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2 October 2014
Igloo Reacts: Ello

by Belphoebe


You’ve almost certainly been said ‘Ello’ to in the past few days. It’s the new social network that prides itself on being ad free. As a matter of fact, it comes with the shareable manifesto that ‘you are not a product.’ The layout is so simplistic and ‘clean’ that it makes Facebook look overdone. The logo is simply a smiley face, and they’ve even managed to make that look minimalistic.

‘Sounds great, sign me up!’ Not so fast, Ello have been inundated with thousands of sign ups on an invite only system, averaging almost 40,000 requests an hour. If you want to get in on the action, you’re going to have to beg someone for an invite code, or even bid for one on Ebay. Is it just a fad that we’ll inevitably forget about in a week before returning with our tail between our legs to Facebook, or is it going to change the way we use social networks completely? The Igloo team decided to throw in their two cents:

Hannah – Graphic Design Intern

Another social network?

When does anyone have the time anymore to be updating and checking all of these many networks? From a designer’s point of view it is becoming exhausting having to update every social media platform in order to stay in the loop and keep networking. Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest, Behance, Flickr, Linkedin, Vimeo, Youtube, Google Plus and now Ello?

Agreed, being add free is a massive plus, however Facebook and Twitter started off being limited to a certain group, blogs come with themes which you can make as minimalist as you like, so does Ello really have anything new to bring to the table?

James – Partner:

Social networking sites are more about traction than features – they succeed only if they can gain enough momentum, people have to feel like they’ll miss out if they don’t sign up. I’d love to think that an ad free network that doesn’t sell your data could work, but realistically I don’t think it’s possible. Ello will be very popular with the bearded gentry, but the masses are happy with what they’ve got.

Thoughts with my technical hat on: Hosting data is expensive! By selling our data, Google and facebook have made hosting seem cheap, but it’s not. The people who pay for Ello’s advanced features will be subsidising the majority of users and so expect some surprisingly big charges if this is to succeed.

Also, don’t get too comfortable… Maybe Ello wont sell your data, but who else will? Google’s already got an index of 37’000 Ello profiles. I’ve just done some research – users are 60% male, 40% female, that information’s undoubtedly worth something and there’s plenty more I could harvest for the right price…

Ben – Senior Graphic Designer

Here’s my quick two pence:

As much as Facebook makes me angry on a daily basis, this is usually the cause of baby photos and mindless updates rather than targeted advertising. My data being captured in general doesn’t bother me and I don’t believe there is an evil agenda for the majority. I think once the hype for Ello has run its course and they require massive funding to stay running you will see how fickle people are, especially when being asked to part with cash.

Goodbye Ello.

Olly – Partner: 

We’ve seen a lot of new social networks fail to challenge Facebook. There was Google’s Buzz that turned out to be more of a Fizzle, MySpace, Bebo. Interestingly Google+ launched off the back of privacy complaints about Facebook, but it turns out when everyone limits what anyone can see, there’s nothing to see… Then there’s the new kids on the block: Path and Diaspora based around other complaints about Facebook.

Like it or lump it though, Ello has managed to get more excitement than most social networks have managed, and it seems to be getting a bit of traction. So two questions leap to mind:

Is it any good? Well currently it doesn’t work well since it is still in development, and it looks very on trend and hipster, which will age fast. Presuming they’ll fix the functionality if enough money is thrown at it, I think the hipster look is helping it at launch but could be its downfall if it can manage to become popular. A social network is ultimately a tool, and the design wants to be transparent to showcase the content. This might soon become the network for idiotic trend followers, you know the sort, who buy shabby chic from Prada and only drink free-range vegan wine.

So the second question is can it fund itself? It’s all very good and well saying we won’t use advertising, but can it work? Let’s remember that most social sites don’t make money for many years, this is based on the fact that with a big enough user base they can eventually make money (from advertising) or they can be sold to one of the giants for the same price as buying Luxembourg. Will large numbers of people buy features? I’m not sure they will. Ultimately I think people will prefer a free social network with advertising than one they have to pay for.

Perhaps Ello will be the wealthy thinking-person’s Facebook, but as is shown with Google+, all a social network really is is a userbase, ubiquity is everything, and I’m not sure Ello’s payments will stick. Perhaps they’ll just gain traction and then start advertising anyway, just in a different (read: the same) way. Now there’s an idea…

Bel – Copy and Digital Marketing:

I’m ever so slightly suspicious of an online company whose main ploy is lack of advertising, that in itself seems to be its marketing gimmick, which is an uncomfortable standpoint. It’s always the same formula with these businesses, Californian guys in flip flops who think they’re really sticking it to the man with their Macbooks and rebellious ideas, it’s enough to make you raise a cynical eyebrow.

There’s got to be a catch, surely? Well, apparently Ello are hoping to bring in paid features, so maybe that’s it. That said, the layout of Ello profiles reminds me more of Tumblr than Facebook, and I like how it seems to combine elements of both twitter and a blog. I think it could be especially beneficial to online businesses and creatives who want to get their work out there on a social platform rather than having it tucked away on a specialist site. The minimalist layout makes it an artist’s dream!

I also think the invite only feature is particularly clever as an initial marketing tool. With people selling invite codes for around a tenner on facebook and immense waiting lists, everyone is scrambling to get themselves signed up to the site. I’ve already signed Igloo and myself up just in case it really takes off. What can I say? I’m gullible.

Will you be saying ello Ello or Ello goodbye? 

10 September 2014
Igloo reacts to: Apple watch

by Belphoebe


Dubbed their most personal product to date, the hype surrounding Apple’s announcement of its first wearable gadget, the Apple Watch, was unprecedented. Before the release, there was apprehensive discussion as to what exactly the Apple Watch would offer, apart from telling the time. Would it be, as cynical commentators argued, just an iPhone for your wrist? Well, sort of.

As well as the ability to make calls, send messages, and access apps, the watch apparently innovates sensory technology, allowing you to simply swipe to view your applications, as well as send drawings, and even (somewhat eerily) the sound of your own heartbeat, to your contacts. Its main new features are the fitness tracker, and Apple Pay, a contactless way to transfer money, already being accepted in McDonalds and American pharmacy Walgreens.

There’s been a significant amount of buzz and discussion around the release in the Igloo office, and each of us have shared our first thoughts on the Apple Watch. It’s a bit of a mixed bag.


James, Partner:

Back in July 2013, Pebble demonstrated the worldwide appeal for a smartwatch by crowdfunding a staggering $10 million via Kickstarter. Despite the huge potential market, it’s taken the big names over a year to catch up and create their versions.

Although I can see the Apple Watch being incredibly useful in many cases – I love the thought of accessing messages and maps while cycling, and I’ve got nothing against wearable technology – I still can’t see myself getting this: The screen goes blank after a few seconds so you can’t actually check the time without two hands, plus I’m also worried that this will look like a mountain on my skinny geek wrists.

Finally, watching the use videos online, I can’t help but be reminded of the Macbook Wheel… I’m sure I’ll be wearing a smartwatch in a year’s time, but I don’t think they’ve sorted it yet.

Is James on to something here?

Is James on to something here?


Olly, Partner:

We have come to expect ground-breaking new products from Apple and this watch doesn’t deliver on that promise, instead it fits in neatly with pre-existing products.

I think it’s interesting that they have attempted to make a much fuller and more usable operating system for the Apple Watch than the Android Wear has, but in the demos the combination of different ways of interacting with the device combined with the small screen make it look very complicated to use.

Ultimately it doesn’t look as good as the Moto 360, it doesn’t seem to be as easy to use as any Android Wear device, it doesn’t appear to be properly waterproof, and there is no news on battery life, which is the major problem these devices are struggling to overcome. When was the last time that an Apple product felt so second best?

Olly's heart lies firmly with the Moto 360.

Olly’s heart lies firmly with the Moto 360.


Bel, Digital Marketing:

I can imagine that the Apple Watch will only be popular amongst real gadget fans. It seems to be an add on to your iPhone, something for the really hardcore techies to get involved in. It’s the sort of thing you’ll wave in the face of your friends for a few months to impress them, then eventually get bored of. Either that or it will really take off and nobody will bother giving their iPhone a second glance.

I think Apple have certainly kept to their reputation of innovation with this one, in terms of the connection to your heartbeat, and its ability to differentiate between a touch and a press. But call me a traditionalist, but I think I’d just like my watch to tell the time, not do my dishes.


Ben, Senior Graphic Designer:

My first impressions are not great to be honest, and I am usually a fan of Apple products. My main issue is with the aesthetics which I certainly didn’t expect from them and the ease of use looks to be a problem, although I will reserve complete judgement on that. I love watches and in my opinion the more functional (read clean) the better. Whilst some of the features look impressive, it seems bizarre to me that you would need your iPhone at all times to make it work. I can think of many occasions I want a watch, but not my phone.

I think I will stick to my Braun thank you Apple.


Tom, Web Developer:

I have no doubt that people will love the new expensive & uninspiring watch recently released by Apple. It looks cheap, it’s complicated to use and has no real use, what more could you want? It doesn’t even have infrared, give me one of those bad boys any day! 


Tom would go for a Casio any day.


Hannah, Graphic Design Intern:

How can something so small do so much?! It is an impressive addition to the Apple products, although there is certainly a lot going on. The watch is slick and has a very ‘Apple’ look to it, however it seems quite overcomplicated for a ‘user-friendly’ watch, almost as if they are trying to pack too much into it. The changeable straps do make it wearable for a range of occasions, which I think will be a success.  They have kept the battery life quiet which suggests it isn’t that great. We’ll have to wait and see…


What do you think about the release of the Apple Watch?

25 June 2014
The new .uk domain name – should you switch?

by James


As most website owners in the UK will be aware, the new .uk domain names are now available.

This means that instead of having:


as your domain name, you can have:


We think this is a great move by Nominet (the non-profit company that manages UK domain names), and expect .uk to become the UK domain of choice over .co.uk.

But what if you’re currently using a .co.uk? Should you swap? We think the answer is yes, but it’s worth considering the following.

  1. If you already own the .co.uk then there’s probably no rush. The .uk has most likely been reserved for you until 2019. There are a couple of caveats here, so we recommend using this tool to ensure you do have the rights.
  2. It will take the general public a while to get used to .uk, so it’s important to have both the .co.uk and the .uk in case your potential clients enter the wrong address.
  3. If and when you do swap from .co.uk to .uk, you can keep the .co.uk and forward all visitors on to your new .uk site. This way you won’t lose any visitors who didn’t know about the change.
  4. What if you’ve spent time and money on SEO for your .co.uk domain? This is a very relevant question. If done right, you can guide Google (and the other search engines) through your domain name change, and although you are likely to get a temporary (a few weeks) drop in SEO rankings, these should get back to their previous state very quickly. However, as Google is a fickle thing you can never be completely sure. We can assist you with this to make sure everything runs smoothly.

So in summary, we recommend .uk over a .co.uk domain. If you want to switch give us a call and we’ll make sure it’s done right.



8 April 2014
Webby Awards top 5!

by Afy

We're a Webby nominee!

We’re incredibly proud to announce that our website for Patentise has been nominated by the Webby Awards as one of the top five law websites – in the world! – this year.

Winners are announced in the next two weeks – show your support by voting for Patentise here.

8 October 2013
Igloo in net magazine!

by Afy

Net magazineNet magazine, the leading publication for the web industry, has featured Igloo in its website showcase! In this November’s issue, our lead developer James talks JavaScript: specifically, about the JavaScript behind the website we designed and built for INTERIOR-iD.

Download the full article to read how we created our own in-house JS framework, and used code as efficiently as possible.

Read more about the INTERIOR-iD site here. We’ve bragged blogged about our Webby Award nomination here.

28 May 2013
Portfolio update

by Mike Scott

Three new projects have just been written up and featured in our portfolio. They are: a website for Patentise, and brand identity work for Mars Omega and Interior-iD. Look at them with your eyes.

27 April 2012
Work — Interior-iD

by Mike Scott

We’ve really pushed the boat out on this one. An image rich, fullscreen, HTML5 website for INTERIOR-iD. Looks great on your PC, and if you’re lucky enough to have an iPhone or iPad, check it out, you’ll have never seen anything like it (on an iPad!)

The premise of the site is that it is a frame for showing Interior-ID’s work as vivid, full-screen images, with project information as well as menu links and navigation arrows all being housed in the black frame.

More detail on this project soon in our portfolio. Until then, visit Interior-iD, on any device you like! www.interior-id.com

15 March 2012
Say goodbye to Internet Explorer 6, but not quite yet!

by Olly Lockett

Goodbye IE6 cake

At the beginning of the year Microsoft celebrated the death of Internet Explorer 6 (or IE6 for short) with a cake at their headquarters in Redmond, Washington. More specifically they were celebrating that in December 2011 IE6 usage dropped below 1% of all traffic in the US.

Microsoft have been keen to see the back of IE6 for some time now as it’s one of the biggest things holding up further development of web technologies at the moment. It’s also very buggy and difficult to code websites for, not great adverts for Microsoft. Unfortunately usage has not dropped that low in the UK – Microsoft puts usage here at 1.4%.

The software giants aren’t content to sit back and let events take their course however, for example Google has stopped supporting IE6 with many of their web apps. It’s Microsoft itself though that has taken the biggest step, they recently released a Windows security update that automatically updated users from IE6 and 7 to version 8. I run IE6 on my computer to test sites on and when last month it was automatically updated to IE8 I watched the stats of the websites we monitor excitedly waiting for IE6 users to disappear… but they didn’t. In fact there was virtually no change in the percentage of IE6 users at all.

So who are all these IE6 users that aren’t applying Windows security updates? We have another tool which we can use to help us solve this problem. Analyzing the stats from this year of our biggest sites, we can see the domain names of IE6 users’ ISPs (Internet Service Providers). The top 10 are:

  • Unknown (17.5%)
  • fsa.gov.uk (5.4%)
  • nhs.uk (5.3%)
  • gsi.gov.uk (5.1%)
  • police.uk (4.3%)
  • chase.com (3.9%)
  • messagelabs.net (3.7%)
  • southwark.gov.uk (3.7%)
  • edfenergy.com (2.5%)
  • mod.uk (2.0%)

I think there is a perception that the majority of IE6 users are stubborn consumers who have no inclination to upgrade, and most campaigns – including Microsoft’s own banner campaign – rely on educating people to upgrade there and then. However our data paints quite a different picture, government users alone account for over a third of known IE6 users, and corporate users account for most of the rest. Most people therefore are using IE6 because they have to due to decisions made at management level.

If our (very non-scientific!) analysis is correct then the main thing stopping companies developing next generation web technologies in the UK is the government itself.

The decline of IE6

It’s not all doom and gloom though, as we can see from some of our data (compiled from almost a million users) IE6 usage has been shrinking rapidly for a long time now, so there are signs that big businesses are switching to more contemporary technologies and we have it on good authority that even the new government intranet won’t support IE6, the switch is coming! In the mean time unfortunately IE6 users represent a rich segment of the market and our sites all still support them.

But we can say goodbye to IE6… Just not quite yet!

16 September 2011
Work — Gemma Bell website

by Mike Scott

Last week saw the launch of Gemma Bell’s website. As well as being a prolific tweeter, Gemma brings a genuinely personal approach to food and restaurant PR, and works with some of the best chefs and restaurants in London and nationwide.

Gemma asked us to create a smart, professional website that showcased her enviable clients, vast experience and personal touch.

Aside from how the site looks, the build took advantage of some elements that are rare to HTML websites, such as smooth page transitions (in modern browsers — Chrome, Firefox, Safari), fading images and smooth rollovers for links.

Another nice bit of technology we implemented was a simple system whereby Gemma emails an iPhone photo to a certain address and that photo instantly appears on the home page. As ever the site is fully integrated with our Make CMS allowing Gemma to keep her clients, case studies and press cuttings up to date.

Gemma was a really great client — a pleasure to work with.

If you like good food, follow her on twitter.

20 May 2011
Portfolio update

by Mike Scott

Six recent projects added to the portfolio section…

24 February 2011
Work — The Boathouse website launch

by Mike Scott

Following on from the previous post about the drawing of the logo for The Boathouse, here is the recently launched website. Aside from the looks of the site, there’s a fair bit of technology working away in the background, such as the prices & bookings section which shows available dates and prices on a user-friendly bespoke calendar, integrated Twitter updates on the homepage and a gallery whose transitions between photographs are smooth (rather than the common HTML annoyance whereby with each new page visited you begin back at the top of the page as oppose to staying at the same level).

We created decorative separators to divide areas of content on the pages, adding a unique, ownable graphic element to the site that can also be used on printed materials and emails.

As ever, the site is fully integrated with Make — our very own Content Management System — meaning every element of the site, from text and images to availability and prices, is updateable by the client.

With the days beginning to get lighter and the weather warmer, here’s to a prosperous summer for The Boathouse cottage!


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