New website and branding for Tim Akast

An in-depth look at my branding and Expression Engine work for Tim Akast - The Furniture Maker.

The Furniture Maker - Logo

It’s a while since I’ve written anything on the subject of Expression Engine as a choice for a CMS and why it can work really well. It’s also a good chance to reflect what a good design project involving branding and a website involves.

About Tim

Tim is a maker of fine furniture, and wanted a web presence that was easier to update, work with and looked more coherent that his one that used a nameless off-the-shelf hosted portfolio system. It was also a chance to assess his work and develop a brand that would last for many years to come. You can visit the new Furniture Maker site now or find out more in my portfolio section.

Brand Choices

We needed something to reflect not just the classic and traditional techniques, but the contemporary design and processes employed. I was keen to avoid cliches but keen to nod to the stylings of Medieval traditions and the Arts and Crafts movement - that’s how the logo/motif came together. The green is something a bit more contemporary to balance the font choices of Neuton, Raleway (for the logo) and Open Sans but I’ve gone open source to keep a lid on the budget and ensure that we can use the fonts on the website properly.

A good brand also needs to work beyond the web and business cards and a letterhead have also been supplied.

The Website

I don’t think a Responsive Design approach is necessarily the right approach for every new job - there’s a case to argue that in some situations, “pinch and zoom” can work well for smaller screen browser. A responsive approach was right for The Furniture Maker - it’s the sort of site you can browse on a phone or tablet happily, especially so with tricks highlighted by Chris Coyier to Convert a Menu to a Dropdown for Small Screens. For browsers on smaller desktop screens, the masthead collapses vertically to maximise the viewport area.

We wanted:

  • Flexible image gallery with no fussy management. Images size automatically.
  • Ability to create and sort site contents
  • Limit any ongoing charges

Why EE?

I have used EE almost exclusively since 2005 because it enables designers who don’t have masses of knowledge in programming languages to do clever things in the best possible fashion. (You can find me on the official Expression Engine Professionals Network) More importantly, you can build up an wonderful systems tailored exactly to the clients needs, so on this project, it’s an easy fit.

Expression Engine does a lot out-of-the-box but it is enhanced by a wonderful world of supported Add-ons. Tim’s site uses:


The Furniture Maker site is a neat wrap up I think of how to best attack a website in 2012. Yes, this is a small scale example of some of the work I have been doing but all the ideas are relevant. If you like what you see and read here, please don’t hesitate to contact me to discuss anything.