Monthly Archives: January 2015

A View of the (Hill)Top

Logo of Hilltop Montessori School, Brattleboro, VTHilltop Montessori School in Brattleboro is where our best hopes for the future are being educated right now. Montessori education was developed by Maria Montessori in the early 1900s and, even over a century later, it remains one of the most innovative and brilliantly intentional education models ever developed. Hilltop embodies the best of Montessori with amazing students and alumni, committed staff and faculty, and a beautiful campus.

All of that said, the website had passed its proverbial freshness date. Built in an outdated content management system (CMS), the site was deeply mobile-unfriendly and difficult for staff and faculty to update. What’s more, as the school had grown, the site hadn’t been able to keep up so there wasn’t a sense of the exuberant joy, vast potentials, or phenomenal outcomes.

We worked with them to build a site that would allow for:

  • Mobile-friendly responsive design
  • Easy updating on the backend
  • A better representation of the school’s overall awesomeness

In addition, we built the site while staying true to their existing brand but much more fully (and unabashedly) highlighting the energy and engagement of the school and its co-creators—faculty, staff, students, parents, and alumni.

What the heck is Responsive Design?

responsive designSo, as we’ve discussed, you’re a winner because you are one of the dozens of people who are reading this blog (that includes you too, Mom). But what are you reading this amazing piece of writing on? To put a finer point on it, are you on your computer? Phone? Tablet? Did you print it up and are reading it in bed (go to sleep, Mom, you’re tired).

What you’re reading it on won’t change this post’s excellence but it may change the way you view it. During the early adolescence of mobile phone usage for browsing, many site owners created mobile representations of their sites in addition to their normal desktop-sized site. The mobile sites were scaled-down and lost some functionality but were built to better fit the smaller screens. Along came Apple with its tablet-ry and the web world was cast into uncertainty. Mobile browsing is increasing at a rate that would raise the eyebrows of bunny populations. This March 2014 blog post has some surprising stats.

Nowadays, there’s a better way to make sure that your site works regardless of the screen size: responsive design. Not brand new but having become more and more par for the course in the last few years. Responsive design can be envisioned by thinking of the frame upon which one builds a page/site as a series of boxes—let’s say 3×3. In the event that you’re viewing a page on a smaller screen, these boxes will automatically stack 2×4 (with one on the bottom), or even 1×9. This plays into the ease and ubiquity of scrolling on a mobile device or tablet. The site remains the same, just configured differently depending on screen size.

Is your site responsive? Here’s a way to find out: If you’re on your desktop, grab the right side of your window and drag it left—squishing the page. If it moves a bit and then just starts getting cut in half, you’re probably not responsive. If, on the other hand, you see that it starts to rearrange its stacking, voila, responsive.

Should your site be responsive? Yes. Can we help you with that? Yes. Will your mom notice? No. But she’s asleep anyway so what’s the difference?