The ASO Customer Spotlight is back for a look at an one of the more interesting sites we host. Want some free publicity for your ASO-hosted site? Fill out this form, and we’ll contact you if we decide to use your submission!
Who are you?
I’m a freelance designer in my free time, and by day I’m the Associate Director of Admissions Digital Strategies at Columbia College Chicago.
What is your website?
Why do people care about your website?
I do freelance web work, usually in WordPress. People seem to be most interested in my WordPress Digital Signage theme, and having me customize it for them. I’m also obsessed with responsive design and usability.
After looking through your site, I see you’re a responsive design enthusiast. Any advice or resources you’d recommend for those interested in learning more about that aspect of web design?
Just go for it. The most difficult part of starting a responsive design or redesign is the content strategy. Balancing the expectation of a consistent experience across devices with the reality of less room & limited bandwidth can be really overwhelming. Embracing a mobile-first process as an essential step of clarifying and focusing your content will pay huge benefits not only to your mobile visitors, but shape a much better desktop experience as well. Crazy smart content strategists like Kristina Halvorson (@halvorson) recommend using page tables to get started.
Remember that you don’t have to write all of the code from scratch your first time out. Grab a framework–I’m a huge fan of Zurb’s Foundation–and break open your Developer Tools to figure out how it works, then you can focus on performance and customization. Just as narrowing and refining your content makes your site better and more cohesive; refining (and sometimes removing) and compressing your code, plugins, libraries, images, and other add-ons will make your site faster, which is a wildly important, but frequently ignored aspect of responsive design. There is a ton of documentation out there, and StackOverflow is a great community resource for help.
I also see you’ve built a web app. What was that experience like? Any resources you’d recommend exploring for those interested in delving into the world of app creation?
The majority of the time and effort for that web app was spent wrangling the content and data to get it into a format and organization that would be manageable and useful. And testing. Lots and lots of device testing.
The only truly fancy bit of that project was using localStorage in the browser to set and retrieve items that were added to a favorites list.
After some artful Googling, and some extraordinarly smart answers on StackOverflow, I was able to build out the web app. We had 36 different types of devices access the site that day, which only reaffirmed my decision to go the device-agnostic route of a web app.
As I looked to reinvent the web app in 2012, I spent a lot more time researching content, usability, and interface patterns. I also had the benefit of having another developer, Brian West to refine and vastly improve the code, and take the performance to a higher level. I’d recommend taking a look at dribbble, and paying a huge amount of attention to what Luke Wroblewski (@lukew), Trent Walton (@trentwalton), & Brad Frost (@brad_frost) have to say about usability, design, and performance.
Thanks for your time, Nate! Much appreciated!