Case Study: The Cheltenham Pub Guide

We’re always thinking of new side projects at Maple Rock Design and our latest offering has been our most fun and also the most challenging to date. But what made us take on the challenge and how did we go about putting this together?

Coming soon... ????????

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Well, as well as being huge fans of anything printed, we simply can’t resist a free city map whenever we are on our travels. Now Cheltenham may not be as quirky or have as many attractions as maybe Amsterdam, Bruges or Budapest, but what it does have is a fantastic collection of pubs and bars! We’ve always thought there was a big pub-shaped gap online, and in print, as far as what bars are on offer – after all, Trip Advisor works great for restaurants and hotels but it’s somewhat lacking as far as good pub information.

Now, we’ve never professed to be experts at anything pub – we’re not wine connoisseurs, we’re not real-ale experts, we’re just normal people who like going out and have pretty wide-ranging taste when it comes to just where to go out – be it friendly local, smart cocktail bar, or dancing the night away at a club.

So the idea was born – what better thing to compile than our very own Cheltenham Pub Guide. Oh and the small matter that for one week of the year Cheltenham’s population grows considerably thanks to The Festival!

So what did it take to put together this comprehensive guide to Cheltenham’s Pubs & Bars?

Research, Content & Imagery

We’ve been lucky to work in Cheltenham town centre for over ten years, however there were still some gaps in our pub knowledge. We wanted them to all be within a 15-minute walk from the town centre, so we went about plotting our “inner ring” within Google Maps to give us an indication of what pubs we needed to include – from this our guide was born! We then undertook the arduous task of aiming to fill in all the gaps in our pub knowledge, and soon we were able to compile our final list of 88 pubs.

Once we’d completed the awful research stage, it was time to don our copywriting hats and prepare concise descriptions of each pub that were both informative and showcased the best attributes of each venue. We truly believe that all 88 offer something fantastic.

Also if you’re going to feature an image of each pub within your guide, you can’t go around stealing images from Google. So a few hours at weekends/lunch breaks were spent picking out the best routes to get between pubs in the optimum amount of steps in order to get the snapshot!

Look & Feel

The design of the guide has been an ongoing process from the very early stages of the project (November 2016). Now anyone within the industry will know that working on something for yourselves can be harder than a lot of other projects. With this in mind we went through many revisions of the overall look and feel – in fact, we were still working on the finishes touches a few days before the print deadline! We also had great fun illustrating the map and coming up with the best way of designating the eleven areas using effective use of colour.

Printed Pocket Sized Guide

Print is something that we are hugely passionate about, so we were really excited to get a limited number of printed copies produced. The main factor we needed to consider was to make the guide big enough to be legible but at the same time we wanted to ensure the guide was pocket sized – folding an A5 or DL leaflet to fit in your pocket wasn’t going to cut it.

Final Print Specification: 600mm x 300mm (6 x 3 100mm Square grid). Printed on 100gsm Uncoated/Offset stock. Folded to 100mm Square. Print by Philtone in Bristol.

The Website (

Our aim for the website was to keep this as simple as possible (much like the guide). Crucially, it needed to work well on mobile devices as we expect this will be the main source of traffic. With this in mind we’ve kept the load time down as much as possible; restricting the use of imagery and minimising the amount of requests that are made from page to page. Our aim was that the site would feel more like a phone application than a traditional looking website!

Tech Note: The website is just over 1MB in size – 75% of which is Javascript; mainly Google Maps. In fact, once the first page has loaded the only additional content that is loaded are individual pub images and elements of Google Maps! We’re trialling a selection of new technologies (mainly vue.js) throughout the website and it should be noted that the website is still in beta form.

Coming soon...

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Social Media (@cheltpubguide)

We want the guide to be an interactive experience, and so we felt it important to have its very own social media account, hence you can follow us @cheltpubguide for ongoing updates, general pub chat and exciting events. We’ve also taken over the reins of @chelt52 for a week (6th March – 12th March) to showcase the full set of pubs within the guide, as well as reliving some of our own experiences of different venues, including some old classics sadly confined to days gone by.

As you can hopefully see from the above, this project showcases the capabilities of our full skill set across all aspects of design and web. Every element of the guide has been produced in house here at Maple Rock Design (aside from the print). We’re really proud of what we’ve put together and we hope that both residents and visitors alike find the guide useful!

So what next for the guide? Firstly, we plan to see how the guide is received so we welcome any feedback you may have please email [email protected]. We’ll also be updating the website as things change and will look to add new and exciting features in the future. Keep up to date with all the latest goings on by following us on twitter @cheltpubguide!

Tech & Kit Used: Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, Adobe Lightroom, Adobe AfterEffects, Adobe Photoshop, Sketch, SublimeText, CodeKit, PHPStorm, Cannon 550d, Dropbox. HTML, CSS, PHP, Javascript, CodeIgniter, Vue.js, Google Maps API, Jquery.

Ps. Thank you to Typecraft (for supplying us trimmed paper at the right size to allow us to do proper proofing), Liam McKinnon and the team at Hunter Page Planning for their proof reading and feedback. Chelt52 for giving us the reins of @chelt52 for the week! To all of the pubs/hotels that have allowed us to display the final version! Cheers :-)