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Drupal blog: The web I want for my kids

5 hours 3 min ago

This blog has been re-posted and edited with permission from Dries Buytaert's blog:

Volunteering as a mentor at CoderDojo to teach young people, including my own kids, how to write software.

Last week, I published an opinion piece on CNN featuring my thoughts on what is wrong with the web and how we might fix it.

In short, I really miss some things about the original web, and don't want my kids to grow up being exploited by mega-corporations.

I am hopeful that increased regulation and decentralized web applications may fix some of the web's current problems. While some problems are really difficult to fix, at the very least, my kids will have more options to choose from when it comes to their data privacy and overall experience on the web.

You can read the first few paragraphs below, and view the whole article on CNN.

I still remember the feeling in the year 2000 when a group of five friends and I shared a modem connection at the University of Antwerp. I used it to create an online message board so we could chat back and forth about mostly mundane things. The modem was slow by today's standards, but the newness of it all was an adrenaline rush. Little did I know that message board would change my life.

In time, I turned this internal message board into a public news and discussion site, where I shared my own experiences using experimental web technologies. Soon, I started hearing from people all over the world that wanted to provide suggestions on how to improve my website, but that also wanted to use my site's technology to build their own websites and experiment with emerging web technologies.

Before long, I was connected to a network of strangers who would help me build Drupal.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

TEN7 Blog's Drupal Posts: Case Study: Solhem Companies

8 hours 19 min ago
Website Refresh - Making It Easy to Decide on Apartments from Afar

Solhem Companies develops, owns and manages award-winning residential and office properties in Minneapolis, Minnesota’s most desirable neighborhoods. TEN7 has been working with Solhem since the beginning.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

BADCamp 2019: Call for Speakers

8 hours 28 min ago
Call for Speakers volkswagenchick Tue, 07/23/2019 - 06:51
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: DrupalCon 2019

Mon, 2019-07-22 16:54
April 8 - 12, 2019 Washington State Convention Center, Seattle, Washington DrupalCon (official site)

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

Keeping That New Car Smell: Tips for Publishing Accessible Content by Alex Brandt and Nelson Harris

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.


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.


The Challenge of Emotional Labor in Open Source Communities by Ken Rickard

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


The Remote Work Toolkit: Tricks for Keeping Healthy and Happy by Kristen Mayer and Luke Wertz

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.

Join us for Trivia Night 

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!

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: Federated Search v2.0

Mon, 2019-07-22 16:54

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
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Mediacurrent: Customizing Rain for Developers

Mon, 2019-07-22 14:27

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 our previous article, we walked through each feature of the Rain Install Profile with tips on how to use and configure each feature. In today’s tutorial, we zoom in on some technical aspects that backend developers will need to understand to properly develop against the Rain distribution.

Have a question or comment? Hit me up at @drupalninja

Post-install configuration

The last article, What’s New in Rain 3.0, gives some basic instructions on how to install Rain successfully. The Drupal project template repository also gives additional details on how to fully set up the entire project, including the local environment. Here we will cover what developers should do next once they have successfully installed Rain for the first time.

Creating a sub-profile

By default, the Mediacurrent Drupal project template includes a core patch that allows for profiles to inherit features and configuration from a parent profile. This follows a similar pattern to base themes and sub-themes in Drupal. The project template also bundles with it a sample profile (“mis_profile”) to demonstrate how to set up sub-profiles. The screenshot below illustrates the new yml syntax that will enable the “base profile” inheritance.

Do I need to create a custom install?

You might ask - Why mess with a custom install profile at all? You certainly don’t have to. You could simply run mis_profile or the base Rain profile as-is and then start making your customizations. That said, many organizations take the approach of creating a custom install profile for each project. This can be handy for encapsulating configuration, install functions and other aspects related to the project. Mediacurrent takes this approach, and we highly recommend other organizations implementing Drupal applications do the same.

To get started, simply rename the “mis_profile” folder to your project name, then search and replace any instances of the “mis_profile” text string in your project. Once this is done you can remove the reference to mis_profile in composer.json as it will no longer be needed. From that point on, when you run build.sh your config.yml will instruct the installer to use your custom profile.

Files included in sample mis_profile

 

Exporting configuration

The easiest way to get started with Rain is to run the ./scripts/build.sh command once your initial sub-profile is set up from the previous step. The base Rain installation will configure common modules covered in the Rain Admin and Authors Overview article. All of the content features will be left disabled initially but can easily be enabled through Drush or the “Admin Modules” page. Once you have the initial configuration set, it’s generally best practice to export that configuration to a version-controlled folder. In your local settings file you should have a line that is commented out by default that looks like the following:

# $config_directories['sync'] = $app_root . '/profiles/mis_profile/config/sync';

The line should have the name of your profile. Once you uncomment out that line you can run drush cex -y using your local site alias. This will export your configuration to your install profile folder (also considered best practice but not required). Now, every time you execute ./scripts/build.sh Drupal will create the site using your exported configuration. We love this approach because it ensures project developers are sharing the same configuration and it pairs nicely with automated tests.

Example sync folder from Gatsby Drupal 8 demo

 

Customizing Content

The content features that ship with Rain can be easily customized. Custom paragraph types are integrated with the Rain base theme (“rain_theme”) which means that changes to Paragraphs often require updates to Twig templates as well. The Rain theme is optional but adds the benefit of pre-configuring Paragraphs to map to components provided in the theme’s style guide. We will cover theming with Rain more in-depth in the next article.

Optional content type features

 

Add Paragraphs pop-up dialog

Maintenance

The Rain install profile takes the role of a quick starter and package manager. This is a similar approach to other distributions like Acquia Lightning. What this means is that after install, developers will own their site’s configuration and primarily leverage Rain’s Composer updates (if desired) for package dependencies. The main project Composer contains references to the base Rain distribution as well as the “Rain Features” package, both of which have their own Composer files that pull in Drupal contributed modules. The benefit of delegating this work to Rain is that modules are continually tested together as a package and include patches where needed. This can dramatically cut down on the work on the part of the “consumer” of Rain versus managing these dependencies on your own.

When updating mediacurrent/rain and mediacurrent/rain_features be sure to check the UPDATE.md file included in the main Rain project repository. This document includes instructions on how to upgrade when significant updates are made. This could include a major version change or updates after a Drupal core minor version is released. Note that Drupal core minor versions often require some refactoring, such as removing a contributed dependency that was ported to core.

Continuous Integration

Mediacurrent uses Bitbucket as our Git service of choice which means that we leverage Bitbucket’s Pipelines to execute CI tests. In our Drupal project template, we include a sample pipelines files that can be leveraged or refactored to match yml syntax for other Git repositories like Github or Gitlab.

Detaching

How married are you to Rain post-install? The answer is not too much. If you wanted to detach from Rain Composer you could easily back out the Composer dependencies, copy over what you need to your main project Composer and remove the reference to Rain’s base install profile in your custom profile’s info.yml file. From that point on, you will be managing dependencies on your own but still have the option to leverage stand-alone projects like Rain Theme or Rain Admin.

In some cases, developers will want to use the base Rain project but not the corresponding Rain Features project. The rain.install does not include any of the optional features from that project which means that you can simply remove “rain_features” from Composer in instances where you will not utilize those features.

Mediacurrent Rain projects

Local Environments

Mediacurrent currently uses a DrupalVM based local environment bundled with scripts for managing builds and deployments. These packages are included under “require-dev” in your project Composer and are not required to use Rain. If you have another environment you prefer such as Lando or DDEV you can back out these dependencies from your project Composer.

Deployments

Most Drupal web hosts (e.g Acquia, Pantheon, etc.) have their own git repository they use for deploying artifacts to the server. This includes all the actual Drupal files that make up core, contributed modules and libraries. We don’t want our source git repository to store artifacts or conform to the folder layout required by the web host. Instead, we execute deploy commands to build the artifacts from Composer and commit them to the appropriate destination git repository. To make that process easier we have some additional configuration to add to our config.yml file that instructs how and where code should be deployed.

The key aspects to both the Acquia and Pantheon configuration is pointing the release repo to the appropriate git URL provided by your host, the name of the host and the release drupal root directory. Our examples use Acquia and Pantheon but also support generic git artifact repositories like AWS.

Acquia config:

project_repo: git@pathtomysourcerepo.git

release_repo: mcABCProjectname@svn-1234.devcloud.hosting.acquia.com:mcABCProject.git

release_drupal_root: docroot

deploy_host: Acquia

Pantheon config:

project_repo: git@pathtomysourcerepo.git

release_repo: ssh://codeserver.dev.YOUR_UUID_VALUES.drush.in:2222/~/repository.git

release_drupal_root: web

deploy_host: Pantheon

Additionally, for Pantheon, you will need to add a pantheon.yml file to the root directory with the following values:

api_version: 1

web_docroot: true

php_version: 7.1 (or latest PHP version supported)

This command also needs to be run in order to clean up the Pantheon git repo prior to our first deployment:

rm -r README.txt autoload.php core example.gitignore index.php modules profiles robots.txt sites themes update.php vendor web.config

Now we are ready to build and deploy for the first time. We do this with two commands, one to build the artifacts and one to push files to the release git repository.

Example (using Pantheon):

./scripts/hobson release:build Pantheon develop

./scripts/hobson release:deploy Pantheon develop -y

After you have deployed code to Acquia or Pantheon you should be able to run a clean install using either the sample Rain child install profile (mis_profile) or cloned profile you have created (see Rain README for more details).

Final Thoughts

We hope this article helps developers get up and running smoothly with the Rain install profile and Drupal project template. At this point, you should be fairly comfortable installing Rain, creating a custom profile, exporting configuration, deploying to a Drupal host and maintaining Composer. As a package, Rain was designed to be flexible as possible to allow developers to customize their applications without being locked into a prescribed way of configuring Drupal.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Drupal Association blog: Meet the candidates

Mon, 2019-07-22 12:12

Did you know you have a say in who is on the Drupal Association Board? Each year, the Drupal community votes in a member who serves two years on the board. It’s your chance to decide which community voice you want to represent you in discussions that set the strategic direction for the Drupal Association. Go here for more details.

Voting takes place from 1 August - 16 August. Anyone who has a Drupal.org profile page and has logged in to their account in the last year is eligible to vote. This year, there are many candidates from around the world. Now it’s time for you to meet them.

Meet The Candidates

We just concluded the phase where 12 candidates nominated themselves for the board seat. From now through 1 August we encourage you to check out each person’s candidate profile, where they explain which board discussion topics they are most passionate about and what perspectives they will bring to the board.

We asked candidates to include a short video - a statement of candidacy - that summarizes why you should vote for them. Be sure to check them out. Videos are found in the candidate’s profile as well as here:

You are encouraged to ask questions, by viewing their candidate profile and adding a question at the bottom of the page. I have posed one question to each candidate already!

What To Consider

When reviewing the candidates, it is helpful to know what the board is focusing on over the next year or two, so you can decide who can best represent you.

Here are the key topics the board will focus on.

  • Strengthening Drupal Association’s sustainability. The board discusses how the Association can improve its financial health while expanding its mission work.
  • Understanding what the Project needs to move forward and determine how the Association can help meet those needs through Drupal.org and DrupalCon.
  • Growing Drupal adoption through our own channels and partner channels.
  • Developing the strategic direction for DrupalCon and Drupal.org.

There are certain duties that a candidate must be able to perform as a board member. The three legal obligations are duty of care, duty of loyalty, and duty of obedience. In addition to these legal obligations, there is a lot of practical work that the board undertakes. These generally fall under the fiduciary responsibilities and include:

  • overseeing Financial Performance
  • setting Strategy
  • setting and Reviewing Legal Policies
  • fundraising
  • managing the Executive Director

Hopefully providing this context gives you a helpful way to assess the candidates as you decide how to vote From 1 August - 16 August.

We encourage you to ask the candidates questions. Use comments to leave a question on their candidate profile page.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Dries Buytaert: The web I want for my kids

Mon, 2019-07-22 09:23

Volunteering as a mentor at CoderDojo to teach young people, including my own kids, how to write software.

Last week, I published an opinion piece on CNN featuring my thoughts on what is wrong with the web and how we might fix it.

In short, I really miss some things about the original web, and don't want my kids to grow up being exploited by mega-corporations.

I am hopeful that increased regulation and decentralized web applications may fix some of the web's current problems. While some problems are really difficult to fix, at the very least, my kids will have more options to choose from when it comes to their data privacy and overall experience on the web.

You can read the first few paragraphs below, and view the whole article on CNN.

I still remember the feeling in the year 2000 when a group of five friends and I shared a modem connection at the University of Antwerp. I used it to create an online message board so we could chat back and forth about mostly mundane things. The modem was slow by today's standards, but the newness of it all was an adrenaline rush. Little did I know that message board would change my life.

In time, I turned this internal message board into a public news and discussion site, where I shared my own experiences using experimental web technologies. Soon, I started hearing from people all over the world that wanted to provide suggestions on how to improve my website, but that also wanted to use my site's technology to build their own websites and experiment with emerging web technologies.

Before long, I was connected to a network of strangers who would help me build Drupal.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Lullabot: Behind the Screens: Behind the Screens with Kevin Thull

Mon, 2019-07-22 03:00

Can't make a Drupal camp? Kevin Thull has you covered! Kevin donates his time recording sessions at most North American Drupal camps. I find out why, and what food to bribe him with.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Promet Source: 5 Reasons to Attend and Sponsor Open Source Events

Sun, 2019-07-21 20:06
“Is it worth it?”   This summer, I’ve been asked a lot of questions concerning Promet Source’s commitment to sponsoring Drupal Camps, as well as our eagerness to lead training events and be present at them in every way that we can.    I get that at any given moment, most of us have more on our plates than we can handle. It’s difficult to justify throwing travel and a two or three day camp or convention into the mix.     That said, my answer to the “Is it worth it” question is an enthusiastic, “YES.”   Here’s why:  
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

CiviCRM Blog: Current Status of Drupal 8 and CiviCRM

Sat, 2019-07-20 15:58

For starters, over 200 Drupal 8 sites already run CiviCRM!  This post is based on my own research and conversations with those involved, and is intended to be informative and encouraging.  As you may know, CiviCRM works with no less than four CMS at the moment, including three versions of Drupal, two 'officially'.   Understandably with Drupal 7 end-of-support scheduled for Nov 2021, there has been recent discussion about which to use for your website.

  • Many Drupal shops already support and recommend Drupal 8 with CiviCRM
  • Preferred installation techniques for Drupal 8 have coalesced around the use of the Composer tool
  • Tutorials and how-tos for installation by leading experts are available

Let's back up a step...what is different about Drupal 8?  Well, Drupal 7 to Drupal 8 represents a major leap and upgrade.  Whereas Drupal 8 to 9 (and beyond) should be significantly less laborious, according to the Drupal head honcho.  The investment to jump to Drupal 8 will be offset by easier Drupal updates planned in the future.  Compatibility with CiviCRM should be similarly less laborious to maintain.

The Make it Happen fundraising campaign for Drupal 8 & Civi is currently halfway there.  But what's it for?

  • Improvements to the CiviCRM core installer for use with Composer and a clean build process
  • Funding the CiviCRM Core Team, who are already carefully considering and coordinating the sustainable architecture they will implement
  • An officially supported Drupal 8 release listed for download
  • Future maintenance

But what about other Drupal integration modules we know and love, such as Webform CiviCRM and CiviCRM Entity?  Again, great question...

  • Efforts to port these modules to Drupal 8 are already well underway, and nearing completion!
  • These modules have little to no dependency on the Drupal 8 & core CiviCRM Make it Happen effort
  • There are issue queues and sponsors for Entity and Webform. Code and financial contributions are welcome

Ok but "What do I do?" you may ask.  First off, that's a deeply individual question, depending on what your website already does and what you need it to do with CiviCRM.  But regardless it's a good idea to start this conversation right now.  Here's some food for thought:

  • Discuss with your CiviCRM consulting partner that supports Drupal.  If you are a consultant, consider a proactive chat with your clients
  • You don't need to wait for an official release, you can get started today building Drupal 8 with Civi using these tips and installation guides
  • Get involved technically and financially by supporting individual module efforts and/or the Make it Happen
  • Talk to others, ask their opinion, and get them involved.  You can find support on CiviCRM's Stack Exchange or the 'dev' and 'drupal' channels of Civi's MatterMost chat
  • You might consider another CMS for your new website that already has official CiviCRM support.  WordPress and Joomla! come to mind of course.  But it's worth mentioning Backdrop specifically in this category, due to it being a Drupal offshoot with a supposedly clean upgrade path from Drupal 7
  • Or you could wait a little bit longer...and see what happens.  Drupal 7 isn't going away at end of 2021, it's just no longer officially supported.  Third-party providers are already gearing up for long term support of Drupal 7 into 2022 and beyond.  So if you've built a behemoth with Drupal 7, you may be able to keep it active for quite some time

Hope this helps people get their heads wrapped around what's going on...comments welcome!

 

DrupalDrupal 8
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Kanopi Studios: The top six website metrics you should pay attention to

Fri, 2019-07-19 17:13

If your website is the hub for your audience to interact with your brand, then presumably you are doing all sorts of marketing tactics to get them there.

Once they are there, how are you tracking them? How do you know your efforts are effective?

There are a few key metrics you should be tracking to help you to optimize your marketing efforts, understand how the site is doing, continuously improve your website, and to allow you to report to others in your company about where the focus of marketing needs to lie.

First off, you need to determine what your goals are per marketing activity. How are you performing on these goals now? What are doing to affect those goals? How will you measure it? Identify not only your main conversions, like a form completion or a purchase, but soft conversions like a newsletter sign-up or a PDF download.

Next, either review your metrics based on these items or put in these metrics to track moving forward. 

Here are some commonly reviewed and important items to track. Most of these will be familiar to you, but #6 can be a game changer!

1. Time on Site

This metric allows you to see an aggregate of how long your audience spends on your site. If your site is centered around exploration and information, you will want this number to increase over time.

2. Bounce Rate

Your bounce rate is the percentage of users who visit your site, but only visit one page and then leave. Google Analytics defines it as the user only visiting the site for 0 seconds, then they exit. This means they see one page of your site, but the analytics does not have enough time to trigger a duration of their session. 

Several reports lean towards an “Acceptable” bounce rate can range between 26 to 70%. But this is a large range across multiple industries. Look deeper to learn what is considered “acceptable” in your industry, because a high bounce rate absolutely depends on your industry and the goals of your site. For example, if you are a restaurant and the visitor simply visits to grab your phone number, then you have reached your goal!

This should be looked at in combination with the other analytics in this article, since looking at the bounce rate alone will not tell you an accurate story. Researching a good bounce rate for your website type and industry is fantastic, but also look to see where you are today and then focus on reducing it (if appropriate).

3. Number of Pages visited

Again, if your site is more informational and built to provide a “next step” for exploration with your users, than you will want this metric to increase. If the number is closer to 1, but you focus all your traffic to a single page, than you should look deeper into that single page’s analytics, before you are concerned with this number.

4. New vs Returning Visitors

In Google Analytics, there is an overlap in these numbers. “New Visitor” is a unique visitor visiting your site for the first time, on a specific device. If you visit a site once on your phone, then again on your desktop, you will be counted as 2 new visitors.

Once the visitor visits your site again, on a device they already used, they will be counted as a, “Returning Visitor” for the next two years (then the clock starts over again).

This could be a great metric to use when you are running a campaign in different areas or industries, for example. If you pay close attention, you can see which campaigns garnered more new traffic.

5. Traffic Sources

Analytics programs will report to you where your traffic is coming from, which illuminates the more and less popular sources. It will also provide you referral sites, which helps you to see your ROI if you partner with others to send traffic to your site.

Seeing how each traffic source performs for you will continue you on the path of honing what works well for you (and what does not).

6. Search

The most crucial advice we provide our clients is to track your in-site search.

This is done as an admin in your “view settings” for Google Analytics. The reason this is so very powerful is it provides you exactly what your visitors want from your site.

A behavioral studies from the Nielsen Group and other research findings show that more than 50% of people visiting a start page on a website go straight to the internal search box in order to navigate. Those figures prove that search box becomes essential navigation tool on every website.

From this data, you can organize, adjust or create your content plan. You can revamp your navigation or the order at which content is laid out on your site. You can write relevant FAQs or shift your focus from one audience group to another. The reason this can be so compelling for your business is because you are directly answering the needs of your audience. 

These will get you started!

Many more metrics exist which can help you to analyze your effectiveness in your marketing tools and traffic sources, but these six are the best ones with which to start. Once you have defined what is important for you, continue to review your analytics over the course of time so you can continually optimize your site’s effectiveness.

Your website is a living and breathing entity that needs nurture and care to continue its growth and work harder for your business. If you need help with a strategy to define your metrics, contact us. We’d be glad to help. 

The post The top six website metrics you should pay attention to appeared first on Kanopi Studios.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: DrupalCamp Colorado 2019

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24
August 2 - August 4, 2019 King Center, Auraria Campus, Denver, Colorado DrupalCamp Colorado 2019 (Official Site)

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
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: OSCON 2019: Open@Amazon

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24
July 16th, 2019 Oregon Convention Center, Portland, Oregon Open@Amazon (official site)

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.

Palantir is thrilled to be participating in Keeping Open Source Open -- a panel including CEO, Tiffany Farriss for a spirited discussion on open source strategy and the future of open source.

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

 

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: Decoupled Days 2019

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24
July 17 - 18, 2019 John Jay College of Criminal Justice, New York City, New York Decoupled Days (Official Site)

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 
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: How to Scale Through Design Systems

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24

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:

  1. 'Design Elements' which are the very basic building blocks for the website.
  2. 'Components' which combine design elements into working pieces of code that serve a defined purpose.
  3. '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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
3. Now that you’ve sorted your list by content, do a cross-check for functionality.

Unlike paper publications, websites are built to enable actions like searching, subscribing, and making appointments. Your component set should include interfaces for your functionality.

Some simple and common functions for the UHealth site included searching for a treatment by letter, map blocks, and step forms.

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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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!
Outcomes

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
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: Leading Patient Engagement Solutions Company

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24

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
Enabling Scalable Growth

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 & Creative

Taxonomy

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.

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

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

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24
Monday, June 17, 2019 WeWork, 111 W Illinois Street, Chicago, IL Chicago IA/UX Meetup (official site)

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

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

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

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

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: 10 Tips for Publishing Accessible Content

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24

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

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

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

Why Accessibility Standards are Important to Marketers

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

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

10 Tips for Publishing Accessible Content

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

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

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

Types of text alternatives you can provide:

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

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

2. Write proper alt text.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Write a descriptive title for every page.

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

Page titles impact:

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

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

Additional tips:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

10. Clearly label form input elements.

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

Helpful Resources

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

Accessibility Tools People
Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

Palantir: National Rural Health Resource Center

Fri, 2019-07-19 16:24

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

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

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

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

The goals of the engagement were to: 


 

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

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

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

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

Palantir implemented a three-step process:

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

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

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

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

How we planned to measure success against our established goals:

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

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

Test #1: Top Task survey

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

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

Test #2: IA tree test

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

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

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

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

Phillip Birk

Senior IT Specialist

The Outcomes

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

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

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

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

Categories: FLOSS Project Planets

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