Archive for: January, 1970

rfp-robotRFP ROBOT: Website Request for Proposal Generator

The time has come for a new website (or website redesign), which means you need to write a website request for proposal or web RFP. A Google search produces a few examples, but they vary wildly and don’t seem to speak really to your goals for developing or redesigning a new website. You need to write a website RFP that will clearly articulate your needs and generate responses from the best website designers and developers out there. But how?

Have no fear, RFP Robot is here. He will walk you through a step-by-step process to help you work through the details of your project and create a PDF formatted website design RFP that will provide the information vendors need to write an accurate bid. RFP Robot will tell you what info you should include, point out pitfalls, and give examples.


How Columbia is Leading Universities in the Digital World

Columbia University is taking proactive steps to ensure its predominantly Drupal-based digital properties are offering the best possible experience to site visitors. Using Acquia’s Lightning distribution as a base, the CUIT team has begun to roll out a new platform on Drupal 8. Columbia University Information Technology (CUIT) provides Columbia students, faculty, and staff with central computing and communications services. I caught up with Ian Mieville, Director of Web Services at Columbia University, to talk about how Columbia uses Drupal to support the university’s web services — and how Drupal 8 is improving those services.   How does CUIT support Columbia University? CUIT is the centralized IT department for Columbia University. We’re in charge of the university’s security and asset management, technology infrastructure, enterprise systems, as well as custom development and application work. We develop, support, and host about 300+ websites and web applications, which are all almost exclusively on…

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DrupalCon 2017: Reviewing the Impact

DrupalCon 2017 may be over, but we’re still feeling the impact. Last week 20+ Phase2 team members and over 3,000 sponsors, attendees, and speakers converged on Baltimore for 5 days of Drupal. In case you weren’t able to join us in person, here is a recap:   Impact At The Phase2 Booth At this year’s conference, we focused on highlighting the impact digital technology, and specifically Drupal, has and can have on the world around us. We also drew attention to the fact that technology would be nothing without the incredible vision and talent of the people who fuel it. Phase2’s booth was designed to showcase our event theme: “Vision + Technology: The Impact Is Infinite.” We believe, and are energized by the fact, that digital technology allows one person to reach billions, with the simple stroke of a key. And we know that the impact doesn’t end there… When…

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Pattern Lab: Taking Our Workflow from a Linear to Parallel Process

Pattern Lab is many wonderful things: a style guide, a component inventory, a prototyping system, and the embodiment of a design philosophy, all wrapped inside a fundamentally simple tool – a static site generator. It has greatly improved Phase2’s approach to how we build, theme, and design websites. Let’s talk about what Pattern Lab is, how we use it in our process by integrating it into the theme of a CMS like Drupal or WordPress, and the resulting change in our development workflow from linear to parallel. Note: We’ll be discussing this topic in our webinar on June 16th. Register here! What is Pattern Lab? Pattern Lab allows us to easily create modular pieces of HTML for styling & scripting. We call these modular pieces of HTML components – you may have already heard of the iconic atoms, molecules, and organisms. Pattern Lab provides an easy-to-use interface to navigate around this component…

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Best Practices for CMI and Features in Drupal 8

Last year I blogged about our first Alpha release for Features in Drupal 8 and gave several presentations on Features for D8 at various DrupalCons and camps.  Since Drupal 8.0 (and now 8.1!) have been released in the past few months, I’ve been getting questions on the best way to use Features and Configuration Management (CMI) in Drupal 8. You’ll have a chance to ask me those questions in person at my Features BOF at DrupalCon New Orleans. But in the meantime, here are some “best practices” for using Features and CMI effectively. “Do I use Features, CMI, or both?” It’s great that Drupal 8 has proper configuration management built into core.  This provides a consistent framework, storage, and API for all configuration settings: views, content types, fields… anything that isn’t content.  However, CMI doesn’t provide any way to organize this vast amount of configuration.  If you use CMI to export your site config you’ll…

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Developer Soft Skills Part 1: Online Research

Developer Soft Skills One of my earliest jobs was customer service for a call center. I worked for many clients that all had training specific to their service. No matter the type of training, whether technical or customer oriented, soft skills were always a included. Margaret Rouse said, “Soft skills are personal attributes that enhance an individual’s interactions, career prospects and job performance. Unlike hard skills, which tend to be specific to a certain type of task or activity, soft skills are broadly applicable.” In this blog series I will be discussing what I call “developer soft skills.” The hard skills in development are (among others) logic, languages, and structure. Developer soft skills are those that help a developer accomplish their tasks outside of that knowledge. I will be covering the following topics: Online research Troubleshooting Enhancing/Customizing Integrating Architecting Part 1: Online Research One of the first skills a developer should master…

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Phase2 Joins Forces with Cycle for Survival

Over the past year, we’ve had the joy of working with Cycle for Survival to update the organization’s digital assets. But there’s more than one way to make an impact, so this weekend we set out to fundraise and participate in a Cycle for Survival team ride in New York City. Needless to say, it was a fun and inspirational event. We invited Brandy Reppy, Memorial Sloan Kettering’s Associate Director of Online Operations, to share how digital technology has made an impact on the organization. What is the Cycle for Survival mission? Cycle for Survival is the national movement to beat rare cancers. Through a series of indoor team cycling events, Cycle for Survival raises funds that are critical for rare cancer research with 100% of every donation being directly allocated to Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center within six months of the events. Rare cancer research is drastically underfunded resulting in fewer treatment options for patients. With fewer…

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Defining Content to Optimize your Editorial Experience

No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “Content is King.” But what exactly is content? The precise definition is subjective – it is influenced by the context in which it is defined. There is no universal definition within the industry, and it is highly likely there is no single definition within your organization. To have a successful content strategy, it is critical that your organization determines precisely what content means to you, as its definition will inform your entire editorial experience. An Efficient Editorial Experience When designing editorial experiences, there is inherent friction between system architecture and user experience. The more complex the structure, the less usable the editorial experience of your CMS becomes. Content strategists strive to follow best practices when modeling content, but these object-oriented models do not take into account the workflow of tasks required to publish content. Modern content management platforms offer organizations a variety of entities used to…

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Responsive Design Patterns to Create Penn State’s Beautiful Online Experience

With the recent launch of Penn State University’s main site and news site, we were able to help Penn State breathe new life into their outdated online presence, to allow prospective and current students alike to have the best experience possible on a wide array of devices. Working closely with the PSU design team, we created a complete experience from desktop to mobile, utilizing popular design patterns that would help guide the user experience while never fully stripping away content from the end user. Utilizing the Omega Theme, we used the default media queries of mobile, narrow and normal or otherwise known as under 740px (mobile), under 980px (tablet) and anything else above (desktop). These media queries really helped the PSU design team explore the possibilities of what was possible at each one of these breakpoints and how fundamental elements can be optimized for the device that they are being displayed on. Most notable were,…

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Responsive Design Patterns to Create Penn State’s Beautiful Online Experience

With the recent launch of Penn State University’s main site and news site, we were able to help Penn State breathe new life into their outdated online presence, to allow prospective and current students alike to have the best experience possible on a wide array of devices. Working closely with the PSU design team, we created a complete experience from desktop to mobile, utilizing popular design patterns that would help guide the user experience while never fully stripping away content from the end user. Utilizing the Omega Theme, we used the default media queries of mobile, narrow and normal or otherwise known as under 740px (mobile), under 980px (tablet) and anything else above (desktop). These media queries really helped the PSU design team explore the possibilities of what was possible at each one of these breakpoints and how fundamental elements can be optimized for the device that they are being displayed on. Most notable were,…

Read More →

Why You Should Invest in Voice Assistant Technology

In 1994, I was a huge fan of the X-Men animated series. I distinctly remember an episode titled “Time Fugitives”, which featured Cable, a time-traveling mutant vigilante from the future, talking to a floating cube that gave him historical information about the X-Men of the past. I never thought that technology would exist in my lifetime, but I found myself a week ago sitting in my living room asking my Google Home (which resembles an air freshener rather than a cube) questions about historical context. Conversational UI’s – chatbot and voice assistant technologies – are becoming commonplace in consumer’s lives. Messaging apps alone account for 91% of all time people spent on mobile and desktop devices. Soon, almost every major smartphone and computer will be equipped with Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Samsung’s Bixby. These voice assistants are even being integrated into common home electronics – televisions, set-top boxes, video…

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Why You Should Invest in Voice Assistant Technology

In 1994, I was a huge fan of the X-Men animated series. I distinctly remember an episode titled “Time Fugitives”, which featured Cable, a time-traveling mutant vigilante from the future, talking to a floating cube that gave him historical information about the X-Men of the past. I never thought that technology would exist in my lifetime, but I found myself a week ago sitting in my living room asking my Google Home (which resembles an air freshener rather than a cube) questions about historical context. Conversational UI’s – chatbot and voice assistant technologies – are becoming commonplace in consumer’s lives. Messaging apps alone account for 91% of all time people spent on mobile and desktop devices. Soon, almost every major smartphone and computer will be equipped with Siri, Google Assistant, Cortana, or Samsung’s Bixby. These voice assistants are even being integrated into common home electronics – televisions, set-top boxes, video…

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Features are not Reusable

The original purpose of the Features module was to “bundle reusable functionality”. The classic example was a “Photo Gallery” feature that could be created once and then used on multiple sites. In Drupal 7, Features was also burdened with managing and deploying site configuration. This burden was removed in Drupal 8 when configuration management became part of Core, allowing Features to return to its original purpose. But, as the primary maintainer of the Features module, I sadly admit that: “Features does not actually accomplish the goal of creating truly reusable functionality.” Let’s look more closely the classic “Photo Gallery” example. Export your Gallery content type, your Image field storage and instance, your View and Image Style into a Feature module. You can copy this module to another site and install it to create a Gallery. But what happens if your other site already has an Image field you want to…

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