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Wild Apricot Update – February 2015: Responsive Design and Super-charged Support

Steve Andrews 26 February 2015 0 comments

In last month’s Update, we noted that the theme for the first part of 2015 was “responsive”. As part of our ongoing Product Roadmap enhancements, we’re working on a number of initiatives to make your Wild Apricot websites more mobile friendly. Providing website templates that offer responsive design is a key starting point.

One size fits all

Responsive. Mobile friendly. Scalable. Whatever you call it, you want your Wild Apricot site to adapt properly to smaller screens like those on mobile phones and tablets. With over 60% of Internet access now taking place on mobile devices, responsive sites are no longer a nice-to-have – they have become a necessity.

In this month's Update, we'll delve deeper into responsive design, look at the resources we are providing to support responsiveness, and discuss how you can transition your Wild Apricot site to a responsive format.  

What is responsiveness?

Is it the same as mobile friendly? Well, not exactly.

A responsive site automatically adjusts its layout and appearance according to the size of the screen used to view it. Without responsive behavior, a page that displays well on a laptop or desktop would appear too small or require excessive scrolling on a mobile phone.

For example, the following unresponsive site might look okay on a desktop computer but on a mobile device, it’s barely readable.

Fully responsive behavior involves making a number of adjustments to a page so that it fits better on smaller screen sizes. These adjustments may include:

  • adjusting column widths
  • moving columns under each other
  • hiding additional menu options
  • adjusting image sizes
  • adjusting font sizes
For example, when viewing this responsive site on a desktop computer, the elements appearing on the Events page are spread out horizontally but on a mobile device, they are stacked vertically.

Fully responsive themes

Until recently, Wild Apricot provided only limited support for responsiveness, making it difficult to set up truly mobile-friendly sites. Over the last couple of months, however, Wild Apricot has released two fully responsive website theme sets – Bookshelf and Whiteboard.

Sites that use Bookshelf and Whiteboard themes automatically scale their contents to fit properly on different sized screens.

Wild Apricot Responsive Themes

By default, responsiveness is enabled in all Bookshelf and Whiteboard themes, though you can disable the responsive behavior through theme overrides. With responsiveness enabled, gadgets will be stacked within a single column on mobile devices, and resized to match the device's screen width. A mobile version of the site menu will be displayed, with a limit of 3 levels in total (main menu plus 2 submenu levels). Only horizontal menus are available for responsive themes.

A number of other fully responsive theme sets are also in the works. In fact, Wild Apricot is committed to ensuring that all new theme sets released from now on will be fully responsive.

Switching to a responsive theme

Making your existing Wild Apricot site responsive is as simple as switching to a responsive website theme. As with any theme switch, you should review your entire site to make sure the new settings work well with your content, and make whatever adjustments are required.

Making existing themes responsive

Releasing new fully responsive themes is great for new clients, and for existing clients who want to update the look of their Wild Apricot sites. But what about those of you who are happy with your current theme? Well, don’t worry, we have begun revising existing themes to make them fully responsive as well.

Beginning with the Treehouse theme, we will be upgrading existing themes throughout the year. To follow our progress, check for updates to our Product Roadmap.    

Designing for responsiveness

Whether or not you use responsive themes, there are design considerations you can keep in mind to improve the responsiveness of your Wild Apricot site on mobile devices. These include:

  • Limit the number of top-level menu options
  • Avoid complex page layouts, particularly those involving multiple columns
  • Limit the number of graphics on a page
  • Avoid large graphics
  • Resize graphics to the size you want to display them before adding them to a page
  • Do not use Flash content
  • Test any third-party plugins on mobile devices

The road ahead

As our Product Roadmap shows, Wild Apricot is committed to delivering a positive mobile experience for both site administrators and site visitors. In addition to the new and upgraded responsive themes we will be releasing this year, we will soon deliver an Android version of our mobile app for administrators, as well as enhancements to our existing iOS app.

New leadership for an even more responsive, supercharged support team

Continuing on the responsive theme, we’re also working to raise the bar even higher on the technical support provided by our amazing Support Apricots.

We’ve brought on a number of new members of the support team, including a new Support Team Manager, Kevin Jervis, who has taken on the important role of supervising and leading our team of Software Support Consultants. Kevin brings a wealth of professional experience spanning 14 years leading and developing high performance teams in technical support and customer service desks for premier companies in communications, finance and energy sectors.

Say hello to Kevin Jervis:

I’ve joined the Wild Apricot team because I believe in the product. This role presented a unique and challenging opportunity to grow and develop Wild Apricot’s support team to exceed customer expectations and contribute to their success. What does this mean to you?  Providing timely, responsive service with integrity, simplicity and a passion for excellence with every interaction.   

My vision for the support team

In the coming months, I am dedicated to enhancing customer productivity by providing superior technical support and coordinating support efforts with other production groups. We focus on our customers by delivering high-value support services and by fostering teamwork and continuous improvement in everything we do.  We want to instill the trust and confidence that we are here to help and support you in succeeding.

Two new Apricots

We are always measuring and assessing our support center strengths and opportunities by defining, forecasting, and analyzing our performance. As a result of continual growth, our assessment resulted in a requirement to increase the size of the support team to meet the needs of our customers. This said, I am very pleased to introduce two additional Software Support Consultants that have recently joined the support team: Chalini Vallepuram (left) and Romlin Fallah (right).

We’re striving to provide all the tools and resources you need to succeed

These are just a few examples of how our company as a whole is responding to our customers’ needs. But we’re not just focusing on being responsive or reactive. In everything we do and every initiative we’re working on this year – from software enhancements (see our Product Roadmap), to the expert advice on membership topics in our Expert Webinars, to sharing insight and ideas through our Small Membership Advisory Community, and of course, our Membership Knowledge Hub – we want to be your one-stop, “go-to” membership resource for the tools and information you need to grow and succeed.

Steve Andrews [Picky Apricot] Steve Andrews [Picky Apricot]

Posted by Steve Andrews [Picky Apricot]

Published Thursday, 26 February 2015 at 8:30 AM
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