Change is inevitable, and while McDaniel College wasn’t ready for a full site redesign, the original fixed width templates of the site were not responsive on mobile devices. More then an inconvenience for their mobile users, a fixed width site takes a significant hit in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The the first order was to move the current site templates to a responsive framework.
We chose the Bootstrap framework because it’s well supported, flexible and has a “mobile first” philosophy that aligns with the use case of one of the College’s primary audiences, young adult students. During this transition, additional functionality was written into the templates to take advantage of new features in the updated ExpressionEngine CMS. Much of this focused on entry automation and ease of use for editors and administrators. In addition, the style and markup was updated to use best practices for accessibility and Section 508 compliance. This is critical for any organization that receives support from the Federal Government.
The biggest challenge was the existing homepage. The design was novel, but it would not translate into a mobile look. So Willett + Associates redesigned the homepage with the goal to:
- better support mobile display
- add dynamic news and events sections
- improve accessibility and usability.
The resulting page takes much of it’s content from News articles published elsewhere on the site. Checking a single box directs the published article to the homepage. The events listing is pulled from the College Calendar. The carousel at the top of the page adds visual interest and movement while under the hood, the image centric content is fully accessible for blind and low vision users employing screen readers.
If you would like to talk more about building accessible websites to best meet the needs of all of your audiences, please let us know how we can help.