Ideas, insights and inspirations.

For the past two years, I have been using SCSS to build my websites. Developers everywhere have touched on the many benefits of SASS/SCSS compared to LESS and vanilla CSS in the past, so let’s just skip ahead to doing something cool. With large higher education websites, I was finding that I was rewriting the same code many times in many different areas. To simplify this, I started building a “style-guide” to help me keep track of these elements for future use. The easiest way I could think of to show this was to give you an image, then explain it. So let’s break it down: Looks This starts out with variable names for every color that I use with the “theme” of the site.  I like to name them with “$client-color: “as a variable name(client being changed to the actual client name), in case we have to cross the css with another file that also has a $yellow variable … Continue reading

As another site is launched, I’d like to take a minute to look back and see what we did right and what we could do better. This week, we launched a responsive rebuild of Carnegie Mellon Today. Doing a code re-write is a completely different creature than building a site from scratch. The design choices that were laid out with the technology at the time are still the baseline of how your code works and your limitations. At its core, Carnegie Mellon Today was a prime example of what we developers praise as a content-driven website. The layout was simple yet elegant, and the site was filled with rich content and powerful imagery. Not wanting to lose that appeal, Elliance was tasked with taking the current site and re-writing it to make it responsive. What we learned Change isn’t always easy – When working with existing content and procedures for placing said content, changing how things work on a CMS … Continue reading

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About a year ago, I took the plunge in to grid-based web layouts. For a long time, I felt that grids were too restricting for creative design and limited your choices and direction for development. Oh how wrong I was. The use of the grids is quickly becoming a standard for rapid template generation. Designers are going back to their print shop roots and finding that the same paradigms can be incredibly useful in the responsive web design world. Before you drink the Kool-Aid, let’s go over a few pros and cons of using grids and how we can overcome them. “Grids are great!” Grids are great for a large websites with tons of content, much like an .edu site. It allows developers and designers to setup a series or rules for where content should go, and leave little to no surprises when building out new pages. Grids and responsive design go hand in hand, allowing the developers to write … Continue reading

Recently, we launched a landing page for Bryant University. This site asked the question “Why Bryant University?” and was completed in a tight two week turn around. Seemed like a walk in the park. It was anything but that. Thanks to our amazing design team and our thoughtful and motivated clients, Why Bryant sparks your imagination with its amazing colors, brilliant visual effects and playful interactivity.  What started out as a simple website was transformed into a story that can only be experienced firsthand. What we’ve learned As a front end developer at Elliance, it’s my job it take the ideas and visions of the design team and the client, and give life to a static mock-up. This project presented several new challenges for me, some solved more easily than others. 1. What to do with all these scripts When building this site, we wanted to create an interactive experience that keeps the user engaged from start to finish. The problem … Continue reading

This is part 1 of my 3 part blog post about the best solution to your .edu website. Please stay tuned for the following posts. Now that nearly a quarter of web traffic is coming from mobile devices*, we’ve come to a crossroads over the best solution to a large webpage such as an .edu site. Should we build a mobile app with a sister desktop website? Or does a responsive/adaptive website make more sense? All modern solutions, at the end of the day, will get the job done for you. The question is, what is, hands-down, the best solution for your school? The first thing you need to do is forget the buzzwords and focus on your users. Do they do a lot of browsing on their devices? What is their age group? What are they looking to accomplish on your site? Your analytics should give you a lot of this information. (And if you don’t have analytics, that’s … Continue reading

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