When Aristotle’s developers and designers began work with the non-profit Arkansas Single Parent Scholarship Fund (ASPSF) to create a new website, the team tackled new branding, the site’s first responsive design, and coordinating with hundreds of local affiliates. During the discovery phase, as Aristotle was learning more about ASPSF’s target audience, we discovered information that necessitated a huge shift in the design approach.
Single Parent Mobile Users
ASPSF supports single parents in Arkansas with scholarships for school, paying bills and other unique challenges that only a single mom or dad faces. ASPSF’s applicants, Aristotle found, were mostly in rural areas, often with limited Internet access and a finite data plan. That meant that the new ASPSF.org had to have incredible performance to avoid eating away at visitor’s data plans. To best serve single parents, Aristotle’s team took it upon themselves to build a website that was small in file size and unbelievably fast to download, without sacrificing content, functionality, or design.
And that approach has paid off in a big way. The new ASPSF.org launched this week as a beautiful, effective site — and the fastest site that Aristotle has ever built.
Here are the features that make this site incredibly beneficial for ASPSF and pushes the boundaries of what is possible in website performance.
The website loads in 2 seconds
Load time is one of the core metrics of web performance. In today’s mobile world, people won’t wait long for a website to load; in fact, 40% of people will only wait for 3 seconds. To respect the time and attention of single parents and potential donors to the non-profit, Aristotle’s team designed the site to load almost instantly.
The site also loads in 7 seconds over a 3G connection. Why does 3G matter? While 4G is faster, 3G is still the most widely used cell phone Internet connection in the United States. And for many single parents, a cell phone may be the only Internet access available. That’s where the site’s page weight – the file size of the website’s content – became critical to the design process.
The homepage is less than 360 kilobytes
If you took a selfie right now, that picture file would be bigger than the entire homepage of ASPSF.
That’s almost unheard-of for a website, but this kind of low page size was an imperative for Aristotle’s team.
“We had to take user data plans into account,” said Matt Shull, Aristotle producer and performance expert. “A site with bigger file sizes would have cost users a significant amount of their data, but with a site this small, we’re saving the user money instead.”
Taking account how users would access the site fundamentally changed the approach to design, because the site had to perform without sacrificing anything in terms of imagery or style.
Every element is designed for speed
“We worked from the ground-up to plan the content and design for performance,” said graphic artist Adrian James.
This entailed approaching how much text would be on each page, what image types to use, and how to design all the art elements of the pages.
“We created SVGs files for the iconography of the site instead of JPEGs, and we implemented the latest image types to cut down on file sizes without losing quality,” Adrian said.
In addition, certain file-heavy content, such as maps, were removed from the site. Instead, when a visitor comes to ASPSF.org, the website automatically detects their location and presents them with the information for the nearest ASPSF affiliate, which was the purpose of the map in the first place. This improves user experience by not making the users hunt for the information they need and also supports performance by not downloading unneeded content.
The result of this design is a site that removes any delays or barriers between getting single parents to the application process or directing donors to contribute to ASPSF’s mission.
“This tests the limits of performance in web design,” Shull said, “and we’re incredibly proud to support ASPSF’s work with this website.”
Visit ASPSF.org to explore the site and contribute to ASPSF’s work for Arkansas single parents.