Skeuomorphism vs Flat design

The demise of design? Or the dawn of a new era?

Skeuomorphism – big word isn’t it! One which has governed all sorts of industries but particularly web design for many years. In general terms, the use of skeuomorph is to make things look like something they’re not. Nothing new, it’s been around for centuries; fake wood trim on cars, mock marbling on a wooden fire surround…

Translated into the graphic design sense, Photoshop brought us opportunities beyond our wildest dreams. Now we could make a clock look like a real one, on a wall! Switches that actually glow and have a proper shadow; reminder lists that look like notepaper with holes down the left for the ringbinder.

The biggest benefit though is the way it’s moulded how we interact with sites and latterly, tablet apps and our phones. My mum can easily find her photos, they’re stored behind a button that looks like a photo album and her calendar is behind a button that looks like… anyhow, you have the idea.

It’s brought us a lot more than pretty buttons though; icons that are now universally recognised, an envelope for email, a wastepaper bin for stuff you’re throwing away. We’ve grasped the idea of these now though and for years now clients have been demanding more difficult and complex uses of the icons. Latterly though, I think that comes down to how skilled you are in Photoshop and not how well you can design.

It’s a brave person that’s bucked the trend, done away with photorealism and proposed a design concept using flat, solid colours; but it works. Suddenly everything looks fresh and simple to the eye. I think our demand for pure functionality now demands it. We don’t need calculators with realistic buttons – flat ones with a number on will be just fine. The Microsoft Metro look and Apple’s iOS7 have made their mark in helping the concept become widely accepted and I’m glad to see that a lot of website design agencies are embracing this new look.

Gone are the gradients, the overuse of ‘bevel and emboss’ for navigation bars, the ‘leather stitching’ and making buttons appear to pop out of the page and for now, I’m glad. Skeuomorphism has done us proud and still has its uses but our interaction with sites and apps has evolved and from a UI perspective, I’m a firm believer that it’s time to move on.

Practical Pig app launched

BPEX Practical Pig app

To help boost pig production, an innovative Practical Pig app has been launched by BPEX, who represent pig levy payers. The free app features video clips on a range of farm management techniques demonstrated by industry experts. 

BPEX Knowledge Transfer Manager Angela Cliff says: “It’s an exciting new tool for the pig industry, using the visual power of videos to demonstrate important everyday tasks – and what’s great is that managers and stockmen can use the app while they’re out and about on farm.”

Designed and built by RadeDigital, the Practical Pig app and related website include more than 50 short video clips. The website uses responsive technology to ensure it works across a range of screen sizes and is fully content managed. BPEX will be able to manage the addition of new video content themselves, allowing the training resource to grow over time. Filming for finishing unit management is due to start in the autumn; again produced by Insight Communications.

To download the free app for smartphone or tablet go to and search for BPEX Practical Pig or download the videos on a PC or laptop from The app will be released into the Apple store in the coming few weeks. 

Rade at Suffolk Chamber AGM

Join us Weds 26th June 2013 for the Suffolk Chamber Networking Lunch and Annual General Meeting at Ufford Park Woodbridge. The headline speaker will be Lord Green, Minister of State for Trade and Investment who will be giving an update from Westminster.

Rade will be exhibiting at this event, so please take the opportunity to come over and arrange a meeting to discuss your plans for the web and email marketing or sign up for a free website health check. We can also demonstrate how easy it is to manage your website yourself and the scope of web systems to make efficiency savings.

For more information see 

Members Extranet Phase 2

Following the successful launch of the new AtlasFram Members Extranet, now two months old, Rade Digital is pleased to announce the roll out of the second phase of developments. New developments offer the 1,100-strong AtlasFram membership further benefits and time-saving tools.

At the heart of the AtlasFram philosophy is efficiency and offering their farming members genuine cost and time savings. The latest tools go a long way to fulfilling these values. They include an Events module, enabling members to view and register for relevant events. Members can also now complete their Annual Declaration online (rather like an annual subscription form with cropping and livestock details as well as communication preferences). Of course, by completing the form online, time is saved not just for the farmer but also for the AtlasFram team!

Another vital part of the equation is information delivery. A further Phase 2 addition is a module that delivers comprehensive market information for all major agricultural commodities. Knowing the latest grain prices at the touch of a button empowers farmers and is another key element in driving efficiency.  As with the Phase 1 developments, all information is integrated to the AtlasFram internal database systems including a Microsoft Dynamics ERP database.

Further developments are in the pipeline; Phase 3 is already in production.

Rade to build Hubble online store

Rade is delighted that Hubble & Co have chosen us to build their first online store. 

Hubble & Co is an established fastener supplier with a product range that is continually expanding. With over 20 years experience in the trade, Hubble & Co has a reputation for holding a comprehensive range of stock and a fast, reliable delivery service. Their clients are primarily oil and gas companies but, with the help of the new website, they hope to expand further in to the engineering and construction trade. The new website will be the basis for an evolving online system which will be able to cope with that expansion as business grows and demands change. 

For this project, we will be using the Magento ecommerce platform, which will give Hubble & Co the option to integrate with back office systems at a future date.


AtlasFram Members Extranet

A new extranet developed by Rade Digital is set to boost the online services AtlasFram offers its 1100 farmer members. A range of features and functionality will revolutionise the member experience and ensure AtlasFram maintains its place as a pioneering agricultural co-operative.

With online ordering of fuel, fertiliser, seeds and agrochemicals, as well as advanced planning forms, the AtlasFram team will have more time to source the best deals for the members. Full integration with AtlasFram’s business systems enables viewing of recent transactions and crop sales. A member networking system allows interaction with other members. A directory will provide information of their local suppliers and market and price information will be provided via data feeds directly to the site.

The aim with the project has been to offer a personalised portal for members to give them all of the information they need at their finger-tips. A dashboard style user interface makes navigating around the system easy, with alerts and reminders, ensuring they never miss an important deadline.

Enhancements, already on the way, will offer a responsive version of the system optimised for tablets and mobiles as well as an Events module.

A new website for DoctorGolf

Rade are pleased to launch a new website for Stuart Robertson, resident golf pro at Ufford Park golf course. With an engaging design and information about Stuart and his partner professionals, the site aims to grow Stuart’s already strong reputation as well as increase the appeal of golf at Ufford Park.

Stuart, keen to embrace new technology and all that social networking has to offer as well as to provide something useful for budding and experienced golfers, has created a series of video tutorials which are hosted on the site, with more being added all of the time.

BPEX Tender Win

Following a keenly contested pitch process, RadeDigital have been selected to design and develop a new BPEX website and tablet application to help promote best practice across indoor and outdoor pig production.

Working closely with a specialist video production company (Insight Communications) Rade will provide the infrastructure to support the deployment of approximately 75 short video clips, each tackling a different element of pig production, to provide a training resource.

Using Rade’s ESM system, the site will be fully content managed allowing the video content to grow over time. The app will provide users working out in the field a solution that does not need a fast internet connection to work effectively. Responsive technology will ensure the website works across a range of devices; enabling those who do not own a tablet, or who do not want to download a sizeable app to their smartphone, the ability to view the videos via their home computer.

Launch is scheduled for early summer.

A new look for Ufford Park

With help from Rade Digital and a branding specialist, Ufford Park Woodbridge has relaunched with a new look, new name and new website.

Working closely with the  Ufford Park Woodbridge marketing team, Rade have designed a new cutting-edge website featuring responsive design for tablet and smartphone users. 

Initial feedback has been extremely positive with a 40% uplift of visitors on the same period last year. Added to this, the number of mobile visitors has rocketed. 

Marketing Director, Tarnia Robertson comments: “When we took the big decision to leave the Best Western Group we decided to rebrand and naturally needed to review and modernise our website in line with our new identity. We are delighted with the final results - it is fresh, user-friendly and gives the 'wow factor' we were looking for. We have worked with Rade for almost a decade and would certainly compliment them on a job well done and have no hesitation in recommending them to other companies.”

Rade sponsors EFFP conference

Rade are delighted to provide sponsorship to the 2012 EFFP Food and Farming Conference to be held at the St Pancras Renaissance Hotel, London in November.

The theme for this year’s conference is “More with less – driving performance, sustainably”. Taking on one of the biggest challenges facing the industry today; how to product more food for a growing population with less resource the conference will see many of the key players in the sector gather together to discuss the various issues raised.

Rade Digital sees huge opportunities to drive efficiency through effective and innovative use of online technologies, as well as in educating and alerting the world to the challenges faced by agriculture and food sectors.