The Makaton Charity Advent Calendar

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The Makaton Charity Advent Calendar

The Client

I worked indirectly through digital agency Bats in Belfries for a fantastic charity called The Makaton Charity who are the UK custodians of the Makaton sign language used by children and people with learning disabilities.

The Job

In 2012 The Makaton Charity ran an advent calendar. Behind each window was a video of a Makaton sign being performed by real Makaton users. The idea was a hit with lots of people wanting to get their videos on the site. So in 2013 they decided to repeat the project, but learn from lessons learned the previous year.

While it seems simple, a number of factors complicated the build from a technical point of view:

  • It needed to be mobile friendly.
  • A lot of users would be in NHS buildings or schools which have blocked access to video services like YouTube and Vimeo, so YouTube video embedding was required with a fallback if YouTube was blocked.
  • Social Media and sharing of the videos was key, but when a video was shared or liked, this had to be a share or like for the specific video, BUT with any users clicking through being taken to the homepage to open the window themselves.

The Result

For a pretty low budget I built this site:

  • to be mobile friendly, with responsive grid, retina/hi-resoultion images, and touch functionality;
  • with a clever browser-side YouTube-block test and video fallback to videos hosting on Amazon AWS;
  • to include all the prescribed Social Media functionality;
  • using a simple WordPress back-end for adding and updating the window content;
  • and with randomised homepage layout and window-opening animations.

The client was happy, I came in well under budget, I delivered to the very-hard 1st December deadline and the videos were viewed liked and shared a lot.

And as a special, fun treat, here’s a behind-the-scenes video from the charity that made me smile a lot when it was released in January following the Christmas of the project.