Project: Cohort – An Approach to Responsive Web Design for SFU Publishing
On April 5th, students in the 2012 cohort of the Master of Publishing program made the final presentations for their PUB607 Publishing Technology Project course. And as with years past, the project groups—and the achievements they made—were considerable.
In the Project course, three groups of six students each work for six weeks on a piece of applied research and development. Past years’ projects have covered everything from data management to XML production to social media campaigns. This year’s groups were mostly web-oriented, but with three very different approaches.
The first project team, calling themselves Cohort were charged with developing a responsive-design approach to the MPub’s own web presence, so that we would be both phone- and tablet-friendly. The group investigated mobile-first strategies and adaptive approaches such as the “fluid grid” and “goldilocks” methods to acheiving responsive design. In a content analysis of the site’s features, though, they hit up a strategy of their own which they called “mobiletaneous,” in which three main functional areas of the site (and, accordingly, the target audience) were identified, labelled “Learn,” “Read,” and “Engage.” The “Learn” section, they argued, comprising program information about courses, registration, funding opportunities and so on, would likely be primarily accessed by prospective students on a “serious computer.” The “Read” section, which includes both research reports and contemporary analysis of the publishing world by our graduate students, might be better approached with a tablet in hand, leaning back in a comfy chair. Finally, students and alumni are likely to “Engage” with the program and its community from a mobile device, so the blog and social media connections would be approached thus.
To bind these three approaches, the group (in consultation with web design wizard Haig Armen from ECU) devised an elastic layout grid and design motif (dubbed “the pod”) that would assemble naviational and content components and present them elegantly to desktop browsers, tablets, and phones alike. A brand new Wordpress theme was constructed around the POD, and the whole system assembled as a prototype working site for the program (http://hcc3584.ccsp,.sfu.ca).
With the term now over, we (MPub faculty) are working on adopting this theme and approach in preparation for a complete re-launch of our web presence this summer. Stay tuned…
Interested to know more? Read the Cohort project documentation (PDF).