Design Work

Elegant + contemporary logo design for gourmet foodies

Branding and logo design for food and catering has undergone a bit of a renaissance in the past few years, with foodie businesses becoming increasingly aware of the importance of presentation beyond the contents of the plate.

Dorset-based event planners Simply Events got in touch looking for a simple but stylish logo for their newly formed event catering business Simply Gourmet. The logo needed to sit alongside their existing branding, but be distinctive enough to stand on it’s own two feet when needed. Additionally it needed to be flexible and robust enough to work in a range of contexts, including embroidery onto uniforms – no hairline calligraphy here!

Two versions of the logo were created. The first was a simple word-mark combining an all-caps sans with a streamlined contemporary calligraphy style, while the second introduced a cutlery motif to complete the set. Take a look at some examples of the finished branding below…

simply1

simply3

simply2

simply4

Details

Client: Simply Events & Simply Gourmet Catering
Design: Swash & Fold
Fonts: Guess Pro + Sans (Deartype)

WP Wednesdays

WP Wednesdays: how to zero your spam with minimum effort

I’ve spent many years prodding and poking WordPress into behaving itself, and know how tricky it can be to find simple and reliable information for some of the most common problems. WP Wednesdays is a new series of irregular articles looking at some of these topics and looking at how best to tackle them. Today it’s everyone’s favourite blight, Spam…

Anyone running a self-hosted WordPress site for any length of time will have encountered spam at some point. It might be through your contact forms or, most commonly, through the comments on your blog. On the one hand, there’s something a bit rites-of-passage-y about it – the internet knows you exist! Yay, you’ve been spotted! On the other (significantly larger) hand its a royal pain in the proverbial and can sometimes seem like a relentless tide.

Pretty much all of the sites I’ve taken on have had an existing spam problem, with some of the larger ones groaning under the weight of hundreds of spam post comments on posts in a single day. It’s been possible to get things totally under control in every case, in most cases getting the spam count down to pretty much zero, and all using simple (and free) techniques already out there.

First let’s look at some of the basics.

The Settings > Discussion menu is where you’ll find the built-in WordPress settings for comments. Mostly these can be left on their default settings. Pingbacks and trackbacks however should be turned off for sure.

There’s few things more disappointing to a blogger than getting a comment on a hitherto unloved post, only to discover its a trackback. Lose them! Off!

Pingbacks, trackbacks and post notifications are a throwback to a previous era, where they were the only way to let other blogs know that they’d referenced your post and vice versa. Nowadays of course, we’re all good web citizens and give plentiful credits on Twitter, Facebook and the like, so this is increasingly less useful. Not only that, but it’s a perfect mechanism for spambots (automated spamming code) to send a few tentative probes out to your site. Once “approved”, you’ve opened the door for that spambot to comment elsewhere. So lose them. Your discussion settings should look like this:

discussion-settings

Next we need to look at a few plugins. The granddaddy of these is Akismet, which is made by the WordPress team, and bundled along with it when you set your blog up. It needs activating the first time, which means registering for an account over on their site, with a “name your price” monthly fee for individual blogs. And yes, “free” is technically a price. But its pretty straightforward to set up after that.

Akismet is a pretty good gatekeeper, and in many cases can be all you need. It isn’t without its problems though. Out of the box it will block anything that looks like trouble, but still sometimes lets things through. You can train it by highlighting missed comments as spam, and it will learn from that, but even then it isn’t perfect.

Akismet is a bit like a nightclub bouncer. Tell it “no trainers” and it will stop everyone wearing trainers, even the most on-trend pair of Phoebe Philo sneakers.

Perfectly legitimate comments or emails can wind up finding their way into the spam folder, just because they looked a bit like something you’d previously told Akismet was spam. Plus Akismet can be tricked into learning the wrong thing. We’ve all fallen foul of those ego-tweaking “Great blog post. You have some amazing content!” sweeteners at some point. Yet one look at the email address of the commenter shows these to be just as spammy as any number of Rolex links. The difference here is that it plays on our need for positive feedback, and once we’ve approved it Akismet will happily let anything else from that commenter through the door, opening the floodgates for a spam tsunami.

The other problem with Akismet is that it still needs the comment to be posted before it can review it. This takes up server resources – especially if you’ve found yourself on the receiving end of a particularly enthusiastic spam bot – and can really slow your site down as it tries to investigate each and every comment. This is particularly problematic on Shared Hosting packages from the likes of Bluehost and their many guises, which only allow a certain number of things to happen on their servers at a time.

What we need then is something to prevent the spam from even getting into the system. Step forward WordPress Zero Spam, still fairly unknown, put together by a developer who loves what they do and isn’t out for profit (the best sort!) and kind of mind-blowing in how well it works. You can find it by searching under Plugins > Add New in your WordPress dashboard.

wp-zero-spam

It’s hard to explain how WP Zero Spam works without getting too technical, but it’s kind of like a Javascript call-and-response thing. The comment form asks another part of the page for a response, and only lets the comment through if that response is forthcoming. The clever bit is that this all happens on the page using Javascript, which – crucially – spambots don’t know how to use. So the spam doesn’t even get beyond the front door. WordPress happily goes about its business unaware that this is even happening. It really can zero your spam in one swoop 👏

Sure, there may still be the odd spam that sneaks through – the sort where some poor soul is sat there with a conveyor belt of browser tabs manually copy+pasting for a few cents a comment – but these are easily mopped up with a well trained Akismet running in the background.

So there you have it. Two tick-boxes, two plugins, next to no set-up time, and zero spam. Easy!

Plugins used

Akismet: Download from WordPress (although automatically added with all new WP installations)
WordPress Zero Spam: Download from WordPress

Was this post useful to you? Do you have any topics you’d like to see covered? Let me know in the comments!

Design Work

Wedding photographer logo design, with bright pastels + bold lettering

Brighton-based wedding photographer Sara Reeve wanted a bold and colourful re-brand for her business, combining a love of outdoors with an energetic, playful edge.

There was lots to love on this project, with a wide brief and lots of scope to have fun with colours, shapes and textures. The final branding incorporated a bold, brushed calligraphy typeface and was delivered with a flexible selection of logo options, allowing for use across a range of contexts. This was supported by a set of supporting assets, visual elements and illustrations, so Sara could extend the brand throughout a wide range of additional collateral.

Take a look at some examples of the finished branding below…

sara-sheet

sara-full

sara-reeve

Details

Client: Sara Reeve Photography
Design: Swash & Fold
Fonts: Boho Script (Latinotype), Mira Italic (Maghrib), Quicksand (Andrew Paglinawan)

Design Work

Mint + Gold hand-lettered logo design with custom wordpress theme

Bridal Makeup specialist Tara got in touch wanting a fresh new logo and website for her makeup design business. She was after something contemporary and fresh, that reflected both her personality and that of her clients.

Working with a makeup-inspired palette of mint green, ink-wash textures, glitter, hand-lettered typography and hot pink details, the final branding allowed plenty of variations for use on business cards and flyers,  plus visual elements that helped to give a clear structure to the website.

The site itself was a bespoke Wordpress theme, fully editable with filterable galleries and custom-developed press/portfolio section. As with all modern sites the design is entirely mobile-responsive, with the layout and menus adapting to fit smaller mobile devices. The site also makes extensive use of web fonts for headlines and page copy to support the branding throughout. Full details of the fonts used are at the end of this blog post.

Have a look at some examples below, and you can check out the live site itself through the links at the end!

tara-macbook

tara2

printed-bits

sparkle-highres

tara-ipad

Details

Client: Tara Sanger Makeup
Design: Swash & Fold
Site Details: Fully mobile-responsive custom WordPress theme
Fonts: Freeland (Trial By Cupcakes), JAF Domus Titling (Just Another Foundry), Rooney Sans (Jan Fromm)

Font Friday

Font Friday: “Spirited” – a set of 3 hand-made fonts

The ‘Spirited’ type family is an all-new set of 3 hand-made fonts from the pen of the highly talented, UK-based Set Sail Studios. With a distinctive retro-friendly style, this font set is spot on for anyone looking to creating hand-lettered quotes, logos, or printed designs with a rustic, personal touch.

The full set consists of Spirited Script (a set of uppercase and lowercase cursive characters with plenty of OpenType alternates), Spirited Serif (an upper-case only, narrow serif font), Spirited Sans (upper-case again, but wider than the serif version) and a set of 10 swashes, frames and containers.

The typeface family is available to buy as a complete set from Creative Market, or for more options including webfonts or individual font purchases you can also grab it from You Work For Them.

Details

Fonts: Spirited (Set Sail Studios)