Responsive Design in No Time! How to Redesign on a Deadline
by Marcel Ayers on August 30, 2016
During their session “Zero Hour: Going Responsive on a Deadline” at OUTC16, Webmaster Robin Kelly and Web Developer James Mbewe from the University of Texas at Tyler (UT Tyler) discussed the challenges they tackled to successfully launch a redesigned and responsive site… in only six months!
After facing a deadline set by their institution’s administration that was an entire year shorter than they had originally predicted, the team at UT Tyler knew they had their work cut out. Despite having good SEO and a majority of content that could easily migrate as-is, they were challenged by a few “rogue” content contributors whose content wouldn’t migrate properly into the new responsive design. And with limited time, they had little opportunity for content cleanup. But hard work and some help from OmniUpdate allowed them to successfully achieve their goal. Robin and James shared some tips that can help you with your own redesign project.
First, an evaluation must be conducted. How big is the project and how long will it take? Can the content easily migrate or will you be starting from scratch? Keep in mind that cleaning up content will help keep loading speed to a minimum, which is key to a successful responsive site. Once the team at UT Tyler figured out that they had good SEO and content and could focus on the new responsive design, it was time to plan. Robin and James stressed the importance of creating a timeline and sticking to deadlines.
Second, teamwork makes the process much easier. It helps to learn team members’ strengths and what they can bring to the project. Bounce ideas off one another, review together, and keep everyone in the loop.
Third, communication is critical. Communicating with your content contributors about the redesign process will help prevent issues down the road. At UT Tyler, some content contributors wanted more control over what their pages would look like in the new site; however, the content they were creating would not transfer when the site went responsive. The web team realized they needed to better communicate how the new site would work. They distributed a detailed document explaining what responsive design is and what the future site would look like. They worked with OmniUpdate to create a single web page template with various options that the contributors could work with, giving them creative freedom while staying within the parameters of the website’s new design. The team kept in communication with content contributors throughout the design and implementation process, giving updates so that everyone could stay on track and stick to the strict deadlines. Contributors were instructed on how to prepare and clean up content within OU Campus™, identify content that wouldn’t transfer, remove images, update PDF and Word files, and add appropriate tags.
Now that the new site has launched, the team at UT Tyler continues to work on cleaning up content and hosts training workshops for content contributors as a way to maintain a cohesive and responsive site.
When you begin planning and implementing a redesign, it’s important to know what you want and figure out a plan to get there. Working closely with your CMS provider will ensure that all aspects of your site look and operate the way you want them to.