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A Town on’t Tinterweb: Discover Penrith, The Heart of Cumbria.

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Having been born in the North Lakes town of Penrith (many moons ago…) I was delighted to have been asked to design the new identity and website dedicated to providing a one-stop-shop for all that is fabulous about this town.  Working closely with Penrith BID, we have developed a site that gives a sense of what Penrith is really about, and are happy to announce the launch of this site as part of the ongoing work the BID is doing to highlight the opportunities and wealth of businesses present.

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It was during a speech at the annual Chamber meeting, that John Dunning, founder of Westmorland Limited, touched on the fact that Penrith, is in fact, the Heart of Cumbria.  A central area from which to access all the county has to offer, this was an element that we were keen to promote as part of the Discover Penrith branding.  Justin Wales, BID member and General Manager of the George Hotel, approached me to discuss the rebranding of the town, and how could I refuse?

The thing that Penrith lacked, was not passion, but the outward demonstration of this passion to a wider audience so that incomers could truly appreciate the vibrancy of the community.  We needed to show the world a united front with a cohesive brand, and what better way of accessing this audience than through the internet…

Colour-StudyFirst things first, the branding needed to be right.  Colour was a main theme of the concepts as well as the use of iconography to provide an easily understandable mode of delivery.  Modernity needed to be expressed but without alienating the history of this market town, which is still a great part of it’s standing today; community, getting together, bartering and bantering in true Cumbrian style!

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After initial concepts, ranging from the very modern, to the fashionably retro – all aiming to put Penrith on the map – we developed the winning elements using the colour study and competitor research to arrive at the final logos.

final-logosThe end logo uses a combination of fonts which are carried through the site.  Old Newspaper Types is the main font, which together with the Penrith historical seal watermark hints to the rich history of the market town, and the craft feel of this font to the numerous artisans we have within this area.  The clock tower is subtly represented in the main logo which is a central feature of the town itself, whereas the script font of the subtitle adds a modern, personal touch to the logo to emphasise the friendliness of the community and the undersigned belief we all have in the town.

This was the start of Discover Penrith, which we developed into motorway signage and more importantly, the new website.  In order to complete such a large project, we worked with lovely local company, Oppo-sites, to do the behind the scenes coding of the website while the site design was undertaken by ourselves (see Web Design vs. Web Graphics) to create a consistent brand message that was both graphically pleasing and smooth running for the end user.

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This entailed every detail of each page being designed and written within mock ups, which were then overseen by Justin of the BID, and culminated in a completely bespoke site with fabulously responsive elements, care of Oppo-sites.  We streamlined the original sitemap to reduce the number of tabs and focused on making the whole experience as straightforward as possible.

Design isn’t just about graphics; the usability,  method of highlighting, directing and streamlining of a site is all part and parcel of designing and directing the final user experience.

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“The site works hard to highlight Penrith’s greatest strengths as a destination: its wealth of independent shops, leisure and entertainment facilities, visitor attractions and heritage, accommodation, dining and nightlife, all set in a pleasant and compact town centre amidst cobbled alleys, historic buildings and squares. The site will leave potential visitors in no doubt that the town is a must-see on their itinerary.” BID Chairman, Kelvin Dixon.

“Discover Penrith is the first website dedicated to showing off just how much Penrith has to offer for visitors and the local community alike – and we’ve got a lot to shout about. We’re in a superb location, just a few minutes off the M6, in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, sandwiched between the Lake District National Park and the Pennines. We’ve got all the leisure facilities, shops, accommodation, services and entertainments you’d expect from a bustling market town, but with important distinctions: individuality and character.” BID Board Member who led on website development and implementation, Justin Wales.

After months of hard work, we are delighted to direct you to the new site www.discoverpenrith.co.uk and hope that you will come and discover it soon, if you do – give us a buzz and pop in for a cup of tea!  We look forward to seeing you, and in the meantime, there are plans to develop and expand the site with more interaction and community based elements, so please do let me know your feedback so that we can truly make this site the best it can be.

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