel who worked on the scope of the fund and his own story was perfect to tell the tale of how life can change both for the worse and for the better.


Ron allowed us into his home and his life and provided us with great detail of his own journey in an open and candid documentary piece, we briefly track Ron’s story from bright young professional to lonely pensioner and how a change in his own life has spurred him on to help people in similar situations.

The film was shown to open the launch event for the programme in March to great acclaim. 

We’ve since received a letter from Ron thanking us for the way in which he was represented. We’d like to take this opportunity to thank him publicly for all he did to make the film a success.

You can view Ron’s story by following this link to YouTube

Stunn are involved in regular video production projects and filming in Birmingham and London for BIG Lottery and other clients. Please contact Ben or Karl on 0121 616 0098 for  information.

How do i get my website on Google?

Making sure you’re listed on Google is really important and an easy enough thing to do. If you are using a web design agency, they should be doing this for you as a matter of course. If you are doing it yourself, when you finish reading the article, follow this link;

The first step is to tell Google that your web address exists.. At the time of writing, the page I linked to above looks like this.


On the right hand side of the page - the yellow box titled “here’s how to start” contains two links. Click the top one to submit your URL. A URL is your web address. Fill in the address field and the recaptcha form (this just proves you’re human) and you’re all done.

Over the course of the coming days / weeks your web site will be indexed on Google’s search engine. They don’t promise to index your web site, or offer guarantees over how long it takes, but normally you’ll begin to see your web site in searches after a few days, and we’ve never known a web site we have made not to be indexed at all.

If your location is important to your business, then you should also fill in a Google Local profile. In our business, we might want to be found as web designers in Birmingham or graphic design agency in the West Midlands. Google Local allows you to advertise your business with a comprehensive listing including photographs, a description of your business, your opening hours, directions etc. It also allows for reviews, so you could consider asking customers to review your business for you too. To get started with Local, just follow the Local link that is shown on the screen shot as “Local” or the one which says “list your business in Google Places”

Getting your listing on Google local is a little more involved, but still not difficult. Google will send you a physical letter to verify your address and the process can take some weeks. However it is worth doing, as conversion rates from Local searches are excellent.

Improving your search engine positioning is more involved. Too involved to tackle in this article in any depth but there are a few tips to get you started listed here.

1. Keep your web site up to date with fresh, original content.

2. If you have a face book page, or twitter account, use them to link back to your web site.

3. Swap links with customers and friends. Sites that have relevant links back to them are seen as more important. Don’t abuse this tip, as that will get you marked down. Google is getting better and better at tackling spam.

4. Make sure your web site follows best practice guidelines, that it is usable, readable and doesn’t contain lots of broken links and duplicate content.

5. Ask people who enjoy working with you to talk about you and link to you. This helps with the search engines and is also the basis of “social marketing”

Your web site rankings will also improve simply because your web site has been around for a while and is trusted. If you keep on top of your “house keeping” by following those really basic tips, you will see a gradual increase in the number of people finding you through the search engines.

Google also provide a free tool to help you check how many in Analytics.

You can sign up for an account by following this link or again, if you are using a web design agency, they should be doing this, or using something similar as a matter of course. If they aren’t, then you’re probably using the wrong people. I believe that if you can’t see the results of what you are doing, then there’s little point in doing it! Nothing to do with search engines is an exact science and if you are doing a lot of online marketing, you need to be sure that you’re spending your time and money in the right places.

For most web sites, an hour or two a week of writing content, checking your stats and your progress and planning what to do next is absolutely plenty. It’s a day per working month and done properly, it will be the cheapest and most effective marketing you can do.

If you have any queries about what I’ve written here, or you need help with your online marketing, then please feel free to contact me with any questions.

Tips to Make Web Design Budgets Go Further and Work Harder

Karl Baxter, Managing Director of Birmingham based Stunn Ltd. provides some sensible advice to help you make more out of your web site design project.

Using a professional web design company to build you a web site can be an expensive process. We all recognise that a good web site, and actually a good digital strategy is essential to any outward reaching businesses. Despite the recession, digital spend is continuing to rise and the landscape for digital marketing and promotion is becoming more and more disparate with new opportunities and trends popping up at an alarming pace.

As quickly as a web site is made, a change in approach, service, or product range is likely to mean changes to it. Leave all that to the web designers or deal with it piecemeal and you can quickly end up with a disjointed and expensive website to unpick and redevelop.

With the best planning in the world, this can happen anyway. If you’re actively using and promoting your digital “real estate” then this should happen because things change.  Proper planning can mitigate the negatives by increasing the shelf life of your web site, making it easier to use and ultimately making it work harder for you.

Planning needn’t just be a function of your web design agency, being involved, or taking control of more of the process can save you time and money. Here’s some tips to help you along the way.

Understand the step processes that a good web development company will go through, and work out where your input can help

There’s heaps of information out there about these individual components, but here’s what happens, or rather what should happen, in brief.

Step 1: Define the web site goals.

When a web site is being planned, it is often planned around “what do we want it to say”. It’s the wrong approach. The fundamental question is “what do we want our new web site to do”.

This might be as simple as “we want to sell more”, or it might be “we want more people to look at our senior staff profiles and connect with them via linkedin”.

Often the goals are more complex.. “Is there a way we can design our web pages to encourage people who are buying from us to buy more from our store.” The same site might have additional goals such as “we want to retain more customers” or “we need to increase the number of times per day / week / month our customers use our web site”. There’s 1000s of potential goals. Planning to tell customers that you’re great shouldn’t be one of them. Making customers feel like you’re great because you’ve identified what they might need from you and how you might make that happen.. that’s a goal. You should have a really good idea of what you want before you speak to someone about wanting anything.

The more compete and defined your ideas are before this process starts, the more likely you are to reach the outcome you want, and by happy coincidence, the less you’re likely to pay for it. In most cases, you know your customer and your industry better than we do.

Step 2: Plan the web site structure.

Once a set of goals have been decided upon, we can then set about organising those goals into a framework plan. This is where you might want an information architect to work with.  Any decent agency will have the skills to help through this process. It might feel like an on cost, but it will save a small fortune if the planning process buys you an extra 18 months shelf life and improves the user experience at the same time. Proper web site planning is a “win win”.

Planning the site architecture could be a complex process or a back of a fag packet job, depending on the size of the project. Whichever it is, it needs doing. Good planning will find efficient ways of reaching goals.

From an end user perspective, here’s  the perfect ecommerce transaction..
page 1 arrive > page 2 browse product > page 3 check out.

Its an exceptionally efficient process; it may or may not be right for you! Perhaps your primary goal is to increase average order values – you might want to upsell and so might need to extend that use journey. The planning here is to make sure that your needs are balanced with those of the user, so your requirements are met, with the minimum compromise to the user experience.

When you’re planning, it needn’t be complicated. The structure might take the form of a flow chart, box hierarchy, or just a series of notes ready to be put into a prototype framework.

Step 3: Plan the copy.

What do we need to say? Not what do we want to say about ourselves! That stuff, for most web sites doesn’t actually matter too much. It’s a default fall back, if we don’t know what to talk to you about, we talk about ourselves!.

You’ve already defined the goals, the structure and the important user journeys. Now you need to plan the copy to support that. The messages, the tips, the how tos, and the calls to action. Once that’s all sorted, then you’re allowed to talk about yourself. Here, talking about you is the reassurance to the user that you know what you’re doing. Talking about you should normally be viewed as the final piece of the decision-making jigsaw. If you get the rest right, many people will skip that stuff completely and go straight to the goal. (Unless of course the goal is to encourage people to read more about you – which it may well be).

You may want to run this part of the planning process by your web designer, and your PR / marketing. If you’re using multiple agencies, or teams to pull a project together, this is an ideal time for everyone to talk. This is the point where buying in to the plan pays dividends.

Step 4. Build the prototypes.

Most web designers call this wire framing. This is where the 3 steps before this in the design process are brought together. This is a stage that is most often overlooked. Problems can arise by going to “creative” as a phase 1. We’ve immediately killed off the effectiveness of the planning process, because we’re designing creative on the back of a series of unknowns.

The wire frames will form the basis of the web site build – they will dictate how the web site works for the variety of devices it is supposed to work for. It will indicate to the creative and technical team how a page layout might be different on different devices. (For example you may want to make pages change the way they show content based on the screen size, rather than making your user zoom in and out on their phone in order to read your messages).

Wire framing might seem like an unnecessary cost. It actually speeds up the creative process and might mean that a technical team can be working on the back end of your site while creative designs are being worked on. Wire frames speed up delivery and reduce cost. If you’re thinking of, or being advised to skip this step – think very carefully about it. You can probably do a lot of it yourself, or with your web development agency, meaning you’re deeply involved in the creative process. Your agency will appreciate it and you’ll have another opportunity to flag up things that need changing before the costs stack up.

Step 5: Do the creative.

We’ve had four whole steps before we’ve got to the “design”. That’s because creative isn’t the design, it’s the icing on the design process. It’s the glamorous bit.. With the 4 steps before it properly completed, it is the silk purse, without them, it is often the sow’s ear.

If you instruct based on a piece of creative at pitch stage, it can, and often does become a monkey on the project’s back.  Greek type looks pretty on a page, we put it there before we know how much copy is involved, or perhaps even what sections are involved and you can be sure there’s a number of hidden goals that have been missed. Creative first is absolutely 100% the cart before the horse. I can’t say strongly enough IT’S THE WRONG WAY ROUND.

If you want to decide if an company is capable of producing graphic designs good enough for you – make it part of the research process, ask for a portfolio, and a mood board to explain the approach to your creative.

Creative is built on knowledge of the project and the goals. The creative director and their team have already had sight of the wireframes, the brand documents, and the planning material, so they know what they’re putting together, and why. This is when creative design really makes sense. It also saves a lot of time, effort and money if a creative brief is provided. Anything and everything helps “avoid these colours” “we like what these guys did here” “do you remember the donkey kong logo”.. It could be anything. Creative briefing is a brilliant cost saving device.

In summary

It may seem like I’ve provided a long list of things that make your job harder and granted, it may well do so at the start of the project. You may well want to pay your agency to take this out of your hands. If you’re budget conscious and you want the best from your web site and your web design agency, you’ll follow the processes, or make sure they’re followed and we guarantee that in the grand scheme of things, you’ll save time, you’ll save money and your web site will work harder for you for longer.

If you’d like us to help you find your way through a web site project, call Karl on 0121 616 0098.

Responsive Web Design for Professional Services

Birmingham web design agency stunn are pleased to announce the launch of a new corporate web site for Cheltenham based PR firm, Gravitas. Our brief was to create a corporate web site with contemporary values, maintaining brand elements from Gravitas’ wider identity while bringing the web site up to modern standards.

We created a responsive web site, which reshapes and reconfigures itself intelligently depending on the device an screen resolution being used to view it. This brings it’s own challenges, as the creative is not focused on the desk top, but must consider small and large, landscape and portrait screens. This flexible approach takes the user away from the annoyance of pinch zooming and inferior mobile / smart phone Internet experience and negates the need for multiple style sheets to support the differing device requirements.

With mobile internet traffic typically hitting 25-30% it was seen as vital that the brand be properly represented on the likes of iPad and iPhone, we’ve also accounted for the rise in the “phablet” and mini tablets, with a set of rules catering for iPad mini, Samsung galaxy note, etc.

While Stunn are regularly creating responsive framework deigns for ourselves and our customers, we’re please that Gravitas were the first professional services company to have benefited from this very modern web design standard. The site remains compliant; though features some advanced animation and filtering techniques using HTML5 and CSS3, further future proofing the web site for what is a creative and forward thinking PR company.

Stunn has 4 further responsive web sites launching this month. Each of the sites runs on Stunn’s own content management platform, which now features some of the most simple to use and fully functioned integrated blogging tools available.


iPhone App for Unibus / Transdev

Our Birmingham app development team at Stunn have been working on an integrated real time passenger information and mapping application for UniBus at York University.

The latest enhanced version of the Veolia Transdev operated service mobile application has this morning gone live in the app store. The team are currently working on the Android roll out, expected to be released in the next couple of weeks.

This application is built on our proprietary “key route” framework, designed specifically for bus services and bus users. The first roll out was for Transdev’s key 36 route. The system has since been expanded and extended with advanced optimisation of Google’s latest mapping software and an extremely lean code base to ensure that what is a complicated application can now fully support multiple routes. This opens the door to the marketing and servicing of key corridors in a fully immersed and branded manner.

iPhone Application Features Include:

  1. Location services - the application identifies where you are and where your nearest stop is. Stop data is taken from Naptan data and can be edited via a content management system.
  2. Walking Directions - using Geo-location, the system finds the shortest walking route from the user position to the bus stop and provides option to switch stops, taking account of direction of travel. The app gives an estimated time of arrival at the destination, based on a sensible walking pace
  3. Auto-plotting of bus route data. The system uses Naptan data for the stops to plot the bus routes in each direction. It is a predictive system designed to save time, but all routes are fully editable via the content management system.
  4. Real time traffic information - get accurate and up to the minute traffic information and decide when they need to leave their location in order to catch the bus. RTI is available in all directions and is simple to switch.
  5. Ticket information - The app holds up to the minute fares information which can be changed via a content management system.
  6. Offers and Promotions - General and targeted offers and promotions can be updated in real time via the application’s admin system
  7. Social Integration - A twitter feed is integrated directly into the application. It will also support feeds from other social networks.
  8. Supports Text Pages - The administration system allows pages with links, contact information, static timetables etc. to be updated over time so there is no need to repackage the application when changes are required. Admin runs on the Stunn CMS

This is the third live release of what is an ever improving piece of software. It is fast and responsive for multiple services and is tested back to iPhone 3. It is compatible with iPhone and iPod up to the latest generation and is currently being rolled out for Android.

You can try the app for yourself - it is a free download from the app store. unibus york iphone app

Our remit is user interface design, user experience, software development and support. You can find out more about the app, the technologies we use or what else we can offer with mobile by calling Karl Baxter on 0121 616 0098


Conversion Rate Optimisation - New Info Available Now

We’ve now included some specific information on the web site about our conversion rate optimisation services. A large part of what we do day to day is centred around improving the performance of web sites for our customers. Whether it is e-commerce improvements to increase check out performance, fine tuning a user pathway to encourage a call or newsletter sign up or AB testing landing pages for maximum performance of a PPC campaign, we’ve touched on it on the new page.

We’ve also produced an infographic which gives a really good overview of the services we offer and some startling facts and figures that really show the potential of keeping on top of the fine tuning of your web site and advertising campaigns.

For more information, please contact Karl directly on 0121 616 0098, visit the page on site optimisation to read more, or click on the picture to download the infographic directly from this page.

*there’s no registration requirement, so click away and I hope you find the information useful


key theme: conversion rate optimisation birmingham

Birmingham Branding Agency Story - From Drawing Board to Campaign

Love Denim Case Study - How to create a brand on a budget one stitch at a time

Stunn have been working with Love Denim since the new UK denim brand was first talked about between the owners, agents and our MD Karl. We’ve worked with the owners previously on a number of fashion and music based projects and here was an opportunity to work on something from the very beginnings of product development, right through brand, creative, policy, and then to create the photographic, digital and graphical outputs to support the conceptual spirit of the product.

We’ve been tasked with consulting and collaborating on tone of voice, price points, retail exposure, identity, press strategy and brand. We’ve created the corporate identity, visual language, labeling and on garment graphics for teeshirts and sweats. We’ve also helped create the web site, enabling Love Denim to be sold on line quickly and cost effectively in a way that hasn’t impacted on product development.

The stakeholders wanted to create an artisan denim brand - utilising fine tailoring techniques in every day street wear. Every stitch and rivet of both the core denim product and the brand carriers such as sweats and tees  have been poured over to ensure no “loose ends” from a product development perspective. Stunn and the owners followed the mantra that “you are only as strong as your weakest link”, and so began the process of creating pre-production samples and documenting what was most important to the product through this first stage of the creative process. Taped and over locked seams, engineered patterns, superior grade selvedge denim - or put simply; fantastic tailoring with superior fabrics.

So with an arm full of pre-production samples, we headed to London to shoot an editorial for a biannual fashion magazine. Karl & the editor in chief worked to identify an ideal model for the project in Michael Roberts @ M&P and scouted locations across London, before deciding on the busy urban setting of Brick Lane. The editorial gave us a chance to see how stylists, fashion people, enthusiasts, models and agencies reacted to the product and gave us the chance to work with the clothing in a live environment - seeing it on bodies and on the street gives a completely different perspective on the product than sitting in a  bubble in the studio with a fitting model and some studio lighting.

Happy that the product was working in principle, and armed with a fantastic pre-production image bank, the agent was able to begin approaching retailers; Stunn and the design team at Love could then focus on brand message, identity and the ‘brand carriers’.

A decision was made that this should be a UK product. All product is designed in England, made in England and as far as possible made using British fabrics. Rivets, buttons, tee shirt and sweat fabric are all made and woven in the UK. This did create a dilemma for the brand. Had we worked with factories in Turkey / Portugal or the far east, we’d have made retail price points far lower than we have done.. But of course then there’s a question of value - Did we want the brand to be seen as “High Street” and consequently have a young consumer brand shelf life? We’ve seen the pitfalls of this approach time and time again. Love are keen that this is a product for a discerning customer and for the long term. The pitch and price points were set accordingly to make the brand accessible and affordable, but not disposable. The factories and designers have worked hard to make the retail price points make sense and our focus turned to the corporate identity.

Alongside the retail product, the brand is also producing made to measure studio pieces. Each studio piece features hand written messages for the designers and makers who have worked on the particular piece. Consequently, we wanted a hand written, soft and “out of the way” feel to the type.. supported by strong colour to identify the pieces “at a glance”. A striking canary yellow was selected for rivet, button detail and labeling and the logotype was set. The logo design featured a free to distribute font, albeit adapted, allowing us to use it as text rather than graphic for digital projects further down the line.

From the development of the logo, we worked up some sample type, early edition look books and some tee and sweat graphics to complete the building blocks of the brand tool kit - a set of (flexible at this stage) rules from which to start creating visual and product that made sense from one product to the next. We then moved on to mood boarding and concept gathering for the web site and also the tone of voice for copy and photographic visual. Budgets, as with most new product launches are tight. We opted to focus on hammering home the visual message and using simple web and print frameworks to carry them. Some compromises had to be made; we couldn’t as easily reinvent a brand as we could update a web site post launch. We opted to use shopify to get the brand started with its web presence.. It’s a simple and effective way to “toe dip” e-commerce and still allow some head room for a brand to breathe visually that can be properly set up and optimized in a mater of days.

We are receiving new product on a near daily basis as the retail offering expands. Consequently, we’re in the studio weekly photographing new product for the web site. We’ve used our own photographic studio as the natural features of the building, such as the 150 year old oak floor lend themselves perfectly to the product shots - helping to set the mood that we carry through the editorial / campaign photography we’re currently developing for the brand.

Our current home page slider shows where the brand has got to as of Sunday 21st October 2012. We shot some editorial looks for magazine submission and portfolio development on Columbia Road, E2 over the weekend. Friend of Karl, Caleb @ D1 volunteered his services along with friend of the designer, Scott to enable us to create a visual representation of the brand that put it in context and elevated the retail pieces from flat shots and concepts to product that a consumer could visualize wearing. We’ve been working on the project for approximately 9 months and are pleased to say that Love has excellent repeating order boutique retail exposure right across the UK, online exposure in 4 outlets and is in advanced negotiations with some of the largest online fashion retailers. The product and brand concepts continue to develop; we’re now working on showing for fashion weeks in London & New York, while supporting the spring summer 2013 range through buying season.

Web sites,,,


Make mobile apps for more devices without killing budgets.

If you are wanting to create applications that work on many mobile platforms and devices, but don’t have the time or budgets to code for each and every one individually, then talk to us about PhoneGap development.

We use PhoneGap for lots of applications we build. Even if you think at first that you’ll just be creating just an iPhone app, using PhoneGap allows you to change strategy without changing budgets.

We can create most applications the way that we’d create a feature rich web site, using HTML, CSS and javascript. We then take the elements, package them for the phone / operating system / devices that they’re to run on and compile an application for the devices you need, available on the AppStore and all other mobile market places.

Sounds simple? Well it is, kind of. The main technical difficulties come from running complicated code on phones rather than computers. Where most PhoneGap developments fall down is the presumption that a phone works like a desktop PC.. it doesn’t. We use a comprehensive testing and development methodology to ensure that no matter how complicated the application, it will work as smoothly and quickly as possible.. Not just for our own code, but also for using more problematic 3rd party functions such as mapping.

If you want to see what we can do with PhoneGap in a real world application - download the following free application written for Transdev & The University of York

There’s a full run down of the app functions that can be read on that link, but in a nut shell..the application integrates Google mapping, real time traffic information, geolocation, walking directions, Twitter integration and a host of additional features. Version 2 is currently in production and will be rolled out for Android shortly.


Improving search engine performance with Rich Snippets

Many search engine results are now appearing with extra information, such as reviews, additional page / product links, information about who wrote a page or article etc etc. These changes are as a result of the use of rich snippets, which is a small amount of additional code in your web pages that improves the display of search results and makes it easier for people to find the web content most relevant to them.

Here’s a couple of examples to show you what we mean..

We took a film search by way of example – Our search in Google was for “Goodfellas




You can see from the results page that IMDb are using rich snippets to display review / rating information in their search results. The enhanced listing is useful to the searcher as it provides additional information to the search. The aim is to improve conversion rates / click through from your search engine results. It is an inexpensive way of improving your search engine traffic without doing lots of work to improve your page rankings.

It is a widely held belief that click through rates do play a part in Google’s ranking systems, so by making your search result more appealing / more visible to a searcher, you could also as a result be improving your overall page ranking, simply because a greater proportion of people are clicking on your link than would do otherwise.

In another example here, a quick search for gigs in Birmingham returned this result




The 3rd result for Skiddle, gives us whats on listings directly into the search results and provides a much more compelling result than the position 1 “Birmingham gigs guide”. It’s good branding, good user experience and brilliant for click through conversion.

There are several ways to use rich snippets, the most popular being reviews and ratings, product information, business / organisation information (think phone numbers, opening hours etc), people and so on. It is extremely unlikely that a snippet relevant to your business can’t be generated to provide better results for your visitors.

What are the advantages of my search engine listings having rich snippets?

Standing out against your competition – Unless your business or offering is completely unique, chances are you’re going to be fighting it out with other listings on a search engine results page. When your listings have the added rich snippets features they will stand out more. This will definitely increase the clicks your search listings receive and long-term will improve your SEO efforts by increasing rankings and overall traffic. Most report data available suggests an increase in conversion of between 25 & 40%. That kind of improvement can mean hundreds, or thousands of extra visitors coming to your web site at very little cost

Help Search Engines Properly Understand and Value your Content – The use of structured data improves content relevancy for search engines. If you are already using Google places, you’ll have seen how this can affect local traffic with the availability of so much extra information direct from the search results. You will also get better quality visitors since the visitors will have more information about your page before they click on your link. Using a telephone number in your search results for example, can reduce the amount of 1 page traffic your site receives and a call can convert direct from the search engine results page. The traffic that makes it to your site will be better qualified and more certain that they have “come to the right place”. Not only is this better for the user, it also helps us to have a deeper understanding of those users and how they are interacting with your web site.

How do I get rich snippets on my search listings?

It is simply a case of adding some extra code to your web pages. Each page “template” will have a few lines of HTML added to tell the search engines what to show in their results. You’ll probably want to consider different snippets for different types of pages on your web site. For example, somebody searching for a planning company in Birmingham might be more likely to click through on a listing showing a photo, job title and contact details of a managing partner in the office, but that level of personnel detail may not be as relevant to somebody looking for experience in a particular sector of expertise.

Will this not happen automatically?

No, unfortunately it’s something that we have to do to your web pages. We have to tell the search engines what it is that you’d like to tell people about you before they get to your web site The rich snippets code tells the search engine “robots” which part of your content; is the name of the product / service, its rating, its price, who made it and any number of other useful things.

Once the changes to the code have been made and tested, it should take a few weeks for the changes to appear in the search results pages on Google, Bing and Yahoo. There’s no guarantee that the snippets will be used, but there’s no reason for them not to be as all of the search engines are striving to make results as relevant as possible.

Can you help with this even if you didn’t build our web site?

Yes of course – as long as we can access your web pages to amend them. We can also provide advice to you / your web developers about proper implementation if that is useful.

For more information on rich snippets and conversion optimisation, call Karl Baxter on 0121 616 0098 for an informal chat.

New Projects Flip Book Released

We’ve just released our first flip book of recently completed projects.

This issue features projects for Veolia Transdev, Birmingham Town Hall and Symphony Hall, Alliance Planning, Eurocell, BRAP and more.

This month we’ve released a new iPhone application, an HTML5 and iPad friendly configurator, an equalities exhibition, branding, photography and look book for a new UK denim label, some really clever engineered print, a new brand and printed literature for another UK Planning agency and a stack of print & pop up banners at Symphony Hall.

Some of the highlights can be seen in the document below:

KBbranding, creative design
Mobile Internet Usage - It's Time To Assess Your Mobile Strategy

As marketers and developers, most understand the power and value of mobile internet and its potential to interact on an exceptionally personal level with users. What has been startling is the meteoric rise of the mobile The stats have been eyebrow raising for everyone; yet what appears slower to sink in is what the impact of a poor, or indeed no mobile strategy means to web site / digital real estate owners.

We’ve recently undertaken some research through our own extensive client base, segmenting into loose categories of leisure and transport, creative sector, consumer facing businesses and corporates / b2b.

We’ve pooled the stats from over 60 key sites that we manage or consult on, across almost as many industries and tried to normalise the results with a spread of geography and a vistor number weighting when calculating averages to get an accurate national picture. All figures provided are relating to June 2012 and are rounded to the nearest whole percentage point.

The sites included are responsible for millions of unique users per month so should provide a reasonably accurate “state of the nation” with these high level statistics.

Our findings are quite staggering.

Overall mobile usage.

Taking into account all of the domains we measured, total mobile traffic crept over 21%. Over one in 5 unique site visits across our entire client base originated from a mobile device. Page views are around 20% lower via mobile, as are bounce rates. This indicates that a mobile user in general terms will be “in and out”, though is more likely to persevere with information gathering than a desktop user.

Other than the sheer volume of mobile traffic, there are no surprises in either the page counts or in the bounce rates. You’d expect a mobile user to be more engaged, with mobile connectivity being largely inferior, the expected time investment is generally higher and also, if someone is looking for information “on the move” in many cases, you’d expect them to actually need that information – think telephone numbers, post codes, opening hours, contact checking, train times, delays and disruptions etc.

Almost 70% of mobile traffic across our domains can be attributed to Apple devices. All you can eat data, excellent browsers and fast robust browsing experience, combined with the simple all in one nature of these commuter friendly devices means that this comes as no surprise either. What was a little more of a revelation was the fact that iPad accounts for 23% of our June 2012 web site traffic from mobile devices; iPhone accounting for 45%.

The need to adopt more responsive design and greater consideration for mobile user experience could not be more glaring. When thinking about design and development for desktop browsing, most clients want guarantees about sites working cross browser. What is being regularly missed, based on new business conversations we are having is the fact that more people are viewing web sites via mobile Safari than pretty much any other web browser. The collective internet explorer family of browsers still just about has market leadership, though these don’t work with each other from one version to the next, and for the purpose of cross browser compliance, must be effectively treated as independent pieces of software.

E-Commerce Enabled Web Sites

27% of traffic to our websites with online shopping enabled came from mobile devices in June 2012, highlighting again how critical mobile ready design is to commercially geared web sites. Dedicated mobile sites can of course help here, but simple design rules making the mobile browsing experience a good one could be enough to seriously impact on conversions and bottom line with a little forward planning and very little additional expenditure.

Recent research from IBM highlighted a 15% growth in e-commerce originating from mobile devices against a backdrop of 3.8% overall growth. To put this in perspective, while major brands are still pushing forward with huge social media campaign spends, e-commerce originating from social media in the same report had dropped by 20% over the same period. The assumption must be that people don’t like too much push marketing in their “personal space” however the convenience of commerce by mobile is appealing, especially as data speeds and wifi connectivity continue to improve. Mobile commerce, according to IBM is now responsible for 15.1% of all web sales revenue, while social is responsible for 1.8%, unthinkable just 18 months ago and a blatant indication that mobile strategy even more so than social strategy needs consideration in the here and now.

For a specific sector analysis or consultation / reporting on your own and competitor’s mobile strategy, contact Karl Baxter, Managing Director of Stunn Ltd. on 0121 616 0093.

Stunn provides in depth consultation and development strategies to help with user experience, site conversion, user retention and revenue building for mobile and desktop based web sites and applications. We use a combination of best practice, industry benchmarking, lab based user acceptance testing, market research and our extensive experience to deliver both framework research and rich and rewarding online environments for sales, communication, training and entertainment.

The Tale of the tape – Sector By Sector Comparison

Leisure & Transport 31%
Retail & B2C 26%
Creative Industries 17%
Business to Business 10%


Karman - The Building of an Exhibition & Archive

Over the course of the last 10 years, we’ve worked extensively on these kinds of projects with client and great friend Simon Redgrave (follow him on twitter @thesumofallforms).

Simon contacted us about this project at the back end of 2011. Karman - The Living Archive is an oral history project and growing archive with touring exhibition, documenting the history of classical Indian dance, with particular focus on its UK reach and key stakeholders such as Nilima Devi, of the Centre for Classical Indian Dance in Leicester.

We were originally provided the following board as the starting point for our work


The exhibition component had to be flexible as it was going to be touring. Consequently, the design needed to work as complete pieces, partial pieces and in 3 defined conceptual sections, which could be digested individually, or collectively.

This design was to follow through into tour promotional leaflets, invitations and a book documenting the project and its stakeholders, to support the excellent oral history pieces collected over several months.

Working with Simon, Dawinder Bansal (Project manager) and carpenter Ram, we devised a housing that would frame the panels as hangs in their own right. The below snap shows one of the frames being constructed at the first of 10 venues which the exhibition will visit. That’s Karl in the background, looking “busy”


The design work itself was based around natural, aged fibers - wood, sack cloth, canvas, calico and hessian all feature, with burned in typography, original scans and aged / amateur photography, juxtaposed with some professional and clean imagery to drive home the beauty of the subject matter. Consequently, the frames were constructed in unfinished joist to complete the overall picture.

Simon has a reputation for curating and constructing freeform exhibits that sit within their space to be digested in a non linear way. The design of the panels and supporting literature reflect this, with extensive use of tearing and snippet devices to give a feel for the project and encouraging further investigation, or simply “giving a feel” without the need for any further investment beyond the aesthetics.


This images shows a little more of how the panels were constructed and the design ethos behind it. Here’s a flat of one of the complete panels taken from the proofs.


and another phone snap of one of the hangs - as with the photos above, these were taken on site by some of the team members and can be found here


The exhibition is currently touring public spaces in and around Leicester. Further information can be found at the CICD web site