Lullabot

Porting Drupal 7 modules to Backdrop

Note: this article assumes some experience working with Drupal modules and doesn't profess to be a general introduction to writing a Drupal or Backdrop module from scratch.

Now that an official release of Backdrop CMS is available, we have the opportunity to examine this fork of Drupal more closely, and evaluate its appropriateness for projects. It’s impossible to evaluate Backdrop’s feasibility without having an understanding of the level of effort involved in porting modules.

A Lullabot’s Guide to Successful Meetings

One of the core skills of our client services team is the ability to communicate clearly, efficiently, and humanely to each other and to our clients. It’s this communication that gets us through gnarly project roadblocks and beyond the purely technical solutions. Unfortunately, this can lead to the dreaded wave of “calls”, “syncs”, “touch-bases”, and “meetings” which eat up our calendar hours.

Drupal Console

In this episode, Amber Matz talks with Jesus Manuel Olivas, one of the maintainers of the Drupal Console project. Drupal Console brings the Symfony Console component to Drupal 8 and provides code generation and module scaffolding commands as well as commands for interacting with a Drupal 8 installation. Extended notes and resources are on the Drupalize.Me blog.

Adjusting to Lullabot's Culture

Last month, I talked about my experience being hired by Lullabot. Now, I'd like to tell you about my first few months as a UX Designer. I am still learning about my coworkers and finding my groove, but can already look back on where I started and see my progress.

Front-End Fundamentals, a Book Written by Bots

One of the coolest things about Lullabots is their desire to teach and share their knowledge. They do this in many formats: podcasts, articles, presentations, and even writing books. Joe Fender and Carwin Young decided there was an absolute need to write a book that brings all aspects of Front-End tools, frameworks, concepts, and procedures into one place — Front-End Fundamentals.

Understanding JavaScript behaviors in Drupal

I can barely remember the first time I added JavaScript to a Drupal page using a custom module. I'm sure looked at the documentation, took the example snippet, tweaked it, tested it, and moved on to something else. It was only later, using a debugger, that I saw how Drupal's "behavior" system worked and realized that my code was not being executed as I expected.

In this article, we'll cover the key facts about Drupal behaviors, then look at a real Drupal project to inspect its behaviors and optimize them.

Drush and Composer

In this week's episode Addison Berry hosts Greg Anderson, one of the Drush maintainers, and Juampy Novillo Requena to discuss Drush. We start off by explaining why Drush exists and some cool things about it. One of the big hangups people have with Drush is installation, so we talk a bit about that, and how it is easier now with Composer.

Getting Hired By Lullabot, a Distributed Company

I’ve been a 'Bot' for about two months now. Looking back on it, it seems to have gone by fast. Like one of those really awesome parties you threw in college. It feels even shorter still, because so far, I’ve spent almost as much time trying to get hired by Lullabot as I have actually working for them. Let me share a little bit about both phases of starting my career with Lullabot, over a series of articles.

Wireframing in Illustrator

Designing as a team can be challenging. This is especially true with larger and more complex projects as well as with larger teams. At Lullabot, our design team has encountered many of these challenges, and as our team continues to grow, I’m sure we’ll encounter many more. If you've ever tried to produce and maintain wireframes with several other people, you know the pains of sharing assets and making sure everyone has the most up-to-date version of what they’re working on. Is everyone using the same icon set or the latest logo? What screen sizes should we wireframe for?

Lullabot's 2014 Year In Review

Wow! What a Year!

As we throw away the empty champagne bottles and start retraining ourselves to write a different year on our checks, it’s always a good time reflect upon the past year. 2014 was Lullabot’s 9th year in business and it was our biggest year ever. We contributed to projects for MSNBC, Pac-12, NBC.com, Bravo TV, Saturday Night Live, Tesla Motors, NAMM, CNBC, Hotwire, Harvard University, American Booksellers Association, Intel, Comcast, GE, Qualcomm, and Teach For America, amongst others.

Coding in Schools

In this episode, Amber Matz and her guests Eric Schneider and Matthew Tift talk about the successes and challenges on how parents and school officials worked together to get coding into the curriculum in Minnetonka Schools. Eric Schneider is the Assistant Superintendent for Instruction, Minnetonka Public Schools and Matthew Tift is a Senior Developer at Lullabot and a Minnetonka parent.

Drupal Community Leadership

Announcing Yonder 2015

In January of 2014, Yonder brought together leaders of distributed/remote/virtual teams to talk about the future of work. We talked about managing and connecting remote workers, building culture in a distributed company, and the tools which bring together virtual teams. We talked about hiring needs, legal and tax issues, and shared our secrets to keeping our companies going and keeping our employees happy.

I'm happy to announce that we're doing it again! Yonder 2015 will be happening January 22nd & 23rd at the Loews Coronado Bay Resort near San Diego, CA. In an effort to keep the event to a managable size, it's invite-only. But if you would like to go – or you know someone who should go – visit http://yonder.io and request an invite! Act quickly though. Seats are filling fast.

Last year, we had leaders from GitHub, Upworthy, The World Kickball Association, Intridea, WooThemes, and many others. There was a lot of great information shared and I know that those of us from Lullabot came away with a lot of great ideas.

Interested in sponsoring? You can download our sponsorship info sheet here.

Questions about Yonder? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter.

Drupal.org Initiatives

In this episode, Joshua Mitchell, CTO at the Drupal Association talks with Amber Matz about the exciting initiatives in the works for drupal.org and associated sites. We also talk about how the community, including the D.A. Board, working groups, and volunteers are utilized to determine priorities and work on infrastructure improvements. There's exciting changes in the works on drupal.org regarding automated testing, git, deployment, the issue queue, localize.drupal.org, and groups.drupal.org.

DrupalCon Amsterdam

In this week's episode Addison Berry and Amber Himes Matz sit down together in a quiet room at DrupalCon Amsterdam to give a quick recap on their week at the largest European DrupalCon. We chat about other events outside of the DrupalCon sessions themselves, some cool sessions, and a bit about the new Drupal 8 beta.

The NAMM Foundation

NAMM

The NAMM Foundation is a non-profit organization full of dedicated staff and volunteers that work hard to promote the intrinsic value of music and music education. It’s a fantastic cause and wonderful organization that does a lot of inspiring things in communities all across the United States.

The challenge and opportunity

Like many non-profit and philanthropic organizations, the NAMM Foundation has evolved over the years, steadily expanding its reach and impact. As the organization has grown, groups have emerged within and even joined the NAMM Foundation. While those organizational groups accomplish valuable goals for the NAMM Foundation, many of their audiences and goals overlap. As the NAMM Foundation has evolved, their website also has evolved. Content and sections have been added, often grouped by that content’s relationship to internal groups or programs within the organization. This is natural, especially when a small team is responsible for a LOT of things. Websites can easily become a patch work quilt over time, frustrating the people who use them as well as the people who maintain them.

This was the situation for the team at the NAMM Foundation. Their organization had grown and their website had done its best to keep up, but was in need of some love. They wanted to radically rethink their website, focus on the the questions and needs of their audience, and further the reach and impact of the time they spent maintaining it. Our team at Lullabot was excited to partner with them to help make that happen!

Laying the foundation

We began our work with the NAMM Foundation with lean research and planning. We headed out to sunny Carlsbad, California to spend a week with their team, learning the ins and outs of their organization, their content, and the people they serve. The project team included designers, developers, a content and digital strategist from Lullabot, as well as content creators and leaders from within the NAMM Foundation. During our one week workshop we focused on understanding and documenting following things:

  • The core purpose for the project
  • The audience (or audiences) and their needs
  • The content, it's structure and its hierarchy
  • The brand and its values, voice, characteristics and style

We assembled designers, developers, product owners, content creators, site users, and stakeholders for a rigorous but fun few days of interviews and exercises. We used a combination of user interviews, card sorting exercises, white board design explorations, metaphor games, as well as lots of conversation and collaboration. It was an extremely full, fun and valuable week that helped everyone understand the problems we were solving and the people we were solving them for.

The result of the work was a number of lightweight tools to help inspire, evaluate, and focus our design ideas as we moved forward. By the end of our workshop we had…

  • identified specific business goals and ways of measuring our success in meeting them
  • targeted specific frustrations and pain points that users and creators were battling
  • created a simple purpose statement that provided a foundational vision for all of our work
  • established four simple design principles to help provide focus and clarity to our efforts
  • created light-weight personas that helped clarify the audiences we were designing for and their needs, values and behaviors
  • identified a hierarchy of needs for each persona
  • identified the content structure and created an initial content architecture and model to work from
  • uncovered specific content that already existed and was of great value to multiple audiences but was not being leveraged well
  • identified helpful metaphors for understanding the personality and voice of the NAMM Foundation
  • established a design process that truly involved the entire team of designers, strategists, developers, content creators, product owners and organizational leaders

These research and planning artifacts aren’t “deliverables” we made to impress a client. They are the tools our team uses to guide and shape our work. Our team of strategists, designers and developers use and refer to these tools to measure our progress towards the project's goals. They're as light-weight and brief as possible, so we can read and talk about them whenever we review and evaluate evolving design ideas.

Exploring possibilities: structure and layout

Armed with all these tools, we began exploring possibilities. We explored structural, architectural and layout approaches with wireframe sketches, then turned those sketches into working HTML wireframes. The HTML wireframes allowed us to test our responsive design ideas directly in a browser, and gave the product owners a simple way to review our work and provide feedback.

Exploring possibilities: style

We explored ideas for the visual language by producing simple style tiles with examples of components that would exist on the actual site.



During the metaphor games, we identified Herbie Handcock as a personification of the personality and feel of the NAMM Foundation brand. While doing some research we were really drawn to Herbie's blue note jazz ablums of the mid 20th century. The album art that came out of that series of jazz albums seemed to really fit the words we were using to describe the NAMM Foundation's brand.



We took the blue note jazz album art inspiration and created a style tile that applied that kind of visual language to example components and messaging from the NAMM Foundation website.

A brand new NAMM Foundation website

After establishing the site’s architecture and layout through wireframing, and the visual language in style tiles, we implemented the new design system across all the pages and component types in our new system. The working wireframes became fully styled examples of the complete design system for the new NAMM Foundation website. Our developers then worked with a team from the NAMM Foundation to implement this new design system in their CMS (Drupal).

Special thanks

We’re proud of the work we did and what was achieved with the NAMM Foundation (see a before image of the NAMM Foundation website prior to the redesign). However, radically rethinking an existing website in a short timeframe requires more than just the effort and expertise our Lullabot team brought to the project. We had the privilege of working with an amazing team from the NAMM Foundation, one that was fully engaged in the process with us from the outset. Their care, intelligence, forward thinking and openness helped make the project a success. Thanks so much to Dan, Mary, Sharon, Eric, Stuart, Adam, Jay and the rest of the NAMM Foundation team for making this such a rewarding project to work on!

Lead Image

Pages