Responsive Development, Wordpress Integration

The Brief

A dynamic, mobile, tablet, and desktop responsive website built on WordPress for the TEDxRVA conference held in Richmond, Virginia on March 22, 2013.


When the TED organization granted Richmond permission to host a TEDx conference, the TEDxRVA team quickly learned they had a massive undertaking on their hands, and they would need to pool resources from across the city to make the event a success. TEDxRVA formed several committees, comprised of a diverse group of the city's most talented professionals, to coordinate and oversee various aspects of the conference's planning and execution.

Circle S Studio, a strategic marketing & design firm, and COLAB had partnered on many website projects previously, both having offices in the Corrugated Box Building in Richmond's historic Manchester district, and the two were selected to work collaboratively on design and development of the website for TEDxRVA.

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"Circle S and COLAB were well known to us because of the profile they had achieved through a number of associations with startups as well as more established businesses. We knew them also through association with organizational meetings at the Corrugated Box Building (c3, Tumblr, other tech events). They both are very well thought of and were our top choice of companies with the skills and the vision to understand the importance of a project like TEDx."

Suzanne Hall
Core Organizer - TEDxRVA

The Problem

The TED brand and its community-based TEDx events are centered in the mission of "ideas worth sharing," and for the TEDxRVA event, its leaders chose to focus specifically on creativity as its central theme. The requirements for the website were immediately clear: not only would it need to capture the creativity of Richmond as a city, a community, and a business center, but also the website would need to be an expression of creativity unto itself.

Add to that, the website also needed to be manageable and editable by a group of people with varying degrees of web-savvy and maintenance experience. In other words, it needed to be simple enough that anyone could update it quickly and easily.

Lastly, it needed to be accessible on the go. This was, after all, a conference and most people in attendance would not be lugging around laptops, or want to use them to look-up schedules and directions while moving around.

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The Solution


Circle S Studio took the event's theme of creativity and built an entire identity around the idea of CREATE. Their use of color, typography, and movement to express this concept was inspired, as is evident in the changing patterns which flash within the "create" type-treatment Circle S produced for the site. The overall design of the website – with it's use of color, shape, and type – we feel is one of, if not the best TEDx site designs produced thus far.

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Ted X RVA case study image


COLAB developed the site using WordPress because we wanted to give the TEDxRVA team an easy-to-use tool for making frequent updates. We also integrated the TEDxRVA Twitter feed into the site's homepage to help streamline and consolidate their communications streams into one central place.

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Responsive Web Design and Development

We developed TEDxRVA as a responsive site that resizes according to the width of the browser window used to view it. This means the site layout is optimized for desktop, tablet, and mobile devices when displayed on any of those screen sizes. Knowing that conference attendees would need to access the site while on the go, we felt this was the best solution in order to give them the full website regardless of the device they used.

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As odd as it may sound, we can sometimes gauge our success by the silence that follows. When our clients are happy with what we've built for them, when they can update their website without difficulty, when everything just simply works, they don't need to call for help. We love hearing from our clients and helping them solve problems, but it's also quite nice when we can tell they don't need our help because they can now manage their own website.

This was largely the case with TEDxRVA. Once we finished developing the site for them, they were able to run with it and use it as a tool for their highly successful event. From website and Twitter updates to live-streaming the event online, the TEDxRVA communications team was able to deliver all of their information and messaging through the website with little additional assistance from COLAB. And while we provided on-going support for the website through the event, we were impressed with the work they did without much reliance on us.

The conference itself was an immense success, with tickets selling out immediately, and the site received a lot of traffic before, during, and after the event. Feedback from the TEDxRVA organizers and conference attendees was extremely positive. In fact, even now when we meet with new clients and prospective employees, they often mention the site as one that drew them to COLAB.

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Photos by: Mallory Benedict

"I felt like COLAB did a really wonderful job empowering us to manage the website ourselves. That they were willing to sit down with a few of us, multiple times, to go over WordPress training and talk over our needs and desires for the site's function was really awesome. Their support for us in that way absolutely contributed to our ability to upload and update the site in a timely manner and ensure that we were able to get the information we needed on the site with little hassle or hoops to jump through. It was definitely a positive experience working with them."

Diane O'Neal
Core Organizer - TEDxRVA


The design and development partnership between circle S studio and COLAB has to be counted among the successes in this project. It is not always simple for one company to produce a design that another company then develops into a website, but circle S and COLAB have worked together on an array of projects over the past several years, and the strength of that teamwork showed throughout the TEDxRVA project. There are a lot of firms in Richmond to choose from, and we were honored that circle S and COLAB were chosen.

We set ourselves the task of creating the best TEDx site in the country, which obviously will be a subjective assessment, but we hope the end-product makes a compelling case. From the beginning of the process, we knew the website would be a reflection on Richmond's technical and design capabilities. With that responsibility, we felt an immense pressure to make the site clean and informative, allow people to register and participate easily, and do so in the most accessible and beautiful way possible.

We did this project because we believe in TED and we believe in Richmond. We wanted to invest in Richmond, and wanted to be a part of bringing smart people together in our city. We are very proud of the work we did on this project and the successful collaboration with our partners. Both circle S studio and the TEDxRVA organizers were great to work with throughout all phases of the project. We would like to think the results of that teamwork ranks among the best TEDx sites in the United States, but we welcome you to judge for yourself.

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