We are WordPress custom theme developers and never use off-the-shelf themes or templates, so all of our WordPress sites are unique in look and functionality.
Sensoria Festival Website and Shop
We have been working with Sheffield’s festival of music, film and digital art for a long time. They were one of the first clients to make use of the WordPress platform and have stuck with it ever since.
With the festival sector hit hard by ongoing COVID restrictions, an online presence was even more important than ever and Sensoria decided to take the opportunity to get their website up-to-date and in good shape to present the year’s redesigned programme of events.
2021’s update was done in conjunction with Michael Eden, Sensoria’s designer, who provided with visuals and a style guide that we built into a bespoke WordPress theme.
We made good use of the new Gutenberg technology to give Sensoria much more control over their content than they have ever had before with some custom-built content blocks. We rebuilt the Events area (a crucial part of the site) from scratch to allow all past events to be viewed for posterity, whilst keeping the current ones at the forefront.
The site also has a customised WooCommerce-powered merchandise shop.
New brand and website for Sheffield recording studio and social enterprise
Hybrid 3 is a social enterprise which blends a fully-fledged professional recording studio complex with educational and arts projects. Their amazingly well-equipped recording studios, rehearsal rooms and audio production facilities are the go-to place for Sheffield’s musicians, but Hybrid3 also has a passion for developing local talent and providing community education…everybody deserves the chance to be heard!
Our task was to come up with a brand which covered the overall concept but also emphasised the two distinct halves of Hybrid3 which sometimes work apart and sometimes together. Then our concept would be tested fully by design and building a single website which did the job of the two previous, separate sites which had grown up around the two arms of the organisation.
After a fascinating series of ideas and concepts, we came up with a colour scheme and set of shapes which we worked into a brand for Hybrid3 (the overall organisation), Hybrid3 Pro (the music studios) and Hybrid Play (the educational side).
The colours of the main logo match the architecture and decor of the building, whilst the sub-logos are a single colour but echo the shapes of the main. This colour scheme becomes important on the website…
As Hybrid3 were familiar with WordPress, we decided it would speed things up and reduce the learning curve to use that as the content management system. We added WooCommerce for the merchandise shop and used a few custom-built Gutenberg blocks to give them a toolbox of pre-built elements they could draw on to quickly build new content.
Imagery was very important and the selection of large header photos and videos used were chosen especially for their colour and style, all supporting the brand.
The site needed to appeal to professional bands and musicians as well as educators and community groups. There was the danger that the style of a slick, cool, exclusive recording studio website mixed with a friendly, happy community site would jar badly and we needed to make sure both extremes met in the middle without compromising either. During the branding and site build, the one word which spanned over all of the parts of the business was “inspiration”. We needed to inspire people to create, whatever the reason they were at Hybrid3 and whatever their background or aspirations.
Video and large photos of real people actually creating and enjoying themselves in the Hybrid3 studios were a must, and formed a major part of the look of the site. Also, embeds from SoundCloud let visitors hear what is being made by Hybrid3’s users, so there is a feel of a working and busy organisation.
A recording studio is all about sound, so we also enabled the use of embeds from Soundcloud to showcase the huge range of work that is produced at Hybrid3.
Navigation-wise, the Pro and Play areas needed to both belong to the main site to avoid a confusing journey around the site, but also have a distinct feel of their own. There is a high chance that a visitor to the Pro area will never look at the Play area (or vice versa), so we needed to have common areas as well. Clever use of colour and content along with the specially commissioned copy also added to the uniform vs. separate feel we were trying to get across the site.
Hybrid3 work with the BBC and other arts organisations and it was important to show this to enhance the reputation of the studios.
Due to COVID-19, the studio was closed during much of the design and build work. Hybrid3 used this time to their advantage, being able to concentrate on a project which would have normally been interrupted by the day-to-day running of a business. This gave us the time to get all aspects of the site just right for a December 2020 soft launch, building momentum as the studios gear up to reopen at the start of 2021.
Timber frame manufactures, suppliers and housebuilders.
Oakworth Homes with with architects, designers and builders to provide timber frames and other parts for housebuilding. They had been struggling with their “old-school” website for a number of years. Built in a previous generation the site relied on Flash, was not mobile-friendly and had to be updated by the developer. The site’s performance on search engines was also suffering from its outdatedness and lack of fresh content.
The website was causing confusion because Oakworth had rebranded but had been unable to update the look of the old site to match their new focus on dealing with the public as well as trade.
We came up with a number of suggestions, the main being that we use WordPress as the content management system. Despite WordPress’ merits (which are discussed all over this site) Oakworth’s marketing manager was already familiar with the system and so could take over the updating of the site easily.
The look and feel of the site had to mirror Oakworth’s brand which is clean and precise but also feels natural. Oakworth use sustainable, natural materials but are also a precision, standards-led engineering company so the look of the site needed to show both, whilst being attractive to housebuilding contractors and architects right down to single customers building their own home.
Oakworth has a story and heritage so we made sure there was an area on the site for the founder, John Capper, to tell that story.
Other suggestions we made were:
The bespoke WordPress theme we built allowed several different page layouts which could be selected to give different emphasis on content: some have full-page background images, some slideshows and some just a solid colour. The overall layout is simple and clean, letting the content speak for itself.
It was important that all images of products and processes should show the customer exactly what they might be purchasing, so we did a photoshoot at the company’s headquarters in Sheffield. This created a large library of images which can be used in rotation on the site to keep it fresh.
Oakworth now have a website they can update at will. Whereas before, the website had been left to languish because of the difficulties in updating it, it is now kept fresh and has become the main marketing tool for the company.
A visual and functional update to a unique piece of Sheffield’s history.
The Garrison Hotel is a well-known Sheffield landmark. The historic Hillsborough Barracks, originally built in 1854, has undergone many changes of identity but in 2001, the former accommodation and Guardhouse areas were converted into a hotel, bar and restaurant.
Whilst the website for the hotel had done a good job for many years, the advances in technology and tastes meant it was time for an update.
After many discussions and research we came decided a list of key points:
Behind the scenes we needed to make the site easier to update and to improve its search engine ranking.
Early on, we recommended moving over to WordPress as the system for managing content. On top of this we added several customised functionality including an events manager, photo galleries, booking system and ways of making the different areas distinctive in their own right whilst keeping a consistent look.
The hotel is very photogenic and we wanted to make photographs the main feature of the site, so a lot of work was done to let the hotel take advantage of their existing library of images. New photographs were also shot especially for the relaunch.
Word-of-mouth is a major factor in the hotel’s success and social media and links from other sites play a large role. Social sharing and TripAdvisor integration was important, as we realised the website was only one part of the hotel’s online presence wit all needing to work together.
Search engine optimisation can be controlled from within the site admin area on a per-page basis.
Staff at the Garrison now look forward to updating the site and are easily able to add new content – especially photographs. The ever-changing content is helping keep the site fresh and attractive to search engines.
New menus and events can be easily distributed to customers.
Bookings online have begun to take an upturn as the new design gains traction.
Online store and style gallery.
“Copacetic” is a positive word, made popular in the smoky jazz clubs of 1920s and 30s America. It means “in excellent order”, “completely satisfactory”, “sorted”. A Copacetic Gent is someone who gets it right every time – especially with their style. He makes great efforts to look perfect…whilst seeming to make none at all.
Savills Barbers of Sheffield is famous worldwide for being a time-warp back to the 1930s where gentlemen’s barbers were respected craftspeople and confidants. A personal and individual service to each customer was key and copaceticness abounded. Savills attitude, look and style all combine to give an experience unlike any other but they found that the current selection of styling products they were using didn’t quite fit in with their ethos…they were just not Copacetic enough. So they decided to invent their own! The Copacetic Gentlemen’s Grooming brand was born and was soon developing paste, wax, pomade and other mysterious substances which we didn’t even know were a thing.
Copacetic Gentlemen’s products (as well as equipment such as combs, scissors and aprons) were initially used only in Savills and sold to their own customers, but it soon became clear that other like-minded barbers around the world were in similar need – so the range was made available to them as well, in distinctively branded packaging. Copacetic products were sold to barbers for their own use but they were also selling them on to their own customers, as Savills themselves had been doing. As sales increased Savills decided to start selling the Copacetic range online and a website was commissioned.
Unfortunately, the initial results were less than copacetic and the team reached out to us for help.
Working with the Savills / Copacetic team we came up with a plan and a way forward. The site needed to cater for three customer groups:
Each group needed handling differently. Customers needed a familiar ecommerce experience whereas the two other groups needed a more business-like model which allowed bulk ordering, volume discounts and scheduled invoicing rather than up-front card payments.
The final piece of the jigsaw was that Copacetic had just established an efficient system where the manufacturer of the product was also able to package and distribute it without Copacetic being involved, so orders from the website needed to be sent to them to be processed as well as to Copacetic for administration purposes.
Style-wise, Copacetic Gent had already evolved a strong brand by being part of Savills. The brand now needed to stand up for itself and be part of the process of taking the user back to the early 20th century.
With one of us already being a lifelong fanboy of the Art Deco style, the design brief was a gift. Copacetic’s already strong brand was steeped in the geometric, lavish, retro-futuristic styles of the ’20s and ’30s and we needed to translate that across to the site. We were aiming to give the impression not of something imitating that style but something designed in the 1920s which had been locked away, aged and been rediscovered. Everything is slightly faded, distressed and muted…but not enough for it to be noticeable or look contrived. There aren’t many solid blacks or pure whites and the site background almost gives off a smell of old books.
Through Savills numerous photoshoots, Copacetic have access to an excellent collection of photographs which are used to full advantage throughout the site, especially on the inspirational “The Look” section, which is designed to keep growing and evolving with current styles.
We used WordPress coupled with WooCommerce, as the client was familiar with this combination. However, they were unaware of the level of customisation we could provide. Their prior experience had been of an out-of-the-box installation of WordPress and WooCommerce with very little personalisation, so were initially under the impression that this system was OK, but not flexible enough for them to run the site alone and make changes themselves in the future. They were expecting they would need to be asking us for help constantly when additions were needed. We soon swept this myth away with:
We also made good use of the Trello system to manage the project, communicate progress with the client and deal wth feedback – something which we have been experimenting with over the last few months.
The day after the launch, and with no promotion the site was already making sales. Since then everything’s continued to be Copacetic!
Orders are running through the system as expected and an SEO and PR project is beginning in order to boost the profile of the site. Copacetic Gentlemen’s Grooming has become another iconic Sheffield brand.
Also, we now all have better haircuts.
Yorkshire Purchasing Organisation
Coverworld Steel Roofing and Cladding
Superfast South Yorkshire
Webasto Thermo and Comfort
The Copacetic Gentleman
The Garrison Hotel
Oakworth Homes Timber Housing