Development News

Palantir: National Rural Health Resource Center

Main Drupal Feed - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 22:24

How we helped NRHRC conduct user testing to validate an audience-centric navigation. 

ruralcenter.org User Testing to Validate an Audience-Centric Navigation On

The National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining and improving health care in rural communities by providing technical assistance, information, tools, and resources. Users on the Center’s site are looking for information relating to services they provide, programs and events they coordinate, and resources that have been developed to guide and support rural health stakeholders, like webinars, articles, and presentations.

The Center had been making iterative modifications to their Drupal site to improve wayfinding for their visitors, but the team had not yet been able to conduct any user testing on the organization of the site. The Center partnered with Palantir.net to build on previous architecture work and test, validate, and provide recommendations for a more effective, user-centric navigation that lowers user effort on their site.
 

The goals of the engagement were to: 


 

  • Make navigation labels and structure relevant and intuitive to users
  • Test and validate hypotheses with real user data
  • Have the web team partner hands-on with Palantir, so they could see how the user testing processes and tools work and execute these research methods on their own for future optimization efforts
The project had two key constraints:
  • Testing needed to focus on copy and labeling rather than new features. The Center’s goal was to surface UX improvements that their team could implement within the Drupal CMS by iterating on menu labels, menu structure, and copy.
  • Limited budget. The Center’s budget could cover a limited set of tests, so Palantir needed to formulate a testing plan that maximized the value of the user testing.

Palantir and the Center teamed up to run a Top Task survey to inform a new Information Architecture (IA) and then ran a tree test to validate the new IA.

Key results with the new Information Architecture and the optimized tree:

  • 17% higher success rate overall for users completing tasks
  • 8% increase in overall “directness” rate (tasks completed with fewer backtracks)
How did we get there?

Palantir implemented a three-step process:

  1. Work with key stakeholders at the Center to identify key metrics.
  2. Design and implement tests.
  3. Handoff our recommendations for the Center to implement.
Step 1: Work with key stakeholders at the Center to identify key metrics.

It was imperative to understand the Center’s goals as they relate to their user’s goals to be able to optimize the site structure and test against what users find important. 

Because the Center’s site is a resource site first, the goals focused on users being able to find the resources they are looking for.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

How we planned to measure success against our established goals:

  • Customer-reported satisfaction with “findability”
    • “Did this content answer your question?” feature (example)
  • Improvement in task performance indicators
    • Webinar participation
    • Completion of Self-Assessment form
    • Download of publications
  • Qualified, interested service leads
Step 2: Design and implement tests.

Our testing approach was two-fold, with one underlying question to answer: what is the most intuitive site structure for users?

Test #1: Top Task survey

During the Top Task survey, we had users rank a list of tasks we think they are trying to complete on the site, so that we have visibility into their priorities. The results from this survey informed a revised version of the navigation labels and structure, which we then tested in the following tree test. The survey was conducted via Google forms with existing Center audiences, aiming for 75+ completions.

We then used these audience-defined “top tasks” to inform the new information architecture, which we tested in our second test.

Test #2: IA tree test

During the tree testing of the Information Architecture, we stripped out any visuals and tested the outline of the menu structure. We began with a mailing list of about 2,500 people, split the list into two segments, and A/B tested the new proposed structure (Variant) vs. the current structure (Benchmark). Both trees were tested with the same tasks but using different labels and structure to see with which tree people could complete the tasks quicker and more successfully.

Step 3: Handoff our recommendations for the Center to implement.

Once the tests were completed, users’ behavior was compared to an “ideal” path, and success rates were analyzed. The test results informed our recommendations to help the Center think about label changes that are more user-centric as opposed to internal jargon. 

The Center has worked with Palantir on multiple projects. Palantir delivers their service in close partnership with our small team. This approach has allowed us to build our internal website development capacity and repeat success even after Palantir’s contract work was completed.

Phillip Birk

Senior IT Specialist

The Outcomes

Overall, users had a 17% higher success rate with the optimized tree, and they completed the tasks with fewer “backtracks” (less second-guessing their path) on the variant.

One of the most impressive results for the Center was that 29% more users could find recorded webinars with the newly proposed tree. 
 

Next steps for the Center will be to implement the top-level navigation recommendations made by Palantir, and then select KPIs to monitor long-term. They’ll also follow up with program-specific tree test projects.

The greatest mark of success for this project is that the Center’s web team now has knowledge of the tools and processes needed to run these tests on their own, so they can continue to make iterative improvements over time. Websites are one of the most important tools used to deliver business value, and just like your business’ needs evolve over time, so do the needs of your audience. It’s never too late to perform user testing and improve upon your user experience.

User testing to inform a navigation that lowers user effort on the Center’s site

Palantir: National Rural Health Resource Center

Main Drupal Feed - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 22:24

How we helped NRHRC conduct user testing to validate an audience-centric navigation. 

ruralcenter.org User Testing to Validate an Audience-Centric Navigation On

The National Rural Health Resource Center (The Center) is a nonprofit organization dedicated to sustaining and improving health care in rural communities by providing technical assistance, information, tools, and resources. Users on the Center’s site are looking for information relating to services they provide, programs and events they coordinate, and resources that have been developed to guide and support rural health stakeholders, like webinars, articles, and presentations.

The Center had been making iterative modifications to their Drupal site to improve wayfinding for their visitors, but the team had not yet been able to conduct any user testing on the organization of the site. The Center partnered with Palantir.net to build on previous architecture work and test, validate, and provide recommendations for a more effective, user-centric navigation that lowers user effort on their site.
 

The goals of the engagement were to: 


 

  • Make navigation labels and structure relevant and intuitive to users
  • Test and validate hypotheses with real user data
  • Have the web team partner hands-on with Palantir, so they could see how the user testing processes and tools work and execute these research methods on their own for future optimization efforts
The project had two key constraints:
  • Testing needed to focus on copy and labeling rather than new features. The Center’s goal was to surface UX improvements that their team could implement within the Drupal CMS by iterating on menu labels, menu structure, and copy.
  • Limited budget. The Center’s budget could cover a limited set of tests, so Palantir needed to formulate a testing plan that maximized the value of the user testing.

Palantir and the Center teamed up to run a Top Task survey to inform a new Information Architecture (IA) and then ran a tree test to validate the new IA.

Key results with the new Information Architecture and the optimized tree:

  • 17% higher success rate overall for users completing tasks
  • 8% increase in overall “directness” rate (tasks completed with fewer backtracks)
How did we get there?

Palantir implemented a three-step process:

  1. Work with key stakeholders at the Center to identify key metrics.
  2. Design and implement tests.
  3. Handoff our recommendations for the Center to implement.
Step 1: Work with key stakeholders at the Center to identify key metrics.

It was imperative to understand the Center’s goals as they relate to their user’s goals to be able to optimize the site structure and test against what users find important. 

Because the Center’s site is a resource site first, the goals focused on users being able to find the resources they are looking for.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

How we planned to measure success against our established goals:

  • Customer-reported satisfaction with “findability”
    • “Did this content answer your question?” feature (example)
  • Improvement in task performance indicators
    • Webinar participation
    • Completion of Self-Assessment form
    • Download of publications
  • Qualified, interested service leads
Step 2: Design and implement tests.

Our testing approach was two-fold, with one underlying question to answer: what is the most intuitive site structure for users?

Test #1: Top Task survey

During the Top Task survey, we had users rank a list of tasks we think they are trying to complete on the site, so that we have visibility into their priorities. The results from this survey informed a revised version of the navigation labels and structure, which we then tested in the following tree test. The survey was conducted via Google forms with existing Center audiences, aiming for 75+ completions.

We then used these audience-defined “top tasks” to inform the new information architecture, which we tested in our second test.

Test #2: IA tree test

During the tree testing of the Information Architecture, we stripped out any visuals and tested the outline of the menu structure. We began with a mailing list of about 2,500 people, split the list into two segments, and A/B tested the new proposed structure (Variant) vs. the current structure (Benchmark). Both trees were tested with the same tasks but using different labels and structure to see with which tree people could complete the tasks quicker and more successfully.

Step 3: Handoff our recommendations for the Center to implement.

Once the tests were completed, users’ behavior was compared to an “ideal” path, and success rates were analyzed. The test results informed our recommendations to help the Center think about label changes that are more user-centric as opposed to internal jargon. 

The Center has worked with Palantir on multiple projects. Palantir delivers their service in close partnership with our small team. This approach has allowed us to build our internal website development capacity and repeat success even after Palantir’s contract work was completed.

Phillip Birk

Senior IT Specialist

The Outcomes

Overall, users had a 17% higher success rate with the optimized tree, and they completed the tasks with fewer “backtracks” (less second-guessing their path) on the variant.

One of the most impressive results for the Center was that 29% more users could find recorded webinars with the newly proposed tree. 
 

Next steps for the Center will be to implement the top-level navigation recommendations made by Palantir, and then select KPIs to monitor long-term. They’ll also follow up with program-specific tree test projects.

The greatest mark of success for this project is that the Center’s web team now has knowledge of the tools and processes needed to run these tests on their own, so they can continue to make iterative improvements over time. Websites are one of the most important tools used to deliver business value, and just like your business’ needs evolve over time, so do the needs of your audience. It’s never too late to perform user testing and improve upon your user experience.

User testing to inform a navigation that lowers user effort on the Center’s site

wishdesk.com: Membership website features with Role Expire Drupal module

Main Drupal Feed - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 15:46

Membership websites in various forms are popular on the World Wide Web. They can give their owners a stable source of revenue, enhance website security, and do other useful things.

Drupal offers great modules for membership website features. It is one of the numerous reasons why customers choose educational website development on Drupal. But education is just an example — membership websites can be successful in literally any industry.

In this post, we expand on membership website features and show you how to create them with the Role Expire Drupal module. The explanation will be accompanied by a video about the module’s setup. Let’s go!

What is a membership website?

A membership website is one that has particular opportunities available to members only. They may include:

wishdesk.com: Membership website features with Role Expire Drupal module

Main Drupal Feed - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 15:46

Membership websites in various forms are popular on the World Wide Web. They can give their owners a stable source of revenue, enhance website security, and do other useful things.

Drupal offers great modules for membership website features. It is one of the numerous reasons why customers choose educational website development on Drupal. But education is just an example — membership websites can be successful in literally any industry.

In this post, we expand on membership website features and show you how to create them with the Role Expire Drupal module. The explanation will be accompanied by a video about the module’s setup. Let’s go!

What is a membership website?

A membership website is one that has particular opportunities available to members only. They may include:

ADCI Solutions: Why migrate from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8

Main Drupal Feed - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 11:54

Here’s our second article on the Drupal 8 migration. While it’s still plenty of time until the Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 end of life, we suggest taking action and migrating to Drupal 8: this way, you’ll be Drupal 9-ready.

Read Why migrate from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8.

 

ADCI Solutions: Why migrate from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8

Main Drupal Feed - Mon, 11/25/2019 - 11:54

Here’s our second article on the Drupal 8 migration. While it’s still plenty of time until the Drupal 7 and Drupal 8 end of life, we suggest taking action and migrating to Drupal 8: this way, you’ll be Drupal 9-ready.

Read Why migrate from Drupal 6 to Drupal 8.

 

Palantir: 10 Tips for Publishing Accessible Content

Main Drupal Feed - Sat, 11/23/2019 - 19:34

Content editors can help make the web a more accessible place, one published moment at a time.

Although web accessibility begins on a foundation built by content strategists, designers, and engineers, the buck does not stop there (or at site launch). Content marketers play a huge role in maintaining web accessibility standards as they publish new content over time.

“Web accessibility means that people with disabilities can perceive, understand, navigate, and interact with the Web, and that they can contribute to the Web.” - W3

Why Accessibility Standards are Important to Marketers

Web accessibility standards are often thought to assist audiences who are affected by common disabilities like low vision/blindness, deafness, or limited dexterity. In addition to these audiences, web accessibility also benefits those with a temporary or situational disability. This could include someone who is nursing an injury, someone who is working from a coffee shop with slow wifi, or someone who is in a public space and doesn’t want to become a nuisance to others by playing audio out loud.

Accessibility relies on empathy and understanding of a wide range of user experiences. People perceive your content through different senses depending on their own needs and preferences. If someone isn’t physically seeing the blog post you wrote or can’t hear the audio of the podcast you published, that doesn’t mean you as a marketer don’t care about providing that information to that audience, it just means you need to adapt in the way you are delivering that information to that audience.

10 Tips for Publishing Accessible Content

These tips have been curated and compiled from a handful of different resources including the WCAG standards set forth by W3C, and our team of accessibility gurus at Palantir. All of the informing resources are linked in a handy list at the end of this post. 

1. Consider the type of content and provide meaningful text alternatives.

Text alternatives should help your audience understand the content and context of each image, video, or audio file. It also makes that information accessible to technology that cannot see or hear your content, like search engines (which translates to better SEO).

Types of text alternatives you can provide:

  • Images - Provide alternative text.
  • Audio - Provide transcripts.
  • Video - Provide captions and video descriptions in action.

This tip affects those situational use cases mentioned above as well. Think about the last time you sent out an email newsletter. If someone has images turned off on their email to preserve cellular data, you want to make sure your email still makes sense. Providing a text alternative means your reader still has all of the context they need to understand your email, even without that image.

2. Write proper alt text.

Alternative text or alt text is a brief text description that can be attributed to the HTML tag for an image on a web page. Alt text enables users who cannot see the images on a page to better understand your content. Screen readers and other assistive technology can’t interpret the meaning of an image without alt text.

With the addition of required alternative text, Drupal 8 has made it easier to build accessibility into your publishing workflow. However, content creators still need to be able to write effective alt text. Below I’ve listed a handful of things to consider when writing alt text for your content.

  • Be as descriptive and accurate as possible. Provide context. Especially if your image is serving a specific function, people who don’t see the image should have the same understanding as if they had.
  • If you’re sharing a chart or other data visualization, include that data in the alt text so people have all of the important information.
  • Avoid using “image of,” “picture of,” or something similar. It’s already assumed that the alt text is referencing an image, and you are losing precious character space (most screen readers cut off alt text at around 125 characters). The caveat to this is if you are describing a work of art, like a painting or illustration.
  • No spammy keyword stuffing. Alt text does help with SEO, but that’s not it’s primary purpose, so don’t abuse it. Find that happy medium between including all of the vital information and also including maybe one or two of those keywords you’re trying to target.
Example of good alt text: “Red car in the sky.”
Example of better alt text: “Illustration of red car with flames shooting out of the back, flying over line of cars on sunny roadway.”3. Establish a hierarchy.

Accessibility is more than just making everything on a page available as text. It also affects the way you structure your content, and how you guide your users through a page. When drafting content, put the most important information first. Group similar content, and clearly separate different topics with headings. You want to make sure your ideas are organized in a logical way to improve scannability and encourage better understanding amongst your readers.

4. Use headings, lists, sections, and other structural elements to support your content hierarchy.

Users should be able to quickly assess what information is on a page and how it is organized. Using headings, subheadings and other structural elements helps establish hierarchy and makes web pages easily understandable by both the human eye and a screen reader. Also, when possible, opt for using lists over tables. Tables are ultimately more difficult for screen reader users to navigate.

If you’re curious to see how structured your content is, scan the URL using WAVE, an accessibility tool that allows you to see an outline of the structural elements on any web page. Using WAVE can help you better visualize how someone who is using assistive technologies might be viewing your page.

5. Write a descriptive title for every page.

This one is pretty straight forward. Users should be able to quickly assess the purpose of each page. Screen readers announce the page title when they load a web page, so writing a descriptive title helps those users make more informed page selections.

Page titles impact:

  • Users with low vision who need to be able to easily distinguish between pages
  • Users with cognitive disabilities, limited short-term memory, and reading disabilities.
6. Be intentional with your link text.

Write link text that makes each link’s purpose clear to the user. Links should provide info on where you will end up or what will happen if you click on that link. If someone is using a screen reader to tab through 3 links on a page that all read “click here,” that doesn’t really help them figure out what each link’s purpose is and ultimately decide which link they should click on.

Additional tips:

  • Any contextual information should directly precede links.
  • Don’t use urls as link text; they aren’t informative. A
  • void writing long paragraphs with multiple links. If you have multiple links to share on one topic, it’s better to write a short piece of text followed by a list of bulleted links.

EX: Use "Learn more about our new Federated Search application" not "Learn more".

7. Avoid using images of text in place of actual text.

The exact guideline set forth by W3 here is “Make it easier for users to see and hear content including separating foreground from background.” 

There are many reasons why this is a good practice that reach beyond accessibility implications. Using actual text helps with SEO, allows for on-page search ability for users, and creates the ability to highlight for copy/pasting. There are some exceptions that can be made if the image is essential to include (like a logo). Providing alt text also may be a solution for certain use cases.

8. Avoid idioms, jargon, abbreviations, and other nonliteral words.

The guideline set forth by W3 is to “make text content readable and understandable.” Accessibility aside, this is important for us marketers In the Drupal-world, because it’s really easy to include a plethora of jargon that your client audience might not be familiar with. So be accessible AND client-friendly, and if you have to use jargon or abbreviations, make sure you provide a definition of the word, link to the definition, or include an explanation of any abbreviations on first reference.

Think about it this way: if you are writing in terms people aren’t familiar with, how will they know to search for them? Plain language = better SEO.

9. Create clear content for your audience’s reading level.

For most Americans, the average reading level is a lower secondary education level. Even if you are marketing to a group of savvy individuals who are capable of understanding pretty complicated material, the truth is, most people are pressed for time and might become stressed if they have to read super complicated marketing materials. This is also important to keep in mind for people with cognitive disabilities, or reading disabilities, like dyslexia.

I know what you’re thinking, “but I am selling a complicated service.” If you need to include technical or complicated material to get your point across, then provide supplemental content such as an infographic or illustration, or a bulleted list of key points.

There are a number of tools online that you can use to determine the readability of your content, and WebAIM has a really great resource for guidelines on writing clearly.

10. Clearly label form input elements.

If you are in content marketing, chances are you have built a form or two in your time. No matter whether you’re creating those in Drupal or an external tool like Hubspot, you want to make sure you are labeling form fields clearly so that the user can understand how to complete the form. For example, expected data formats (such as day, month, year) are helpful. Also, required fields should be clearly marked. This is important for accessibility, but also then you as a marketer end up with better data.

Helpful Resources

Here are a few guides I've found useful in the quest to publish accessible content:

Accessibility Tools People

Palantir: Learning Design Thinking by Doing: How to Craft a Design Workshop

Main Drupal Feed - Sat, 11/23/2019 - 16:29
Monday, June 17, 2019 WeWork, 111 W Illinois Street, Chicago, IL Chicago IA/UX Meetup (official site)

Facilitating design workshops with key stakeholders allows them to have insight into the process of "how the sausage is made" and provides the product team buy-in from the get-go.

Join Palantir's Director of UX Operations, Lesley Guthrie, for a session on design workshops. She'll go over:

  • How to choose the right exercises 
  • How to play to the team skill sets
  • Ways to adjust the workshop to fit the needs of the project 

You'll learn how to sell it the idea of the design workshop to stakeholders and collaborate with them on a solution that can be tested and validated with real users.

Specbee: Spam prevention guidelines for your Drupal Website

Main Drupal Feed - Fri, 11/22/2019 - 12:14
Spam prevention guidelines for your Drupal Website Shri Ganesh Hegde 22 Nov, 2019 Top 10 best practices for designing a perfect UX for your mobile app

Accept it, your inbox is infested with Spam and you cannot do anything about it. They’ll just crawl into your website and send you those annoying emails through your contact forms or comments section or just about anywhere they can sneak in through. Sure, you can "Mark" them as Spam. But is that really going to help in keeping all those creepy crawlies at bay?

There are two types of spam – Spambots, which are basically scripts designed to collect email addresses and then spam them , and Human Spammers, who are actually sitting on computers just to spam you. We can protect ourselves from Spambots to a certain level but getting around Human spammers is extremely tricky.

Thankfully, Drupal 8 provides you with plenty of solutions and Drupal modules to protect your website from Spambots. Let us take a look at some of them and see which Drupal 8 modules suit your needs the best.

Capture them with CAPTCHA

We have all come across a CAPTCHA test at some point or the other and though it may seem annoying as a visitor, this can be a very useful tool to a site administrator. It is that fuzzy image of some text that you have to fill in a web form and if you’re a legitimate user you can go ahead with submitting your details. This challenge-response test is a decent way to keep some Drupal spam away, but it isn’t too difficult for them to find a way out either. Thus, using it as a stand-alone solution is not a very good idea. Installing the Drupal 8 Captcha module is as simple as configuring it. 

CAPTCHA Keypad 

Taking it up a notch in Drupal spam prevention with the use of CAPTCHA  is another Drupal module that  provides an alternative CAPTCHA security. CAPTCHA Keypad increases the complexity of a CAPTCHA , making it really difficult for the spammers. This module allows the users to make use of a keypad (which can be configured to shuffle the keys, as required) to enter the CAPTCHA. 

Complicate it with ReCAPTCHA

Drupal reCAPTCHA module makes it more complex for the spambots by using the reCAPTCHA services offered from Google. Built for the sole purpose of security, Drupal  reCAPTCHA module also aims at improving the user experience by allowing the users to complete the test with a single click or a tick mark. 

The Drupal reCAPTCHA module offers a choice to provide checkbox, asking the users if they are a robot or not. Despite the fact that this module makes it easier for the users, it still is a hard nut to crack when it comes to Drupal spam prevention. 

Lure them spammers with Honeypot

Honeypot, as the name suggests, acts as a trap to deter spam bots from posting harmful data into your website. Drupal 8 Honeypot module basically adds a hidden field to your web form which is seen only by spambots. So if the hidden field in your form is filled, then you know it’s a spambot and discard the form. Drupal Honeypot also allows you to set a timer for filling the form since if it is a spambot, they can fill those forms in no time! Let’s say, if you set a timer of 5 seconds to fill your contact form, you will know when a spambot is doing so as us humans would most definitely take longer.

AntiSpam by CleanTalk

Developed by CleanTalk, Drupal Antispam module is another module that tests the user in such a way that the users see no tasks that are required to be solved from their end. Drupal Antispam module does a great job if you have your own list of spam email addresses and IP-addresses that you have detected. 

Using a series of tests that filter the spambot registration & the spams in the comments section, Drupal Antispam module ensures that the spam checks are not visible to any of the website users. This ensures a better and more comfortable engagement with the site, eliminating the extra time spent on completing additional registration forms. 

Antibot

Another Drupal module that boasts of a "NO end user interaction" is Antibot. This light weight module aims to prevent robotic submissions on a Drupal website, with minimal user interactions and zero involvement of API keys and other third party integrations. 

Implementing two major criteria, the Antibot module includes a Javascript interaction test and an analysis for the usage of keyboard and mouse. Also, it also enables caching of the forms, which makes it a lot quicker than other modules like Honeypot. 

Mollom

Developed by Dries Buytaert, the founder of Drupal, Mollom was an intelligent web service that identified potential spam content and decide if the post is legit or not. Using machine learning techniques to block spammers from posting malicious content, Mallom was one of the most used modules for Drupal spam protection. However, on April 2, 2018, Mallom officially announced its end of life. If you are using the Mollom module, it is advised to disable the same and switch to an alternative.

Protecting your Drupal website from spam is the first step towards a secure and robust Drupal website. Specbee offers superior Drupal development services and we can ensure you a safe and protected Drupal website.
 

Drupal Planet Shefali ShettyApr 05, 2017 Subscribe For Our Newsletter And Stay Updated Subscribe

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OpenSense Labs: Top 15 Tips for Drupal 8 Developers

Main Drupal Feed - Fri, 11/22/2019 - 10:19
Top 15 Tips for Drupal 8 Developers Jayati Fri, 11/22/2019 - 15:49

Drupal 8 is on the edge of transformation and it’s just a couple of months before Drupal 9 will take over. However, the version update will not eliminate the workings of Drupal 8 and instead deprecate gradually. 

This brings a lot of new attention to the software and many look forward to being a part of the Drupal Community. In case you are one of them, then these are some advice for novices in the world of Drupal by our very own experts at OpenSense Labs. 


#1 Git and Version System in Drupal Projects

As a seeking Drupal developer, Git is your starting point. You got to commit and train yourself with git in order to brush your Drupal skills. You have to understand how branches and tags help you in finding the correct module/theme you have to use on your website. 

#2 PHP Language

The programming language, PHP, is a basic one to acquire before getting into Drupal. However, with Drupal 8 being built on Symfony, a developer should be familiar with the PHP frameworks, too. The existing Drupal core and modules help you implement changes without needing to code. 

#3 Drupal Security Guard

Security is one of the strongest suits of Drupal. However, in order to maintain it, you require the highest level of expertise that tirelessly keeps up with the threats. You should be able to contribute to the maintenance of the Drupal site along with the updates that help in keeping the website secure. 

#4 Package Managers

Making work easier for developers, package managers are useful in the installation of external libraries and frameworks. Composer is one of the package managers that can be installed for tools like Drush. 

#5 Command Line interfaces (CLIs)

Knowing how to manage CLIs helps in administering repetitive tasks. With Drush, Drupal’s own CLI tool, your implementation becomes better and efficient. Another important CLI tool is Drupal Console. 

#6 Twig Templating Engine

Since Drupal 8 moved to the Symfony framework, Twig became a necessity for development. The knowledge of templating with Twig engine will give you an edge over others. 

#7 Drupal Modules Bank

One of the primary points of Drupal is the abundance of modules. For each and every website needs, there are multiple modules that can assist you. With different versions and maintenance requirements, the knowledge of modules becomes an asset. As a Drupal developer, you should be aware of all aspects of how the modules can be optimized and the website can be enhanced in the best way possible. There are 2,816 number of themes and 44,291 active modules on drupal.org for you to try your hands on.  

#8 Theming Ninja

An interesting concept in itself, Drupal theming is a vital part of the web development process. You should be well aware of its working. Given the customization clients seek these days, theming is your go-to friend to tailor the needs. 

#9 Debugging Pro

Debugging is a skill to master for Drupal developers. With a lot of breaking and fixing requirements that do come your way during the process, knowing how to debug helps in avoiding the friction within the team and also with the client. 

#10 Core Functioning Fun

For a developer to enter the open source space, the core functionality of the CMS should be a strong case. As Drupal has a different CMS functioning, the flow is an important thing that you should be comfortable with. 

#11 Contribution Cases

Not a skill, but it is advisable for the budding drupal developers of today. Drupal community is a fantastic place to learn and grow your expertise. You also get to meet other developers in the industry and gives an opportunity to directly gain exposure from the experts across the globe. 

#12 A Style Guide Expert

After theming and modules, the style guide is the next thing to pick up. To achieve an excellent user experience and comfort, the design has to take the center seat in web development. But as a Drupal developer, you have to build the style guide and pattern libraries which has a basic typography and color palette. Keep in mind, there are a lot of minute details that define how your style guide will come out to be. 

#13 Utilize Configuration System

A configuration system aligns the development process in a seamless fashion. The workflow adopted by the developer via the conf system helps other team members to update and test configuration locally. However, the key is to make the entire team understand it and have them participating in the process. 

#14 Core and Non-core Stuff

Once you still Drupal, there are two folders titled ‘modules’ and ‘themes’. One might get confused that they can put the contributed modules and themes in them. However, do not make that mistake. There are separate folders of the same name in the ‘sites’ folder. The former folders are the core Drupal installation which needs timely updating. Do not mix the core and non-core folders o code that can pose to be an issue later.

#15 Maintenance Mode 

You should keep your site hidden in case you are planning to put it into maintenance mode and it’s still developing. However, do not log out of the site or you will not be able to access it either. 

And that’s a wrap of advice from our end. Now it’s your turn to deep dive into the world of Drupal and try it first hand. Witness it, enrich it and share your experience with us at hello@opensenselabs.com

Also, connect with us on our social media channels: FacebookLinkedIn, and Twitter for more such insights. 

blog banner blog image Drupal Developer Drupal development Web Developer Drupal 8 Drupal 9 Drupal developer guide Drupal Modules Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On

Ramsalt Lab: Free newspaper design for Thunder - quick to setup and easy to customize

Main Drupal Feed - Fri, 11/22/2019 - 10:00
  • This article was originally posted on Thunder.org and is reposted here with the permission from Communit Manager Julia Pradel. 

    Not everyone has the necessary resources to engage their own design team. Our Certified Thunder Integrator (CTI) Ramsalt has recognized this need and developed a generic theme that will be available to other Thunder users as an open-source product.

    The idea for the theme emerged a few years ago: “We wanted to develop a generic design which newspapers could easily customize to their individual needs” explains Ramsalt’s CEO Yngve Bergheim. “We had a starter kit in mind which could either be used as is, or easily tweaked by a designer.”

    The first task was to gather all of the requirements for a design. We arranged focus groups with digital editors from several newspapers to understand their needs. “We also drew upon our own pool of experience,” says tech lead Stephan Zeidler. Ramsalt has made numerous magazines and newspapers since 2011. The analytic process ended up in a 51 pages design requirement specification and corresponding wireframes.

    Example of Longform/featured articles


    Art director Evgeny Pugachev led the design process while Stephan Zeidler was tech lead. The CTI Ramsalt Lab has offices in several countries among them Sweden, Norway, the Netherlands and Russia, and the Thunder development is directed from the German office in Berlin. According to Stephan, the greatest challenge with the theme’s development was ensuring that everything would be reusable - and at the same also be customizable. Stephan, therefore, relied on a component-based approach: “It is certainly significantly more complicated and takes longer at the beginning of the project but the risk of regressions is much reduced”.

    Simple to adjust

    The component-based approach also enables Stephan to capture updates from the numerous Drupal modules. “Since we use our own HTML templates rather than the standard Drupal templates, adjustments are much simpler than they would otherwise be.” Another advantage in his view is the lean markup which makes the site significantly quicker and also delivers plus points in terms of SEO aspects. The theme has also been put to the test and further optimized in order to achieve the best possible results in Google’s Pagespeed. It was a project by itself and led to the publication of a series of articles on Planet Drupal, under the heading The ultimate guide for faster Drupal.

    The theme was conceptualized over a period of six months with two designers, challenged with the help of several customers and continuously developed along the way - and it is still a work in progress. The three-person development team working with Stephan, also wants to examine whether Drupal’s Color Module can be integrated and how the design could also be used as a demo theme by other CTIs.

     

     Get the new design now!


    For company chief, Yngve Bergheim, there is no question about whether the Ramsalt design will be made available to Thunder users: “Anyone that wants to try out the new design can drop us an email on thunder@ramsalt.com. - We want to use the theme as a showcase for publishers evaluating Thunder. Publishers already have the best technology in place in the Thunder distro, the best and biggest community. What is lacking now is a good looking design on the bodywork that fits the top-notch “Porsche” engineering we have in Thunder”, says Bergheim.

    Open-source

    The design is aimed to be released as an open-source module on drupal.org as soon as the integration with Thunder works seamlessly. There is still some work left: “The design currently makes many assumptions, like how the menu and various article variants look, that there is a search bar or that authors are shown with their names, pictures and even job titles” explains Stephan. The fields for these points did not exist in a standard Thunder. “And that is also a good thing, Thunder should remain as generic as possible” stresses Stephan. This does, however, pose him and his team the question of how the theme can, together with its Thunder installation, show its full effectiveness out of the box. Which is our goal, to have the theme in the Thunder distro eventually.

    MidCamp - Midwest Drupal Camp: We want you to speak at O’MidCamp! ☘️

    Main Drupal Feed - Fri, 11/22/2019 - 02:16
    We want you to speak at O’MidCamp! ☘️ What types of sessions are we looking for?

    Just like last year, we’d like to put together a program that appeals to a wide audience of Drupal community members. Details on session tracks can be found on our site

    If public speaking is not your thing, but you’re looking forward to seeing some sessions, please fill out our topics survey so we can curate a program with a little something for everyone!

    How do I submit?

    You’ll need to create an account in order to submit a session proposal. If you’ve previously submitted a session to MidCamp, the login you created previously should still work. 

    Who should submit a session?

    Experienced speakers are always welcome, but MidCamp is also a great place to start for first-time speakers. From the opening of session submission through the beginning of camp, we'll have communication to assist speakers (new and old) in creating engaging and informative sessions.

    Call for papers closes on Wednesday, December 18, so submit your session soon.

    Palantir: The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 21:14

    Re-platforming the Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds website from HTML templates to Drupal 8, including a complete visual and user experience redesign.

    etf.wi.gov An Effortless Customer Experience for Wisconsin Government Employees, Retirees, and Employers On

    The Wisconsin Department of Employee Trust Funds (ETF) is responsible for managing the pension and other retirement benefits of over 630,000 state and local government employees and retirees in the state of Wisconsin. With approximately $98 billion in assets, the Wisconsin Retirement System is the 8th largest U.S. public pension fund and the 25th largest public or private pension fund in the world.

    In addition to overseeing the Wisconsin Retirement System, ETF also provides benefits such as group health insurance, disability benefits, and group life insurance. Over a half-million people rely on the information ETF provides in order to make decisions that impact not only themselves, but their children, and their children’s children.

    The Challenge

    Given the extent of services provided by ETF, their website is large and complex with a wealth of vital information. When ETF first approached Palantir.net, their website (shown) hadn't been updated since the early 2000s, and it lacked a content management system. The site wasn’t accessible, it wasn’t responsive, and its overall user experience needed a drastic overhaul. 

    Simply put, Wisconsin government employees could not easily navigate the crucial information they need to understand and make decisions about the benefits that they earn.

    The new ETF site should lower customer effort across all touchpoints. An effortless customer experience: One stop, fewer clicks and increased satisfaction.

    ETF's vision
    Key Outcomes

    ETF engaged Palantir to re-platform their website from HTML templates to the Drupal 8 content management system, including a complete visual and user experience redesign. After partnering with Palantir, the new user-friendly ETF site:

    • Provides ETF staff and all website visitors with a seamless experience
    • Allows Wisconsin government employees, retirees, and employers to efficiently access accurate and current information
    • Incorporates best practices for content publication for the ETF digital team
    Upgrade to the Employee Benefits Explorer

    One of the most notable features of the new site is ETF’s Benefits Explorer.

    An important function of the ETF site is offering information regarding pension, health insurance, and other benefits. On ETF’s old site, employees were required to select cumbersome and confusing benefit options before they could find detailed information about their benefits. This task was made even more difficult by the fact that the names of benefit options are not descriptive or intuitive. ETF’s previous solution was to send physical mailers with distinctive photos on the covers, and then direct visitors to the website to select the benefit options that had the same image as their mailer.

    Palantir and ETF knew that the “find my benefits” user experience needed a complete overhaul. In our initial onsite, we identified a potential solution: creating a database of employers and the benefit options they offer. With this list we built a benefits explorer tool that allows ETF’s customers to search for benefits by the one piece of information they will always definitely have: the name of their employer.

    With the new explorer experience, site visitors begin by typing in the name of their employer and are immediately provided with their benefit options. We built two versions of the tool: one for the specific task of identifying health plan options, which are typically decided once a year during open enrollment, and one for identifying all benefits offered by your employer, which can be used any time of year.

    The new “My Benefits” explorer is now the second most visited page on the new ETF site, which shows just how helpful this new feature is for ETF’s customers.

    How We Did It

    In order to transform the ETF website into an effortless experience for Wisconsin government employees, retirees, and employers, there were five critical elements to consider.

    Our approach involved:

    1. Identifying “Top Tasks”
    2. Revising content
    3. User-testing the information architecture
    4. Crafting an accessible, responsive design
    5. Replatforming on a robust Content Management System: Drupal

    Identifying “Top Tasks”

    The biggest negative factor of the previous ETF site’s user experience was its confusing menus. The site presented too many options and pathways for people to find information such as which health insurance plan they belong to or how to apply for retirement benefits, and the pathways often led to different pages about the same topic. Frequently, people would give up or call customer support, which is only open during typical business hours.

    Palantir knew the redesign would have the most impact if the site was restructured to fit the needs of ETF’s customers. In order to guarantee we were addressing customers’ most important needs, we used the Top Task Identification methodology developed by customer experience researcher and advocate Gerry McGovern.

    Through the use of this method, we organized ETF’s content by the tasks site users deemed most important, with multiple paths to get to content through their homepage, site and organic search, and related content.

    Revising Content

    Our goal was to make content findable by both internal and external search engines. No matter what page a visitor enters the site on, the page should make sense and the visitor should be able to find their way to more information.

    While the Palantir team was completing the Top Tasks analysis, the internal ETF team revised the website content by focusing on:

    • Plain language: ETF had convened a “Plain Language” initiative before engaging with Palantir, and that team was dedicated to transforming the tone of ETF’s content from stiff, formal legalese to a friendlier, more accessible tone.
    • “Bite, snack, meal” content writing strategy: The ETF team used this strategy to “chunk” their content for different levels of user engagement. A bite is a headline with a message, a snack is a short summary of the main points, and a meal is a deep dive into the details.
    • Improving metadata for accessibility and search: Palantir provided guidance on standardizing metadata, particularly for ETF’s PDF library. The ETF content team made sure that all their content had appropriate metadata.

    User-tested Information Architecture (IA)

    Once we had the results from our Top Tasks study, we worked toward designing a menu organized intuitively for customers. In our initial onsite, we conducted an open card sort with about 40 ETF stakeholders. Our goal was to have the ETF site content experts experiment with ways to improve the labelling, grouping, and organization of the content on their site.

    We divided the stakeholders into six teams of five and gave them a set of 50 cards featuring representative content on their site. The ideas our teams generated fell largely into two groups:

    • Audience-oriented: content is organized by the role/title/person who uses it. In this approach, main menu terms might include Retiree, Member, and Employer. This approach was how ETF had content organized on their site at the time of the exercise.
    • Task-oriented: content is organized by the type of task the content relates to. In this approach, main menu terms might include Benefits, Retirement, and Member Education.

    When we came back together as a group, our team of 40 stakeholders agreed that exploring a task-based information architecture would be worthwhile, but there was significant concern that switching away from an audience-based IA would confuse their customers.

    Since making the site easy to use was one of our top project goals, our teams agreed to a rigorous IA testing approach. We agreed to conduct two rounds of tree tests on both an audience-oriented and task-oriented IA, and conduct three additional rounds of tests to refine the chosen approach.

    Ultimately, our tests showed that the most intuitive way to organize the content for ETF’s range of customers was to organize by task, with one significant exception: Employers. ETF serves the human resources teams of all state of Wisconsin employers, and those users had completely separate content requirements from those of government employees and retirees.

    Responsive Design System on Drupal

    Because the former ETF site was significantly outdated, it completely lacked a content model, and the site itself was a massive hodgepodge of design elements. Palantir identified key ETF user flows, matched the content to each flow, and then abstracted out templates to serve each flow.

    The overarching goal of this design system is to create intuitive, repeatable user flows through the website. These patterns enable visitors to quickly scan for the information they need, and make quick decisions about where to go next.

    Accessibility and responsiveness are core requirements for ETF. Palantir used the a11y checklist from the very beginning of our design process, and continuously tested our visual designs for font size, color contrast, and general spacing of elements to ensure that accessibility was built into our design rather than retrofitted at the end.

    We also conducted usability tests with real users, which helped us make accessibility improvements that accessibility checkers missed. In addition, the new design system is also fully responsive, which enables ETF’s customers to access the site from any device.

    Robust Content Management

    In addition to the efficiencies gained for site visitors, the new Drupal 8 site streamlines the content management process for the internal ETF site admin team. Previously, content creation happened across people and departments with minimal editorial guidelines. Once the copy was approved internally, the new content was handed to the webmaster for inclusion on the site. The process for updating content frequently took weeks.

    With their new Drupal 8 platform, the ETF team has moved to a distributed authorship workflow, underpinned by the Workbench suite of modules which allows for editorial/publishing permissions. Now, ETF subject matter experts can keep their own content up to date while following established standards and best practices. The decision to publish content is still owned by a smaller group, to ensure that only approved and correct content is uploaded to the live site.

    The Results

    With the fully responsive design system in place, the new ETF site offers a significantly upgraded user experience for their customers:

    • Task-oriented: Our data-based top tasks approach ensured that we kept the focus on the user’s journey through the site. Everything from the menus to the page-level strategy to the visual design was geared towards making it effortless for visitors to achieve their most important tasks.
    • Structured content: Not only has the website’s content been rewritten to be more scannable for readers, but it’s also now structured for SEO. Our initial user research uncovered search as one of the most frustrating aspects of the site: “The main thing for me is really the search results: the most up to date version is never the first thing that turns up” By adding metadata to ETF’s library of PDF forms and transforming their content from freeform text to structured data, ETF’s search experience has made a complete turnaround.
    • User testing: Our strategy and design work was validated throughout the engagement with real site users, which kept us all grounded in the outcomes.
    • Accessible and responsive design: The design system isn’t just WCAG A.A compliant according to accessibility testing software - we worked with users to ensure that the site delivers a good experience with site readers. Incorporating a11y standards from the very beginning of the design process ensured that accessibility was baked into our design rather than a last-minute add on.

    Palantir created a task-based navigation and content organization to support the customer journey, which is contributing to a better user experience. The new site is more personalized and engaging for customers.

    Mark Lamkins

    Director, Office of Communications

    Awards NGAW 2019 Pinnacle Award Awarded September 23, 2019 in the State/Federal category.

    The NAGW Pinnacles Awards are judged by a group of web professionals inside and outside of the government web industry and are awarded to the best entries based on the following judging criteria: team size, content, organization, design, performance and flexibility, accessibility, standards, interactivity, open data, and responsive design.

    DRIVENxDESIGN 2019 GOV Design Award Awarded November 21, 2019 for digital government services.

    The DRIVENxDESIGN GOV Design Awards celebrate the courage of both commissioners and creators design projects within the government, community and public sectors. Nominations are across space, object, visual and experience design categories, culminating in the best project, best transformation and best innovation awards.

    Re-platforming the ETF site from HTML templates to Drupal 8

    Hook 42: Attending DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 19:20
    Attending DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019 Lindsey Gemmill Thu, 11/21/2019 - 19:20

    Texas Creative: An Account Manager Girl in a Web Developer World

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 15:30

    A few weeks ago I had the privilege of attending Texas Camp with the web team here at Texas Creative. Texas Camp is a day of curated sessions and panel conversations, and is hosted by volunteers from the regional Drupal community. I know what you’re thinking, why would an Account Manager go to a day-long session about web development? Well, 1. Websites are secretly (probably not-so secret to some of my co-workers) my favorite projects to work on and 2. I personally think that it benefits everyone (both clients and agency employees) to learn as much as possible in the ever-changing digital space.

    Read More

    Centarro: Querying Drupal Search API indexes using JSON:API

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 14:37

    I'm happy to introduce a new module created in my research and development time at Centarro. The JSON:API Search API integration module enables decoupled Drupal architectures to use the Search API module to query indexed data. Before diving into the module, I want to explore the problem space it aims to solve.

    Srijan Technologies: Get Personal With Customers Through Account-Based Marketing (ABM)

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 10:17

    Gone are those days when traditional inbound marketing practices worked wonders. Today, the one-size-fits-all approach does not prove effective for companies trying to appeal to well-heeled clients and companies. 

    MD Systems blog: DrupalCon Amsterdam 2019 Recap

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 09:00
    This year, Amsterdam, Netherlands celebrated its third time as a home city for the biggest European Drupal conference - DrupalCon. My (Miloš) overall experience was great and I am going to provide you with more insights in the next paragraphs below.

    MidCamp - Midwest Drupal Camp: MidCamp tickets are here!

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 03:46
    MidCamp tickets are here!

    You might notice something different with MidCamp’s tickets this year. At MidCamp we’ve long had an underlying Alice in Wonderland theme, from our Drupal-hatter, to Alice coloring books, to maddening our logo. This year, we’ve Alice’ed our tickets. Here’s your guide to this strange new world...

    Every ticket offers the same experience:

    • 50+ high-quality sessions over two days,
    • coffee, lunch, and maybe even snacks, 
    • conversations with 200+ awesome Drupal-folks, and
    • three evening socials that are as accessible and inclusive as we can make them.

    With that said, we know many folks come to camp from different places, and we want to make sure MidCamp is accessible to anyone who wants to join us.

    The Worm ($50) is what the early bird gets. We’re keeping our legacy pricing for those who take the first steps down the rabbit hole. Act fast, because this pricing ends Jan 1, 2020.

    Alice ($100) is our standard ticket. The price is based on what it has cost us in the past to provide you with all the things that are listed above. In order for us to be able to make catering orders as accurately as possible, this pricing ends three weeks before camp, on Fed 28, 2020.

    The Rabbit ($200) is always late for their important date, but also leads Alice down the rabbit hole. As such, attendees at this level will be helping to give others the MidCamp experience. It’s priced for attendees whose companies have the ability to fund their attendance or individuals who are able to contribute more. Additionally, it makes up for the impact to our catering costs for folks who buy at the last minute. 

    Students ($25) whether you’re in college, in a bootcamp, or otherwise furthering your education, we want you to join us and learn about the magic that is the Drupal community. We welcome you at this price-point, no questions asked.

    Sponsored ($0) tickets are available for those who don’t fit in any of the labels above. MidCamp is committed to being accessible to anyone and everyone who is interested in learning and participating in our community. We’ll teach you, we’ll feed you, and we’ll welcome you with open arms. Get your sponsored ticket here.

    Whomever you are, wherever you come from, we look forward to seeing you in March 2020.

    Tandem's Drupal Blog: Preparing for Drupal 9 with Lando + PHPStan

    Main Drupal Feed - Thu, 11/21/2019 - 00:00
    November 21, 2019 Drupal 9 is right around the corner. It is very easy to get your sites ready with Lando + PHPStan. Overview Drupal 9 will be released on June 3, 2020. It is crazy to think that because it feels like Drupal 8 just came out. A lot has changed in the Drupal universe since the release of Drupal 8. Mainly the framework on which ...

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