Rowling End and The Mouse House is an award winning holiday cottage business in the Lake District.
The Lakeland house was lovingly restored by the present owners, the Kingdon family, in 2008 and has been run as a successful holiday cottage business since its completion in 2009. Located in Newlands, one of the most beautiful & tranquil valleys in the Lake District, the house was formerly the home of Prof. William and Dr. Marjorie Brierley who moved to Cumbria in 1954. Marjorie Flowers Brierley was a pioneering psychologist working in London in the 1930s and 1940s. She belonged to a small group of celebrated psycho-analysts which included Melanie Klein and Anna Freud, (daughter of Sigmund Freud); and like her illustrious colleagues, she contributed groundbreaking work in the field of child psychology. The motto in the porch above the front door, Hic Habitat Felicitas – (Here Dwells Happiness), dates from her time here.
Establishing a brand identity for Rowling End and the aptly named ‘Mouse House’, (a stone barn dating from the days when Rowling End was a farm and now converted into an idyllic retreat for two), was a matter of being sympathetic to the house itself, the landscape around it and everything that the family have so skillfully created. The choice of traditional font for the logotype is meant to reflect the history of the house. The mouse is intended to be a quirky addition reflecting the charming characteristics of the barn conversion – a nod perhaps to Beatrix Potter whose walks around the valley inspired her to set the Tale of Mrs Tiggywinkle there. But the branding is also intended to blend traditional values with modern ones. It is hoped that whilst conventional, it also crisp and contemporary and helps establish a professional and memorable look for the business, properly reflecting how Rowling End has adapted to meet the challenges it faces in more recent times.
In 2014 Brand Inventions was asked to provide an upgrade to the website. There was no requirement to revisit the branding which has functioned consistently well since we originated it five years ago, rather we were being asked to modernise the website which was last updated in 2011.
Aesthetically, the site has undergone a transformation. Gone is the black and graduated green of the original design which was considered a little too gloomy – replaced with a much lighter and gentler scheme – cream with grey detailing. We have kept faith with the original fern green (inspired by the beautiful landscape that surrounds Rowling End) and have also included a menu bar and other accents in black to retain a little of the drama that was present in the original design. We hope that the overall look is quietly restrained, elegant and conveys much of the personality and spirit of the properties and their location. If the website makes you to want to stay there, then we have done our job properly.
Important as the cosmetic improvements are, better navigation and enhanced functionality headed our client’s wish list with improvement to the user-experience for the customer, the absolute priority. It was agreed that this could be achieved with better sign-posting, improved navigation and menu clarity and especially by the addition of a bespoke on-line booking and payment system. At the ‘back end’ there was also room for improvement. The off-the-shelf Drupal content management system employed to administer the original site was considered awkward and clunky and there existed a real need to replace it with something that was more logical and user-friendly. Ultimately, it was decided that since we were being asked to provide more than just a cosmetic makeover, the best course of action would be to start at the beginning and design, what amounts to being, a brand new site.
In our experience, a website is only as good as its most recent upgrade. Like a shop window, it is working for your business on a daily basis and much like a shop window, it needs to be refreshed and replenished regularly. The owners of Rowling End understand the importance of ensuring that the website is up-to-date. As their business develops and changes, so does the website. The site includes sections of new content – one devoted to red squirrels which are returning to Rowling End in greater numbers (largely due to the work that the family are doing) and one for dog owners, since both properties are ‘dog-friendly’. These are key attractions or selling points and part of the job of the website is to ensure that they are put across.
Another important aspect of the site is its multi-platform compatibility. Nowadays it is essential for a website to display correctly on a range of devices, especially on tablet and smart phone. Websites which display correctly on your desktop computer may not necessarily display well on smaller devices unless they have been optimised to do so. This is an important part of the work that our coders do during the build phase.
Kate Kingdon, (owner – Rowling End) says:
I cannot recommend Brand Inventions highly enough. Ben was able to interpret my sketchy brief and create a truly stunning website which perfectly captures the values of our business. He has an enviable talent for being able to combine elegant design with simplicity of function & ease of navigation. It was a pleasure to work with Brand Inventions and great value for money.