The Toronto Standard had an amazing heritage that needed to shine through in design and content. When we were approached to work on the Standard, there was a strong affinity for the original logo, the typographic layouts and the focus on the city. In addition, a new challenge was emerging. In 2011 smart phones and their software platforms were quickly emerging as the new primary content consumption medium. The team at the Toronto Standard wanted an experience for every platform and making apps for every single new device was not a feasible solution. Playground took up the task of creating one of the first fully responsive online publications.
The Toronto Standard wanted to be available to anyone who wanted to read it no matter where they were or what device they used. The site had to be readable, unique, and attractive on mobile, tablet and desktop, without compromise.
The Toronto Standard team had adopted a brand steeped in the heritage of our city. The design and branding of the website needed to preserve this heritage and feel like it’s been a part of our growing city all along.
Ease of Use
The editorial team needed to focus on what they do best: creating content. The CMS had to be accessible and easy to use for their team of amazing writers. Images, text and interactive elements needed to automatically align for every screen without author intervention.
The site design really needed to support the content, not hinder it. The tendency is to overdesign on publication projects. We wanted to preserve the print aesthetic that put content first and made a design that was focused on the reading experience.
Responsive design was extremely new when we set out to develop the Toronto Standard. The immaturity of the technology and the limited number of examples meant we had to invent standards as we went along. From building responsive templates in a CMS environment to understanding the resolution of upcoming devices, the Standard was a challenging technical task.
Using WordPress for a daily publication was an obvious choice. The editorial team had experience using the platform and we had previous experience working with the open source CMS.
With no best practice established for implementation we used the latest jQuery libraries to make use of new browser functions like media queries. Additionally, the site needed to be optimized for all of the popular desktop platforms and new mobile browsers.
Building the Toronto Standard was an incredible experience. In 2011, the tools and best practices were still being worked out when it came to responsive design and development. We have a motto at Playground, "we are only good at new things", and that really started with this project. The Toronto Standard was one of the first responsive publications and still stands today as an example the web points to when thinking about responsive design. Sometimes constraints end up making a project better and not having the resources to develop for every platform led to a solution which set the standard for years to come.