We build websites.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Website launched for Evans Rural Architects

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Garlieston based architect Lindsey came to us via a good old fashioned word-of-mouth referral from another of our existing clients.

(We LOVE it when that happens!)

Our remit was a completely new website to showcase her stunning work, be picked up by Google and allow Lindsey to easily manage all of the content in-house, adding new portfolio pieces to the website as soon as they were ready to publish.  With the client coming in armed with a USB stick crammed with CAD drawings and some spectacular drone footage, our designer Paul had the luxury of  a seriously impressive range of assets to work with.

To fill in the gaps, Kirkcudbright’s brilliant resident photographer Giles Atkinson was dispatched to a visit handful of completed build projects to capture Lindsey’s work in all of it’s final, glorious form.  As always Giles delivered in spades with a batch of superb photos that really captured the kind of intricate details Lindsey’s clients love when having their homes designed.

Evans Rural Architects

Designs signed off and build complete, Kit donned his oft-neglected Video Editor’s hat and pulled together a couple of edits for use on the Home page while James M was putting the final touches to the content and copy.

Check out the end result below:

www.evansrural.co.uk


 

New website launched for The Farmers Inn

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Thursday, February 9, 2017

The Farmers Inn at nearby Clarencefield came to us at the end of last year looking for a facelift for their ageing website. 

The Farmers Inn Clarencefield

Armed with little more than a domain name and handful of content grabbed from the old website we set about giving a new lease of life to this traditional, friendly local inn.

With a degree of urgency, because their former web agency had taken the previous website offline, Euan, our friendly local photographer was quickly dispatched to bring home a gallery of fresh new images, while Paul and Chris set about designing and building a new, clean online look.  Content from the client and images from Euan all got dropped into place, the client’s chosen online booking engine was wired in and the site got put through our standard 30+ point pre-launch checklist before the big green ‘Go’ button was pressed.

New website live, all of their old URL’s retrieved and redirected from the previous website (*thanks WayBack Machine!) so they don’t lose any ground on Google and one very, very happy client to boot.

Result!

Link:

www.farmersinn.co.uk


 

We’re Hiring – Junior Developer Role

Posted by James Miodonski, in category careers. Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Creatomatic are looking for a junior web designer/developer to join the busy team here at our Annan office.

The role would suit a graduate, although we’re more impressed by portfolio, enthusiasm and willingness to roll up the sleeves and get stuck in than qualifications.

Ideally, we’d like an enthusiastic and committed individual with experience of PHP, HTML and Javascript as well as great communication and people skills. A working knowledge of WordPress would be a bonus, but we’re very happy to help the right person to find their feet and learn on the job.

The role will entail handling support calls, updating client websites, working on build and content, and general web admin work. Over time we’d expect you to grow in to your role, moving up to become a fully-blown web designer, developer or account manager. People have a knack of finding their best roles here.

In return, you’ll get a good, competitive salary and benefits, a flexible working schedule, good holidays and a challenging and entertaining working environment.

We’re based in Annan: an easy commute from Dumfries or Carlisle (15 minutes each way on the train).

Email kit@creatomatic.co.uk with your CV and relevant experience.


 

Moving on up

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Tuesday, January 24, 2017

After four glorious, albeit slightly cramped, years in Bridge House, we’ve closed the doors for the last time and moved on up. Literally.

We’ve moved office. Not far in terms of location, but several steps up the ladder. Taking over the old Clydesdale Bank headquarters in the centre of Annan, we’ve now got a whole heap more space to play in – not just an office, but two offices, a workshop and a boardroom. Oh, boy!

We’ve been working on our new home since September 2016 – four months of chasing up leases, decorating, carpeting, installing cables (almost half a mile of), and refurnishing. But my goodness, has it been worth it.

The practicalities: If you’ve visited us before, it’s not hard to find us. Just head down the High Street and we’re on the left just after the traffic lights – entry is via Lady Street, where there’s a sign next to the door.

We hope you’ll see you, dear reader, in our new place soon. More news coming soon too…


 

Giving a little back for Christmas

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Monday, December 19, 2016

This year, we decided to break with tradition in Creatomatic HQ and – in lieu of our usual frivolous Secret Santa, we each selected a charity and made a donation to it.

Here’s our list for 2016:

Kit – Red Cross in Aleppo.

If you’ve been keeping in touch with current events you’ll know that the situation out there is pretty heartbreaking at the moment, and the Red Cross are working to protect civilians in the heart of a bloody conflict.
– Learn more at http://www.redcross.org.uk/

James H – The Ocean Cleanup.

This project is a beautiful bit of blue-sky thinking. Using autonomous technology powered by ocean currents, they reckon they can harvest 50% of the Pacific Garbage Patch in 10 years.
– Learn more at https://www.theoceancleanup.com

Chris and Paul – Cancer Research.

One of the top charities in the country, Cancer Research has saved literally millions of lives with 40 years of research and progress.
– Learn more at http://www.cancerresearchuk.org

James M – Kate’s Kitchen.

A local charity based just round the corner from us in Annan, Kate’s Kitchen runs a drop-in café and support hub for homeless and vulnerable people in the community. A brilliantly worthy wee organisation that deserves real support.
– Learn more at http://kateskitchen.org/

All – First Base Agency, Dumfries.

Finally, we also matched everyone’s donation with a company donation to the First Base Agency in Dumfries. The team have helped more people than ever get through difficult times during 2016, and need all the support they can get – we’re more than happy to put our collective shoulders behind them.
– Learn more at https://www.justgiving.com/first-base

Side note – We’re aware that this sounds fairly sanctimonious, so please be aware that we balanced this with a team go-karting session on Friday (Chris won), followed by curry and beers. No donations necessary!

Have a great Christmas and New Year, folks

Kit, James H, James M, Chris & Paul

Team Creatomatic x


 

2016 Festive Holidays

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Friday, December 9, 2016

xmas-2016-header

 

Thank you for your support and we look forward to working with you during 2017.

Festive Opening Times

The Creatomatic office will be shutting around mid-afternoon on Wednesday 21st December and will re-open on Wednesday 4th January.

We’ll also be closing at midday on Friday 16th December.

Emergency out of hours support

As always, all urgent support queries should be addressed to support@creatomatic.co.uk, which is checked routinely.  In the case of an emergency, our out-of-hours support number is available at 01461 536 202.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year,

Team Creatomatic x


 

WordPress SEO for Beginners

Posted by James Miodonski, in category how-to, technical, wordpress. Saturday, November 19, 2016

The following assumes your website is built on WordPress and you have the (excellent) Yoast SEO plugin installed, and you’re looking to target 1 x main keyword per page, product/category or blog post.  That being the case, you (should) have access to edit all of the fields and information detailed below.

In this post I’ll cover the basics of keyword research, on-page optimisation and link building, with links to further reading resources, more detailed and in-depth tutorials.

It’s not meant as a prescriptive overview that covers all there is to know about SEO specific for WordPress. Instead, this is an introduction to the basics, help to overcome (or avoid) some of the most common mistakes I see people making when being handed the keys to their site (or following a session with a ‘web marketing guru’), and a batch of links to other resources where you’ll find more details about the nitty gritty.

Let’s start at the beginning shall we?

How Search Engines Work

This video, from Google, is a few years old and whilst a couple of pointers aren’t really valid any more (PageRank, mainly), it still remains very much relevant today.

What is SEO?

SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) is the process and methodology used to try and influence what pages appear in the rankings for any given search term.  It’s a term and practice that’s been given a bad rap over the last few years, almost entirely by spammers, snake-oil salesmen and the poor sods in third-world agencies that’ve been sub-contracted out by people and businesses that either don’t understand what SEO is about and/or are too lazy or impatient to implement it themselves in a proper, steady, ethical and organic manner.*

Well executed, best-practice SEO (as detailed in Google’s own Webmaster Guidelines) is a slow process that can take months, sometimes years to reap results.  If you just want a quick burst of traffic to your website, and don’t mind paying for it – SEO isn’t the path to follow.  Instead, something like Google AdWords, Facebook Advertising, Promoted Tweets or Outbrain might be better suited to give your website a fast shot-in-the-arm type boost in visitors.

(*Rant over, for now).

Keyword Research – what do you want to be found for?

Before putting any time or work into optimising content or building links etc, you first need to establish a clear list of keywords and search terms that you want to be found for.

A very common mistake people often make is to either:

  • Scattergun a single page with loads and loads of different keywords in an attempt to rank for everything – or –
  • Repeat the same keyword across multiple (quite often every) page across their website

Neither of these approaches work; they’re confusing for search engines (what page do you want me to show for  and as ugly as sin for humans.

Instead, focus on targeting 1 or 2 keywords maximum per single page or post.

Brainstorm

Start with an initial brainstormed list (ideally a spreadsheet) with the following columns:

  • Branded – i.e. your name, company name and any other words of terms that people might know you for when searching for your brand or business.  e.g. ‘Adidas’ or ‘British Gas’
  • Products/Services – What you do and/or offer to people, the issues your potential customers have, the problems you can solve and solutions you offer.
    E.g. for Adidas this might be things like: ‘Mens gym trainers’, ‘football boots’ or ‘running spikes’, and for British Gas it’d include terms like ‘Gas combi boilers’, ‘Radiator flushing’ ‘Gas servicing’ or ‘Emergency plumbers’.
  • Questions & Answers – Topics you could potentially provide answers, advice and guidance for by writing blog posts.  e.g. for Adidas: ‘Studs or blades for playing on AstroTuf?’’, ‘When were Adidas Copa Mundial football boots launched’, ‘What are the best running spikes for beginners?’ or ‘Which match ball was used in the 2016 Champions League Final?’

Once you have an initial list (‘seed’ keywords), the next step is to find out:

a) How many people are searching for these specific phrases? (i.e. what’s the potential traffic for these keywords, and is it actually worth being found for them?) – and –

b) What related keywords exist that people are also searching for that you may also wish to consider including on your pages?

Keyword Research Tools

There are many options, however the best place to start is Google’s own Keyword Planner, that they provide for help with their AdWords programme.  You don’t need to run AdWords campaigns to use the tool, however you do need to set up an AdWords account and register a debit or credit card.  You won’t be charged unless you set a campaign live.

An alternative is Market Samurai, however this is a paid tool and collates much of the same data from Google.  Our recommendation is to start with Google’s free tool.

Keyword Research Tips & Learning Resources

The basics of good, solid Keyword Research have remained relatively unchanged since the concept of SEO began, however the following are an excellent starting point of resources for further reading and ongoing development (in no particular order):

On Page Optimisation

Once you have a clear list of target keywords, divvied up into separate Branded, Service & Blog lists, it’s time to set about optimising your on-page SEO to make Google’s task of finding, crawling and indexing your website’s content as easy as possible.

Including your main target keyword(s) in the following places on a page-by-page basis, makes it as simple as possible for Google to determine what the rest of the content on that page is about.  As such, you’re more likely to be included in it’s index for when someone enters a search for something relating to that phrase.

It by no means guarantees you’ll immediately rank on the first page of Google, but it’s an important step in the right direction.

The following, apart from images, are all edited via the standard Pages or Posts editor within WordPress – i.e. login to your site’s admin area and click on a page that you want to edit.

Put your main keyword here:

  • Page Title (found in the Yoast SEO editor)
  • URL – (found at the top of the page editor, referred to as ‘Slug’ in older versions of WordPress)
  • Header tags, e.g H1, H2 – (edited within the WordPress text editor box, change a section of text from paragraph to a Heading via the dropdown menu normally labelled ‘Paragraph’ in the top-left corner of the WordPress text editor).
  • Text content – (if you’re trying to be found for say, ‘Personal Training’ and you’re based in Edinburgh, are the words ‘Personal Training’ and ‘Edinburgh’ anywhere to be found in the text content on your page?  Keep it natural, easy to read and don’t go mad with this, always write for humans first (search engines don’t buy things)
  • Images – file name, Alt/Description tag – Call your images what they are.

Yoast

SEO for Images

Google relies on the file name and alt tag of images to decipher what the image is, so adding images to your site with file names such as DSC000123.jpg, or photo1.png add no value at all in terms of SEO.

Instead, rename your images to something more descriptive, say ‘nike-tiempo-football-boots.jpg’ and adding an alt tag* along the lines of ‘Mens Nike Tiempo football boots in black and white, 2016 model’.

(*Alt tag stands for alternative text, which is shown in cases where the image can’t be viewed and/or by screen readers).

Matt Cutts, former head of Google’s Web Spam team explains this better here:

Once your images have been renamed accordingly, upload them into your WordPress media library and go through them one-by-one to update the image Title, Description and Alt Text fields to include your target keyword and a very short description of what the image is all about.

Real live example:

Here’s an (awesome!) photo of Frazer McCubbing, a local mountain bike racer we’ve recently worked with.  This is him mid-way through a jump on the Fort William downhill mountain biking track during the 2016 World Cup race weekend:

Frazer McCubbing Screenshot

 

When we added the image to our blog to help promote Frazer’s new website, we’ve named the image file “frazer-mccubbing-fort-william-downhill.jpg’, added an Alt Text & description of ‘Fazer McCubbing racing at the Scotland banner at Fort William Downhill World Cup 2016’.

Not only does this give your images a far greater chance of being picked up and shown under Google’s Image Search, but it also adds another layer of relevancy to the pages or posts the image is published on.

For example, a page all about ‘Baking’ would quite likely have images of say, ‘cake tins’, ‘tray bakes’, ‘muffins’, ‘cupcakes, ‘icing sugar’ or ‘Mary Berry’ on it.  Google is smart enough to know that all of these words relate to the word ‘Baking’ and so adds another smidgeon of weight to your page’s score in their algorithm.


 

Frazer McCubbing MTB Racer

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business, news. Thursday, November 10, 2016

Another new website’s just gone live out of the starter’s gate, this time for local Elite Men’s Downhill mountain bike racer Frazer McCubbing (yes, that’s him in the middle of the photo).

Fazer McCubbing Fort William Downhill

 

It’s no great secret that both Paul and James M in the office are mad-keen mountain bikers, and so both jumped immediately at the chance to work together on this one.

While James M (predictably) took the opportunity to spend rather an awful lot of time in and around Ae Forest ‘researching’ content, Paul was busy putting together a one-pager design around Frazer’s brief.

Chris, as per usual, hung everything together into a clean, slick and mobile-friendly build.

The brief

His wishlist was pretty straightforward: a single pager website that’s clean, easy to manage and gives enough weight to show off both Frazer’s jaw-dropping bike handling skills and his growing list of sponsors who all collectively help make his racing career possible.

We dropped in an embedded video, fully editable image gallery, self-managed content and a link to Frazer’s profile on Roots&Rain, the sport’s leading results publisher.

All that’s left now is to wish Frazer and his team the very best of luck for the upcoming race season and we’ll keep a keen and watchful eye on one of the country’s leading young sporting talents as his career grows from strength to strength.

Website

www.frazermccubbing.co.uk


 

Nith Inshore Rescue, rescued

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Thursday, October 20, 2016

When their previous developers shut up shop and vanished, Joe and the rest of the team behind the invaluable Nith Inshore Rescue service were left up a bit of a creek without a paddle.  

Nith Inshore Rescue

Fortunately for them, one of their volunteers also happens to be our oldest and favourite clients; Laurie (or ‘The Gas Man‘ as most people know him) who suggested giving us a call to see if we could pull them out of the mud.

After the initial ‘SOS’ call with Laurie and Joe we set about tracking down their domain’s login details, salvaged what content we could from their old site (via the life-saving WayBack Machine) and put up a quick holding page before setting about building them a brand spanking new website that ticked all of their boxes going forward.

Their wish list for the new website:

  • Clearly promote the work that the Nith Inshore Rescue service team does
  • Help with their fundraising efforts (although run entirely by a superb team of volunteers, there are numerous costs involved in keeping the operation going)
  • Give a little exposure and thanks to the scores of local people and business who kindly support them in all sorts of ways
  • Make it as easy as possible for updates, news and details of new team members to be added and managed in-house

The end result is a a complete redesign, a custom made Sponsors directory system, JustGiving link and a fully-featured new website that works across all screen sizes from desktop to mobile.

It’s a privilege to work with an organisation that’s so passionate about what they do, and we’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know the guys & girls behind this vital, life-saving service.  Like many, we hope never to need their services, but it’s hugely reassuring to know they’re there if we ever did.

just-giving-logo

 

 

The team at Nith Inshore Rescue are currently raising funds to help build a much needed extension to their boathouse, so any and all donations towards their cause would be most welcome.

Links:

www.nithrescue.org.uk

JustGiving:


 

New site for Easterbrook LIVE

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Tuesday, September 6, 2016

We’ve just flicked the switch on a new website for Easterbrook LIVE, Dumfries’ premier events venue.

Working closely with the design team at the Crichton, we’ve put together a custom events system along with online ticket sales and filters galore to make it as easy as possible to find and buy your tickets.

Easterbrook Live

We’ve dropped in lots of custom code to make the aforementioned search and filters work smoothly and cleanly, and wired up TicketWeb to process ticket sales.

Working from a solid, well thought out brief, this has been an absolute joy of a site to work on and with a first class client to boot.  We’ve thoroughly enjoyed this one and hope you’ll like it as much as we do!

Check it out for yourselves at:

www.EasterbrookLIVE.co.uk


 

Gmail Migration

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business, technical. Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Email

This morning I’m busy migrating another of our client’s email from the old, shonky and unreliable mail host we inherited them on across to Gmail.

Every business we’ve ever worked with relies on email (in many cases more so than their landline phones) and yet many are still hamstrung by an unreliable and/or restrictive setup.

Do any of these apply to you?

  • Endless SPAM clogging up your Inbox?
  • Undeliverable mail (particularly to @AOL or @BT accounts)?
  • Constantly hitting your mailbox quota and running out of space?
  • Trouble accessing your email from your phone or tablet?

Moving your email to Gmail lets you keep your existing business email addresses, offers unrivalled reliability, excellent SPAM filtering and 30gb worth of mailbox spacer per email address.

Oh, and it works with Outlook, Mac Mail, Thunderbird and pretty much all of the other major email clients.

Cost?

£3.30 per user per month plus a bit of set-up time, depending on how many accounts you have and how much email needs to be moved.

Do give us a shout if you’d like to know more.


 

Website launched for SB Rail

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Wednesday, August 3, 2016

This week saw another brilliant project coming to fruition, this time for SB Rail.

For the past few months, we’ve been working closely with the team at Swietelsky. Founded in 1936, this Austrian firm have been building infrastructure across Europe for over 75 years; we’ve been working with them to publicise their joint venture with Babcock Engineering, bringing these two giants together to form SB Rail.

SB Rail

We’ve designed, developed and now launched their new website, with an online catalogue of rail maintenance equipment, case studies, team biographies and careers information, at www.sbrail.com.

Working with the team on-site at SB Rail’s Glasgow headquarters, we put together a full site plan in advance, preparing support for the individual site sections and user roles. Our brief reviewed and agreed, we took our (admittedly minimal) feedback and updates back to our submitted design layout, updating and resubmitting for feedback and sign-off.

As is our usual strategy, we moved development into two parallel streams at this point. Our developers – Chris and James H – worked internally on the site build, stripping designs back for mobile and tablet functionality and coding custom sections of the site, while account manager Kit shuttled between our office and Glasgow to pull together and integrate content on-site with the client. On this front, we were helped immeasurably by excellent copywriting and an extensive media library to choose from – good photography always makes the difference when integrating content.

Upon completion of content, the site went back to development for our 32-point cross browser checklist, and then across to directors at both Swietelsky and Babcock for approval, prior to set-live (which we oversaw, setting up DNS on the domain for web and email access).

A superb project all round, and a great looking site that we’re really proud to have our name on.


 

Serious vulnerability in All in One SEO Pack Plugin 2.3.6.1 and earlier

Posted by James Miodonski, in category technical, wordpress. Thursday, July 14, 2016

Yesterday we were made aware of a serious potential issue with All in One SEO Pack – a popular 3rd party SEO plugin, which could allow malicious visitors full admin access to affected websites.

all-in-one-seo-plugin-hacked

VERY Important Note!

Creatomatic customers – panic not – this is NOT a plugin we use on any sites we have built.  We’re simply helping spread the word to anyone who may potentially be affected.

What do I need to do?

Step one check whether you have this plugin installed on your website – to do this, go to Dashboard –> Plugins.  This will show you a list of all plugins that are currently installed.  If All in One SEO Pack is in there, check to see whether the version number is 2.3.6.1 or older.  If it is, you should update the plugin immediately, this will patch the security hole found in these older versions.

Alternatively, we recommend looking at installing the excellent Yoast SEO plugin instead, which is developed, supported and maintained by a dedicated team.


 

Logo & Business Cards for Aerial Outlook

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business, news. Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I dropped off a two boxes of shiny new business cards with another happy client on my way home last night.
Aerial Outlook Logo white

Aerial Outlook is a new venture from Stephen Hailes, one of our oldest and favourite clients, and, having seen some of the footage Stephen’s supplied us with, his upcoming website is going to look spectacular too.

Watch this space…


 

New website for Mabie House Hotel

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Monday, July 4, 2016

We’re absolutely delighted to announce that after many weeks of hard work, the new website for Mabie House Hotel has just gone live.

With a location, building and setting as beautiful and picturesque as this it was vital we really did the place justice.

Mabie House Hotel

To that effect we called upon both of our photography big guns; Euan Adamson and Giles Atkinson – and both utterly delivered in spades.

Euan captured the hotel, grounds and food in his usual gorgeous, pixel-perfect style, while Giles kindly hand-picked a selection of from his ‘wedding photography’ archives.  As always, both were superb to work with throughout – we’re so spoiled to have a pair of such talented and professional photographers based locally.

Mabie House Weddings

This was an all-hands on deck job.  Paul & James M spent a morning chatting with the client at the hotel, explored the beautiful grounds and gardens and laid out an initial plan of attack.  From here, Paul produced a series of designs that really showed off Mabie’s weddings, food and accommodation offerings.

With these approved, James M began writing the copy and content while Chris, James H and Kit set about the build, with lots of clever, quirky and custom features laced into the admin system of the site to make life as easy as possible for the guys at Mabie to manage and update.

To say we’re chuffed to bits with how this one came out would be a huge understatement!

Take a look for yourselves at:

www.mabiehousehotel.co.uk


 

New site launched for The Gas Man

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Wednesday, June 29, 2016

We’ve been working with The Gas Man, or Laurie as we know him around these parts for a year or two, and seen his business grow from strength to strength in a remarkably short period of time.

The Gas Man Worcester Boilers

Recently we launched a new website, coinciding with his advertising campaign on local radio station West Sound.  Focusing on his new range of Worcester boilers and offer of 2 year’s interest free credit, Laurie needed a online presence that both inspired confidence and helped generate new business.

Website: www.gasengineerdumfries.co.uk

Testimonial

“If you’re ever thinking about getting a website or creative work done, do not go anywhere but here. The work Creatomatic produce is absolutely amazing and well worth every penny spent!”

Laurie Irving, The Gas Man


 

Employer of the year award winners

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business, careers. Friday, June 24, 2016

This week we were both humbled and gratified to be the recipients of two CX Project Business Awards at their annual prize-giving ceremony. Creatomatic picked up the ‘Overall Winner’ trophy as well as the ‘Best Employer’ award – a great honour indeed.

Creatomatic award winners

The Best Employer is one that’s particularly gratifying to us at Creatomatic.

Ever since our inception, James & I have put a great deal of emphasis into attracting, building and, most importantly keeping, the best team we can.  From the offset we’ve banged the drum for Living Wage, operated complete company transparency, and mutual respect between all staff.  We’ve both worked in too many places in the past where walls exist between each tier of a company, and we remain as determined as ever to work as a team on equal terms.

Kit Allen & James Miodonski CX Project 2016 Awards

In short, our ethos has always been to treat clients and team members with equal respect (aside from Chris, of course – he deserves, and receives, nothing but utter scorn and disdain). And while it’s been hard work, it’s been worth it: we’ve gelled a small team of superb and extremely professional designers and developers. This allows us to punch well above our weight and pull in an impressive roster of clients from around the UK.

 


 

Simon Winstanley Architects – Retrofit

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Monday, June 20, 2016

Simon, from award-winning local firm Simon Winstanley Architects got in touch with us a while back for help with his existing website.

Simon Winstanley Architects The Houl

Although beautifully designed and visually striking, the site was built on a home-brewed platform, making it almost impossible for the team to manage in-house.  Publishing updates, adding new pages or images was a non-starter.  Finally, the site hadn’t been built with mobiles or tablets in mind – making it unwieldy to use for people on smaller screens (around half of all visitors, by our reckoning).

Our recommendation was a Retrofit; take the existing design, content and structure, and simply lift and shift it across onto WordPress.  We built a custom Projects system to make the job of adding case studies and examples of their stunning work a doddle.  Coupled with a mix of our standard self-help WordPress video guides and the odd one specific made just for Simon and his team, new projects can now be added in a matter of minutes, without touching a scrap of code in the process.

The site now works seamlessly on devices of all shapes and sizes – from desktop to mobile, and has all of Google’s powerful analytics and tracking tools plugged in for good measure.

We’re delighted with how this one turned out, with a powerful content management system now powering what was an already gorgeous looking website.

Website: www.simonwinstanley.com


 

2016 CX Project Business Awards Finalists

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business, news. Friday, June 17, 2016

Creatomatic - web design Annan

We’re totally stoked to announce that we’ve been nominated in two categories for the CX Project Business Awards, to be announced on Wednesday 22nd June.

We’re finalists for the ‘Best Employer’ and ‘Most Innovative Business’ awards – really looking forward to the awards ceremony!

http://www.cxproject.co.uk/


 

Creating One-to-Many Email Forwarding in Google Apps

Posted by James Miodonski, in category how-to. Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Google have a fairly long history of building amazing systems, not telling people about them and not making a huge amount of technical support information public either.  Instead, they rely on – superbly manned, I hasten to add – support forums on a Q&A type basis, with an ever growing knowledge base resource to sift through.

Here’s a quick & dirty guide to adding an email forwarder  – say info@yourwebsite.com – to multiple recipients (say andy@yourwebsite.com, becky@yourwebsite.com and so on) from within your Google Apps for Business console.

For individual users you can use the Alias option, which is perfect for situations where a person needs multiple email addresses for their own account.  Let’s say sally.single@yourwebsite.com gets married and changes her name.  Adding an alias to her existing email account means she’ll receive mail sent to both her old sally.single@yourwebsite.com email address and her new sally.married@yourwebsite.com address.  Make sense?  Good ‘oh.

Where this falls over is when you have a single point of contact email address that needs to be sent to multiple people, such as a sales (sales@yourwebsite.com) or tech support team (support@yourwebsite.com).

Traditionally, these are done via your hosting account – log into there and add in as many email forwarders as you like.  However, once you’ve handed power of your email over to Google (which, by the way you almost certainly should consider doing so), this no longer works.

So, the short answer is that it’s done via Groups. Here’s the longer answer in a little more details.

Log into your Google Admin dashboard

https://admin.google.com/

From here click on the More Controls link at the bottom of the screen and click the + sign within the Groups icon to add this service to your dashboard.

Google Apps dashboard with no Groups icon present

The Groups icon will now appear in your dashboard every time you log in.

Google Apps dashboard with Groups icon visible

Click onto Groups, and hit the + button in the bottom right to create a new Group.

Google Apps adding a new Group

Create new group

Give your group a name, email address (e.g. sales@) and a description.

Under Access level, select Team and *important* – make sure that the ‘Also allow anyone on the internet to post messages’ box is ticked.  This allows people from outwith your company to send email to the new group email address.

 

New Group details in Google Apps

Click Create.

Next, to add the recipients of the new group email address click ‘Manage users in GroupName’

Adding users to your Group in Google Apps

On the next screen, type the email addresses you wish to add to the group.

Adding users to your Group in Google Apps

Once all names & email addresses have been added, click the ‘Add’ button.  They’ll appear underneath in a list if this has been done correctly.

Adding them as members (*as opposed to owners) is fine, at least for this purpose.

Adding members to Google Apps group

That’s it!

The next stage is to send a test email (ideally from an external email address from your company account, e.g. a personal Hotmail/Gmail account) to the new group email account and make sure everybody you expected to receive it got the email.

If all’s good, happy days – job done!

More info here if you need it: https://productforums.google.com/forum/#!forum/apps


 

New website for Euan Adamson Photographer

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Tuesday, March 22, 2016

“Simple, with big images and understated please”

Was the design brief given to designer Paul by Euan, our old friend and long-term provider of amazing images. The keen eyed amongst you will probably recognise many of Euan’s images on several of our own client’s websites over the last few years.

Euan Adamson Photographer

All in all, this was an absolute dream of a job to work on from start to finish. A clear, straightforward brief, a staggeringly good selection of images to work with and a pile of supplied content dropped in within a couple of days of requesting it.

It’s turned out an absolute cracker – check it out at:

www.euanadamson.com


 

Trophy Boss – new website launched

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Yesterday saw the much anticipated launch of a whopping big e-commerce site we’ve been busy working away on for the last few months.

Trophy Boss

A collaborative effort; we produced the website, logo & branding and wired it all up into Ian’s (Mr Trophy Boss’ real name) existing EPOS system.

Our good friend Giles Atkinson spent a couple of mornings down at Wigtown to provide us with some properly gorgeous photography and hey presto, a good and thorough testing later and we’re live!

If anyone’s looking for a trophy, medal or engraved gifts – you genuinely couldn’t buy it from a nicer bloke.

www.TrophyBoss.com


 

Hiddleston Joiners website launched

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Wednesday, February 10, 2016

We’re very proud to announce that a new website for Hiddleston Joiners of Terregles has just gone live after many weeks of hard work on all sides.

Hiddleston Joiners

 

A thoroughly lovely job to work on from start to finish.  Proper, top quality craftsmanship, a final end product that was a joy to photograph and a brilliant, enthusiastic team to work with.

We love how this one turned out – check out their new website at:

www.hiddlestonjoiners.co.uk


 

Making WordPress Work For You: the Creatomatic Framework

Posted by James Hall, in category business. Thursday, January 14, 2016

At Creatomatic, we’ve made WordPress our platform of choice. We’ve been working with the platform since 2008, and it powers 99%+ of our public-facing websites.

wp-screenshot

Given that the platform powers over a quarter of all sites on the internet (giving it an almost 60% market share of the content management system sector), it looks like we’ve backed the right horse here.

In order to make our development process more effective, we’ve developed a fast, effective WordPress framework which we use as the foundation for every new website we develop. To use an automotive metaphor, it’s a bit like having a pre-fabricated chassis which we can build our car on without having to start designing our vehicle entirely from scratch.

The Creatomatic framework has evolved considerably over the years, from a basic grid layout to a fully responsive framework with support for custom post types (which can power anything from case studies to team members to custom enquiry management systems), an in-built contact system, video guides and a simple customisation options and a constant program of rolling updates which keeps it secure, flexible and cross-browser compliant.

Our framework isn’t the only one out there, of course – there’s an industry made up of companies whose sole product is pre-built themes and frameworks – but ours is simple to use, extremely lightweight, and built to expand rather than cramming every possible bell and whistle into the framework itself. For this purpose, we maintain a specialist code library with pre-built WordPress functions and sub-frameworks which we can drop in to place as and when required, rather than bloating every site with unnecessary functionality.

If you’d like to know more about using the Creatomatic framework, please don’t hesitate to contact us – we’ll be very happy to show you what it can do for you.


 

SCENEgineering site launched

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Friday, December 18, 2015

Flippin’ ‘eck – and another new site’s just gone live, this time it’s a complete facelift for our old friends Iain & Pete up in Glasgow at Scengineering.

SCENEgineering

Lots of funky custom development in play here; animated header, parallax scrolling and a hand made back end system to help catalogue their ever-growing range of theatre sets for hire.

www.scenegineering.com


 

Passion Flowers – new website launched

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Thursday, December 17, 2015

It’s been a busy old week this – as that’s the second new site launched in as many days, this one for our favourite local florists and one of our oldest clients; Passion Flowers of Dumfries.

Passion Flowers Dumfries

Marita was one of our very first clients back in our very early days for a Site in a Day website (remember those!?) and came back this year looking for a fresh, new look for the business.

After a coffee and cake fuelled catch up and briefing meeting after hours at Creatomatic HQ, Paul draw up a series of completely overhauled page designs with a clean, stripped back look and feel.

Chris and Kit shared the build work, ensuring the new site played seamlessly across our strict cross-browser tests (i.e. everything from desktops to titchy smart phones, and a whole range of browsers, like Chrome, Firefox, Safari and IE (shudder).

We love it, the clients (Marita & Richie) love it, and we rather hope you’ll love it too.

www.passion-flowers.net


 

Distillery Holiday Cottages – new website launched

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Wednesday, December 16, 2015

New site launched this afternoon for Distillery Holiday Cottages here in our home town of sunny Annan.

Distilery Cottages

This one’s particularly poignant as it’s the very first site to go live that was designed from start to finish by our new man Paul G.

Along with the website we’ve produced a logo and branding pack for Distillery Cottages to use on business cards, letterheads and welcome packs etc, and we drafted in our old friend Euan Adamson to supply the (stunning!) photography.

We’re absolutely delighted with how this one came out, we hope you like it too.

www.DistilleryCottages.co.uk


 

Creatomatic leads the way with Living Wage deal

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business, news. Friday, December 11, 2015

So we made the local paper again this morning, complete with fresh mug-shots and everything.

Turns out that we’re officially the first (and only) employers in Annan to become accredited as paying the Living Wage.  Which is nice.

Creatomatic Living Wage article Annandale Observer

Links


 

Making columns easier with Columnomatic

Posted by Kit Allen, in category technical, wordpress. Thursday, December 10, 2015

Column layouts are pretty much the de facto standard of web publishing these days. Responsive layouts with two, three and four column grids are becoming increasingly common as a quick and user-friendly way of displaying content. But it’s never really been what WordPress does best.

There are a few options out there in terms of page editors – but in the main, we’ve found that they’re cumbersome and overly complex for users, and in a number of cases produce serious ‘code bloat’ (both in the maintenance system for admins, and on the front end code that’s displayed to users.)

A while ago, we blogged a wee video about our preferred option at the time – a plugin called Column Shortcodes. This was, until earlier this month, our preferred solution for columns – a custom shortcode system which features the flexibility to deploy a range of responsive column options right up to a six column grid. However, while there’s flexibility in spades, it’s still not the easiest for web admins to get their heads round.

So. If you want a job done, do it yourself. We got the development crayons out for an afternoon and sketched out a wish list for our system. We realised that in 90% of cases, we only ever use 2/3/4 column layouts, so we planned our system around this.

And here’s the result:

Screen Shot 2015-12-10 at 21.20.32

 

Our system gives you a true graphic representation of the page you’re editing, with columns and even fonts in place from the front end, so you can get a proper understanding of the content you’re working on. There’s three column options which can be added to any text editor with a single click – and we even added a Lorum Ipsum shortcut to speed up developing dummy page layouts.

The bad news is that it’s not available as a plugin – yet – it’s going through testing in our own code library before we release it to an unsuspecting world. But it’ll be available soon!


 

Creatomatic are officially Living Wage Employers

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Wednesday, November 4, 2015

This morning we – like many other businesses locally – received a letter from Dumfries & Galloway Council urging us to consider joining them as an official Living Wage Employer.

Living Wage Employers

We’d been aware of the Living Wage movement for a while, and the decision to join up proper was a swift and straightforward one.

I’d been struggling for a while to find the right words for this blog post- the line between describing our approach of “transparency, openness and genuinely giving a toss about our staff and customers” and sounding like a self-righteous, pompous arse is an incredibly thin one.

In short, we’ve been everything associated with a ‘living wage employer’ in all but official title since way before we knew it was officially a thing.

hipster-barista

Luckily, Kit described the notion far better than I could hope to in one of the very first blog posts we published, back in July 2012 – enjoy.

 


 

Creatomatic is 3. (And a bit.)

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Tuesday, October 13, 2015

It’s becoming an informal tradition that we mark company birthdays with a) a full-on night on the town, and b) a quick round-up of what we’ve been up to over the last 12 months.

Creatomatic Nerf Gun Wall

While we managed Part A quite effectively – with the collective team taken to the uber friendly Electric Fields festival, at nearby Drumlanrig Castle for the day. Part B got held back for various reasons (see below). So now we’re reviewing the year, plus a couple of extra bonus months too…

We said bye to Megan at the end of August. She’s now safely installed at uni and learning how to nurse, which we’re sure won’t be much of a change from the office – high pressure work with blood, screaming, extreme pain and the daily risk of infection, and we’re sure that nursing is pretty hard going too.

In her place now sits titan of design Paul Gardner. Formally of Twinty Fower and Eskdale, he’s been on our radar for years, and we’re utterly delighted to have him in our little team. We think that he’s coping quite well, though – he’s started making appalling puns about his work today, so we’re obviously breaking him in.

Meanwhile, we’ve been working as hard as ever designing, building and crafting websites for companies around the world. New projects for Natural Power, a set of author microsites via Peters Fraser & Dunlop and dedicated internal system developments for Dundas and Kilnford have all kept us busy. Oh, and we also installed a Nerf gun wall.

As a whole, the industry has seen some interesting changes over the past twelve months. We’re seeing more and more convergence from a design standpoint over various online web builders and WordPress, as new designers take advantage of an ever-growing library of off-the-shelf themes available: Louder Than Ten published an excellent article on this a couple of months ago, for further reading.

While one might assume this new competition poses a threat – and yes, it does, to a certain extent – it actually highlights the custom work we do with WordPress: because it’s not limited to a cookie-cutter theme, we’re able to build sites around our clients needs and requirements, with a flexibility that comes from years of code experience. (There’s a future blog post in here, I suspect.)

So – what’s coming up in 2016?

‘More of the same’ is the slightly boring answer. We’ve got a couple of very interesting ongoing projects which we’re looking forward to launching before the end of 2015; we’ve got an internal project which we’re still keeping under wraps for the moment; and we’ll keep on bringing you updates from the front line of the Internet as we go.

Kit


 

Where is your website hosted?

Posted by James Miodonski, in category technical. Tuesday, September 22, 2015

It’s one of the first things we check when troubleshooting a new client’s website – what country is it hosted in?

It’s best practice to have your website hosted in the same country as your target audience, e.g. a UK restaurant website should be hosted on a UK based web server, yet in lots of cases they’re hosted on either US or German based hosts.

Google’s own evangelist Matt Cutts confirms this in one of his Google Webmasters videos.

How do I find out where my website is hosted?

There are a number of online tools that’ll check this, such as:

www.ipligence.com/geolocation

In this example simply put your home page URL into the search box and click ‘Find’.

What next?

“Eeek – my site’s hosted in some strange and distant country…”

We’d strongly recommend getting it moved to somewhere closer to home in that case.

Where to host it depends greatly on the platform your site is built on (e.g. WordPress, Drupal, Umbraco, home rolled HTML etc) – however *Sales Pitch Alert* – Creatomatic do provide fast, reliable UK based hosting (ranging from blog-only up to to eCommerce hosting) and can advise you further on how best to proceed.

Get in touch to find out more – even if we can’t host it, we’ll point you in right direction.


 

Fond farewell to Megan

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Friday, August 28, 2015

We’re saying bye to our favourite designery person ever today.

Megan’s been with us for two and a bit of our three years in business, and we’re going to miss her loads. We took her out to lunch down at the distillery to celebrate her new career as Nurse Hyslop, though…

farewell-megan

Team Creatomatic x


 

Server Upgrades & Possible Downtime – 24/06/2015

Posted by James Miodonski, in category technical. Wednesday, June 24, 2015

We’re upgrading one of the Creatomatic servers tonight. This means, for some of you we’ll be moving your site to a faster, more secure server with a whole heap more space. No change to what you pay – it’s all part of the service.

All those who aren’t affected, well – doubly good news, because you’re already on one of our other newer servers and you won’t feel a thing.

The transfer will be taking place around 10:00pm (GMT). There’ll be a a short amount of website downtime as a result while your site transfers to the new server; if we host your email, new mail won’t be available for a short time either.

Kit & James H are on-site throughout to oversee this process though, so it should be back online and running before they leave tonight.

Thanks from Creatomatic HQ x


 

New Dumfries Show website launched

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Friday, May 22, 2015

Another day, another launch. This one for the Dumfries Show – an annual fiesta of all things agricultural which has been running since 1962.

Dumfries Show

The new site is a hybrid of a single-page site (for the current show) with further sections set up for older shows and history. Some serious planning went into this one, with a lovely design to boot!

www.dumfriesshow.co.uk


 

New site launched for DnG24

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Tuesday, May 12, 2015

dng24

We’ve been hard at work to make the new DnG24 website an outstanding resource for the latest news in Dumfries and Galloway.

Full case study will be coming soon, but in the mean time, check out the brand new site at www.dng24.co.uk – it’s a cracker.


 

How to use Column Shortcodes in WordPress

Posted by Kit Allen, in category how-to. Monday, April 6, 2015

Quite often when we’re putting sites together, we’ll need to put content into columns. There’s a few ways to skin this particular cat – we can split content into separate boxes in WordPress, or use the ‘more’ tag as a flag to split content into two columns – but if the site requires something more flexible, we’ll use a plugin called Column Shortcodes.

Column Shortcodes uses WordPress shortcodes to set up columns of content in your site. A page might look like this:

[ one_half ]
content for column 1
[ /one_half ]

[ one_half_last ]
content for column 2
[ /one_half_last ]

The example above will – as you’d expect – split content into two 50% width columns. Because the columns work on a percentage basis, they’ll also display nicely on mobile browsers – so your site will continue to be usable on smaller screens too.

The screencast below explains how to use Column Shortcodes in a whole heap more detail:


 

How to use WordPress Galleries

Posted by Kit Allen, in category how-to. Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Here’s one of a series of screencasts we’ll be producing over the following months to help with common WordPress issues. This one’s all about setting up and editing WordPress image galleries. Enjoy!


 

Yoast Security Update March 2015

Posted by Kit Allen, in category technical. Thursday, March 12, 2015

On Wednesday of this week (11th March 2015), a security vulnerability was discovered in the popular WordPress SEO by Yoast plugin. The issue, which affects older versions of the plugin, would potentially allow an attacker to set up an administrator login by accessing the mySQL database directly. Yoast, to their credit, moved very quickly and released an updated version of the plugin almost immediately.

You can read more about the vulnerability here: https://wpvulndb.com/vulnerabilities/7841

We scanned our all of our client’s sites to identify any using older versions of the plugin, one of which was your site. We then went through each site and updated Yoast to the latest version to fix the security issue.

Could my site have been compromised?

It’s very unlikely indeed that your site has been affected. The issue was only discovered on Wednesday, and we’d patched (and checked) every site by yesterday afternoon. Also, in order for an attacker to gain access, they would have to get an administrator/author/editor account holder to click a link before any action could take place.

What should I do?

Creatomatic customers don’t need to do anything. Nothing at all. We’ve checked your sites and updated them all for you already 🙂

That said, if you do notice any suspicious activity on your site, please drop us a support email at support@creatomatic.co.uk and we’ll investigate.

Team Creatomatic x


 

Creatomatic Ltd and Sigma Internet

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Monday, March 9, 2015

We’re pleased to announce that as of Monday 2nd March 2015, Sigma Internet has become a part of Creatomatic.

We’ve been in discussions with Giles for quite some time and we’re delighted to be further growing our customer base: we’re now working to integrate our new customers onto our servers and introduce ourselves to everybody. So – if you’re a Sigma client and you’re wondering who we are, please do feel free to say hello!

The new move brings on board a number of interesting new clients and platforms, so we’re working hard to make sure that everything is moved across with the absolute minimum of disruption and no additional costs.

Lastly, we’d like to extend a very warm ‘best wishes’ to Giles with his photography business.

> Giles Atkinson Photography

 


 

We’re back

Posted by James Miodonski, in category news. Monday, January 5, 2015

That’s everyone at Team Creatomatic back at our desks again this morning after a long-needed and much welcomed couple of weeks off.

Normal working hours are back in order and the cake stand has been suitably replenished.

Happy new year folks, here’s to a cracking 2015.


 

Christmas opening hours

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Friday, December 19, 2014

creato-christmas-2014

 

Creatomatic will be closed from Friday 19th December and will re-open on Monday 5th January.

Support queries should be addressed to support@creatomatic.co.uk, which is checked daily.

For emergency queries, our support number is available at 01461 536 202.

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year from Team Creatomatic x


 

Web Designer/Developer post

Posted by Kit Allen, in category careers. Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Creatomatic are looking for an all-round web designer/developer to join our team.

We’re looking for someone with the following skills/experience:

  • WordPress
  • HTML/CSS/PHP
  • JavaScript or JQuery

Experience with Adobe Creative Suite/copywriting experience/print and graphic design would be beneficial but not essential. This role would be ideal for a graduate wanting to get started in the industry.

You’ll get a competitive rate of pay + bonuses and overtime; flexible working hours; an excellent, fun working environment with a close-knit team; superb long-term career prospects, and the opportunity to work on some exciting projects for a wide range of clients around the country.

We would also consider CVs from either developers or designers – so if you’re purely from a code background or have only done design work, we’d still like to hear from  you, as we’ve enough prospective work to potentially hire two new team members if the right people are available!

We’re based in Annan: an easy commute from Dumfries or Carlisle (15 minutes each way on the train).

Interested? Email your CV or portfolio to us, outlining why you’d like to work with us and we’ll take it from there.


 

London in the Sky

Posted by Chris McWhinnie, in category design, news. Friday, September 12, 2014

We’ve been working closely with Events in the Sky this past few months, transforming their online presence and specifically working on branding their public event London in the Sky.  When they first came to us for a website re-design, we had the opportunity to push the design limits and we’ve really enjoyed the working with them closely to come up with something stunning!

Today, London in the Sky launched! Running from the 12th – 21st of September – a 10 day pop-up restaurant has opened up in the capital, overlooking Canary Wharf.

Open to the public, this event shows five of London’s best Michelin starred restaurants transfer their menus and dining experiences to our unique sky table, suspended 100 feet in the air. The table seats 22 guests, with a guest chef, sommelier and waiting team serving from the centre of the table – an amazing experience!

We re-branded Events in the Sky and created an identity for London in the Sky – which varied from menu design and seat headrests to bar design.

View the Events in the Sky website

View our full case study

events-in-the-sky-logo

The new branding for Events in the Sky and London in the Sky.

 

London-in-the-Sky

 

The view from the table – suspended 100ft in the air!

London in the Sky has been featured on many blogs, social media pages and websites – especially The Telegraph, have a look here:

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/11090110/Dining-in-the-sky-does-fear-make-food-taste-better.html

 

VIDEO: #LondonInTheSky Dinner w/Chef @TonyFlem of Angler in @SouthPlaceHotel 100 ft up in the air… featuring reclining chairs and a nervous @LauraJHyatt

A video posted by Wilkes (@wilkes888) on

 

Keep up-to-date with the daily event happenings on their blog here – http://www.eventsinthesky.co.uk/blog/

Good luck to all the guys at London in the Sky with the rest of the event!


 

WordPress 4.0 is out

Posted by Chris McWhinnie, in category wordpress. Thursday, September 4, 2014

Some really nice improvements in the new version, including a really smooth embed system for embeddable content (videos, tweets, etc). Such as this one here:


 

Creatomatic ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I love my staff. And they love me too.

(We also made a donation to the Motor Neuron Disease Association; you can too, if you want to help a very good cause.)


 

Placement opportunity

Posted by Kit Allen, in category careers. Tuesday, August 12, 2014

We’re looking for someone to sit in for a week or possibly two to help us our workload this month. Mainly working on website content – there’s potentially some graphic design work involved, and/or code work, and/or online marketing – dependent on your skills and experience – plus dealing with phone calls and support work to take the pressure off.

We’ll need you to be able to work at our offices in Annan, from next week. We’ll provide a computer and plenty of coffee.

Email kit@creatomatic.co.uk with your CV and relevant experience – cheers.


 

Now we are two

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Friday, August 1, 2014

Today marks the second anniversary of Creatomatic opening its doors. While there’s no ukeleles in this years birthday blog post, it’s a good time to have a wee recap of where we are in 2014.

web-design-scotland-team

If our first year was all about learning and growth, our second has been focused squarely on building on these foundations. We’ve enjoyed another year of growth, but this year, rather than doubling the size of our team, we’ve grown the company itself, in terms of support, clients and equipment.

  • We’ve invested heavily in online services – upgrading our dedicated servers and doubling the capacity, along with setting up a dedicated backup server to act as an additional fallback to our server and internal backups. Three levels of redundancy mean that we’re in a good position should the worst happen.
  • We’ve upgraded our office equipment – designing on spacious HD screens and fast Macs makes a hell of a lot of difference when you’re dealing with a dozen different clients in an afternoon!
  • We’ve worked on building up our own code library – allowing us to quickly develop custom solutions without having to code frameworks from scratch.

Work-wise, meanwhile, we’ve had the opportunity to pitch for projects for the likes of Virgin, Booking.com, Visit Scotland and Natural Power – and we’ve won more new business in 2014 than we took on in our entire first year. We’ve successfully made the transition into responsive design; we’ve redesigned and built our own website (not before time!); and we carried out work for clients in London, Paris, Rome and beyond.

For 2015, we’re looking forward to taking on our second office and pushing our services to an ever-wider audience – thanks as always to our loyal customers for another great year!


 

Natural Power

Posted by Chris McWhinnie, in category business, news. Monday, July 14, 2014

Natural Power

We’re delighted to announce that Creatomatic will be working with Natural Power to redevelop their corporate and internal websites over 2014-2015.

We’ll be working with the team to provide graphic design, web design and development services throughout the next twelve months – stay tuned for updates as we roll out some particularly nice new sites for  this project.


 

Introducing Superfast Search

Posted by Kit Allen, in category wordpress. Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Regular users of WordPress will be used to the restrictions of the in-built search system.

It’s not bad, but it adds an extra step to getting users to where you want them to be which just isn’t ideal – especially if you’re running it an eCommerce platform using WooCommerce or similar.

However – help is at hand with our new, free, WordPress plugin: Superfast Search.

Super Fast Search

It brings true Instant Search to your site – no bloated code or complex, performance-crippling graphics to load. It loads your search results before the page loads in a single query, and links straight to the built-in search system too. Clever, huh?

The basic version is 100% free. Gratis. No charge. Help yourself and enjoy. Or you can get your hands on the Pro version for less than a fiver ($8 – about £4.50) and search whatever you want.

Go ahead and take a look – we hope you like it!

www.superfastsearch.co.uk


 

Easy WordPress sprites with CSprite

Posted by James Hall, in category how-to, technical, wordpress. Saturday, March 15, 2014

40% of people abandon a website that takes more than 3 seconds to load.

You’ve probably heard that statement before. It’s taken from a report published in 2009 – so the chances are that user expectations are considerably higher as of 2014 – but it does make an important point: People don’t like waiting.

We want to on a site, access the information we need, and go back to our daily lives. If a site is taking to long to load or navigate, I will go back and click on the next site. I’m sure you will do this too. What’s worse is that search engines will  rank you lower down in their search results if your site loads slowly.

As a result, we’re constantly working on ways of reducing load times and slimming down content – which is why we’ve recently launched CSprite, our own image sprite generator plugin for WordPress.

What is an image sprite?

An image sprite is a set of icons or small images merged side by side into one single image. If you have a website with 20 graphics, your browser no longer needs to as the server for 20 images, just one! Image sprites are typically smaller than all the individual images put together too, which is an added bonus.

Take a look at the one Twitter uses (click to view a larger version):

sprite-detail

The technical stuff

The most common way to use a sprite is to insert a placeholder div with a class and use CSS’s background and background-position to extract the single image. The only problem with this is that it slow and tedious to position images and get their type out coordinates – it makes it even more of a pain to make image changes too.

This is where CSprite comes in. Simply drop all the images you your theme’s ‘csprite’ folder and the plugin will generate a sprite for you, and set up all the CSS classes into a included into WordPress.

Try it now

Download it here, or see it in action on our site: the automatically generated stylesheet, and the automatically generated sprite.


 

Creatomatic’s Christmas Hampers

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Friday, January 10, 2014

Last month, we thought we’d go above and beyond sending out cards and properly spoil some of our clients.

We made up a set of twelve Christmas hampers, filled with a range of tasty treats, almost all hand-made by members of the team, and suitably branded.

Not only were they very well received – they were also a joy to put together in the last few weeks running up to the holidays!

IMG_0216
The card that went out with the hampers – hand-drawn by Megan.

IMG_0220
We produced a Creatomatic label standard for the contents, matching our web branding and printed onto inkjet sticker paper.

IMG_0222
There was quite a lot of fiddly cutting involved during this process…

IMG_0224
The finished products (with a James in the background)

IMG_0225
Mrs Allen’s lethal whiskey fudge. Involved a generous slug of single malt.

IMG_0231
The finished item! Contents:Williams Brewery ale (an office favourite); fudge, triple chocolate brownies, biltong, chutney (all home made) and local oatcakes.


 

Happy Christmas from Creatomatic

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Friday, December 20, 2013

We’re shutting up shop for the Christmas break today. We’ll be open again on the 3rd of January, and will be available on email throughout the festive period.

Any urgent queries should be sent to support@creatomatic.co.uk – this will email the entire team, so will be answered promptly!

Have a marvellous Christmas break folks, and all the best for 2014 – Kit, James M, James H, Chris and Megan at Creatomatic.

 


 

Why not to work at Creatomatic

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Wednesday, October 23, 2013

One of the first tracks I dropped onto our shared office music server was a little tune called Hey Moon, by Speck Mountain.

A glorious, drifting, ethereal piece of music, its floaty guitars and misty vocals have been a favourite of mine since I heard it on 6Music earlier in the year. Like the Cocteau Twins, but slower – and that’s not meant as faint praise either.

However. It turns out that not everyone in the office shares my enthusiasm for this particular track. Chris, our long-suffering designer, finally snapped this afternoon and begged us to remove it from the playlist forthwith. Naturally, the first thing we did was to put said tune back on repeat – and subsequently call his phone as he made his way home, leaving the office phone in the speaker and putting it on at full volume.

It occurred to us, though, that we could actually take this a little step further. Hence, the following exchange with the band themselves:

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 22.22.31

I was therefore delighted when I received the following texts from our long-suffering designer this evening.

photo-1

And, checking my Twitter feed, I wasn’t disappointed.

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 22.17.02

Kudos to Karl at Speck Mountain for being an utterly good sport. And also to Chris for – as always – having the last word…

Screen Shot 2013-10-22 at 22.17.13


 

Viva the mobile revolution

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Friday, October 18, 2013

Browser stats. Not the most fascinating of subjects, unless you’re a web designer: in which case they’re extremely interesting indeed.

Like much of the industry, we’ve been keeping a close eye on user trends over the past few months. What we’re seeing is a move towards mobile and tablet browsing which has doubled in market share between 2012 and 2013 – and is predicted to outstrip traditional browsing by 2014.

You’ll probably know this by now, if you’re a mobile user. How many times do you think ‘I’ll just Google that…’ and pick up your phone rather than going and logging in to a computer? How many of your website users do the same?

Our response to this is what’s called Responsive Design. Briefly, it’s a way of building sites so that they’re displayed in optimal formats for mobile viewers (usually with smaller images and a full navigation structure), tablets and desktops. One website, multiple displays: it’s a terribly elegant way of working.

We’ve released a couple of sites which use this already, and we’re currently working on developing our first fully responsive eCommerce system at present. Drop us a line if you’d like to see what responsive design can do for you too.

*This article first appeared in our Autumn 2013 newsletter. Sorry if you’ve read it already: we figured it bears repeating.


 

Creatomatic climb Ben Nevis

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Wednesday, September 25, 2013

So, we had a little team-building exercise this weekend. Half of us climbed Ben Nevis; the other half went on a highly entertaining hurl round the best motorcycling roads Scotland has to offer.

Culminated in dinner and a couple of fine whiskeys before a (slightly) more sedate toddle back South, including an impromptu stop off at Glencoe to re-enact the famous ‘Bond and M’ scene from Skyfall.

Creatomatic re-enactment of Skyfall

 

Good times indeed, and yes – we know that’s not a DB5 in the picture…

View the photos on Facebook

 


 

Creatomatic Is One.

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Thursday, August 1, 2013

A little over a year ago I wrote a short essay on how I’d like Creatomatic to work. Penned on the eve of our official launch, it was a stab at setting out how we’d like the company to work and what we wanted to do with our business.

Today, as Creatomatic reaches its first birthday, seems a good time to revisit it.

 

It’s been a mind-bogglingly first year behind the big blue cog. We’ve struggled through the first few months, taking on every little job we could as we tried to kick-start the company and get a reputation together. We’ve scraped along the bottom financially, topping up the finances from savings and putting essential expenses on credit cards. There were a few moments where we genuinely feared that we’d have to close our doors if we couldn’t get payments together in time.

And yet – a scant 12 months later – I’m able to look at our little company with, frankly, a bloody massive amount of pride. We’ve got two full-time and one part-time member of staff working in our beautiful new office in Bridge House. We’ve completed projects to be really proud of, for the likes of Peters Fraser and Dunlop and Annan Athletic FC, and we’ve built up a roster of clients who rely on Creatomatic to provide their web services. We’ve paid off almost all our start-up costs, and we’re even (just) in profit after a single year. I’ve got to admit: we really didn’t see this coming!

So, what’s changed in our first year of business? Well – we’ve grown (much) faster than we expected, for one. We intended to build up a decent financial cushion before increasing staffing levels – but with the sheer speed of growth over the summer, we had to basically man up and get hirin’. (Not that we regret it, I might add.)

We’ve stuck to our guns on Being Nice To Staff – and we’ve extended this to Being Nice To Clients too. In the spring we came up with the concept of ‘Hour of Random Kindness’: giving an hour’s free time per week to any of our clients who could use our services, be it a branding update, some SEO research, a little copywriting or even just a wee email to advise on getting more sales from their site. (James insists on calling it ‘Hour of Random Niceness’, but only so he can make jokes about ‘getting the HORN’.)

And I’d like to think that we’ve raised our game internally, with some of the best work we’ve ever produced over the last twelve months and some really rather useful skills being added to our repertoire (custom post types, anyone?).

All that remains, therefore, is to send a great big thanks to all of our clients, past and present, and here’s to another year as good as this one.

 


 

Say hello to Tweetomatic

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Tuesday, July 2, 2013

You really can’t afford to sit still for too long in this game, because sure as anything something new will come out and bite you in the bum.  Normally it’s a plugin update that (for whatever reason) refuses to play nicely with something else you’ve got installed, but on this occasion we found that Twitter’s latest update to their API (Application Programming Interface – basically a way of interacting between sites or systems) prevented people’s Twitter feeds from appearing on their websites.

Tweetomatic

All those ‘latest Tweet’s you see dotted around the web? Gone.  What a pest.

So, rather than spending the day whinging about it  – admittedly, we did collectively spend a good hour or so whinging about it – Kit & (wee) James set about building a fix instead.

So, without further delay, I’d like to introduce you to Tweetomatic – the easy way to get your Tweets to display on your site again.

There’s a free version which should be fine for most people, along with a Pro version that allows you to display more than just one Tweet, and a few other extra bits which costs £3 / $4.

“Why the charge?”

As fellow Moz’zer Matthew Barby quite rightly asked…  Well, truth is that we didn’t charge any of our existing clients to fix this, so by making what we build available as a WordPress plugin, it a) hopefully helps the wider community and b) recoups a little of the R&D time we had to put in to build it.


 

A few new sites to welcome online

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Thursday, April 11, 2013

We’ve been pretty busy on the Creatomatic shop floor for the past few months – so busy, in fact, that we’ve not had a lot of time to show off our latest launches. So, here’s a few tasters of what we’ve been up to…

 


fitsip

We’ve been working with Fitsip since early 2012, following the evolution of their brand new and rather exciting product. The product sells exclusively through the FitSip online shop, designed and developed entirely by our team – and it’s doing great, with the site featuring in the Herald, The Scotsman, Runners World and many others.


comlongon

Working on a limited budget, we refitted the existing Comlongon Rocks WordPress site with a brand new theme, which we dubbed ‘baroque’n’roll’ (sorry).

The festival is a weekend extravaganza of local and not-so-local music, which has grown massively over the past three years. We were delighted to have the opportunity to put together a site so close to our collective hearts…


billys

Stripping out an existing underperforming online shop, Creatomatic built a brand new look for Billy’s Power Tools, based on our favourite WordPress platform. We’re working on building a following for the company while we put together a suite of online shops, which integrate seamlessly with the company’s eBay system, using WooCommerce and some cunning coding to allow a single control system to control multiple sales platforms.


craftsmans

We’ve built a suitably heavy-duty online shop for this woodturning supply company. Built using WooCommerce (again!) and with a fully custom-designed theme, it uses the awesome WP Lister plugin to integrate stock control with Craftsmans Supplies’ eBay auctions. One control panel, lots of uses – a whole heap of potential here!


hann-and-co
A whole new look for our next-door neighbours here – we worked very closely indeed with the lovely people at Hann and Co to update their brand and fit a heavily-customised ‘Hero’ theme for their solicitor services. We even got to leave the office to do some photography work with this one.


Screen Shot 2013-04-11 at 17.42.35

TR Jackson Couriers is a great example of our popular Retrofit service – taking existing sites, running our standard SEO analysis services on the content and seed keywords, updating/adding content and updating existing designs to the lovely WordPress platform.


 

That’s not to mention the work we’ve been doing for Carnegie Building Services , Metrik Office Supplies, Grange Ornamental or Annan Athletic FC – or any of the top-secret-as-yet projects we’re committed to for the next couple of months. Sleep? It’s for wusses.

 


 

Blasts from the Past

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Monday, March 25, 2013

For reasons unknown, the topic of conversation at Creatomatic HQ took a bit of a meander from the usual drivel of idle gossip, what’s on the cake-stand and the passed remark (normally in appallingly poor taste) at unfortunate passers-by.  Instead, we got onto a bit of a show and tell session of some websites we worked on back in the day.

While I fear this may have a ring of ‘you had to be there…’ about it, frankly I’m short on blogworthy material this week and I’m afraid it’ll just have to do.

(more…)


 

Pre-launch Checklist

Posted by Chris McWhinnie, in category technical, wordpress. Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Here is Creatomatic’s pre-launch checklist, which we carry out on every web project before it goes live.

It’s basically a cross-browser checklist, covering everything from Internet Explorer 7 (no more IE6!) to whatever is currently Flavour Of The Month (currently: iPhone 5 with its wacky longer screen).
(more…)


 

Why is yell.com always at the top of Google?

Posted by James Miodonski, in category qna. Monday, February 11, 2013

Another post from our Q&A series – if you have a question for us, please drop us a note to info@creatomatic.co.uk or by filling in the Quick Contact form.

Why is yell.com / Wikipedia.com / BBC.co.uk / etc always at the top of Google?

Depends what you class as ‘nearly always top’. Anyone can take the ‘top’ spot in Google by paying for it via AdWords – but this can turn into a very expensive game, very quickly. (more…)


 

Products listed in more than one category, does Google see it as duplicate content?

Posted by James Miodonski, in category qna. Thursday, February 7, 2013

We’ve decided to run a series of short Q&A type posts around web design, search engine optimisation and all such things.  If you have a question you’d like to ask, please drop us a note either via the quick contact form or to info@creatomatic.co.uk.

So, to kick things off – we’ll go with…

If i have a product listed in more than one category will Google see it as duplicate content?

In short – yes, probably. (more…)


 

Some Thoughts About SEO

Posted by James Miodonski, in category technical. Friday, February 1, 2013

I get asked a lot of similar questions about SEO, so to help I put together this very brief and basic guide to search engines, websites and generally helping the two to get along nicely.

(more…)


 

EU Cookie Law Finally Dies and Goes Away

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business, news. Thursday, January 31, 2013

According to Silktide, who we’ve linked to before on the subject, it appears that the ridiculous EU Cookie Law is dead. Got to love their take on it: http://blog.silktide.com/2013/01/the-stupid-cookie-law-is-dead-at-last/

(more…)


 

How to Remove a Page From Google’s Index

Posted by James Miodonski, in category how-to. Friday, January 25, 2013

Most sites will have pages that their owners would rather were kept out of the public domain, e.g. expired or seasonal offers, obsolete products, pages under construction etc.

So, what do you do if you discover just such a page showing up in Google, that you’d really rather wasn’t there?

(more…)


 

We found love in an old book place*

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Friday, January 18, 2013

This week, we launched a slightly refreshed WordPress retrofit for the local legends at The Bookshop in Wigtown. (For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure of visiting this establishment, it’s like a real-life Black Books, but bigger. And with more wine. The Bookshop Facebook page gives an excellent flavour of the place).

(more…)


 

An open letter to Triumph Motorcycles

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Monday, January 14, 2013

Dear Triumph Motorcycles,

Your Twitter account (@TriumphOfficial) has so far amassed just short of 11,000 followers – despite the fact you’ve not put out a single tweet.  We couldn’t help but think that you’re missing an enormous trick by not engaging with all of these people who voluntarily registered their interest in your products.

(more…)


 

Creatomatic Christmas 2012

Posted by Chris McWhinnie, in category business. Thursday, December 20, 2012

Creatomatic would like to wish all our customers past and present a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

(more…)


 

Why do you want a website?

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Wednesday, October 24, 2012

It’s the first question we ask all our potential clients at the very first meeting, and one that’s often met with a look of confusion and the odd raised eyebrow.

(more…)


 

Add to Basket or Add to Cart?

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business. Friday, October 12, 2012

It’s probably not a topic of huge debate around most dinner tables, but in the cut-throat world of eCommerce every little helps. Even the smallest advantage over your online competition can make the difference between bagging a sale and your user wandering off to buy elsewhere, and personally I’m very much of the opinion that this stuff matters!

(more…)


 

Logging some common SEO myths

Posted by James Miodonski, in category technical. Thursday, September 27, 2012

In a former life, I was responsible for the day-to-day running of a group of large forestry websites.  As such, I had a fairly active presence on various online forums around the web relating to trees, timber and all things forestry.  One of these hangouts is a place called ArbTalk, where I still occasionally drop by to see what’s happening.

While browsing it a wee while ago, I spotted a thread with some questions, pointers and general SEO myths, so thought I’d chip in, and share the details here.

(more…)


 

Adding a User to Google Analytics

Posted by James Miodonski, in category how-to. Sunday, September 16, 2012

Step by step guide to adding a user to your existing Google Analytics account to allow them to view your data.

These instructions refer to the new version of Google Analytics.

(more…)


 

Duplicate content, an explanation

Posted by James Miodonski, in category technical. Monday, September 3, 2012

Is duplicate content ruining your life?

Probably not, however duplicate content is a huge problem on the web, not least of which because it causes no end of confusion among website owners.  James explains exactly what constitutes as duplicate content, and (more importantly) how to fix / avoid it.

(more…)


 

Welcome to the new site!

Posted by Kit Allen, in category news. Thursday, August 23, 2012

It’s a late-night launch for the first version of Creatomatic.co.uk. As we type this, it’s 11:30pm, and we’ve been working on the site for fourteen and a half hours.

(more…)


 

Some musings on our little company…

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Monday, July 30, 2012

Personally speaking: I hate the phrase ‘mission statement’. Personally speaking. It’s excessively corporate, impersonal, utterly devoid of meaning, and somewhat ugly.

(more…)


 

Welcome to Creatomatic

Posted by Kit Allen, in category business. Monday, July 2, 2012

With less than a month to go until our official launch, we figured it was probably time to start practising what we preach, and using our blog. (more…)


 

Google Penguin Update

Posted by James Miodonski, in category business, technical. Monday, May 7, 2012

24th April 2012 saw the release of the latest algorithmic update from Google, this time code-named the ‘Google Penguin Update‘.

Thousands of website owners across the world witnessed a huge shift in their rankings since the update, indicating that this was in fact another large-scale movement by Google, and not one of their smaller ‘Google Dances’ that happens every so often.  If further evidence was required, Google themselves confirmed the update.

So, here’s what you as local business owners need to know about Google’s Penguin Update.

(more…)