International Festival of Authors

Art Director Janice Ivory Smith delivered a keen and compelling visual design that references previous years’ marketing materials while providing a striking look-and-feel that places the events and authors at the forefront.

The mobile experience is a vital consideration for all websites, but a Festival website must especially be responsive given the nature of its target audience. Great care was taken to ensure that the site responded to a wide variety of mobile form factors, adapting its layout accordingly. A number of “breakpoints” accommodate different devices and aspect ratios and the in-browser experience transitions quickly and smoothly between them.

Subtle high-tech

Beneath the hood hides a wealth of cutting-edge tech developed to support dynamic content while enforcing adherence to the hand-crafted design conventions. On the homepage, author headshots are colourized in real-time to match a predetermined visual pattern, while their “cards” are being asynchronously served up in random order. The “logo parade” at the bottom of the screen dynamically calculates the optimal sizing and positioning of sponsor logos based on a complex grid algorithm that can be fine-tuned by the administrators of the website using a graphical interface.

Event focused

The primary use case for site visitors is locating festival events, so naturally a great amount of time was spent ensuring an intuitive user experience. Researching and locating events to attend becomes a slick affair, leveraging both a highly interactive Event Calendar view and a next-generation textual Search that prioritizes events and authors, and pushes WordPress to its very limits without sacrificing performance.

The team iterated many times over the UI and feature set of the Event browser, to create an intuitive user experience that accommodates the periodic nature of the Festival’s events. Users can see 5 months at-a-gulp, and can easily locate the high activity periods using the Calendar widget. Complete event listing details are presented on the page, synced to the Calendar widget display, so there’s no need to click through to read an event’s details.

Events are tightly coupled to participants, and these relationships are surfaced bidirectionally on the site, allowing users to track who is speaking at an event, and what events an author is participating in (now and in the past).

The “Administrative User Experience”

Much is made of “User Experience” (UX) these days and the buzzword is ubiquitous. We understand that one of your web site’s primary users are your own staff, whose responsibility is the curation and upkeep of the site’s content. This is why we put so much extra care into the development of back-end workflows and ergonomic tools, to make sure your site administrators can do everything they need to do without jumping through hoops.

all our deployments include a custom-built “Documentation” dashboard widget that gives Administrators instant access to a User Manual right from their WordPress admin back-end.


disparate content can be related to other content on the site in a variety of ways, powering related links and meaningful searches for front-end visitors to the site.


our intimate knowledge of the WordPress development architecture allows us to perform deep, robust customizations such as this enhanced image cropping feature that has heretofore not been available for the WordPress Media Library.


we completely replaced the default WordPress search feature with a powerful algorithm that ranks results on relevance and surfaces them according to content type for a vastly improved user experience.