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The Curly Hair Project

The Curly Hair Project are a social enterprise dedicated to supporting those on the Autistic spectrum and their families. The Curly Hair Project offer tonnes of resources to help their members with animated films, articles, books, online courses, webinars and other educational tools. We've been working with Alis from The Curly Hair Project for many years to bring their resources into one accessible space. It's now easier than ever for their members to get the support they need.

The Curly Hair Project has worked with Webforward since 2017.

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Introducing the Curly Hair Project

The Curly Hair Project (CHP) is an award-winning resource centre for individuals, families and professionals worldwide. Endorsed by the world's leading psychologist in Autism, Professor Tony Attwood, the CHP has featured on BBC Radio 4, BBC News, The Independent and HuffPost.

Before we met Alis, the CHP operated primarily as a subscriber-based blog offering her thoughts and experiences living with Asperger's Syndrome. After achieving great successes with the blog, Alis began expanding the CHP to in-person workshops and wrote many books (Alis has now published over 40!) but struggled with the existing Website's limitations. Alis initially joined us as a Hosting customer in 2017; a few months later, we began discussing a new CHP Website and our relationship began to bloom!

Designing and building an Autism-friendly Website

1-2% of the UK population is currently affected by Autism, roughly 1 in every 100 children and 2 in every 100 adults. Autism can affect how people perceive their surroundings and interact with the people around them. Designing with this in mind can be pretty challenging, but there are things that we can do to make the experience more comfortable. Here are some of the key components that we took into consideration whilst designing:

Sensory differences

Processing sensory information can be complex for those affected by Autism. Their senses may be under or overstimulated, or both at different times. To help remove these triggers, we kept the redesigned CHP Website simplistic in its design, with plenty of space around objects to help visitors digest the information more easily. The Website does not automatically scroll things like banner spaces or rolling text; this allows users to control what objects they move around the site. We have also prevented videos throughout the animations area from auto-playing.

Another area of design that can support those with sensory differences is the choice of fonts and the size they display across the Website. In the 2018 Survey of Autism Spectrum Disorder Friendly Websites Whitepaper, they recommend using a clear font family (in our case, we continued using Tahoma as this is CHP's brand font), with a different font for headings. Using clear Sans-Serif fonts is helpful for other health conditions, too, such as Dyslexia.


Just like sensory information, those with Autism may communicate much differently to neurotypical people. Content is best when it is direct in tone, structured and presented clearly. Alis uses visual supports throughout the site, like short videos and illustrations, which helps create a deeper understanding of the content. So, how do we communicate clearly? Using more significant heading text, lists and following a set pattern to every page helps. It's also important to be very clear with your visitors on interacting with items like buttons. Instead of using generic labels like "Click Here" or "View more", you can use descriptions such as "Attach Files", "Click here to download", "View PDF Document".


Building consistent and straightforward layouts is another excellent way to support users as they move around the Website. We designed the CHP Website to have static navigation throughout the Website; the sidebars also use the same layouts to make it easier for users to click through different pages. Links on your Website should also be the same colour throughout, and obvious that they are clickable links.

The Curly Hair Project is a resource for everybody, whether a parent, teacher, health professional or someone on the spectrum. By designing with these objectives in mind, we ensure that people can access the information they need.

Combining multiple features into one place

Powered by a monthly subscription tool, individuals, families, organisations and teams can access all the resources available from the Curly Hair Project. As Alis has such an extensive library of blog posts, we migrated all the existing blog posts over to a fresh installation of WordPress and built the following features:

Webinars & Events

The Curly Hair Project have a network of highly experienced trainers who provide workshops and webinars all over the country. These webinars cover a wide variety of topics, such as dealing with Autism in everyday life, strategies for living with Autism, mental health and communication. People from all backgrounds are welcome to attend these events, from people without a diagnosis, newly diagnosed adults, parents, grandparents to teachers and health professionals.

On the old CHP Website, a small Eventbrite widget in a sidebar was the only way to view upcoming events. We wanted to create a better experience for users searching for events, so we expanded the workshops into their own section. Users can now filter by type, region, and date from the Upcoming Events page to find the right one for them. They will then be taken through to Eventbrite to book their tickets.

Selling Online

Before the new website launch, the CHP had begun to offer different resources like books, but they could not sell these from the Website. Instead, users would be sent out to purchase from Amazon. As we explained earlier above in the design consistency section, this could have caused a negative interaction for users. We brought everything in-house using WooCommerce; this gave the CHP control over selling their items and the store's layout. Since the online store development, the CHP has expanded their resources to books, posters, music, and merchandise.

Animated Films

As part of their monthly subscription, users can access a wide variety of award-winning Animated Films. These animated films allow the user to see the world from the perspective of The Girl With The Curly Hair, the autistic character, as she tries to live and work in a neurotypical society. If a user is not yet subscribed, they can still preview trailers for each film on the page, but they will be prompted to sign in or register if they would like to view the full version. During development, we had to cross-reference user privileges to ensure the correct access was being granted.


The CHP has offered training for employers and other professionals for many years. Unfortunately, when the pandemic struck in 2020, they could no longer do the training in person. We worked with Alis and the CHP team to turn their training programs into a new eLearning section on the Website. These courses are created and hosted on an external system but are purchasable through WooCommerce. When a customer places an order, a login for the learning platform is generated and emailed to them to log in and get started! There's a course for everyone, from employers to parents and family members. Each with its own landing page and description to learn more about the modules and requirements. Over the year, purchases of Online Courses has gone up by 132%!

"Very high quality web hosting and development. I have found that a lot of web hosting is unreliable. Webforward's technology certainly isn't! First class service, excellent communication and professionalism from the team. Highly recommended."

- Alis Rowe

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If you'd like to discuss your next project with us, please feel free to give us a call on 01827 781 311 or press the "Start My Project" button to get in touch for a quick quote.

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