All RPGs and Storygames by Tod Foley are now available at DrivethruRPG. Bring these games to your table!
Open source looks very different now compared to 20 years ago, and with such a vast community of developers, it is difficult to define the exact role of a “good” open source citizen.
Other panelists include Zaheda Bhorat (Amazon Web Services) and Matt Asay (Adobe). The panel will air some of the strongest opinions on Twitter.
- Time: 1:30 PM - 2:20 PM
- Location: F150/151
Our team is so enthusiastic to participate in the third iteration of Decoupled Days. Palantir is excited to sponsor this year’s event and continue to share our insights into Content Management Systems.Content Modeling for Decoupled Drupal
Join Senior Engineer and Technical Architect Dan Montgomery for a session on content modeling. He’ll break down:
- How a master content model can enable scalable growth
- How to create a standardized structure for content
- How Drupal can function as a content repository that serves other products
You’ll walk away with an understanding of how to develop architecture and structures that are scalable for future, unknown endpoints.
- Date: Thursday, July 18
- Time: 9:00am
- Location: Room
A design system gives you a “lego box” of components that you can use to create consistent, beautiful interfaces.
Design System artifacts go by many names - Living Style Guides, Pattern Libraries, UI Libraries, and just plain Design Systems. The core idea is to give digital teams greater flexibility and control over their website. Instead of having to decide exactly what all pages should look like in one big redesign and then sticking with those templates until the next redesign, a design system gives you a “lego box” of components the team can use to create consistent, beautiful interfaces. Component-based design is how you SCALE.
At Palantir we build content management systems, so we’ve named our design system artifact a “style guide” in a nod to the editorial space.
Our style guides are organized into three sections:
- 'Design Elements' which are the very basic building blocks for the website.
- 'Components' which combine design elements into working pieces of code that serve a defined purpose.
- 'Page Templates' which combine the elements and components into page templates that are used to display the content at destination URLs.
But how do we help our clients determine what the list of elements, components and page templates should be?How to Identify Elements for Your Design System
In this post I’ll walk through how we worked with the University of Miami Health System to create a style guide that enabled the marketing team to build a consistent, branded experience for a system with 1,200 doctors and scientists, three primary locations, and multiple local clinics.1. Start by generating a list of your most important types of content.
Why are people coming to your site? What content helps them complete the task they are there to do? This content list is ground zero for component ideation: how can design support and elevate the information your site delivers?
The list of content serving user needs is your starting point for components. In addition, we can use this list to identify a few page templates right off the bat:
- Home page
- Treatment landing page
- Search page
- Listing page: Search results, news, classes
- Clinical trials landing page
- Clinical trial detail page
- Location landing page
- Appointment landing page
- Appointment detail page
- Basic page (About us, contact us, general information)
This is just the start of the UHealth style guide; we ultimately created about 80 components and 17 page templates. But it gives you a sense of how we tackled the challenge!2. Sort your list of important types of content into groups by similarities.
Visitors should be able to scan your website for the information they need, and distinctive component designs help them differentiate content without having to read every word. In addition, being rigorous about consistently using components for specific kinds of information creates predictable interfaces, and predictable interfaces are easy for your visitors to use.
In this step, you should audit the design and photo assets you have available now, and assess your capacity to create them going forward. If, for example, you have a limited photo library and no graphic artist on staff, you’ll want to choose a set of components that don’t heavily rely on photos and graphics.
In this example, we have three component types: News, Events/Classes, and a Simple Success story.
- News Component: This component has no images. This is largely about content management; UHealth publishes a lot of news, and they didn’t want to create a bottleneck in their publishing schedule by requiring each story to have a digital-ready photo.
- Events/Classes Component: This component has an option for images or a pattern. Because UHealth wants visitors to take action on this content by signing up, we wanted these to have an eye-catching image. Requiring a photo introduces a potential bottleneck in publishing, so we also gave them the option to make the image a pattern or graphic.
- Simple success story: This is the most visually complex component because successful health narratives are an important element of UHealth’s content strategy. We were able to create a complex component here because there’s a smaller number of success stories compared to news stories or classes and events. That means the marketing team can dedicate significant time and resources to making the content for this component as effective as possible.
Unlike paper publications, websites are built to enable actions like searching, subscribing, and making appointments. Your component set should include interfaces for your functionality.
In a more complex example, the Sylvester Cancer Center included a dynamic “Find a lab” functionality that was powered by a database. We designed the template around the limitations of the data set powering the feature, rather than ideating the ideal interface. Search is another feature that benefits from planning during the design phase.
For example, these components for a side bar location search and a full screen location search require carefully structured databases to support them. The design and technical teams must be in alignment on the capacity and limits of the functionality underlying the interface.4. Differentiate components by brand.
UHealth is an enormous health care system, and there are several centers of excellence within the system that have their own logos and distinct content strategies. As a result, we created several components that were differentiated by brand.
In this example, you see navigation interfaces that are different by brand and language. Incorporating the differentiated logos for the core UHealth system and the Centers of Excellence is fairly straightforward. But as you can see the Sylvester Center also has three additional top nav options: Cancer treatments, Research, and For Healthcare Professionals.
That content change necessitated a different nav bar - you can see that it’s longer. We also created a component for the nav in Spanish, because sometimes in other languages you find that the menu labels are different lengths and need to be adjusted for. In this case, they didn’t, but we kept it as a reference for the site builders.5. Review the list: can you combine any components?
Your overall goal should be creating the smallest possible set of components. Depending on the complexity and variety of your content and functionality, this might be a set of 100 components or it might be just 20. The UHealth Design System has about 80 components, and another 17 page templates.
The key is that each of the components does a specific job and is visually differentiated from components that do different jobs. You want clear visual differences that signal clear content differences to your audience, and you don’t want your web team spending time trying to parse minor differences - that’s not how you scale!
In my experience, the biggest stumbling block to creating a streamlined list of components is stakeholders asking for maximum flexibility and control. I’ve found the best way to manage this challenge is to provide stakeholders with the option to differentiate their fiefdoms through content rather than components.
In this example, we have the exact same component featuring different images, which allows for two widely different experiences. You can also enable minor differentiation within a component: maybe you can leave off a sub-head, or allow for two buttons instead of one.6. Start building your design system and stay flexible.
The list you generated here will get you 80% of the way there, but as you proceed with designing and building your design system, you will almost certainly uncover new component needs. When you do, first double check that you can’t use an existing component. This can be a little tricky, because of course content can essentially be displayed any way you want.
At Palantir, we solve for this challenge by building our Style Guide components with real content. This approach solves for a few key challenges with building a design system:
- Showing the “why” of a component. Each component is designed for a specific type of content - news, classes, header, testimonial, directory, etc. This consistency is critical for scaling design: the goal is to create consistent interfaces to create ease of use for your visitors. By building our Style Guides with real content, we document the thought process behind creating a specific component.
- Consistency. Digital teams change and grow. We use content in our Style Guide to show your digital team how each component should be used, even if they weren’t a part of the original design process.
- Capturing User Testing. Some of our components, like menus, are heavily user-tested to ensure that we’re creating intuitive interfaces. By building the components with the tested content in place, we’re capturing that research and ensuring it goes forward in the design.
- Identifying gaps. If you’ve got a piece of content or functionality that you think needs a new component, you can check your assumptions against the Style Guide. Does the content you’re working with actually fit within an existing pattern, or is it really new? If it is, add it to the project backlog!
The most important takeaway here is that design systems let your web team scale. Through the use of design systems, your digital team can generate gorgeous, consistent and branded pages as new needs arise.
But don’t take our word for it! Tauffyt Aguilar, the Executive Director of Digital Solutions for Miller School of Medicine and UHealth, describes the impact of their new design system:
“One of the major improvements is Marketing’s ability to maintain and grow their site moving forward. Previously each page was designed and developed individually. The ability to create or edit pages using various elements and components of the Design System is a significant improvement in the turnaround time and efficiency for the Marketing department.”
My favorite example of a new page constructed with the UHealth design system is this gorgeous interface for the Sports Medicine Institute.
The Sports Medicine audience has unique needs and interests: they are professional and amateur athletes who need to get back in the game. The UHealth team used basic components plus an attention-grabbing image to create this interface for finding experts by issue.
And ultimately, that’s Palantir’s goal: your digital team should have the tools to create gorgeous, effective websites.Content Strategy Design Industries Healthcare
Content modeling as a practical foundation for future scalability in Drupal.Content modeling as a practical foundation for future scalability On
Palantir recently partnered with a patient engagement solutions company that specializes in delivering patient and physician education to deliver improved health outcomes and an enhanced patient experience. They have an extensive library of patient education content that they use to build education playlists which are delivered to more than 51,000 physician offices, 1,000 hospitals, and 140,000 healthcare providers - and they are still growing.
The company is in the process of completely overhauling their technical stack so that they can rapidly scale up the number of products they use to deliver their patient education library. Currently, every piece of content needs to be entered separately for each product it can be delivered on, which forces the content teams to work in silos. In addition, because they use a dozen different taxonomies and doing so correctly requires a high level of context and nuance, any tagging of content can only be done at the manager level or above. The company partnered with Palantir.net to remove these bottlenecks and plan for future scalability.Key Outcome
Palantir teamed up with this patient engagement solutions company to develop a master content model that:
- Captures key content types and their relationships
- Creates a standardized structure for content, including fields that enable serving content variations based on end-point devices and localization
- Incorporates a taxonomy that enables content admins to quickly filter and select content relevant to their needs and device
The company’s content library is only getting larger over time, so the core need driving the master content model is to enable scalable growth. Specifically, that means a future state where:
- New products can be added and old products deprecated without restructuring content.
- Content filtering can scale up for new product capabilities, languages, and specialties without having to be fundamentally reworked.
- Clients using the taxonomy find it intuitive and require minimal specific training to create and amend their own patient education playlists.
These principles guided our recommendations for the content model and taxonomy.Content Model
Our client’s content model is currently organized by the end product that content is delivered through - for example, a waiting room screen vs. an interactive exam room touchscreen. This approach requires the digital team to enter the same piece of content multiple times.
To streamline this process for the team, we recommended a master content model that is organized by the purpose of the content, including the mindset of the audience and the high-level strategy for delivering value with that content.
For example, a “highlight” is a small piece of content intended to engage the audience and draw them into deeper exploration, while a “quiz” is a test of knowledge of a particular topic as training or entertainment.
This approach allows the company to separate the content types from products, which in turn makes them easier to scale. For example, this wireframe shows how a single piece of quiz content can be delivered on a range of endpoint devices depending on which fields that device uses. This approach allows us to show how a quiz might be delivered on a voice device, which is a product the company does not yet support, but could in the future.
“Our content is tailored to different audiences with different endpoints. Palantir took the initiative to not only learn about all of our content paths, but to also learn how our content managers interact with it on a daily basis. We’ve relied heavily on their expertise, especially for taxonomy, and they delivered.”
Executive Vice President, Content & CreativeTaxonomy
The company’s taxonomy has 12 separate vocabularies, and using them to construct meaningful content playlists requires a deep understanding of both the content and the audience. Existing content has been tagged based on both the information it contains and based on the patients to whom it would be relevant.
For example, a significant proportion of cardiology patients are affected by diabetes, so a piece of content titled "Healthy Eating with Diabetes" would be tagged with both "Diabetes" and "Cardiology". Additionally, many tags have subtle differences in how they are used — when do you use "cardiology" vs. "cardiovascular conditions"? "OB/GYN" vs. "Women's Health"?
This system requires that everyone managing the content — from content creators to healthcare providers and staff selecting content to appear in their medical practice — understand the full set of terms and the nuance of how they are applied in order to tag content consistently.
Our goal was to develop a taxonomy that can be used to filter content effectively without requiring deep platform-specific context and nuance.
Our guiding principles were to:
- Tag based on the information in the content.
- Use terms that are meaningful to a general audience.
- Use combinations of tags to provide granularity.
- Avoid duplicate information that is available as properties of the content
We ultimately recommended a set of eight vocabularies. Two of them are based on company-specific business processes, and the remaining six are standards-based so that any practitioner can use them. By using combinations of terms, users can create playlists that are balanced in terms of educational and editorial content.
For example, in our recommended taxonomy, relevant content is tagged as referencing diabetes, so that the person building the playlist can still construct effective content playlists, without needing to carry in their head the nuance that many cardiology patients are also diabetic.Moving Forward With Next Steps
This content modeling engagement spanned 9 weeks, and the Palantir team delivered:
- A high-level content model identifying the core content types and their relationships
- A set of global content fields that all content types in the model should have
- A field level content model for the four most important content types
- A new taxonomy approach based on internal user testing
- A Drupal Demo code base showing how the content types and taxonomy can be built in Drupal 8
In the future, the company’s ultimate goal for the platform is to scale their engagement offerings with new content and new technology. With our purpose-driven content model and refined taxonomy, the company can scale their business by breaking down internal content silos and making tagging and filtering content consistent and predictable for their internal team and eventually, their customers. Palantir’s master content modeling work forms a practical foundation for the company’s radical re-platforming work.
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.
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.” - W3Why 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 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.
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.
- 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.
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:
- Content Style Guide: Writing for Accessibility (MailChimp) - offers many tips on writing accessible content
- Readability Test Tool (WebFX) - a tool you can use to test the readability of your content
- Tips for Conducting Usability Studies With Participants With Disabilities (Smashing Magazine) - a blog post outlining different things to consider when running usability studies with disabled participants
- Writing Simply and Clearly (WebAIM) - guidelines for writing understanable web content
- Introduction to Web Accessibility (W3) - an overview of all things web accessibility
- Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) - recommendations for making web content accessible
- Digital Content Standard (Transport for London) - offers many tips on writing effective online content.
- How Screen Readers Read Content (WebAim) - can help you understand the way your content is conveyed to users with low vision and blindness.
- Understanding WCAG 2.0 (W3) - a comprehensive deep dive into each individual guideline.
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.
- 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
- 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.
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)
Palantir implemented a three-step process:
- Work with key stakeholders at the Center to identify key metrics.
- Design and implement tests.
- Handoff our recommendations for the Center to implement.
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
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 SpecialistThe 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.
Our team is always excited to catch up with fellow Drupal community members (and each other) in person during DrupalCon. Here’s what we have on deck for this year’s event:Visit us at booth #709
Drop by and say hi in the exhibit hall! We’ll be at booth number 709, giving away some new swag that is very special to us. Have a lot to talk about? Schedule a meeting with us.Palantiri Sessions
Content editors play a huge role in maintaining web accessibility standards as they publish new content over time. Alex and Nelson will go over a handful of tips to make sure your content is accessible for your audience.
- Date: Wednesday, April 10
- Time: 10:30am
- Location: 2B | Level 2
- Watch the recording
Fostering Community Health and Demystifying the CWG by George DeMet and friends
The Drupal Community Working Group is tasked with fostering community health. This Q&A format session hopes to bring to light our charter, our processes, our impact and how we can improve.
- Date: Thursday, April 11
- Time: 11:30am
- Location: 609 | Level 6
- Watch the recording
Emotional labor is, in one sense, the invisible thread that ties all our work together. Emotional labor supports and enables the creation and maintenance of our products. It is a critical community resource, yet undervalued and often dismissed. In this session, we'll take a look at a few reasons why that may be the case and discuss some ways in which open source communities are starting to recognize the value of emotional labor.
- Date: Thursday, April 11
- Time: 2:30pm
- Location: Exhibit Stage | Level 4
Moving from working in a physical office to a remote office can be a big change, yet have a lot of benefits. Kristen and Luke will talk about transitioning from working in an office environment to working remotely - how to embrace the good things about remote work, but also ways in which you might need to change your behavior to mitigate the challenges and stay mentally healthy.
- Date: Thursday, April 11
- Time: 3:15pm
- Location: 608 | Level 6
- Watch the recording
Thursday night we will be sponsoring one of our favorite parts of DrupalCon, Trivia Night. Brush up on your Drupal facts, grab some friends, and don't forget to bring your badge! Flying solo to DrupalCon? We would love to have you on our team!
- Date: Thursday, April 11
- Time: 8pm - 11:45pm
- Location: Armory at Seattle Center | 305 Harrison Street
We'll see you all next week!
We have released version 2.0 of our Federated Search application and Drupal integration.
Since our initial release, we’ve been doing agile, iterative development on the software. Working with our partners at the University of Michigan and the State of Georgia, we’ve made refinements to both the application and the Drupal integration.Better search results
Default searches now target the entire index and not the more narrow tm_rendered_item field. This change allows Solr admins to have better control over the refinement of search results, including the use of field boosting and elevate.xml query enhancements.Autocomplete search results
We added support for search autocomplete at both the application and Drupal block levels -- and the two can use the same or different data sources to populate results. We took a configurable approach to autocomplete, which supports “search as you type” completion of partial text. These results can also include keyboard navigation for accessibility.
Since the Drupal block is independent of the React application, we made it configurable so that the block can have a distinct API endpoint from the application. We did this because the state of Georgia has specific requirements that their default search behavior should be to search the local site first, looking for items marked with a special “highlighted content” field.Wildcard searching
We fully support wildcard searches as a configuration option, so that a search for “run” will automatically pass “run” and “run*” as search terms.Default facet control
The default facets sets for the application -- Site, Content Type, and Date Range -- can now be disabled on a per-site basis. This feature is useful for sites that contribute content to a network but only wish to search their own site’s content.Enhanced query parameters
We’ve added additional support for term-based facets to be passed from the search query string. This means that all facet options except dates can be passed directly via external URL before loading the search form.Better Drupal theming
We split the module’s display into proper theme templates for the block and it’s form, and we added template suggestions for each form element so that themes can easily enhance or override the default styling of the Drupal block. We also removed some overly opinionated CSS from the base style of the application. This change should allow CSS overrides to have better control over element styling.What’s Next for Users?
All of these changes should be backward compatible for existing users, though minor changes to the configuration may be required, Users of the Drupal 8.x-2.0 release will need to run the Drupal update script to load the new default settings. Sites that override CSS should confirm that they address the new styles.
Currently, the changes only apply to Drupal 8 sites. We’ll be backporting the new features to Drupal 7 in the upcoming month.
Users of the 1.0 release may continue to use both the existing Drupal module and their current JS and CSS files until the end of 2019. We recommend upgrading to the 2.0 versions of both, which requires minor CSS and configuration changes you can read about in the upgrade documentation.Special Thanks
Palantir senior engineer Jes Constantine worked through the most significant changes to the application and integration code. Senior front-end developer Nate Striedinger worked through the template design and CSS. And engineer Matt Carmichael provided QA and code review. And a special shoutout to James Sansbury of Lullabot -- our first external contributor.Development Drupal Open Source
At Kanopi Studios, we believe that Drupal is an especially strong choice, further validated by the fact that governments across more than 150 countries have turned to Drupal to power their digital experiences. This includes major sites in the United States like The White House and NASA.
What makes Drupal the best choice? Read on for our top 8 reasons why Drupal should be the content management system of choice for government websites.
Website traffic from mobile devices surpassed desktop traffic years ago. In fact, according to Pew Research Center, one in five adults in America are smartphone-only internet users, and that number is likely to continue to grow. Government websites need to prioritize a superior mobile experience so they can meet the needs of citizens of all ages and economic levels and allow users to access critical information on the go.
Drupal can help. Drupal 8 was built to scale across devices, load mobile content at top speeds, provide a wide selection of responsive themes, and more. Drupal also allows content editors the ability to add or update site content via mobile, unlocking the ability to make emergency updates from anywhere.
Offering a secure site that protects your content and sensitive user information is critical for maintaining your reputation and public trust. Drupal offers robust security capabilities, from regular patches to prominent notifications about updates to security modules you can install for additional peace of mind. Unlike other open source platforms, Drupal has a dedicated security council that keeps an eye out for potential issues and develops best practices to keep sites stable and secure.3. Accessibility
A number of federal, state and local laws require government websites to serve the needs of all citizens, regardless of their abilities. Focusing on accessibility compliance from the very beginning of your website project can help your team avoid costly re-work and launch delays.
Drupal has accessibility baked in, with all features and functions built to conform to the World Wide Web Consortium (WCAG) and ADA guidelines, including the platform’s authoring experience. That means that people of all abilities can interact with your Drupal website, whether they are adding and editing content, reading news, filling out forms, or completing other tasks. Drupal allows screen readers to interpret text correctly, suggests accessible color contrast and intensity, builds accessible images and forms, supports skip navigation in core themes, and much more.
If you’re a content editor, we recently wrote about eight things you can do to make your site more accessible.4. Simple content management
Drupal’s content editor helps busy government website administrators add posts, pages, and resources in an environment that’s nearly as simple and familiar as a Word document. The what you see is what you get (WYSIWYG) editing mode supports text formatting, links, embedded media, and more.
Drupal also enables administrators to set up customized roles, permissions, and content workflows. This allows any number of team members to contribute to the site while maintaining administrative control of the content that gets through to the public.
Many government websites store hefty data and resources and see significant spikes in traffic based on seasonal demand, news cycles, and many other factors. Drupal has the power to deal with large databases and intense site traffic with ease.
Drupal’s database capability includes a wide range of ways to sort and organize content via its module system, supporting the needs of almost any content library without the need to create custom code.
Drupal powers a number of heavily visited sites including NBC’s Olympics, The Grammy Awards, and Weather.com, keeping them going strong even when traffic levels are enormous.
The helpful features included in Drupal core are just the beginning. Many, many additional modules have been contributed and tested by the Drupal community and are ready to be added to your site as needed. How many? The Drupal community has contributed well over 40,000 modules, so it’s a safe bet that there’s something already out there that can help meet the needs of your project.
Modules can be added to your site at any time, like building blocks. A few popular examples include social sharing, image editing, calendars, metatags, and modules that support integrations with external systems, from email platforms to customer databases.7. Affordability
Government budgets are often tight, with plenty of competing priorities for every dollar spent. With Drupal, you tap into a free, open-source system that’s supported by an enormous community of developers. Building your website on an open-source platform means you can focus your budget on creating an ideal experience for your citizens through professional services including content strategy, user experience, and design rather than dedicating funds to software licensing fees. And Drupal’s flexible modules reduce or even eliminate the need for custom code, helping you save even more.8. Support for multiple sites in multiple languages
It’s not uncommon for government entities to have multiple websites. Whether your government maintains a few sites or hundreds, building each one individually would require an incredible amount of time and funds. Thankfully, Drupal’s multisite feature allows your site’s code base to be copied and adjusted to create as many new websites as you need, leveraging features that already exist without the need to build them from scratch. To meet language requirements, Drupal offers Content and Entity Translation modules that help content authors translate pages, individual elements, or specific fields into more than 100 languages.Kanopi Studios loves government website projects
At Kanopi, we’re Drupal experts. We’ve harnessed its power to create citizen-focused sites for the San Francisco Police Department, San Francisco Health Service System and more. We’d love to hear from you, learn about the problems you are trying to solve, and share even more details about how you can put Drupal to work for your government website.
The post Eight reasons why Drupal should be every government’s CMS appeared first on Kanopi Studios.
Gábor Hojtsy: First beta of Upgrade Status for Drupal 8 out with highly improved reporting, helps to best collaborate with project maintainers
On our way to Drupal 9 every site will need to take care of making updates to their custom code as well as updating their contributed projects. However this time, instead of needing to rewrite code, only smaller changes are needed. Most contributed modules will only need to deal with a couple changes. Collaborating with project maintainers is the best way to get to Drupal 9. The first beta of the Upgrade Status module alongside recent drupal.org changes focus on making this much easier.Upgrade Status beta provides better insight into Drupal 9 readiness
Take the first beta of the Upgrade Status module and run it on your site. It will provide executive summaries of results about all scanned projects and lets you inspect each individually.
Custom and contributed projects are grouped and summarised separately. You should be able to do all needed changes to your custom code, while for contributed projects you should keep them up to date in your environment and work with the maintainers to get to Drupal 9. The later is facilitated by displaying available update information inline and by pulling the Drupal 9 plan information from drupal.org projects and displaying it directly on the page.
This is how the summary looks like after scanning a few projects:
Digging deeper from the executive summary, you can review each error separately. The beta release now categorizes issues found to actionable (Fix now) and non-actionable (Fix later) categories with a Check manually category for items where it cannot decide based on available information. For custom projects, any deprecation is fixable that has replacements in your environment while for contributed projects supporting all core versions with security support the window is shifted by a year. Only deprecations from two or more releases earlier can be fixed (compared to the latest Drupal release) while keeping Drupal core support. So somewhat ironically, Upgrade Status itself has deprecated API uses that it cannot yet fix (alongside ones it could fix, but we have them for testing purposes specifically):
The module is able to catch some types of PHP fatal errors (unfortunately there are still some in projects that we need to figure out the best way to catch). The @deprecated annotation information guiding you on how to fix the issues found are also displayed thanks to lots of work by Matt Glaman.Own a Drupal.org project? Direct contributors to help you the way you prefer!
If you own a Drupal.org project that has Drupal 8 code, you should specify your Drupal 9 plans. It is worth spending time to fill in this field to direct contributors to the best way you prefer them help you, so contributions can be a win-win for you and your users alike. Whether it is a META issue you plan to collect work or a specific time in the future you will start looking at Drupal 9 deprecations or a funding need to be able to move forward, letting the world know is important. This allows others to engage with you the way you prefer them to. Additionally to it being displayed in Upgrade Status's summary it is also displayed directly on your project page!
Go edit your project and find the Drupal 9 porting info field to fill in. Some suggestions are provided for typical scenarios:
This will then be displayed on your project page alongside usage and security coverage information. For example, check it out on the Upgrade Status project page.Thanks
Special thanks for dedicated contributors and testers of the Upgrade Status module who helped us get to beta, especially Karl Fritsche (bio.logis), Nancy Rackleff (ThinkShout), Tsegaselassie Tadesse (Axelerant), Bram Goffings (Nascom), Travis Clark (Worthington Libraries), Mats Blakstad (Globalbility), Tony Wilson (UNC Pembroke), Alex Pott (AcroMedia, Thunder), Charlie ChX Negyesi (Smartsheet), Meike Jung (hexabinær Kommunikation). Thanks to Neil Drumm (Drupal Association) and Angela Byron (Acquia) for collaboration on the Drupal 9 plan field.
Redis is an open-source, networked, in-memory, key-value data store that can be used as a drop-in caching backend for your Drupal, Add the Redis module from Drupal.org, Enable the module & Verify Redis is enabled.heykarthikwithu Friday, 19 July 2019 - 15:00:23 IST
Mediacurrent created the Rain Install Profile to build fast, consistent Drupal websites and improve the editorial experience. Rain expedites website creation, configuration, and deployment.
In this article, we will walk through each of the main features that ship with the Rain distribution. This tutorial is intended to help content authors and site administrators get set up quickly with all that Rain has to offer.
Have a question or comment? Hit me up @drupalninja on Twitter.Content Moderation
A question we often hear when working with a client is, “how can Drupal help build a publishing workflow that works for my team and business?"
Drupal 8 marked a big step forward for creating flexible editorial workflows. Building on Drupal 8's support for content moderation workflows, Rain comes pre-configured with a set of Workflow states. The term “states” refers to the different statuses your content can have throughout the publishing process - the four statuses available by default are “Draft”, “Needs Review”, “Published” and “Archived.” They can be easily enabled for any content type. As with everything in Drupal, these states and workflows are highly configurable.
Once enabled, using content moderation in Drupal 8 is straightforward. After you save a piece of content, initially it will default to the “Draft” status which will remain unpublished. The “Review” status also preserves the unpublished status until the current edits get published. What’s great about Workflow in Drupal 8 is that you can make updates on a published piece of content without affecting the published state of that content until your changes are ready to be published. The video below demonstrates how to enable workflow and see draft updates before they are published.
To review any content currently in a workflow state you can click on the “Moderated Content” local task which is visible from the main Admin content screen (see below).
As a best practice, we recommend enabling revisions for all content. This allows editors to easily undo a change made by mistake and revisions keeps a full history of edits for each node. By default, all of Rain’s optional content features have revisions enabled by default. As illustrated below once you have made a save on a piece of content, the “Revisions” tab will appear with options for reviewing or reverting a change.
Coming soon to Drupal core is an overhauled Media library feature. In the meantime, Drupal contrib offers some very good Media library features that are pre-configured in Rain. The Rain media features are integrated with most image fields including the “thumbnail” field on all content type features that ship with Rain.
The video below demonstrates two notable features. First is the pop-up dialog that shows editors all media available to choose from within the site. Editors can search or browse for an existing image if desired. Second is the drag-and-drop file upload which lets the editor user drag an image onto the dialog to immediately upload the file.
Media is commonly embedded within the WYSIWYG editor in Drupal. Rain helps improve this experience by adding a button which embeds the Media library feature to be used within WYSIWYG. The key difference between the Media library pop-up you see on fields versus the pop-up you see within WYSIWYG is that here you will have an option to select the image style. The video below illustrates how this is done.
Another WYSIWYG enhancement that ships with Rain is the integrated “Linkit” module that gives users an autocomplete dialog for links. The short video below demonstrates how to use this feature.
A common task for content editors is scheduling content to be published at a future date and time. Rain gives authors the ability to schedule content easily from the content edit screen. Note that this feature will override the Workflow state so this should be considered when assigning user roles and permissions. The screenshot below indicates the location of the “Scheduling options” feature that appears in the sidebar on node edit pages.
Drupal is usually configured with the ability to set alias patterns for content. This will create the meaningful content “slugs” visitors see in the browser which also adheres to SEO best practices. Rain’s approach is to pre-load a set of sensible defaults that get administrators started quickly. The video below demonstrates how an admin user would configure an alias pattern for a content type.
By default, the Rain distribution generates a sitemap.xml feed populated with all published content. For editors, it can be important to understand how to exclude content from a sitemap or update the priority for SEO purposes. The screenshot below indicates where these settings live on the node edit page.
The default configuration enabled by the Rain install profile should work well for most sites. Metatag, a core building block for your website’s SEO strategy, is also enabled for all optional content features that ship with the Rain distribution. To update meta tags settings on an individual piece of content, editors can simply edit the “Meta tags” area of the sidebar on the edit screen (see below).
Enabling Google Analytics on your Drupal website is a very simple process. The Rain distribution installs the Google Analytics module by default but the tracking embed will not fire until an administrator has supplied a “Web Property ID.” The Google Analytics documentation shows you where to find this ID. To navigate to the Google Analytics settings page, look for the “Google Analytics” link on the main admin configuration page. Most of the default settings will work well without change and the only required setting is the “UA” ID highlighted below.
Enabling Content Features
Rain comes with many optional content features that can be enabled at any time. This includes content types, vocabularies, paragraphs, search and block types. Enabling a content feature will create the corresponding content type, taxonomy, etc. that can then be further customized. Any paragraph feature that is enabled will be immediately visible on any Rain content type that has enabled. Watch the video below to see an example of how to enable these features.
Mediacurrent created Rain to jump-start development and give editors the tools they need to effectively manage content. All features that ship with Rain are optional and highly configurable. We tried to strike a balance of pre-configuring as many essential modules as possible while still allowing site administrators to own the configuration of their Drupal site.
In the next tutorial, we will “pop open the hood” for Drupal developers to explain in technical detail how to build sites with Rain.
Mike and Matt gather a fleet of Lullabots to talk the ins and outs of continuous integration (CI) in 2019.Tools and Services mentioned in this episode:
Sometimes, you would want to restrict access to certain pages on your site to users who do not have a specific role. You would want users to upgrade to a paid plan. Or you would just want to collect some more information from them.
The Rabbit Hole module controls what should happen when a user clicks the link to the entity or enters a URL in the address bar. It redirects such users to another page in the site.
The Rabbit Hole module works with different types of entities. They could be nodes, users, taxonomy terms and files, to name a few.
This tutorial will explain the basic usage of this module. Let’s start!
At Microserve we're always ambitious about the solutions that we design and develop from scratch, but we're also conscious that there's no point in 'reinventing the wheel' when perfectly good solutions already exist. Our clients usually have third-party systems that they rely on for all kinds of business-critical services like CRM, marketing automation, authentication, recruitment and lots more. It's our job as technical architects to understand where those systems end and where the system that we’re developing begins. Crucially, we need to plan how data flows between those systems to get them working seamlessly together. In other words: how to integrate the systems.
Palantir is excited to return to Denver as a sponsor for DrupalCamp Colorado 2019, featuring a keynote from our CEO, Tiffany Farriss. Tiffany will be discussing the role of organizational culture and open source projects like Drupal in the success of tech companies. We hope to see you there!
- Location: TBD
- Date: August 3rd, 2019
- Time: 9 AM - 10 AM MDT
The Drupal community maintains its own evergreen coding standards that differ from those of the broader PHP community (e.g., PSR-2). It's encouraged to pore through the standards line-by-line and memorize each for perfect real-time compliance, but for those with better things to do, fear not! The standards will come to you.