Dear Agencies, Designers & Developers.
The time has come. We need to stop referring to Responsive Design as a feature, or an optional add-on to websites.
This week there have been 3 separate occasions where I have seen advertising for agencies where the major distinction of their service offering is that the websites they create are responsive. One even touted it as a ‘premium’ feature they offer.
Don’t get me wrong — I think these agencies should be making responsive websites. In fact I think that all new websites being made should be responsive. And therein lies the problem.
It’s been 5 years since Ethan wrote his seminal article on Responsive Design. It has gone from being a theory, to an online trend, to becoming best practice on the web.
And yet we still sell it to clients as though it is something optional. We use it as a marketing technique to draw people in with the latest buzzword. We upsell it as something additional — when it should be something we offer to everyone.
It’s time to stop.
We need to make our sites responsive by default. We need to do it for every job, for every client.
We need to stop using it as a selling point.
And we need to reframe our conversations and marketing to reflect that.
There’s an argument to be made that many clients don’t know the importance of a website that is device agnostic — so we need to tell them. This is absolutely true. It is our job as designers to educate them as to what the best practices are and why.
So let’s do that. Let’s tell them why their site needs to be considered for all devices. Let’s explain to them how it works, why it may take more time and cost more money. Let’s tell them why it isn’t an optional extra.
And let’s build amazing sites that anyone can use.
We recently had the great pleasure of working with EV Church on the central coast to redesign and develop their website(s). In the past they had separate sites for many of the different services — allowing them some independence, but also making the identity of the church as a whole a little disjointed.
A major part of the process was to bring more cohesion to the details for each of the services. We also created sub-sites for some of the larger service (like youth and kids) which managed to feel related to the overall EV brand, but also have their own identity.
EV Church have a great team of creative staff and volunteers — and create amazing visual work (both graphics and photography). One of the priorities of the design phase was to create a framework which, while presenting the overall EV branding, really gave the opportunity for the created graphics/photography to change and set the tone of the overall site.
The new EV Church website is developed to be responsive — so it works beautifully on screens of any size. It’s also been built mobile-first, meaning it loads as quick as possible for smaller screens — then adds complexity for devices with larger screens.
Each of the services has it’s own page with a few customisations of colour and branding. Combining this with the overall EV branding means that each service stands alone with it’s own identity while still clearly being part of EV Church.
With a lot of extra information for some services and ministries (Kids, Youth, Summer Camp and Growth Groups) we needed to create dedicated minisites for each of them.
Each of the minisites carries the branding of the specific service or ministry, but keeping the same framework and layout means the site still feels like it is part of the main site.
EV Church has a dedicated server for managing their sermon media from all their services. To make things easy for them — each of the service pages automatically grabs the most recent sermon from the RSS feed, detects whether it is audio or video, and displays it accordingly.
EV Church use a service called Church Community Builder to manage much of their administration (including their event listings and registration).
We were able to integrate the system with the website to automatically pull through the upcoming events and display them within the site.
I recently had the great pleasure of working with the team at Campaign Monitor to launch a new WordPress powered minisite. It was a great project to work on — and an interesting use of WordPress — so I thought I would share a little more about it. Read more…
one1seven Church is based at Redfern (in the Sydney CBD), and are launching a new Church Plant in the up & coming Green Square Precinct. With a new location to handle — they came to us to relaunch a new site which would work across both.
To handle the (quite different) needs of two locations, we revived an old favourite — the splash page. There is a substantial difference in the ministries and services at each location — so it was important the the split between them was done at an early stage. The name’s of the two campuses also allowed us to use bright, bold colours to help orient the user to which location they were viewing.
one1seven church’s website is developed to be responsive — so it works beautifully on screens of any size. It’s also been built mobile-first, meaning it loads as quick as possible for smaller screens — then adds complexity for devices with larger screens.
The site is designed to be super-clear. Users can easily navigate between different locations, and find the site’s content under logical groupings. Content comes to the fore with a simple 2 column layout which can be customised according the page’s needs.
Because resources like blog articles & sermons were relevant to both locations — we came up with a design for these pages which made it clear they sat within both locations. We also have clear pathways for users to find their way back to each location.
one1seven Church’s website is set up to catalogue and share all their sermons from week to week. Sermons are grouped into series to make it easier to sort through them.
Over the last few weeks, the WordPress community has been awash with some big conversations about the future of commerical WordPress businesses (specifically theme and plugin sellers). Some big names like Chris Lema, Tom McFarlin, and Chris Wallace have all weighed in, and I suggest you head over to WP Tavern’s bumper post to catch up on the full story.
To briefly summarize where the conversation is headed — WordPress vendors are realising that a race to the bottom on pricing ($15 themes, and $40 annual memberships) is destined for disaster. There is an increased emphasis on finding a niche, serving it well and making an allowance for all the add-on costs (like support) you will see in the theme’s life. This in turns means we will start to see an increase in the price of WordPress themes and Plugins as they become more segmented, and more financially sustainable.
This is a really great thing — it is a shift the WordPress market needs to make in order to stay alive. And a lot of the big players are already taking some of those steps. Vendors like Up Themes and Pressware (amongst others) have already made the shift to a smaller nunber of high quality themes, at a slightly higher price.
This is happening, and it is a good thing. Quality will increase, businesses become more sustainable, the client gets a better product, everyone wins! Right?
Perhaps a rise in prices across the board is exactly what the doctor ordered. If price hikes result in better quality products, more innovation, and helps take WordPress to the next level, who wouldn’t get behind that?
– Jeff Chandler
The voice that is missing in this conversation is that of the customer. The customer who is looking for the best deal. The customer who thinks they are getting a bargain when they buy a theme with 48 sliders, 398 Shortcodes and a kitchen sink for $15. The customer who thinks twice about whether they will purchase a $1.99 app for their phone.
Most of these customers are going to see a theme that costs closer to $100 and just see it as too expensive, compared to what they are are used to. They won’t understand the benefits they get from buying a higher quality theme, from a shop that has factored in supporting them as they get up and running. They just see something that costs more money, and has less features.
Therein lies the challenge for WordPress vendors. For this shift in the market to take place, we need to be educating customers at the same time. We need to be explaining to them the benefits that make our themes of value to them. We need to articulate why it will save them magnitudes more than $85 to user our theme, rather than the cheap and nasty one they could get somewhere else.
It is not enough to just change our business model.
We need to earn their trust, earn their loyalty and show them why they should care.
Only then, will the new WordPress marketplace really kick up a notch.
Crossway is a large multi-campus church in the suburbs of Melbourne. They’re blessed with an amazing creative team working on video, printed visuals, art direction and more — but wanted to pull it all together in a high quality website to match.
It has been a great pleasure to work alongside Steve Fogg and his amazing team on this project — and we’re very excited with the final product. The site is built on WordPress, which afforded us a lot of flexibility making different elements of the site content editable by the staff.
To start with — the site is built on an underlying framework which is shared with Crossway Lifecare (a ministry of Crossway). This ensures that both sites maintain a consistent overall style and layout, while giving flexibility for them to have different design elements so they stand apart.
The site is developed to be responsive — so it works beautifully on screens of any size. It’s also been built mobile-first, meaning it loads as quick as possible for smaller screens — then adds complexity for devices with larger screens.
The site is set up to manage all of Crossways sermons each week from across their campuses. Sermons are grouped into series, and can handle video and audio, as well as transcripts and other text content.
Using WordPress allowed us to attach any piece of content with a particular group in the church (like youth, mums or lifegroups). This means that content like events, news and more can be automatically displayed on the appropriate page.
Throughout the site there are a number of pages that have been custom designed in order to stand out!
Presbyterian Inland Mission (PIM) is a ministry of the Australia Presbyterian Church that places missionaries throughout remote regions of Australia.
An aging and dated website was making it hard to communicate with their supporters, and relied upon someone with technical expertise to manually update the pages. They came to Jordesign looking for a site that would better suit their needs. Read more…