Moving Beyond Responsive Design

adaptive-designWe all should know about responsive design. Yet design techniques continued to evolve. Adaptive design is one of the latest buzzwords in the mobile web community. In this article I will describe the difference between responsive and adaptive design. I also go into detail when each should be used. Finally, we will explore a way ahead for integrating these methods with your current projects.

Responsive Design

What Is It?

This was our initial attempt to solve the problem of one site for many device types. The browser renders content based on the size of the screen. The layout changes, not the content. That said, sometimes images are cropped or scaled to account for the smaller browser size. But it is always the same content.

When To Use It

Responsive design is the primary method of presenting websites more effectively on mobile devices. It provides a solution to many problems. You have one team creating one set of content on one website. It is a simplistic solution to a complex problem. But it is one that works well for most situations. For more information about using this, check out my two articles on this topic; Approaches to Mobile Website and Responding to Responsive Websites

Adaptive Design

What Is It?

Adaptive design is the strategy of serving up specific content depending on the device. The browser detects the device and passes that information to the web server. The server then sends back content specifically created for that device. This is different because you must create several versions of content. This custom solution can be technology- and maintenance-intensive.

When To Use It

Certain content requires specialized experience. Some multimedia players work better on the desktop than in a mobile device. Another scenario is rendering tables. Large grids of data are what some users want to see. A table of features, or a spreadsheet of financial information is what needs presented. But those usually do not work well for a small screen. These scenarios must be carefully selected. They will create more overhead for your teams. This is for both the development and maintenance of those extra scenarios. But the benefit is a better experience for all devices.

Action Item

The way ahead should not be one method or the other. It is both. To be honest, responsive design solves most church website situations. But some situations need for you to provide unique content and features. The way you will find these scenarios is through testing. Test your site on several devices. This means several operating systems and device types. Then find solutions that fix the problem you encountered. In the end, create an experience that is pleasurable no matter the technology used to view it.

This article was inspired by the talk that Karen McGrane gave at Web Design Day 2016

Photo courtesy of Thad Zajdowicz

Improving Your Creative Process

boost-creativityCreativity is at the core of digital ministry. We take the message of the Gospel and spread it using technology. That is not always an easy task. The biggest trap we face are the ruts we get into. Every week we have the same publishing schedule. The only real breaks we see are the big holidays. When those events are upon us, what can we do to produce creative solutions? Here are four ways to boost your creativity and help your church’s mission.
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Steps to Fix a Broken Website

broken-websiteThis article has no tricks or shortcuts to fix a broken website. Those are often a hoax. What it has is a method for fixing the most common problems over the coming months. That is correct; months. You will still need to publish content and update content. These steps make great side projects to your current workload. So with a constant, but divided effort, you will overcome your looming challenge and have a fantastic church website!
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Why Website Redesigns Fail

website-redesignRedesigning a website will not fix many aspects your digital ministries. Yet it is a go-to answer for many churches. We think that starting over from scratch will fix everything. A modern looking website is not always an effective one. Many other factors aid in its success. Proper direction, effective processes, great writing, and regular updates are essential parts of a good website. This article digs into each of these areas and encourages you to fix them before overhauling your entire site.
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Designing Experiences With Fewer Obstacles

solving-problemsJust because something must be functional does not mean it cannot be well designed. Design comes in many forms, and can be applied where and when you least expect it. Often it is just a small tweak to an existing design that can improve the ease of use. Seek out opportunities to better design an experience for your congregation and visitors. Here is an observation of two trash bins at fast food restaurants and how we can apply those lessons to a church website.
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Style Guides and your Church

style-guideA style guide is an essential tool for unifying your church’s website, social media presence, and email campaigns. It establishes all the small pieces of your church brand. It not only helps you understand everything your have, it informs all future web projects. You can even use it for design elements in your physical spaces!
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Text and Images: Combining Artforms

combine-artformsYour website and social media campaigns can learn from architects. Their craft is a mix of engineering and art that mirrors web professionals. There is a reason the most effective social media posts follow this principle; photos with overlayed text. You should see an example of this above this very post! Telling churches to just add text to a photo is easy advice. This article will explore the many combinations of these two art forms that can yield great results. Yet, I wanted to take the time to dive deeper into this tool and see where there is room to expand.
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Optimizing Buttons

optimizing-buttonsWe all use buttons in our digital assets. They are our most critical element in creating a call to action. We want people to subscribe, join, download, and give. We are even so demanding to put “now!” with those requests. Yet we often miss the mark. We design and place buttons in ways that make them difficult to understand. Use these four tips to create the best buttons for your website and social media platforms.
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Creating a Great Church Intranet

church-intranetWhat makes a great intranet for churches? The answer is deceptively easy. A great intranet helps church staff solve problems quickly and efficiently. By designing a great intranet, you highlight the many tasks and applications at your staff’s disposal. Plus your volunteer and paid workforce will see you are willing to invest in them and not just your ministries. This article delves into five area of focus to create a great church intranet.
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What Skateboarders Can Teach A Web Team

learning-from-skateboarders-(wide)Many readers live near a park. Cities all over the world feature spaces where people can congregate and enjoy life together. Yet to a certain group of people, these spaces mean something completely different. They represent physical challenges of skill, dexterity, and balance. This group of people are skateboarders. Their unique view of landscape provides a few lessons people in church communications can learn.
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When Waiting is not an Option

waiting-not-an-optionThe Internet does not wait for anyone, and this includes your church. If you are waiting for the right time to move ahead with your use of the web, you will be left in the dust. This does not mean you need to jump at every advancement. Nor does it mean you should not prayerfully and carefully integrate technology. The problem is that latest technology may or may not be exactly what your church needs. Yet the longer you wait, the further you will lag behind. It is a tough decision whether to move ahead or continue to tweak what you already have.
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Removing Website Clutter

removing-clutterDesigners see clutter as too many things in one space. They want the right balance of elements on a page so it is aesthetically pleasing. Website visitors use the word clutter differently. They use it to describe items that impede their task. Unfortunately we are reluctant to remove elements in a design. This is often due to politics, unclear strategy, and/or fear of leaving something out. This article shows how you can use analytics and UX tools to remove clutter without sacrificing functionality. Here are a few “simple” steps I suggest taking.
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