Our blog


The Theoretical User (A short story that sounds a bit negative but is actually about hope)

The theoretical user pays attention to everything you do. They love your company. They love your brand. They can't get enough brand engagement. Boy do they love engagement. They visit your website every now and again, just to see if there's anything new. They love it when there's something new. You know, fresh. They would probably buy your product if the buy button was labelled a bit differently.

They are quite the catch, but you needn't worry. You get them for free. Just by invoking them in a meeting. When you say "people love this stuff", that's them. They're the people you're talking about. Easy.

There's only one catch with the theoretical user: they only exist in theory.

The actual person you're trying to reach is busy. They're smart. In fact, they're as smart as you. They can cut through nonsense like you wouldn't believe. If you're not paying attention, they know. If you're cutting corners, they know. If you're spending all of your energy trying to trick them, they'll go somewhere else. Over time, you can gain their trust, their attention, and maybe even their loyalty. Like anything valuable, you're going to have to earn it.

But there is hope. Treat the actual person like an actual person and you might just have a chance. Keep doing this over and over again and you'll build a business that's worth caring about.

Posted on 23.10.2014 by


Atto Partners is in the partnerships-for-life business. We love working alongside clients, and we see it as our job to help them make work and build businesses that we can all be proud of.

Meanwhile, Labs Projects help us stay sharp by letting us get our teeth into new and interesting challenges, with very different types of goals. Touching is one example.

Touching is an experimental iPhone app for holding someone’s hand when they’re not in the same room. It's part tech demo, part experiment: an iPhone app that's soft and fuzzy and slightly odd.

It happened for 3 main reasons:

* I'm fascinated by quiet interfaces, and we'd been making some experimental iOS apps behind the scenes.

* We were feeling like making something soft and interesting.

* Our team wondered what would happen if we made it.

I came up with the idea on a plane, having been away for my family for a few days, which definitely helped.

The simplest form of the app shows four outlined circles, aligned to be held in a grip as if you're holding someone's hand. Each circle lights up when your partner is touching it. When a circle is being touched on both phones, it goes white. When all four circles are being touched on both phones, the phone vibrates.

Touching was in the app store for a few days without announcement, but we took it down, deciding to leave it until after iOS 8 to quietly release it. There was no hurry. It was mainly for us.

At the Apple Watch announcement, Apple introduced Apple introduced Digital Touch, incorporating the key features of Touching 1.0, as well as almost all of our prototyped experiments. (Just to be clear: we don't think they copied us.)

Touching is a little different in that it's truly live. With incredibly low latency, it can tell you where on the screen your partner is touching. Realtime is a tough nut to crack, and we spent a lot of time on the server side making sure the app had this type of integrity. (Don't get me wrong — I'm fairly sure Apple could crack the technology if they really wanted to).

We probably won't release Touching publicly now. As I say, it was mainly for us. We enjoyed making it, we learned a lot, and it's served its purpose. But, if I'm honest, I wish we'd released earlier this year.

Posted on 10.9.2014 by

Technology and Healthcare

The ECHA (European Connected Health Alliance) is designed to be link between business and the health service. I recently attended a meeting to learn more about opportunities for innovation in collaboration between technology and healthcare.

It was interesting to hear examples of doctors and hospitals pioneering technology on the ground. Tools like Skype are beginning to allow consultants to check in with patients who don't necessarily need to travel for a face-to-face appointment.

Though, as one speaker admitted health care tends to lag behind by 8 to 10 years in terms of its adoption of technology.

The sheer scale of the challenge of coordinating change across an organisation the size of the NHS makes it likely that this gap will only widen.

The lasting impression was that the disruptive change required to move healthcare forward is going to come not from within, but from patients empowered by better access to personalised information.

Posted on 10.12.2013 by


Simple. It's one of those words.

We often ask for simple when we really want carefully considered, better, or enjoyable to use. It's more of a statement of what we don't want: clumsy, bloated products defined by feature wish lists rather than the needs of real people.

We often mean simplified. We almost never mean simplistic.

But complexity needn't scare us. It pushes us to new things. It pushes us into solving bigger, more interesting, more meaningful problems. It pushes us to listen, and ask more questions, and try things that we're not sure will work. The future belongs to people who can navigate a path through complexity, ignore their need for easy answers, and make something... appropriate.

Posted on 15.10.2013 by


One of our clients had been showing seven product variants on their online shop for over a year. To the seasoned pro, they were all good options, but for first time customers, some choices were definitely better than others.

Our hypothesis was that by making five of these options harder (although still possible) to find, we'd make it easier for first time customers to make a good decision. We expected that this would increase sales, and give first time customers a better overall experience. So we set up an A/B test with a really healthy sample size, and sat back to obsess about stats.

Not only did the overwhelming majority buy a better product for their needs, and not only did the number of sales increase by 30%, but the average cost per sale went up too. Even the products we'd hidden sold better.

We have lots of theories about various nuances of this experiment, and the jury's still out on Paradox of Choice, but we're always happy to find that helping users make good decisions can be good for business.

Posted on 17.9.2013 by

Peter speaks at Refresh Belfast

Peter talked about how biases and heuristics conspire to make us think that everyone else is stupid and that we’re dead clever, like. He talked about whether it’s possibly possible that other people are smarter than we think, and discussed what we might do about that.  

Big thanks to Andy for asking us to speak at Refresh  for a third time. 

Posted on 7.5.2013 by


Peter, Heather and Karys headed down to OFFSET in Dublin for a weekend of inspiration, doodling, ideas and good food.

Speaker highlights included Iain Tait (Google Creative Lab, Wieden + Kennedy, Poke), who gave a huge mention to sugru and the hackable Fixer's Manifesto which we helped create. We blushed and giggled and then promptly refused to chat to him because we're shy and weird. He has also written about more sugru work we did here

Hvass & Hannibal are a multi-disciplinary design studio from Copenhagen whose work we've admired for a long time. (Their Efterklang work - yum). They approach projects so collaboratively the work becomes seamless, which rings true a little bit for us. Their work is hands-on, geometric, beautiful and sometimes hilarious (sweaty man gym slogans for example).

We really enjoyed hearing Jonathan McHugh talk about his illustration process and insanely short deadlines for the Financial Times. In fact the day he was speaking he needed to submit work that afternoon, having received the brief that morning. Respect. This is him opening the FT to see his illustration in print the next day. 

Best entrance award goes to Ben Newman who hula-hooped his way on stage to Jump by Van Halen, explaining it was the scariest thing he could think of doing, so he did it. Kudos. Stunning illustration work too.

JR 's talk was truly inspirational. He makes ballsy, thought provoking, barrier busting street art. We're just wondering if the Inside Out project could make it to Burma.

And Kate Moross, well, we would just love her to be our cool new best mate.

We also got to see The Creativity Hub launch The Extraordinaires Design Studio with some lovely looking awards for the best designs presented over the weekend. 

Posted on 25.4.2013 by

Extraordinaires Design Studio Launch

We've been working with the brilliant Rory, Anita and the team at The Creativity Hub for a while now. We've created a product site for their next big thing, The Extraordinaires Design Studio. We also designed the Uploader App which allows users to upload their designs to the site's gallery (the app was then built by Ecliptic). 

We all popped down to Dublin for the product launch and a had a great time eating camo popcorn, watching the illustrators at work and having a go at designing our own inventions. 

It's an awesome product and we're dead proud to be involved.

Posted on 3.4.2013 by

Heather and Karys go to Burma

Atto Partners have been working with Stand By Me for a while now. They're an awesome charity that rescues kids in danger, many of them orphaned and abandoned. They provide loving, family homes and an excellent education, transforming lives and enabling the most vulnerable children reach their full potential.

When Ahmad asked us to come and see what they're doing in Burma along with a small team of doctors, we jumped at the chance. It's not often you get to work for a client who are literally saving lives around the world, and see the work first hand.

We worked with two schools and eight homes that are run by Stand By Me to encourage the children and teachers in their creativity, doing lots of craft, painting and drawing. Many of the kids had never used paints before and they picked it up instantly. We were constantly impressed by the eagerness to learn, both from teachers and children, the warmth and humour of the Burmese people and their fearless hurdle-leaping attitude in the face of a military government and poverty.

Stand By Me partners and trains the best of the best of these people and as a result, the kids we met in the homes were happy, healthy and growing up to be amazing role models in their community. 

We both got to meet the boys we sponsor in Kalymayo. Hma Ngaih Thang and Sumpi are both great kids who have come from hard backgrounds. It was emotional and encouraging to know that we can support these boys from across the world. 

We might be biased but if you're looking for a way to give to a charity, Stand By Me are pretty darn awesome.

Posted on 20.2.2013 by

New Digs

Atto Partners Belfast studio is moving!

A grand total of 20m round the corner. You can now find us in our new place at 25 Donegal Street, now with added natural light! 

We'll be moving gear, sawing things and smashing light bulbs for a while so please forgive the mess when you visit. 

ps. big love to everyone who helped us move.

Posted on 20.1.2013 by

Hello Andy

Hoorah! We have a new neighbour. It's our good chum Andy McMillan from Fiction. He makes wonderful things like The ManualBuild conference and XOXO conference. He also likes to bring us treats which is just fantastic. 

Welcome to the building Mr Goodonpaper.

Posted on 20.12.2012 by

Orr and Gillespie

We've been working with the lovely interior designers, Susan and Kyra for a little while now on a top secret thing (we're moving office and they're helping us make it amazing shhh…). 

They asked us to help name their new company; Orr and Gillespie and create their new identity. Working with designers was great, we got our teeth into some juicy colour work and big pattern design.

Posted on 18.12.2012 by

Refresh Belfast

Peter spoke at Refresh Belfast last night. He was one of 12 speakers talking about the lessons they learnt from 2012. Peter's talk comprised mostly of breakfast tips and the occasional insightful thought. 

Find out more here .

Posted on 18.12.2012 by

The Fixer's Manifesto

We worked with the sugru team to help them produce their very own manifesto. We wanted to enable the enthusiastic sugru community to help edit and add to the ideas so we're calling this is version 1.0. There’s a plaintext copy on Github, where users can contribute improvements, fork it, and make stuff with it. You can also suggest changes on sugru's Facebook and Twitter. 

If you like it, improve it. 

Posted on 19.11.2012 by

Just Crackers

We designed a new brand and packaging for the all natural cracker company, Just Crackers. Congratulations to Katie as Just Crackers Original and Just Crackers Salt and Pepper have both been awarded one gold star in the the Great Taste Awards.

Posted on 8.11.2012 by

Atto Partners is one year old

Happy birthday to us, toot toot. It's been one year since Atto joined forces with Johnston North to become Atto Partners.

We celebrated with plenty of pizza, a J-Bird cake and a comedy show. 

Posted on 2.11.2012 by

Sugru on CNN

CNN visited Jane and the sugru team to film them for a segment. They've managed to capture the feeling of real inspiration and determination that we are so accustomed to seeing in the team as we've worked with them. Nice job CNN. 

You can read the article here.

Posted on 26.10.2012 by

C4 Board Reception

It was great to finally get to talk to David Abraham, the Chief Executive of C4, at their board reception in Belfast. David has always been very supportive of our work and very kindly commended our involvement in a number projects during his talk on the evening. 

We've really enjoyed working with Channel 4 over the last couple of years and it's nice to know that they enjoy working with us too.

The next day we had an opportunity to go to their briefing as well and hear Jay Hunt and Stuart Cosgrove talk about 4's plans for the next year. Exciting times ahead.

Posted on 21.9.2012 by

15 Million Meals

Can you believe it? Through the Buy One Give One Free project, the Good Little Company has donated over 15 million meals to communities in Malawi. 

We are so proud to be involved. Head over here to find out more.

Posted on 9.9.2012 by

26 Treasures

When Gillian Colhoun asked us to be involved in the 26 Treasures project  we were initially daunted by the prospect of creating a "visual response"  to a writer's take on a well-known Ulster Museum artefact. We would be presenting our piece in an exhibition alongside 25 other pairings of local writers/poets and designers/artists. 

Things got exciting when we received Lucy Caldwell's 62 word piece about our artefact, The Clonmore Shrine. Her writing was so visually evocative we had no problem coming up with a slew of ideas, some awful, most impossible, one perhaps do-able.

After calling in favours from technology teacher friends, charity shop foraging and many hours of kaleidoscoping toe nails and hair, we managed to get our Clonmore Shrine piece installed in time for the main event. It was such a treat to see all sorts of folk interacting with our humble little table with a mysterious glowing box on top. 

Karys then went on to speak with Lucy Caldwell at the launch of the 26 Treasures book which includes all the pieces from all over the UK. It was great to get to work on something that gave us insight into a piece of history and meet some amazing people along the way. Thanks for involving us Gillian.

Posted on 20.6.2012 by

Have a sugru Father's Day

We made a Dad's Guide to Fixing (almost) Anything poster with the sugru guys. This conjured up many bygone stories of our collective dads failed attempts at DIY. Thankfully sugru may help to avert future over-confident dad disasters.

You can see the big version here 

Posted on 6.6.2012 by

Komodo Math has launched

Hurrah for a maths app that is fun to use and actually works. Komodo was great to work on (and we learnt what 7 x 8 equals along the way - super mathematical bonus). 

We created the brand, the characters, the visual design, the copy and the animation. We hope it goes a long way, you can get it from the App store now.

Posted on 25.5.2012 by

Socially Conscious Design

So apparently Atto Partners are in another book. And it's a pretty cool book to be in. It's called Just Design by Christopher Simmons. Your Name on Toast and Build a Beard make an appearance.

Posted on 23.3.2012 by

NI Design Alliance Student Awards

Peter had the opportunity to be part of a judging panel of professional designers for the NI Design Alliance  Student Awards.The aim of the competition was to help students develop their professional design skills through industry mentoring.  Each student team was allocated a mentor from local design agencies whom they worked with to respond to a challenging design brief.

It was great to see emerging new talent and getting a glimpse of how high the current standard of student design is.

Posted on 15.2.2012 by

Happy Chutney Christmas

This year's Auntie Atto Christmas treat had a lot to live up to after last year's infused vodka efforts. So we made our own condiments (beetroot and orange chutney, spiced onion chutney and chilli jam). 

If we have to chop another onion we might cry but the end result was very tasty, even if we say so ourselves. 

Posted on 22.12.2011 by


After 3 years of dating, your friends at Johnston North and Atto are now happily married as Atto Partners. We are currently honeymooning in Belfast and Coleraine and the weather is wonderful. The cocktails are flowing and the free honeymoon lobster dinners are delicious and free. 

If you forgot to get us a wedding gift, don't worry, just pop over here and we won't bear a grudge.

Posted on 1.11.2011 by

David Abraham at Belfast Media Festival

We've been working with Channel Four on 4Thought.tv to create a site that helped initiate a dialogue with viewers and aimed to raise the quality of online debate. 

The Chief Executive of Channel Four, David Abraham visited recently Belfast recently as part of Belfast Media Festival and talked about the success of the site and the collaboration between Channel Four, Atto Partners and Waddell Media. 

Over the last year they have been collaborating to produce the television and online components of 4thought, and together I think they have created a powerful forum for debate and reflection that I think it would be hard to find on any other broadcast platform.

You can read the full talk here .

Posted on 14.10.2011 by

Stand By Me

Stand By Me  is an incredible charity whose mission is to rescue kids in crisis around the world. To date they have rescued and cared for over 3000 children.

We had the opportunity to help them make the transition from the former name (Kids Alive) to their new brand. We have worked closely with the small (superhuman) team to create a vibrant new look and feel that represents the energy and hope of the charity, a new website that effectively tells the amazing stories that emerge as a result of their work and an online sponsorship system that has dramatically increased child sponsorship.

We can't sing these guys' praises enough. It really is an honour to be involved in something that is truly life-changing. Have a look at Vung Pee's story and go and test our sponsorship system .

Posted on 1.10.2011 by

Fred's Days Out

With a new tiny person recently added to the Atto family, we have found ourselves hunting for child -friendly days out (preferably with tiny animals to pat / tractors / guaranteed ice cream). By working on Fred's Days Out we got to scratch our own itch. 

We designed and developed a site that looked and felt easy to use with clearly presented information, super-helpful ways to find your ideal day out and useful maps to easily work out what events are close and which attractions are worth the trip. Users can also add their own attractions and rate the places they've visited to help the rest of the Fred's Day Out community. 

So far it's available for the South East of England but we can't wait until it spreads to our part of the world.

Posted on 16.7.2011 by

Pecha Kucha Belfast pt 3

It's that time again...

The third instalment of our Pecha Kucha series is just around the corner. A super talented bunch of creative folk are lined up to take part and we can't wait to hear their take on Journeying. You can see the speakers lineup and get your free tickets on the Pecha Kucha Belfast site.

If you missed the first two, and wonder what it all looks like, here's Mike Fleming with his thoughts on curiosity at our last event in October.

You can see the rest of the videos from the night here.

Posted on 6.1.2011 by

Ministry of Stories

We're all huge fans of 826 Valencia's pirate supply store and Dave Egger's hugely inspirational movement to create after-school, tutoring spaces for children to work with writers and educators to improve their writing skills. If you haven't already seen it you must watch this now.

So when we got a call asking Heather to contribute illustration skills to the walls of the London version of Egger's vision, she jumped at the chance.

The secret Ministry of Stories (founded by UK author, Nick Hornby, Lucy McNab and Ben Payne) is hidden at the back of The Hoxton Street Monster Supplies shop which keeps monsters supplied with all their nightmarish needs.

It was a pretty special project to be involved in. The services are all provided by volunteers: local writers, artists and teachers, giving their time and talent for free and aims to inspire young people to transform their lives through writing. Have a look at this BBC news clip to get a look behind the scenes and if you get a chance, do pop in and take a peek and stock up with some tins of Mortal Terror.

(big thanks to the lovely Alistair Hall for the photos. Do check out his beautifully designed packaging for the Monster goods).

Posted on 18.12.2010 by

Sugru Featured in Time Magazine

You know you've made it when you're in Time Magazine. Sugru has been featured as one of Time's 50 best inventions of the year. Nice work team sugru!

Posted on 6.12.2010 by

Showcase Conference

Earlier this week, Pete and Stuart spoke at Showcase Conference in Derry about the future of multi-platform user experience design. 

Using 4thought.tv as an example, they talked about the history of the web, parallels with the TV industry and how we can transcend both media by creating extraordinary user experiences. 

Friend of Atto Partners and extraordinary Channel 4 Commissioning Editor Adam Gee stole the show in his Keynote, but that's another story.

Posted on 24.11.2010 by

Have a very (very) merry Christmas

This year we decided to infuse our own vodka, bottle and label it. No big deal. 

Posted on 23.11.2010 by

Build and Offset

We've had a burst of inspiration recently thanks to Offset conference (Dublin) and Build conference (Belfast) which is run by the lovely, chief Atto Partners chocolate supplier and general social wizard, Andy McMillan.

Offset was Awesome. With a crammed line-up of some of our biggest heroes, we came away with happy hearts and a new burst of energy for doing, y'know, Creative Stuff In General. Highlights for me included Martin Haake, Studio AKA , David O'reilly, M&E, George Lois and meeting Gary Baseman Toby.

Build was pretty darn great too with one of my favourite talks coming at the beginning of the week of Build events. Jessica Hische's amazing letterforms and down to earth attitude to hard work was great to see. The main event was a resounding success with the stars of the show being Liz Danzico and Frank Chimero. The pick 'n' mix, Marshmallow Grove cupcakes and the inspired lunch at St.George's market were also personal highlights.

We even won an iPad when Pete was named "last geek standing" after a gruelling evening of answering obscure questions at the Standardistas Open Book Exam.

Posted on 15.11.2010 by

Pecha Kucha Belfast pt 2

We hosted our second Pecha Kucha night with a packed house at the Black Box. The evening was energetic, hilarious and thought-provoking thanks to our amazing speakers. A huge round of applause goes to Alli Steen Magee, David Hughes, Hugh Odling-Smee, Julie-Anne Graham, Mike Fleming, Paul Kelly, Richard Weston, Michelle Gallen and Chris & Ev.

You can check out some photos of the night on the Atto Partners Flickr stream and we'll be collating and chopping the videos when we catch a breath.

Keep an eye out for our third chapter of PKN Belfast on the 1st February and follow @PKNBelfast for updates on speakers and tickets.

(last photo stolen from co-sponsors Front)

Posted on 5.10.2010 by

Portaferry Triathlon

Our very own Superkak risked life and limb dodging jellyfish and strong tides as she raced in the swimming leg of the Portaferry triathlon. Her team came second overall in the triathlon relay. We're ever so proud.

Posted on 20.9.2010 by

Pecha Kucha is next Wednesday night

We got our brand new spangly posters today thanks to the awesome folks at Northside who sponsored the printing.

If you haven't signed up for your free ticket, get a move on because we're almost full up. Check out the speakers lineup and get your free tickets on the Pecha Kucha Belfast site.

Posted on 14.6.2010 by

Idea Hacking

Mark Nagurski of Iddictive has come up with a new informal talk format called Idea Hacking. Each event features a diverse panel of speakers from varied backgrounds and industries giving short 10 minute presentations on how the given theme applies to their work. After that, the audience is given the chance to grill them in a group Q&A session.

Mark asked us to come to Derry and speak on the theme of Storytelling for the first event. We talked about Telling Authentic Stories that People Enjoy Telling Other People. We had a great night and met some really interesting people - (Catherine Brogan's performance poetry was great) and caught up with old chums ( Joel Simon's Gerry Anderson animation got the biggest applause of the night).

Nice work Mark!

Posted on 1.6.2010 by

Sugru Launch and Maker Faire

Sugru has officially launched! After five months of scaling up production, redesigning packaging and processes, building a custom e-commerce store, and many pints of blood, sweat and tears, sugru is available to buy online now. It's selling fast so pop along and get your mitts on a pack as soon as possible.

We also took a trip to the coolest/geekiest show on earth with the sugru folks - Maker Faire! We got to meet real sugru fans, work with some lovely volunteers, meet the Make chaps, run around San Francisco till our feet hurt and generally have a great time. You can see more photos here. We're so happy to see FormFormForm kicking ass. We feel like we're part of the family and when they have big grins, we have have big grins. Long live sugru!

Posted on 31.5.2010 by

Street Feast

Street Feast is a brilliant concept. It's one day in the year where neighbourhoods across Ireland host a lunch in their streets, local parks or front gardens. It's a great excuse to share good food and meet interesting people who live nearby.

Samuel and the Street Feast team asked us to help them get the word out so we developed a friendly look and feel, a custom typeface, a website that enables “Feasties” to register a lunch or find a nearby lunch to join and a downloadable guide to running your own feast. If you're in Ireland hop along to streetfeast.ie and join the party on the 18th July.

Posted on 18.5.2010 by

Pecha Kucha is back in Belfast

We love Pecha Kucha and we thought it was about time it came back to Belfast. So with the help of Karla and Winnie - two super-keen and talented Visual Communication students, we are starting a series of Pecha Kucha nights at the Black Box. We have a an uber-impressive mix of talented folk for our first line-up.

Follow @PKNbelfast and keep an ear to the ground for the official announcement of the speakers. The first event is on the 23rd June so stick it in your iCal now.

Oh and if you don't know what Pecha Kucha is you may have been living in a lead-lined bunker for the past 5 years. Here's some hints for the uninitiated.

Handy tip: Pecha Kucha is pronounced "peh-chak-cha", and is the onomatopoeic Japanese word for the sound of "chit-chat". Now you know.

Posted on 8.5.2010 by

Pete speaks at NI Design Alliance Event

The NI Design Alliance is a partnership between industry, education and stakeholders who are committed to seeing good design practice in Northern Ireland. A mission that we whole-heartedly support. Pete spoke at their first event about our thoughts on responsible design, how genuine transparency and integrity can be great for the design industry and business in general. Ralph Ardill also spoke about how authentic design principles can transform a business from the ground up (we are now fans of Ralph).

Posted on 23.4.2010 by

New and Sausagey

The Good Little Company have launched their second product - Great Big Sausages. We created new packaging and a new animation for the launch. (Top tip: they're especially great on barbecues).

The best news is that they have also donated over 3 million meals to those who need them most. We're so proud.

Posted on 17.4.2010 by

Belfast HACKquarium

Atto Partners hosted a sugru HACKquarium on Tuesday night at the Black Box and invited 40 chums to come and hack their old stuff better. A HACKquarium is basically a chance to gather some like-minded hacker type folks together to fix, adapt, repair and improve their stuff with some beers and nibbles. It was a bit of a trial run before HACKquariums (HACKquaria?) are launched around the world. Some super interesting hacks were produced, these are the two winners: ultra-delicate handiwork by silversmith Samantha on her USB key and a loud and proud shoe hack by Esther.

Special mentions go to Tim's ginger eyebrow goggles, John's new Mr Potato Head feet and hat, and of course Karys' work of art that was originally a broken vase.

Posted on 12.2.2010 by

Victoria Gault Shop Launch

We helped our favourite florist, Victoria Gault, launch her very own Wedding Floristry Boutique in Queen's Arcade, Belfast. We helped her create a dapper new look for her small, but perfectly formed new shop and website (yes we even helped apply the lettering ourselves). If you're looking for amazing flowers and a good natter, do pop by and say hello to Victoria.

Posted on 11.1.2010 by

Sugru London Launch

Sugru has landed! The good news is that it has sold like hot cakes, the bad news (for you) is that it's sold out.

Jane produced 1000 packs (a predicted one month's worth of stock) for launch and they sold out in 6 hours! The 3000 pre-order packs have also sold out in a day. We could hardly believe our eyes as huge blogs like Boing Boing, the Daily Telegraph, Wired, Core77, Treehugger, Shiny Shiny and loads more picked up the story and loved the idea behind the product.

Here's a few shots of the launch party in London.

Posted on 11.12.2009 by

MA Multidisciplinary Design Masterclass

Last Friday we lead a full-day Masterclass with the MA Multidisciplinary Design students at University of Ulster. They're a very talented, welcoming bunch and we thoroughly enjoyed our day with them.

We spoke about creating a values-driven business, lead a workshop on excuses for not being awesome then set a transformation design project for the students. Lots of great (actionable) ideas emerged, as did energetic and lively discussion. We always enjoy finding talented new friends and were really encouraged by the quality of their work.

Big hat tip to Chris Murphy ( @fehler of Web Standardistas fame) for inviting us. The MA course is his baby, and he's doing a fantastic job of fostering the next batch of game-changers here in NI. We just wish we'd taken some decent photos!

Posted on 29.10.2009 by

Kabosh: This is What We Sang

We've been working with Kabosh over the summer to design promotional materials for This is What We Sang, their new play showing as part of the Belfast Festival at the end of October. We used the old Jewish art of paper-cutting as the foundation for the imagery with many of play's themes portrayed in a single hand-cut illustration (including many Belfast landmarks). Keep an eye for the special edition poster we made with vinyl for the John Hewitt's window. (We can't wait to see the play now).

Posted on 12.10.2009 by

One Million Meals

The Good Little Company has now donated 1,000,000 meals through its buy one, give one free offer. That's a little bit world-changing.

Posted on 10.10.2009 by


Exciting new thing thing alert! We have finally launched Artwiculate - our Twitter-based Word of the Day competition that helps clever people look clever and helps the rest of us learn new words.

We've been working on this for a while now and we're so happy to see it live and working with 1000s of followers learning and using new words everyday. Big thanks to Mashable and Swiss Miss who picked it up from day one and to all our secret beta testers for helping us to make it great.

Go to Artwiculate to join in the voting and follow @artwiculate on Twitter to play along.

Now, if we could just convince Stephen Fry to become the patron (saint) of Artwiculate ...

Posted on 22.9.2009 by

Refresh Belfast

Thanks to everyone who came to see us take over Refresh Belfast last night. The Atto Partners team delivered two talks: Responsible Design and How to Tell Authentic Stories that People Enjoy Telling Other People. We had a great night and met some lovely people.

If you were there, and got a badge, don't forget to wear it out and about. It'll give us shy creative types an excuse to say hello when we're standing in the queue at Tesco.

Posted on 16.6.2009 by


Keep an eye out for the freshly vinyl-ed WIMPSmobile on the streets of Belfast in search of unsuspecting politicians to pester.

Posted on 19.5.2009 by

the Good Little Company

It's no exaggeration to say that Atto Partners are now a real part of the Good Little Company family. We've helped form every part of the company including naming, core values, business model, brand development, packaging design, web development, animation... you name it! Working closely with the fantastic GLC team has resulted in a truly complete set of values, look and feel that we can all be proud of.

We could go on all day about their first product - Good Little Sausages - but to cut a long story short, they're just about the best sausages you can buy (85% outdoor bred pork, no nasty chemicals, gluten-free, the list goes on) AND we've worked out a great plan with Christian Aid so that every time you buy a pack of Good Little Sausages, someone in a country like Malawi gets a meal every day for 2 weeks. We're great believers in corporate responsibility that goes (way) beyond looking good and actually ends up doing good, so it's a privilege to have helped such a great thing get started.

Take a look at the Good Little Company web site, and join the Facebook group or follow them on Twitter and the Good Little Company will donate a meal on your behalf. Even better - go buy the sausages in your local Tescos (they're great with mash and onion gravy).

At the time of writing (about a week after launch), the Good Little Company have already donated about 90,000 meals to families in developing countries. How. Exciting.

Posted on 9.4.2009 by

Build a Beard Workshop

Last Friday, we had some fun and made a thing. Long story, but it involves beards and helping people in developing countries. Take a look at the site, raise some money for Kiva and help us go bankrupt!

Posted on 7.11.2008 by


It's not very often you get a chance to be a part of something so much bigger than yourself. When Hugo Manassei asked us to team up with the talented folks at Participle we said €"œyes please"€. Participle is a new social venture to design the next generation of public services - it is headed up by Hilary Cottam, Charles Leadbeater and Hugo Manassei which makes it a force of nature.

We worked with the ever-wonderful team at FRONT to help them transfer their research, vision and ambition online with a bold, project-based design for their website.

Posted on 9.10.2008 by

Sesame Tree

Well, we're all finally back from our summer adventures (hooray!). On our return, we were greeted with a terribly exciting email from the BBC. Apparently the Sesame Tree site is making everyone rather happy. We even have numbers to prove it:

April: 14,654 page impressions
June: 253,232 page impressions
August: 2,662,160 page impressions (wow wee)
We worked our socks off on this earlier in the year with the super-lovely people at Front. Atto Partners brought the illustration, animation and general joyfulness and Front added their unique blend of making it all look nice and work brilliantly.

Nancy Stevenson, Director of Character Design at Sesame Workshop, liked it too...

We couldn't be more chuffed that it's a huge success for the Beeb. Oh, and we're still singing the songs.

Posted on 29.9.2008 by

Dekko monsters

Not so long ago our friends at Mammoth commissioned us to create a set of monster characters to promote Dekko's big summer sale. This was a fun job. Martin, Emma and Barry appeared on billboards around every corner in Belfast. Meet the the not-so-fierce but slightly bemused and very friendly Dekko monsters.

Posted on 20.9.2008 by

Restore Practical Counselling

Restore is a new counselling service based in North Belfast that aims to help people in a real and practical way. We worked with them to define how they present themselves to the world, as an organisation focused on the the needs of the individuals they work with.

Posted on 20.6.2008 by

A Sad a Beautiful Place

We've just finished working on 'A Sad and Beautiful place' - a book full of insight into life in the townships of South Africa. It's comprised of compelling photography, by Gordon Ashbridge, and engaging real stories and poetry, by Steve Stockman, inspired by their trip to Cape Town.

All proceeds from the books and limited edition prints go to Capetownship, a justice mission project working in South Africa.

Posted on 8.2.2008 by

Free Idea: Carbon Brilliant

We're always interested in working out how to help people talk about products, services and ideas we care about. Carbon Brilliant (or maybe just Brilliant?) is a little idea we had. It's really just another carbon offsetting service. The major difference is that we invented this one (although it'll probably never actually see the light of day). It's a little bit viral too.

Here's how it works:

Someone pays Brilliant either £20, £30 or £40 (depending on the size of their car) and Brilliant offsets their emissions. In return, they get a sticker to put on their car windscreen that tells the world that they've offset their emissions for the whole year. (Based on the Road Tax Vignette principle).

The sticker scheme works because it's a mark of pride. It shows that the user cares, but it isn't just about bragging; it's a way to share the idea, spread the meme and support the cause. It's a social object that's inherently viral - you can see whole groups of friends picking the idea up and running with it.

Oh, and the message, call to action and pricing are all super-simple. That's important.

Posted on 1.2.2008 by

Dunadry Hotel

We've written before about working for Dunadry Hotel; an idiosyncratic, strangely beautiful place with history coming out its ears. Until recently, Dunadry Hotel had always been talking about itself as if it's just another off-the-shelf hotel (sorry Hilton, Radisson etc). Over the last year, we've been helping shape their message. We summed it up like this:

A place of shared stories; old and new, rich and beautiful.

The Dunadry is (and always has been) all about stories. Their staff are some of the most helpful, friendly people we know and just about every nook and cranny in the place has a story attached to it.

We commissioned photographer Gordon Ashbridge to take a look around for us, and we're really quite pleased with what he came up with. Here are a couple of his shots:

Posted on 10.1.2008 by

Free Idea: Parking Cards

I'm not sure if this is universal, but most car parks (parking lots) here in sunny Northern Ireland work a bit like this...

1. Drive up to the ticket machine/person
2. Press a button (or talk to a person)
3. Receive a card/ticket
4. Drive to your parking space

The interesting thing (to us) is that, between step 3 and 4, you have a piece of card in your hand without a particularly good place to put it. From minutes of research and analysis, we predict that around 53% of people put the card in their mouth while they drive to a parking space.

So... if we were designing the most remarkable car park in the world, it would have to have Flavo(u)red Parking Cards.

I think the folks at Moto might be able to help (more here).

Posted on 5.11.2007 by

Concentrate at John Lewis

Our terribly clever friends at Concentrate now have their wonderful Fruit-Friendly Food for Thought Lunchbox (pictured), Bottlecoolerpenholder, Chairpadbookbag and Lunchbox Coolerbag stocked at John Lewis.

Read about why these products are so clever on Concentrate's site then go and buy them all!

Posted on 2.8.2007 by

Linen Hall Library Summer Events Guide

Belfast's legendary Linen Hall Library asked us to do their Summer Events Guide, so we thought we've have some fun with it. We're big fans of the library, and we tried to incorporate a feel for this marvelous place with lovely vintage summery illustrations that captured the sentiment of the booklet.

We're not fond of blowing our own trumpet, so we'll let the library's Director of Arts and Cultural Programming, Hugh Odling-Smee, do it for us.

...our best looking events guide thus far. I really like the way you took what was a fairly loose concept and delivered a cogent and aesthetically beautiful document that dovetailed nicely with the needs of the users. There is a particular finesse in Atto's work that I haven't seen in other designers, lifting it from the usual design that we see in the arts in Belfast.

Aww. Thanks Hugh.

Posted on 26.6.2007 by

Cleland McKnight win small business of the year.

Congratulations to our Image Consultant friends over at Cleland McKnight on winning the NTCM Small Business of the Year Award. We're particularly chuffed that the panel commended them for their creative marketing approach.

We've been involved with Cleland McKnight since day one; helping frame their message, build their brand and design their web site and print material. They're a true anomaly in their market; genuine, honest, ethical people who want to have a positive effect with what they do. We wish them every success as they continue to grow.

Posted on 25.6.2007 by

Dunadry Booklet

We just got this back from the printer's, all delicious and copper foil-y. It's one of the first bits of printed work for our brand re-think for Dunadry Hotel.

Posted on 20.6.2007 by

Innovation Week 07

For the last few weeks, we've been working on a walk-up animation for Invest NI's Innovation Week commissioned by our friends over at AV Browne.

Posted on 21.5.2007 by

Rachael Gardiner

We had the lovely (and ever-thoughtful) Rachael Gardiner in for work experience with us over the past couple of weeks.

We knew she had a great whimsical illustration style (she wooed us with a beautiful, hand bound cv/portfolio) so we chained her to the desk and made her churn out some gorgeous, quirky designs for potential Henry Pancake wedding stationery. She fitted in to our wee team very well and we know she'll do fantastically well in her final year in Leeds. Keep an eye out for her work ...

Posted on 30.4.2007 by