New Website : Dusk Gallery + Store

Dusk gallery + store

Dusk up until now, has been strictly a bricks and mortar shop, it stocks a beautiful collection of products mostly designed and made by New Zealanders. Now it is one little shop in Hanmer Springs and one well stocked online shop!

The earthquake threw Lenore from Dusk into some trouble, her store’s Christchurch premises was deemed unsafe and marked for demolition. Thankfully no-one was hurt and she still had a little shop in Hanmer. She even after some waiting managed to recover stock and furniture. Once the dust had finally settled she called me, “Simone, we are going to actually do the online shop this time” (we have had talks about doing this twice already!) The earth might have changed a few things, but it certainly did nothing to her dedication to her shop.

Dusk needed a simple to operate store that reflected Dusk’s design sensibilities, integrated well with her newsletter software MailChimp, had useful add ons to help run the shop, it need features we could add later as the shop grew and not to forget I needed to like the process involved to build it. After giving her a few options she decided to go with Shopify. What made me even more excited was when she said, “and Simone, I want and illustration of a caravan on it..” Eeek! I get to draw things and get paid for it!

This I was very excited about Shopify, I had played with it a bit myself but never developed an online shop with it from scratch. Now here we have it, Dusk’s online shop is ready and waiting for you to shop to hearts content! Be prepared there are lots of lovely things to inspire and get you excited. The shop has only been live for only a few days but already the “CHCH Sure to Rise Tea Towels” are going like hot cakes!

A new Website : Mhor

Mhor web design clothing store
click image to see the site!

Mhor is a women’s clothing shop based in Hanmer. They sell lovely fashionable clothes you would expect in a big city boutique – but in Hanmer so you can shop while on holiday! Perfect! Soon to open another store they needed a website to showcase their huge selection of top notch labels and designers, giving people the opportunity to check where their stores are located and if they wanted something in particular to give them a call.

I set them up with my WordPress 5 page package – that allows them to edit their content, change featured images and even have an enquiry form on every page. Simple but easy to alter as they grow and change their online requirements! It was a fun project to do and I enjoyed creating a design that reflected the experience you should inspect in-store.

When your next in town you should pop by and admire the lovely threads.

Website Design : Mrs Cake

Mrs Cake
Mrs Cake

Mrs Cake is an inspirational food blog written by Rosa Wakefield in Wellington. She had been writing it for some time before deciding to get a professional design done by myself! I had so much fun coming up with something to suit her personality and style of writing. Rosa by then had some pretty firm ideas on the technical side and just needed me to make it happen.

I have decided I rather like designing blog themes – they are such personal things, its like a visual form of writing up a cool character. MMMmmm, maybe i should think about book covers next! I have been inspired by this job to look a little further into template design for the likes of blogger – if I ever get the spare time I might try my hand at creating a few pre-made ones for purchase. In the meantime I get to create ones from scratch for inspiring writers like Rosa (be warned her website will make you want to bake naughty yummy things!)

Here’s what Rosa has to say about her new site and the design process:

“Dealing with Simone was a fantastic experience, and I was amazed at how spot-on her design was – everything about it was perfect first time round. She was very thorough and asked me many questions to understand where I was heading and what I wanted – which was great, since I had a lot of ideas about what I wanted my site to be but completely lacked the skills (and design finesse!) to make it happen.

The go-live had me super excited and as soon as the new design was up I started getting fantastic feedback on how great it looks now, and also how much easier it is to navigate. My blog profile has improved heaps since the re-jig, which for a hit junkie like myself is pretty exciting. 😉

I’d definitely recommend Simone – she was very attentive and really understood what I wanted, and came up with then implemented a stunning design which exactly fit the brief. I am completely happy with the outcome and am so glad I asked her to do this for me – thanks so much, Simone! “

Thanks Rosa!

Website Design :


Snowpool is a website for people who are taking a vehicle to mountains for a ski or snowboard to post their plans and offer space up for those needing a ride. Its a custom built system by Patrick Davey back when he was a carless student that loved a day skiing on New Zealand ski fields.  I finally got my paws on the site to give it a wee face-lift. Its now setup to be able to work in Australia, US and Canada. So help save the planet and share car space to your favorite mountain at the same time!

This is also where you can order your Christchurch Earthquake tea-shirt – get in before 3rd of December for the last order. Tea-shirts designed by me! 🙂

Website Design : The Entomological Society of New Zealand

The Entomological Society of New Zealand
The Entomological Society of New Zealand

The Entomological Society of New Zealand is run voluntarily by a group of people passionate about bugs. “Bugs” or rather the study of them, “Entomology” to those in the know, is a rather important and fascinating field, there are numerous types out there who need to know what’s going on in the smaller eco systems that exist around us. This society brings these people and what they write and talk about together for conferences and publish their work into journals.

I had the honor of getting to design the latest website update. Pretty happy about it really, how often does one get to design with bug pictures and earthy colours and get away with it? Due to its academic nature I went with the stretchy layout, favored by those who read alot. Despite the fact many designers do not like designing sites that stretch, I do quite like it. is built using WordPress and various plugins that do the job nicely. I also have almost finished integrating the design into their own existing journal distribution systems. Go and have a look around…

Diversity Analysis Re-Design Case Study

Another project review for you with the before and after!

Ben Kepes editor for US based technology blog CloudAve needed a new theme for his WordPress blog that represented his growing analysis business. His boutique analysis firm conducts research and publishes whitepapers of a ‘technical nature’ namely, cloud computing and related themes for businesses such as Rackspace, and MYOB.

So here’s the homepage before the re-design:

Diversity - Before the redesign

Here is the ‘after’ (homepage)
Diversity Redesign - Christchurch Web design

I wanted to explain my thought process behind this re-design,  I got to start from scratch on this job which meant designing page layouts and even structure adjustment. As I have mentioned before… favorite part!

Home page:
I wanted a homepage that immediately conveyed what Diversity Analysis has to offer and it also needed to be clear that the analysts were not just writers, but writers that specialized in technical topics.

So the top content area had to have a written description of what they did with some visual cues…

The logos are to add credibility and be recognizable helping the potential client see that other companies had trusted these guys and they had done a good job.

It was also important that the context was correct. The preview of ‘who they are’ is essential for giving not only that ‘face’ that marketers go on about, but also to let people know they are not dealing with a big corporation, just two guys who know what they do that they can talk to directly. An added bonus would be recognition. Ben is regularly writing up articles on the big conferences so no doubt some of these people would have seen him around.

The rest of the items on the homepage are to draw people into the other parts of the site by providing previews of everything they need before they get in contact to get their own whitepaper written.

Rest of site:
I wanted to keep the site uncomplicated and simple to get around in ways that suited whoever was reading. To do this for Diversity I focused on the following:

  1. A good search function
  2. Obvious navigation
  3. Links within the content
  4. Additional content added within the page that relates to that pages topic.

The last one is so other questions like “How do I contact this person?” are answered straight away.

For Diversity whose main clientèle are already very technically literate I also used the footer. Because so many technical sites now frequently use this area they will be used to seeing something in there of interest, although I did limit the amount of things appearing so not to overload with information.

Here is another favorite bit; getting the feedback from MY client Ben Kepes on how it all went.

Are there any parts of the website that you feel (and perhaps seen evidence of) work really well in representing what you do?

The site was formerly blog-centric with add on pages articulating the other services. With this redesign we’ve managed to combine the blogging aspects, along with showcasing the high value work we do and gaining the credibility from showing some of our corporate clients.

Is there anything you would perhaps add or change now looking back?

Not really – we’re happy with the site as it stands, while it’s always an iterative process – this is a great starting point.

What methods of marketing have you found have worked well for you in promoting yourself as a writer?

I’m lucky in that I live in paradise but regularly travel to the US and Australia. I use social media (Twitter, LinkedIn etc) heavily and this has enabled me to build a brand that is well respected for its independence and thought leadership. There’s no replacement for “beating the streets” and I spend a lot of time talking to all the players in my industry.

Thanks Ben!

Texture Plants Re-design

Texture Plants
Texture Plants

We all know I like my gardening right? I had the honor of redesigning one of my old sites I designed from scratch, around two years ago.

The Texture Plants site has been re-organised to allow people to browse by plant purpose aswell as alphabetically. Some helpful gardening know-how advise has been added, the gallery was tweaked to make browsing the images a little easier, Virtuemart was upgraded and the catalogue given a new layout to help the user gather more info without having to click all the way through to the product description. To add to all of that I gave their template a spruce up, they were after some bolder and darker colours to make the site easier to read and scan. They were happy to stay with their old joomla system, so all was familiar on that front. There was a final push to get it live ready for Christmas, which we achieved! Wooo hoo!

Working with the guys who own Texture always keeps me on my toes and reminds me there is more to gardening than growing vegetables. Now I am imagining my deck full of lovely interesting looking succulents with a nicely setup table and chairs to sit and drink tea in the sun on. Have a look around the Texture site for some inspiration and oodles of gardening advise. Even better, if you love visiting garden nurseries and are in town go and have a look around, its not your normal nursery, inspiration for the succulent lovers and more is abound…

The Cactus Re-design

Phew! I was pretty stoked when I go this job, thanks to an old flatmate I got a meeting and then the redesign job for one of the coolest New Zealand outdoor equipment manufacturer labels. I’m not just saying that either. (I have a cactus backpack, 5 years on, it still looks like a good solid backpack and its been everywhere…used while studying, biking to work… everything, the reason i like, the zip is still working and the fabric isn’t fraying. Usually this happens to my bags within the year)

So I was designer and project manager for this baby. A few hair tearing moments, mostly when it came to things completely out of my control, programming, hosting and what not. But its done and I am really happy with it. Its a Joomla and Virtuemart website for those who would like to know.