Friday, 21 December 2007

God bless Unchained and all who sail in her

Ladies and Gentlemen, I am proud to present Unchained - your destination for the very best independent shops in London.

We have now launched our beta version of the site for people to play with, look for things that bug them and give their feedback. And we'd love you to be amongst the first people to use it.

There are still a few little bugs that we're trying to fix. And there's only about 90 shops on the site at the moment - there'll be loads more added at the start of January. But the main workings are all there. Here's what to look out for:

• The shopping trip - You can save any of the shops to a temporary list by clicking on the 'shopping trip' button. This creates a floating panel that shows you all the shops you've selected. You can view them on a map and print them out to take with you on your retail extravaganza. The panel appears initially at the top of the page. It's an orange bar that you can expand and minimise and drag around the screen. You can even share your shopping trip with your friends so that they can join you on your adventure.

• My favourites - You'll also see a little yellow star that lets you add a shop to a more permanent favourites list. You can see this list by clicking on the 'my account' link at the top of the screen and then clicking on the 'go to my favourites' for your chosen city.

• Searching - There are a few ways to find what you're looking for. You can simply click on shop types in the left hand listing. Or - best of all - use the search box at the top left to find shops by name, products, type, area or character.

Please try it out and tell us what you think. And start shopping Unchained.

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Another little sneaky peak

Here's another little look at some of the functionality of the soon-to-be-released Unchained site.

Each shop listing comes with a Google map showing exactly where they are. Just look at the cute little Unchained flag!

We're also giving you the ability to plan a shopping trip round a number of shops and plot them all on a map.

We're testing it all out at the moment and it's working beautifully. We just can't wait to release it into the wild. Which is something we will be doing very soon.

And we do mean VERY soon!

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Follow the blog by phone

Seeing as a big part of Unchained will be the mobile site, we decided to make the blog mobile as well. So now you can follow us from wherever you are on your mobile phone.

If you're sufficiently teched up, you can visit the site by taking a picture of the QR code at the top of this post. If not, get your text thumb working and type the following address into your phone's browser:

Friday, 23 November 2007

Our first glimpse of a working site

Last night we all met up to have our first look at the working site.


Before Pedro showed it to us, he warned us that we just might cry. And he was right. It is so beautiful we all sat around grinning like idiots. And as much as I have created loads of sites in the past, there is something just so special about this. Not only because it's our baby - but because it's so well thought through and it works like a dream.

I can't show you the whole site just yet but I'd like to give you a small taste of it. So here is the search box on the front page:

Introducing the Unchained team

Lea Simpson

Lea is just leaving her job as a Creative Planner to go full time with Unchained. And that’s a pretty scary thing to do! But she believes in the business 100% and can't wait to get her teeth into it properly. She has worked in the advertising industry for years and lives and breathes marketing. She is the one who will be taking care of the day to day running of the company. And I can’t think of anyone better to do that. Please be nice to her if she visits your shop!

Pedro Garcia

Pedro is a design god, web guru and all-round good guy. As you can tell from his name, he doesn’t hail from these shores. He’s originally from Brazil – so you can often find him wearing flip-flops and sunglasses even although the weather doesn’t call for it. He has worked in the advertising industry for years and lives and breathes marketing. He is the Unchained artistic genius who has designed everything and has managed the team who built the site.

Dave Birss

I don’t really like writing about myself. However, I’ve worked in the advertising industry for years and I live and breathe marketing. I’m a Creative Director for a very well-respected digital agency. And I find Unchained so exciting because it uses all the skills and experience that I’ve collected over the years to do something worthwhile.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

I’ve quit my job.

I’ve quit my job.

This feels like an appropriate opening sentence for my first entry on this blog, because it’s the sentence that plays on a loop in my head at the moment. I don’t think I can quite believe I’ve actually taken the plunge.

At this precise moment in time I still have about 6 days and 5 hours left of permanent employment.

Last night a note went out to the company from my boss telling them all that I’m off.

Naturally this has resulted in a number of conversations with people asking me about what I’m up to. Luckily, I don’t seem to be getting bored of telling the story. In fact, after having Unchained on the backburner of my mind for so long, it’s a relief to be talking about it.

In fact I’ll talk about it to anyone who’ll listen.

I’m really encouraged by the fact that most people seem to be quite interested in the philosophy behind what we’re hoping to do.

But I’d be lying if I said there wasn’t a part of me thinking: You fool! What the hell are you doing?!

I think it will only really sink in when I wake up on Monday 3rd of December because going to work is going to be something very different.

Monday, 19 November 2007

A warm welcome from Unchained

We’re starting a new business and we’re pretty excited about it. As with other ventures we’ve been involved in, we know there’s going to be excitement, bewilderment and pain in equal measure. Which sounded like the ideal ingredients for a blog.

So first let me tell you about our business.

For years we’ve been growing more and more disillusioned with bland high streets. It seems that every town in the UK looks like Leicester. Or Chiswick. Or Falkirk. The main shopping streets are filled with chain-stores selling the same stuff – and it’s hard for the independent shops to compete. And that’s a terrible shame for the nation because these smaller outlets are the places where you find the special, the unusual and the surprising. We need them.

So we’ve decided to unite these independents to give them a collective power to compete with the giants. And, in turn, make it easier for shoppers to find more exciting stuff.

We’re creating a website where you can search for the best independent shops according to location, shop type and character. We’ll give you all the information about the shop, show you where it is on a map and even give you directions. Best of all, you’ll be able to do all this from your mobile phone while you’re out and about as well as from the comfort of your own computer.

In the next few weeks we’ll be launching our London site. Then after that we’ll be adding other great shopping cities around the world.

We’re just starting out on this venture and we’d like you to join us. So please bookmark us or sign up for the RSS feed on the sidebar.