Open Sign - from concept to creation

From concept to launch, Open Sign has been a really time sensitive project. We wanted to share a quick case study on how we developed Open Sign, and what our motivation was behind the project.


The reduction in business activity caused by the COVID lockdown meant that we had a little extra time on our hands, we wanted to use this time and our expertise to help the community. Lockdown, and not being able to go to our local favourite places were causing real cravings (Topolabamba and Mackie's, we miss you)! </3

We knew from sporadic social postings we saw that some places were still open and trying to offer online/delivery/collection services. But some businesses were using Instagram, some Facebook, some their website and others just a sign in their shop window (not ideal when everyone is staying inside as much as possible). But this info was all over the place, and there was no real way of browsing and seeing what else was out there. Some Facebook groups and publications had compiled some really handy lists, but we wanted to solve the problem in a way that was a bit more interactive.

We were also worried about our favourite local spots not opening back up after lockdown, and while we know there are more serious matters at hand (safety always comes first), our skills are in the creative realm so we wanted to do something to help in the only way we knew how.


We conceptualised Open Sign, working out who we were going to build it for, and how they would use it.

We established two user groups:

  1. Local businesses: trying to a) reach their customers, regardless of which social platforms they use, and b) get the word out to potential new customers who need their services
  2. The public: trying to find a specific service or info on a store

With this in mind, we went on to do some loose wire-frames; working out the structure, features and how the platform would work to best service these two groups.

Design & build

We set up the hosting and purchased the domain. Daniel started to build the structure and functionality of Open Sign, while Eilidh worked on a brand system and responsive design mockups to work out a design style we could stick to for consistency.

With both the look & feel, and the functionality of Open Sign we wanted simplicity to be key. Ease of use was paramount, so everything was kept to a minimum (creatives know that this is easier said than done)!

Launch & going forward

The design and build was completed in a few days (late nights & up earlies - thanks coffee), and then it was on to the launch stage. After pestering friends and family to help us test it out and refine the user experience, we set up the social channels to generate some interest, and added the first businesses.

We set up an easy sign up form and asked local businesses to get involved by signing up and sharing ahead of the full launch.

Pretty soon we had around 100 businesses signed up and it was ready for launch. We put the whole site live and it continues to grow and (hopefully) help out local businesses and the public stay safe while also finding the essential services they need (ice cream is essential, right)?

Thanks for reading and stay safe!