The online scholarly journal Public Discourse was already thriving when the Witherspoon Institute approached Design4 about an immediate problem. They were publishing great content but visitors to their site were spending far less time reading it. The Design4 Diagnosis: Loyal Public Discourse readers needed to access their content on more devices than just a desktop computer.

” […] The future of mobile technology isn’t the hardware or software. Rather, it’s the promise of mobility that is enabled when time and space barriers are removed. Regardless of physical location, consumers will be empowered to fluidly engage with the digital world around them. We see more organizations embracing responsive design principles, ensuring that content and materials are presented to users in ways optimized for their particular devices.”

–Ryan DeShazer, “Anticipating the Digital Pluck”

Many more outlets are available on today’s web as the variety of mobile devices – from smartphones to tablets – continues to grow. Enabling viewers to access your content across multiple platforms is the key to retaining connection with them.

With that in mind, Design4 focused on leveraging the already great content into a site that responds to any device on which it is viewed. In the process of site expansion we also optimized the site’s readability through custom typography, functional color contrasts, and a cleaner interface. Ultimately, the new site launch not only eliminated the need for a separate mobile site, but also ensured the greater legibility – thus readability – of their articles.Goals for their new Public Discourse site included:

Increase time spent on the site

  • Enhance the Public Discourse brand identity and professional image
  • Add social networking connectivity and responsive formatting to increase sharing

Design4 accomplished all of these goals by:

  • Employing responsive HTML coding, making it compatible for smartphones and tablets
  • Creating custom web fonts for the site, providing a more modern aesthetic
  • Reducing the original site’s visual noise that kept viewers from easily reading content

By incorporating responsive design into the overall website project strategy, the client has seen skyrocketing numbers for the Public Discourse’s social media outreach.

“Just a couple of weeks ago an article received over 85k visits which resulted in some 58k Facebook likes and over 600tweets.  Our daily audience is relatively small and fairly academic, but the potential for going viral in our content–even with articles over three weeks old–has greatly expanded through our new site’s social media functionality.  Without our redesigned site with the ability to measure and analyze our readership as well as its multi-platform compatibility, Public Discourse could never have responded to the needs and reading habits our audience.  This is to say, it would not have been possible without the talent of Design4.”

 –Patrick Hough, The Witherspoon Institute, April 2013