Ecommerce website for 'At The Kitchen'

Just finished an eCommerce website for at the kitchen, a great new Kitchen space in Cheadle Hulme (Greater Manchester) offering cookery workshops to all ages and tastes.  I met with owners Angela and Craig who already had a website, but it wasn't quite doing the job they wanted, to see how I could help. 

The story of their business is pretty cool.  Angela is a cook, writer and food stylist with a background working with the BBC's good food guide. If you take a look at the website you'll see just how gorgeous the food they make looks, and that's down to Craig. Craig is a food photographer and you can see a lot of both Angela and Craig's work in BBC food books.

I can't make a souffle, but I do know the ingredients of a good website and who are the better value for money hosting services. After a little bit of exploration, I discovered who they were using and moved them over to a more reliable service. A fresh install of WordPress, with an extra serving of WooCommerce for their shopping cart, was a far more flexible and scalable solution.

I really wanted to make maximum use of the great photography by Craig (which the old website was doing) but also tie that into the SEO, making sure the photos of the food were correctly tagged and captioned, fine details that help get the website ranked properly. Naturally, both Angela and Craig are busy hosting their workshops, so equally important was to make sure the new website could be updated easily with as little technical fuss possible.

Using the WordPress twenty seventeen base theme as a starting point, and as with every site I build,  the layout was then customised at the code level, adding and adjusting the HTML,  CSS and PHP to get the right result. The training was provided using videos that were created showing Angela and Craig how they could add new workshops to their own site.

I really appreciate a clear cut brief and with this project that's exactly what I got.  As the dark nights draw in and their seasonal workshops for festive dining have started appearing on the site, I can only see them getting busier in the new year. All this talk of food is making me hungry!

At The Kitchen Website

Guilty Pleasures - A new website for the Kings Arms Pub.

It was a bit of a guilty pleasure to create a new website for my favourite local.

The Kings Arms in Salford is not only a pub but also a theatre & music venue so they are a very creative bunch of guys and gave me a lot of freedom with the new website design. The new King's Arms site needed to be made responsive and have an updated calendar system - a way of organising all the various types of events they put on there.

The original site also had some illustration, so it was fun to build on that quite literally and draw the venue itself. There's also a little bit of script underneath that turns day into night, depending on the time that you visit the website. If you're in Manchester, don't just visit the website, visit the pub too - they have a great cider on tap!

Visit the Kings Arms website:

WordPress Training. 5 top tips for working with this powerful website platform.

WordPress now powers 20% of the web. While it's not the only platform out there for maintaining a website it's become one of the most powerful and accessible content management systems available. JCU have been using wordpress for over six years and offer wordpress training to clients.  It's highly customisable nature and design friendly UI help focus the design process and enable clients to take real control of their online identity. wordpress training.

Here are 5 of top tips for make your wordpress experience comfortable and effective;

1. Keep your website active with scheduled posts.

Updating your website regularly is one of the best ways to increase activity to your website. This doesn't mean you have to be on it every day, or every week. By using the option to schedule posts, you can create content when time allows, to publish in the future. Timing the release of new content is a great way to maintain engagement. 

Wordpress publish settings. WordPress training.


2. Resize your images.

By resizing your images within wordpress you can keep the loading time on your page down. Slow website page loading times are an achilles heel for any website which leads to visitors clicking away from your site. An image doesn't need to be massive to be clear.

Wordpress training. Resizing images.


3. SEO as you go.

Search Engines Optimisation for websites is big business, and constantly shifts as the search engines companies themselves alter their search criteria for better results. Take time to get your head around the SEO tools on your website is a good start to understanding how SEO works. A good app like Yoast will help you write better content as you go, optimizing your ability to be seen search based on the kind of content you create.

4. Use good images.

Sourcing good images takes time. This is partly one of the reasons include illustration as part of the design service. That way I can create new content which is specific to the project. With photography a mindful client will allow some of the budget to be covered by royalty free images, as misleadingly the term royalty free doesn't mean 'free'. This is where creative commons licenced images are invaluable, allowing use of professional quality images with just and credit to the author, or simply free for any purpose. Some great CC license sites include, and There is of course google image search, but that's the fast track to breaking copyright law. As I say, sourcing good images takes time.

5. Don't loose your password.

This comes up again and again. Get a good solid password and attribute it with the same level of security as your would with bank details. Using the forgotten password link is a quick and easy way to get a new one, but over time can get messy very quickly, especially if you have more  than one person updating your website with different admin roles. Aha. If I was doing a top 6 wordpress tips, admin and editors roles would be it. 

Want to know more? JCU offer wordpress training to help you make the most of your website. Face to face, via video or skype, communication is key to what we do. For more information email or call using the contact info at the bottom of this page.

WordPress training. John Cooper design umlimited. wordpress development. Website training.

Responsive design, a 'must have' for 2017

Responsive design is no longer a new thing. It's surprising how many websites still don't have it. With Google's 'mobilegeddon' update to it's algorithm (how it see's the web) favouring website's with good access via mobile devices and access to the web via mobile making up more than half of total internet traffic,  there's no excuse not to have it.

Responsive design

In the last couple of years website developers have begun to offer responsive design as part of their service. A website's average lifespan is somewhere between 2/4 years depending on the product or service. It's understandable from a client point of view. With larger websites and non-technical companies their website may not necessarily be a priority and without a reliable web design service  transition can be hard. Do you need a new website?  Does your existing one require converting? It doesn't have to be a  painful experience, in fact it can be a great way to refresh and renew for the new year.

JCU is here to help not just with a new website, but also to guide and explain. We provide the design and training so you can get a website that works for you, and does it efficiently and effectively. 

About us.

JCU is a Manchester studio with clients all all over the world.  Working with people and businesses of all sizes providing them with websites that gets attention and illustrations that are as unique as they are. Good design aids good business, and also win new customers. It’s my passion to engage people with good design across all media. JCU is more than just the final product, it’s a design service. With over 18 years industry and design studio experience and a dedication to researching the latest design trends and web technology, it’s not just about creating a look and feel , but solving design problems.

Responsive Design | WordPress Training | Basic SEO


Design Graphic and Illustration update

It's been a busy year here at JCU, with a lot of illustration work appearing on the slate where once it was mostly web. From Album Covers for Rock bands to the trickier end of design, finding the right style for infographics describing IP Cloud solutions, times are as busy as they are diverse. 

The super intensive 'Where's Wally' parody was a real challenge, while putting together my old comedy pal Dan Nightingale tour poster (go see him, he's ace) was a real pleasure. The biggest job came earlier this year with some proposed designs for a Welsh visitors centre converted from an old church. Inspiration came from the wonderful architecture, knights and wolves and er, bees too. The increase in illustration work had been a real joy.

What is Responsive Design?

I'm recently getting more and more requests from new clients with older websites who want them tweaking or re-designing to look better on tablets and phones. Web developers live in interesting times, if you've looked into your own website recently you may have come across the terms 'HTML5' and 'Responsive design', but what do they mean?

Responsive website design

Put simply responsive design is how a website 'responds' to being displayed on a phone or tablet. Once upon a time print magazines were 'portrait' and websites were 'landscape' but that's not the case  now. There are dozens of permutations of screen sizes, resolutions  and proportions. Unlike print the modern web no longer thinks in terms of pixels, with  images and text moving around to make best use of the screen they are being displayed on. Everything is fluid, nothing is fixed. Understanding this is key to getting the best out of a web based project.

Responding to new design.

After lots of blood sweat and toil here it is, the new website.

It's been at least 5 years since I last updated the site.  Back then the idea of animation in HTML was little known,  flash was still king and people were talking about WAP compatibility. Technology and the web has moved on so much since then, as the web does. The shift towards the new HTML5  is in full swing making designs that are compliant with the phones and tablets and a whole new set of standards.

The new website uses wordpress, jquery, svg vector graphics, CSS3 and Edge animate. It will continue to grow with new portfolio samples, expanding with more  forward thinking features.