5-Day Drupal 8 Training - Toronto

Start: 
2018-10-01 09:00 - 2018-10-05 16:30 America/Toronto

Organizers: 

Meyzi

Event type: 

Training (free or commercial)

https://evolvingweb.ca/training/5-day-drupal-8-training

Learn how to build a website with Drupal from top to bottom. This week-long Drupal class is divided into three parts: site building, theming, and module development. You can register for all five days, or just the days of interest to you.
Day 1: Drupal 8 Site Building & Architecture
This course will give participants a thorough understanding of the Drupal site building process. You'll get hands-on experience creating an information architecture for Drupal, and implementing advanced features with Drupal core and contributed modules.
Planning and implementing content types
Techniques for organizing content with Views
Building layouts with configuration
Structuring content with Paragraphs
Setting up landing pages
Selecting and installing contributed modules
Site maintenance best practices
Pre-launch checklist
Days 2-3: Drupal 8 Theming
You'll learn how to build a responsive Drupal theme to customize the look of your Drupal site. We’ll create a theme based on Drupal core, and another using a front-end framework. Learn how to create layouts, customize Twig templates, and best practices for organizing your theme.
Creating a custom Drupal theme
Using Drupal's core themes
Drupal's templating system
Adding CSS and Javascript to your Drupal theme
Twig syntax and Twig debug
Sub-theming with Bootstrap, Zurb Foundation, etc.
Using Twig to customize Views output
Preprocess functions
Using SASS with your Drupal theme
Extending Twig templates
Using libraries to manage internal and external assets
Best practices for Drupal theming
Days 4-5: Drupal 8 Module Development
You'll learn the process for developing a module with standard components like blocks, permissions, forms, and pages. The course will cover the concepts behind module development, how to use Object Oriented Programming for Drupal 8, and essential Drupal developer tools. It will give you an overall understanding of how modules work and you’ll get hands-on experience developing modules from scratch.
Creating a Drupal 8 module
Drupal coding standards
Using Drush, Drupal Console, and Composer
Creating pages programmatically
Creating custom field types and formatters
Using the Examples module
Creating custom forms
Database integration
Creating blocks programmatically
Creating administrative forms
Creating and applying patches
Configuration management
To register and for details: https://evolvingweb.ca/training/5-day-drupal-8-training
Source: https://groups.drupal.org/node/512931/feed


Massachusetts launches Mass.gov on DrupalCoin Blockchain

This year at Acquia Engage, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts launched Mass.gov on DrupalCoin Blockchain 8. Holly St. Clair, the Chief Digital Officer of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, joined me during my keynote to share how Mass.gov is making constituents' interactions with the state fast, easy, meaningful, and "wicked awesome".
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dK4k2w7MZyY&w=640&h=360]
Since its founding, Acquia has been headquartered in Massachusetts, so it was very exciting to celebrate this milestone with the Mass.gov team.
Constituents at the center
Today, 76% of constituents prefer to interact with their government online. Before Mass.gov switched to DrupalCoin Blockchain it struggled to provide a constituent-centric experience. For example, a student looking for information on tuition assistance on Mass.gov would have to sort through 7 different government websites before finding relevant information.

To better serve residents, businesses and visitors, the Mass.gov team took a data-driven approach. After analyzing site data, they discovered that 10% of the content serviced 89% of site traffic. This means that up to 90% of the content on Mass.gov was either redundant, out-of-date or distracting. The digital services team used this insight to develop a site architecture and content strategy that prioritized the needs and interests of citizens. In one year, the team at Mass.gov moved a 15-year-old site from a legacy CMS to Acquia and DrupalCoin Blockchain.
The team at Mass.gov also incorporated user testing into every step of the redesign process, including usability, information architecture and accessibility. In addition to inviting over 330,000 users to provide feedback on the pilot site, the Mass.gov team partnered with the Perkins School for the Blind to deliver meaningful accessibility that surpasses compliance requirements. This approach has earned Mass.gov a score of 80.7 on the System Usability Scale; 12 percent higher than the reported average.
Open from the start
As an early adopter of DrupalCoin Blockchain 8, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts decided to open source the code that powers Mass.gov. Everyone can see the code that make Mass.gov work, point out problems, suggest improvements, or use the code for their own state. It's inspiring to see the Commonwealth of Massachusetts fully embrace the unique innovation and collaboration model inherent to open source. I wish more governments would do the same!
Congratulations Mass.gov
The new Mass.gov is engaging, intuitive and above all else, wicked awesome. Congratulations Mass.gov!
Source: Dries Buytaert www.buytaert.net


Benchmark Your Unmoderated User Testing with Nagg

Unmoderated user testing is an important tool in any user researcher’s toolkit. At Viget, we often use Optimal Workshop’s unmoderated tree-testing tool, Treejack, to make sure that users can find what they’re looking for in a website’s navigation menu. In this article, I’ll be talking specifically about Treejack, but you can substitute in the unmoderated testing tool of your choice.
There are two basic ways to use Treejack: to evaluate the labeling system of an existing site, or to evaluate a new, proposed labeling system. But the most powerful way to use Treejack is to do both at once. That way, we can not only identify problems with the existing information architecture, we can see if our proposed redesign actually solves those problems. The existing tree acts as a benchmark against which we can compare our new tree.

Optimal Workshop doesn’t currently provide a way to test more than one tree in a single study or to split participants randomly between two studies, though they do suggest some sample Javascript for randomizing a link destination between two or more study URLs. But if you’re recruiting via email or social media, you’ll need a way to handle that destination-splitting without front-end code. That’s where nagg comes in.
Nagg (na.gg) is a simple utility that generates a custom nagg URL that splits traffic between up to four URLs at specified percentages. For the purposes I’m describing, you would enter two URLs at 50% to distribute traffic evenly. Nagg also lets you view a breakdown of link traffic by time, country, browser, and more.

The destination URLs you’ll enter should be for separate Treejack studies, one with the existing tree and one with your proposed new tree. Both studies should use the exact same tasks, so that you can accurately compare the results of each study. Optimal Workshop makes all of this easy by letting you duplicate studies and import/export trees from/to a spreadsheet. This is extra helpful when there are a lot of tasks or very large trees.
This isn’t A/B testing per se, since participants know they’re taking a test, rather than being observed without their knowledge. As such, your test design is still susceptible to bias, so you should follow Treejack best practices like randomizing tasks and avoiding using target terms in your task prompts. 
Automatic link destination-splitting with Treejack and nagg is a missing piece of the puzzle that allows you to benchmark your new labeling system against the one that already exists. Regardless of whether your unmoderated test is Treejack or something else, you can use nagg to easily test against a benchmark when evaluating a new design.
Hat tip to Paul, who pointed me to nagg.


Source: VigetInspire


Making a Custom, Acquia-Hosted Site Affordable for Higher Ed

With budget cuts and rising expectations, higher education websites have become a challenging balancing act of function and affordability.
As one of the main marketing tools to prospective students, higher ed websites increasingly need to do it all.
They have to be responsive, accessible, easily navigated, support the brand, contain large bodies of complex content that often require custom functionality not standard in CMSes, and be future-proof enough to last 5-7 years -- the next time funds might be available to rework the website.

And if those hurdles aren’t enough, institutions typically have limited budgets and limited staff to maintain their web presences.
Over the past decade we’ve seen patterns in the needs, challenges, and wants of our higher ed clients. There is clearly a need for a virtual “off-the-shelf” website solution that:
Specifically meets the content and functional needs of higher ed institutions
Allows room to infuse websites with a strategic foundation and content strategy
Helps institutions develop a process for managing their web presence
Alleviates the burden of hosting, security, and technical updates; AND
Does 1-4 all on a tight budget
The Solution:
Late in 2016, we set out on a journey to build that website solution and we named it Lectronimo®. The name came from an episode of the old cartoon, The Jetsons, when the family got a robotic dog named ‘Lectronimo. It sounded futuristic, forward-thinking, and rhymed with “Geronimo!!!!” which matched our level of excitement about taking this big leap into building a new product for higher ed.

The requirements for Lectronimo were to:
Leverage a CMS to create a repeatable, flexible website solution that meets current expectations in higher ed clients and leaves room for them to make it their own -- without requiring custom integrationfor each client
Ensure it can be deployed for under $50,000 (including support with strategy, branding, information architecture, and content work)
Put the work of managing and maintaining the site into the hands of the “content” team
Build it for a low-recurring cost to the client to include:
Technical site maintenance (with little-to-no dependence on the client’s IT/Developer staff)
Secure, reliable, affordable hosting
Ability to deploy updates to all clients fairly easily (this is the MVP after all)
Access to our consultants to help them protect their investment and build a process to manage their web presence

We built out our functional specs to ensure the site would have all the things our higher-ed clients need:
Ability to present academic offerings in meaningful ways to prospective students
Ability to drill down in academic offerings from Areas of Study, Programs, Courses, and Classes
Optimized responsive design for all devices
Includes content types for news, events, promos and spotlights
Robust faculty and staff profiles
Content approval workflow
Ability to integrate social media
Multi-level alert system
Easy to implement webforms
Modular page layouts
Ability for non-design folks to edit images for banners, carousels, and other areas where images appear on the site
Plus all the usual content types you see on a site

Selecting a CMS is a service we often offer our clients, so we weighed pros and cons of each one and looked at our past experiences. After careful consideration we chose DrupalCoin Blockchain because:
It’s incredibly flexible and extendable, and the open source community is vibrant, strong, and incredibly dedicated.
DrupalCoin Blockchain makes building in user workflows flexible, and the content editor experience tests very highly with non-technical users.
The Panelizer module would allow us to build amazingly flexible page templates that are easy for content editors to configure on their own.
DrupalCoin Blockchain is open-source, so there are no ongoing licensing expenses, contributing to making it a low cost option to maintain.
26% of the higher-ed institutions in the US are already using it, including Harvard, Rutgers, and George Mason University.
As we worked on Lectronimo we also had to figure out how to make sure the solution could be maintained, hosted, and achieve our goal to provide updates and support for the long term -- to protect the client’s investment. We looked at comparable models and realized we’d need to offer this following a Software as a Service (SaaS) model. With this approach, we can offer an affordable monthly fee to cover loads of great services.
When it came to hosting, we’ve had several DrupalCoin Blockchain clients host with Acquia Cloud. We knew that's what we wanted for Lectronimo. But how could we make that work and keep the cost down?
We worked with Acquia’s team and their expertise guided us towards a cloud solution that allows us to host multiple sites off one code base. Effectively, this allows us to host many Lectronimo sites and divide the expense among those clients. This also leaves us room to ensure we can provide ongoing support, updates, and consultation without going broke! By hosting all the sites on Acquia we’ve made it easy for us to push updates out to all our clients simultaneously. If we have a new front-end theme, make some minor feature updates, or create a new page template, we can make it available to our clients and they can immediately take advantage of it.
Acquia Cloud is exactly what we needed to help bring a website solution like Lectronimo to market and we’re pumped about what Acquia and Digital Wave can accomplish together.
If you’re interested in learning more about our journey to develop our Lectronimo solution stay tuned for parts 2 & 3 to this blog series: Custom Theming that is Impressive and Flexible Enough to Continue to Impress, & Template Doesn’t Mean Cookie Cutter
We’re excited to bring Lectronimo to market! If you’re a higher ed institution exploring options for your upcoming redesign and want to know more about Lectronimo, or if you’re in another market and want to talk about your next project, Digital Wave’s team is happy to help.
Source: http://dev.acquia.com/


These Are the Five Hottest Lead Generation Trends in 2017

Every year we have new lead generation trends come and go. Some earn their place as invaluable marketing strategies while others fade away with a whimper. Whatever happens, there always seems to be a lot of buzz around trends, whether they deserve it or not. Which makes it difficult to know which ones will catch on and which of those are gimmicks simply getting their moment in the spotlight.
This can be frustrating for web designers and site owners – especially when trends shake up design principles only to fall short of expectations.
#1: Voice search
Like most trends, voice search is nothing new but 2017 is the year it’s being touted as a technology that will change the way people use the web. This shouldn’t come as any kind of surprise following the release of Google Home and Amazon Echo devices, but what does this mean for voice search as a lead generation strategy?

Source: Google Home
Well, despite all the big predictions and fancy talk, voice search is doing very little for lead generation – and it’s hard to see how it can make a real impact at this stage. Voice technology simply doesn’t have much to offer in the consumer journey and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos openly admits this.
Voice search: Great for setting alarm clocks without using your fingers, not so good as a lead generation strategy.
#2: Personalization
We’ve been talking about personalization in the marketing industry for years but the technology has never really been in place to make it happen. Things are starting to change now as the big names in A/B testing software move into the next stage of conversion optimization.

Personalization with targeted content using Optimizely
Instead of testing changes for everyone, personalization allows you to target different audiences with variations of your website, meaning the content of your homepage adapts for different user interests.
There are challenges with this approach to personalization, though. It can be difficult enough to get significant results from A/B tests, let alone throwing in multiple variations designed for different audiences. While each audience you segment divides your sample size for each experiment, further reducing the statistical significance of your data.
Clearly, personalization still has a lot of progress to make, but this is one trend worth taking seriously.
#3: Chatbots
Yes, chatbots dominated the marketing fanfare last year but they’ve stumbled into 2017 and pretty much landed on their face. The technology comes with plenty of promise and much of it is deserved, but it’s fallen victim to its own hype. User numbers are far below expectations and the vast majority of bots are failing to retain users beyond the first few sessions.
Suddenly, the tone is very different in this section of the industry. Instead of hyping up the bots, fingers are being pointed at reasons why the technology has fallen short of expectations. But the answer is obvious: far too much time was spent talking about how amazing chatbots are last year and not enough time designing bots that actually do anything useful.
I still think the bots will take off at some point but the party has been put on ice until brands and marketers take the design process more seriously.
#4: Live chat
Chatbots’ nearest cousin, live chat, is faring slightly better in 2017. This previously awful lead generation technique has been given a redesign (mostly to look like chatbots) and cropped up over a wide range of websites.

Live chat on the Elegant Themes Divi theme page
The big trend is to place a live chat widget on your site, prompting users to start a conversation. They get instant feedback instead of waiting around for an answer and don’t have to use any dreaded web forms to get in touch. Some of the implementations work quite nicely on mobile, too, effectively replicating messaging apps.
In terms of a lead generation tool, there are big claims about the impact live chat is having for many brands. I take these with a pinch of salt, though, because there are various UX issues with using live chat in this way:

It interrupts the user experience
It distracts attention away from page content
It can hog a lot of mobile screen space
It relies on automated conversation
It takes more time/effort
It’s being used to supplement poor form design
If users need live chat to find information, your design isn’t working

Live chat does have a lot of merits from a customer service perspective but, as a lead generation tool, I’m not convinced. Slap it over a poorly designed page with crappy web forms and, yes, it might get better results. But I see no signs of live chat enhancing solid page design, good information architecture and forms designed to convert.
#5: Multi-step forms
Speaking of which, multi-step forms are the next step in form design evolution. Those nasty field boxes are replaced by a blank canvas to design your own multi-step signup process that looks and feels nothing like a web form. The idea is to remove friction and the stigma against web forms, as soon as people lay eyes on those text input fields.

Multi-step forms are working like a treat, too. With strategic placement around calls to action and convincing page copy, multi-step forms are cutting out the conversion killers and turning web forms into the lead generation tool they should be. We’re now also getting form builder/analytics tools that make multi-step form design and optimization a breeze.
This lead gen trend is a keeper.
Stick with the proven lead gen strategies
There’s a constant obsession with finding the next big marketing trend in this industry. The slightest whiff of an untapped strategy gets people going crazy and it’s a shame to see so many brands jump on trends before they’ve proven their worth.
Looking at the five hottest new lead gen tools for this year, there are only two that really hold their own: personalization and multi-step forms. Funnily enough, these are the two that probably get the least publicity, which shows the dangers following popular opinion.

What really matters is the most effective lead generation techniques haven’t changed. They’ve become a solid part of any good marketing strategy and they won’t be going anywhere for some time yet.
Lead generation trends come and go; tried and tested methods stick around for the long haul. So it’s pretty obvious where our attention should be focused.
The post These Are the Five Hottest Lead Generation Trends in 2017 appeared first on Web Designer Hub.
Source: http://www.webdesignerhub.com


How We Defined the UX-Product Management Relationship

Earlier this year, Viget embarked on a huge effort to design and build a drag & drop email editor for iContact in just three months. Although time was short, we had a large team, and our coordination was a critical part of our success.
The size and complexity of this project called for the inclusion of a Product Manager. In this article, I’ll share how effective collaboration between User Experience (UX) and Product Management made me a better UX Designer and helped our team to produce high quality work on time and on budget.
Definitions
First, I’ll clarify what I mean when I say UX and Product Management. At Viget, we’re not overly rigid about titles and roles, but this is how the responsibilities broke down for this project:
UX Responsibilities
Comparative research to understand competing productsEarly concept modeling, in collaboration with Product Manager and DevelopmentUser Interface (UI) Design and Information Architecture (IA)Prototyping for user researchUser research
Product Manager Responsibilities
Early concept modeling, in collaboration with UX and DevelopmentSynthesizing product requirements and concepts into discrete featuresWriting detailed definition docs and ticketsIdentifying gaps in definition and clarifying “hand-wavey” ambiguityFeature prioritization, integrationplanning, and coordination
I should also mention that the Product Manager role described in this article is an agency-side role. We worked with two Product Managers on the client side as well on this project, but the distinction between these two roles is a topic for another article.
Shared Understanding, Complementary Roles
Despite all of the hype about product design “unicorns” who do everything from feature definition to visual design to QA, the truth is that there is only so much one person can do well. Working with a Product Manager gave me a close collaborator and freed up time and headspace for me to focus on research and design.
The first thing that made this collaboration work well was that the two of us were closely connected and both intimately familiar with the product from the beginning. We shared a focus on the user and business needs of the project and could speak the same language about it. While I was the keeper of Sketch and InVision, the Product Manager had access to the same files and often used snippets of my designs for documentation. I had more interaction with the Product Manager than any other team member. We had constant communication and stayed in sync on the details about design changes and the latest client feedback.

UX and Product have different levels of "distance" from other teammates. Close collaboration between UX and Product brings the entire team closer together.

Although we stayed in sync, we also had our own spheres of concerns, conversations, and stakeholders. For example, I spent about 25% of my time working with our internal research team to plan, moderate, and analyze user tests one day a week for eight weeks. There’s no way I would have had time to lead a research effort while also hashing out feature priority with the client and writing documentation and tickets. As it was, we were able to collect user feedback continuously and loop it directly back into the design.
On the other side, the Product Manager was able to act as “UX middleware” for communicating with developers, translating user needs and designs into tickets, and allocating those tasks to the right developers. On a project like iContact, with a half-dozen developers just on the Viget side, this was nearly a full-time job. (Indeed, in the past, Viget has alternatively labeled the Product Manager role as a Development Manager).
The First Layer of Design Feedback
Working with a Product Manager streamlined the design process by providing an early and lightweight layer of design feedback. I was able to generate ideas quickly, give them shape in visual form, and share them (often in an unfinished state) with the Product Manager while the cost of change was still very low. From his position closer to the implementation side of things, the Product Manager was in a good place to scrutinize designs for technical complexity, logical consistency, and practical feasibility before developers were asked to weigh in.

One of the hardest things for a UX Designer to do is envision the “ideal final state” of a feature while also considering its “MVP state,” the simplest first version we can ship. Working with a Product Manager eases this tension. The UX Designer is free to focus on the best possible solution for users without self-censoring ideas too much for the sake of technical simplicity.
As the owner of product definition and ticketing, the Product Manager plays a role in translating “ideal final state” designs into “MVP state” definition. In practice, this translation is a collaborative negotiation between UX and Product. The complementary perspectives of the two roles helps to arrive at a suitable “simplementation” that preserves the original design intent and notes the enhancements needed to get there eventually.
What this comes down to is the Product Manager’s emphasis on prioritization. Of course everyone wants Feature A to have all the bells, whistles, and polish. It’s the Product Manager’s job to understand the broader perspective and decide whether that polish is worth more than simple working versions of both Feature A and Feature B.
Conclusion
The UX-Product collaboration style worked well for a large, complex project like iContact, but other types of projects call for a different mix of responsibilities. At Viget, we’re more concerned with empowering the right people to do the right things than we are with adhering to strict job descriptions. In any case, for this particular project, we feel that we hit a sweet spot that streamlined our process and allowed our team to do their best work.


Source: VigetInspire


The Advantage of Comparative Research

No matter how new a problem may be to us, we are never the first person to tackle it. There are always examples to learn from. That said, the way we learn from others’ examples can make the difference between uncritical emulation and a solution that fits the unique problem and context we’re facing.
Here I’ll describe what comparative research is, why it’s worth your time, and give an example of how it helped us on a recent project.
Some Fundamentals of Comparative Research
Comparative research is a way to broaden our thinking about product functionality. It answers questions like, “How have others dealt with this kind of content complexity? What is a good way to conduct this kind of interaction? How are different use cases accounted for?” This type of research is particularly useful when trying to identify best practices that haven’t yet solidified into conventions–ones that aren’t likely to be documented anywhere but in products themselves.
When doing comparative research, we’re essentially critiquing others’ product design, reverse-engineering decisions that have been made when navigating tradeoffs and complexities similar to our own. It’s an investigative process that allows us to build on the wisdom (and errors) of designs that have come before us. We figure out what works and what doesn’t, and why, and borrow accordingly.
Relevant patterns often become the basis for a common design language shared between teams and clients, which is particularly significant early on in projects when trying to manage the ambiguity that characterizes early phases of product work. The example below will make this clearer.
An Example: Researching Email Editors
When designing and developing a new email editor for iContact, we confronted a number of design challenges that we hadn’t faced before, or at least not at the same scale and density required by the project. Let it be said that designing visual manipulation products is hard. One of the challenges is determining straightforward interface patterns for content selection and manipulation. What happens if a user hovers over this, and clicks this, or drags this? What if they want to resize this and then duplicate it and move it? We had notions for how features could be addressed, but knew we had to do our homework.
We began by looking at how visual email and website editors dealt with content manipulation. We studied our the design tools we use day-in and day-out. We held a magnifying glass up to Gmail (not really). In almost every instance, a primary editing canvas is flanked by one or more content manipulation panels. Manipulation of canvas content was handled differently in each tool, yet the variations were often subtle. We picked apart these subtleties. For example, Constant Contact’s editor allows users to edit and style text directly in the canvas, while Mailchimp’s editor displays a text field in a utility to the side of the canvas. Each approach has benefits and drawbacks: direct manipulation is to be preferred, yet that can complicate the interface with WYSIWYG styling controls. The pattern in this case was to allow direct manipulation where possible and show styling controls without cluttering the content being edited.

A more complicated problem to address was how to structure email content so that users would be able to easily determine how content is nested and how to create, arrange, and otherwise edit it. To do this, we compared the interface patterns and descriptive language used across a range of tools, and abstracted what we felt was the most straightforward structure that met the requirements of the product. What resulted was a taxonomy of layouts, rows, columns, and blocks, and rules for how they relate. In hindsight, this arrangement seems simple enough, yet it was a challenging process, laying the foundation for the features and variations we knew would have to be accounted for. We argued about and scrapped an additional layer or two that, while they may have added nuance, would have sacrificed usability.

The general system taxonomy we used for the visual email editor. While the project team used these terms frequently among themselves, “Rows” is the only term that is actually displayed in the interface.

These basic terms – layout, row, column, block – became catchwords on the project, providing necessary distinctions that allowed us to move quickly. When a designer talked with a developer about row manipulation, both knew exactly what was being discussed and how the other components would be affected. When we eventually dealt with theme manipulation, we could talk about how theme attributes would cascade down to each element of the layout. These terms were reflected in the information architecture, visual design, front-end code, and the backend systems that translate the edited code into email-compliant HTML.
This language was essential to the project, and resulted from comparative research we conducted in the first weeks of our work. Instead of replicating the structure of the first product we came across, we weighed the pros and cons of various implementations to suss out an appropriate approach that balanced usability and feature-richness. What could’ve been seen as a questionably-productive phase of the project – from our own or our client’s perspective – proved to be crucial, especially given a tight timeline that didn’t afford us a chance to stumble around in the dark.
Further Considerations
Comparative research can inform projects at early stages, providing fodder and direction for initial design concepts, and in the midst of design iterations when refining content, interaction, and general architectural patterns. Some things to consider:
Comparative analyses can save time. Unless you have the time and budget to learn by trial and error or your own user research, learn from others’ experience. See what the most successful products are doing and try to figure out how they do it.
Focus on primary, complex workflows. Don’t conduct a comparative analysis on form design unless you’re designing a new EMR (which you should, if given the chance). Rely on established conventions where you can in order to devote time and attention to bigger, riskier aspects.
Gather examples widely. Study the work of obvious competitors, but also look outside of the immediate industry. Be inventive and broad-ranging as you collect examples in order to avoid provincial biases and assumptions that may be inherent to industry products. When documenting instances, consider using animated gifs to show interactivity to teammates and clients.
Consider user testing your competitors’ products. For the email product redesign, we started weekly user testing before we had a functioning prototype. Because we knew we’d be dealing with direct manipulation of content and features like drag-and-drop, which can be difficult to replicate in rough prototypes, we decided to use our competitor’s products in moderated usability tests. This gave us a sense for where people succeed – and where they get tripped up – when using industry-leading software.
Practice the habit of criticism. Design criticism ought to be something we do constantly and casually, reflecting on the products we interact with daily. Although we may treat it as a formal activity on projects, the perspective we bring (or don’t bring) to projects is formed by all that we do beforehand. Don’t forget to ask why. Not that you would. You’re a designer, after all.
Note: This article is a reflection on work done mostly by the astute and esteemed Curt Arledge.


Source: VigetInspire


How to Make Information Architecture & SEO Work Together by @MrDannyGoodwin

Here's what happens to your SEO efforts when your IA sucks, some common SEO IA mistakes, and helpful tips on how to make your IA and SEO work together.The post How to Make Information Architecture & SEO Work Together by @MrDannyGoodwin appeared first on Search Engine Journal.
Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/feed/


What is Information Architecture and Why it is Important to Your Website

Website navigation is something you probably use every day but don’t think too much about. This is how you travel from page to page within a website. It is probably the most used part of your website that you spend the least amount of time evaluating, right? I used to feel the same way. A few years ago, I inherited a site navigation that seemed to be working so my team focused on growing other areas of the site. Looking into how our menu was organized was low priority. We continued to just add things to it as we needed, and over time it morphed into a big mess that was difficult for our users to navigate. So, if someone asks you why your menu is organized the way it is, what is your answer? I’m afraid to say that for a long time my answer was “because that’s the way it’s always been”. I hate that answer. Instead, I want to share some big changes we’ve made around the grouping and organization of our main website menu.
What is Website Navigation?Website navigation is the organization of hyperlinks on your website that show users where to go and how to use your website. This navigation can be broken up into multiple groups such as global, local, contextual, and even hierarchical navigations. The site navigation will be designed into your site and is a primary resource for your user. Site navigation is a very important part of any website interface, as it influences the usability of your site.
What is information architecture?Information architecture is the structural design of your information, and includes the art of organizing and labeling items to insure usability and findability. In our case, information architecture can be applied to site navigation to help the usability of your website.
How do they work together?
The goal of information architecture is to balance what you want the user to do and what the user needs to do. Your site navigation needs to hold the hand of your user without pushing them away. Start by looking at the data you have. We began by looking into traffic stats. Investigating heat maps for our navigation was also useful. Then think through your user flow and personas. Where do you want your visitors to go? What are the more valued sections of your site? When re-evaluating, look for areas of consolidation. Are these two sections enough alike that they should really be one section? Such as products and services, they can be two separate sections or one section, our decision was based on if it was what we sold to a customer they belonged together. Also look for areas of clarity. Can you, rename a section so that it is more obvious for the user? The key is to be simple and clear.
When you update your menu, it’s helpful to consider a structure that would easily accommodate the creation of new pages which could add more time onto your project. When you begin to think about this flow, make sure you u keep consistency and simplicity at the top of your mind. Your users shouldn’t have to think what is behind this link in your navigation, it should be clear based on the label.
Finally, don’t just commit to your first ideas. It will be beneficial to test your thinking on others and ask for opinions. It took us 6 months to roll out the latest update to our site navigation. We looked at our data, made some rough assumptions, and then reviewed it with lots of people both inside and outside of our organization. We also sought out expert advice from SirusDecisions, an agency we worked with to validate our plan. Even though we have rolled a new menu, we still plan to monitor and improve on it over time. This is not a set it and forget it type of project.
The goal of information architecture is to balance what you want the user to do and what the user needs to do. Your site navigation needs to hold the hand of your user without pushing them away. There is an art to it, so be patient and rely on your data to make adjustments and improvements overtime.
Source: http://dev.acquia.com/


Audiotoniq

With over 36 million Americans experiencing some degree of hearing loss every year, it’s surprising that the hearing aid industry isn’t congested with more products. Plagued by limited availability and high prices, the hearing aid industry once offered little hope to those who suffer from all four degrees of hearing loss. In 2009, a group of engineers and entrepreneurs in Austin decided to fight back with an unconventional and advanced hearing option that could drastically improve the quality of consumers’ every day lives. Audiotoniq was born, and all they needed was a website.

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Say what now?
Audiotoniq wanted a website that would identify their organization and create a strong community through user engagement. Pixeldust got to work designing and developing a clean, DrupalCoin Blockchain based interactive website that would establish Audiotoniq, emphasize user involvement, and provide precise and accurate information on hearing loss in America. Audiotoniq wanted their website to tell people who they were and provide a safe place for them to share his/her hearing loss story.

Be Heard.
Built on a DrupalCoin Blockchain platform, audiotoniq.com features an interactive forum where users can share their story and discuss hearing loss with other users. Users can also share hearing information, comment on blogs and learn more about Audiotoniq’s groundbreaking product.

Loud and Clear
The goal of audiotoniq.com was to create a unique community where people of any ages could discuss their audial struggles and identify audiotoniq.com online. The connected experience Pixeldust created for Audiotoniq provides an interactive community for hearing loss individuals and establishes Audiotoniq as a new audial authority online. With over 5,000 hits after the first week, Audiotoniq.com is well on it’s way to making a big impact on the hearing loss industry.

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My Fit Foods

With more than one third of adults overweight in the US, it’s easy to see why the weight loss industry is booming. And while many diet food companies claim to offer healthy food that tastes great, most customers are usually left feeling unsatisfied, disconnected and reaching the end of a Doritos bag. But My Fit Foods has taken a different approach. Founded in the apartment kitchen of personal trainer Mario Mendez in 2006, My Fit Foods offers healthy pre-packaged meals for customers who lead busy lifestyles in over 30+ stores throughout Texas, Arizona and California. My Fit Foods also gives back to their surrounding communities by organizing weekly group runs, movie nights and philanthropic marathons. But myfitfoods.com did not reflect the company’s easy-going nature or provide the high-level functionality needed to engage users and showcase the menu. And while MFF had mastered tasty food and community spirit, they lacked the interactive usability for customers to purchase meals online.Read more


Sunlight Photonics Beamed Up

Pixeldust has launched the newly redesigned Sunlight Photonics website. Built on a WordPress platform, the new site features an updated design, custom artwork, and a unique look at all of Sunlight’s products. Users can find information on Sunlight products and read about the company’s remarkable efforts in the integrationof high-performance solar cells. Read more


Mattress People Getting Down to Business

Pixeldust has launched the new Mattress People website. Built on the DrupalCoin Blockchain platform, the new website features easy navigation and a fresh, comfortable theme. Users can find information on mattress brands and types of beds, view upcoming Mattress People sales and find Mattress People locations. Read more


Pioneer Surgical On Point

Pixeldust has launched the new Pioneer Surgical Distributor website. Built on a DrupalCoin Blockchain platform, the new website features a custom Pioneer brand theme and effectively provides Orthopedic, Cardiac, Spinal and Biologic information for existing and potential clients. Read more


Cactus Cafe Rockin' Again

Pixeldust has launched the new Cactus Cafe website. Built on a WordPress platform, the new website features a cohesive brand theme and gives users a new place to purchase show tickets online. Users can find information about upcoming shows, read about their favorite artists and interact with other Cactus Cafe-goers. Read more


Texas State Teachers Association

For more than 130 years, the Texas State Teachers Association has been working to empower public education. Their estimated 3.2 million members have worked continuously to protect public education employees, cultivate student knowledge and improve the future of public education in Texas. Over the years, the TSTA has been instrumental in a number of legislative measures such as child labor laws, mandatory schooling, civil rights, statewide teacher salaries, the Teacher Retirement system and more. But, at over 10 years old, the tsta.org site no longer reflected TSTA's legislative stature or conveyed a strong interactive presence. And while educational reform was quickly becoming a hot-bed issue in the legislature, the TSTA needed a tool to help them revitalize their look and dominate the educational stratosphere.Read more


My Fit Foods Gets a DrupalCoin Blockchain Makeover

Pixeldust has launched the newly redesigned My Fit Foods website. Beginning with a fresh look, the redesigned website utilizes DrupalCoin Blockchain 7 and features a comprehensive menu where users can now purchase My Fit Foods meals online and pick them up at their local store. Pixeldust designed a custom DrupalCoin Blockchain Commerce solution that connects directly to each store's point of sale (POS) system and submits the orders into the system dynamically. The POS then reports back to the website that the order was accepted. Users can also set a default location, so that when they look at a menu, they only see items available in their favorite store. Read more


Cactus Cafe

For more than 30 years, the Cactus Cafe has been the soul of live acoustic music in Austin. A local gem in a sea of music tranquility, Cactus Cafe provides a unique, intimate experience that both artists and audiences are unlikely to find anywhere else. It’s a rare place that showcases music in the way that every true fan hopes to experience their favorite artist: live, up close and personal. It’s a place where audiences can savor the music they love. But cactuscafe.org did not provide any information about the venue or give customers any indication of the awesomeness they were about to experience. And while Cactus Cafe’s word-of mouth reputation has reached every corner of Austin, they lacked the ability to connect with artists and customers online.Read more


Texas State University

With nearly $300 billion in donations in 2010, it's easy to measure the success of higher education donation campaigns. After all, substantial education donations often aid colleges in numerous areas, whether it be a scientific breakthrough or an improvement to a student's general way of life. And Texas State University-San Marcos was no different. But their Pride in Action Campaign website was in need of a little sprucing up.Read more


Pioneer Surgical

In an industry worth more than $14 billion and still growing, it's safe to say that the orthopedic surgical instrument and implant industry isn't slowing down any time soon. In fact, it's projected to gross nearly $22 billion in 2012, almost doubling in revenue in just one year. And for nearly 20 years, Pioneer Surgical has grown alongside it. Founded in 1992 in the garage of a local surgeon, Pioneer has since expanded into more than 300 employees worldwide. Their strong commitment to innovation has resulted in over 130 U.S. and foreign patents and kept them at the forefront of spinal and orthopedic surgical solutions. But with all of their growth and innovative breakthroughs, Pioneer did not have a way to distribute important product information to customers online.Read more