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Website Preproduction

3.5

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The most important step in building an awesome church website happens before any development work begins. This is the preproduction step. If you're going to hire a contractor, this step happens before you go looking for one. If you are going to have a team in your church build the site, this step happens before you meet with them. In this episode we talk about the ins and outs of website preproduction. This step can mean the difference between a so-so site and one that rocks your socks off.

Before we dive into this oh so important topic we talk about The Fishbowl. The Fishbowl is a new project exploring faith from a number of angles. It's rare that we have a project we developed that matters to more than a local church community. This is one of them and it showcases the power of drupal.

And, for you mac lovers, we talk about Fluid App. A program that can turn any website or web application into a desktop program.

SSB (Single Site Browsers)

Great podcast guys!

SSB's are really cool. I use Fluid all the time for my meebo, projectpier, etc. Mozilla has a crossplatform SSB named prism at http://labs.mozilla.com/2007/10/prism/.

Also.. a great podcast with the creator of fluid is at http://citizengarden.com/2008/03/23/episode-6-floa...

Thanks!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

project tools

I listened to most of this one again. I don't do that very often. I may listen another time later. Good stuff in here on project management.

I would love to know what tools you guys use for PM. I use www.projectpier.org and OmniFocus as primary tools.

Thanks for sharing!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Old Skool

I kick it old skool with my project management planning. Pen and paper (later converted into a google doc)

Once I plan a project, I have my proposal (or what MF called a 'plan') in hands at all times (printed out an in my in-box) and that is my go-to reference. If it's not in there, we're not doing it.

So I guess I keep it pretty simple...no elaborate tools. Just plan it on paper, put together the plan, then work from a paper copy of that. In the past, I've found digital tools distract me more than they help.

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

paper

Rob, right on with that. Paper is nice many times and helps keep focus. We should all carry sketch books at all times. I know I need to start. Recommendations would rock.. not sure what type is best to carry around.

Anyway, you make some good points on the old skol methodology.

Thanks!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

iGTD

Instead of OmniFocus I use iGTD for my tasks.

Any of the complicated projects I do I end up planning in MS Project. It's not the greatest program but after being trained in it the power to manage a project well is great.

I'd love to see an open source alternative to MS Project. Maybe something easier to use. If you aren't experienced or trained with MS Project the power will look like pain.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

iGTD cool

Yep. I have used iGTD before too. I am a huge Omnigroup fan so I gravitated that way. There is another cool GTD app for the mac now - Things. I have a friend using it.

Thanks for the info on your tools Matt. That is very helpful man!

Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Gantt Project

I've been meaning to really start using Gantt Project because I'm not using anything right now. :-) Anyway, it has MS project import/export capabilities. It might be of great interest.

http://ganttproject.biz/

OmniFocus & Gantt Charts (OmniPlan)

Just wanted to mention that we've got OmniFocus <-> OmniPlan (our Gantt charting and planning application) functionality planned for the next releases of both apps. It's not available yet but it's work in progress... -Ethan (The Omni Group)

Ethan! You guys rock!

Ethan! You guys rock!

Thanks for stopping by with the news. I also can't wait for the iPhone OmniFocus app.

Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Basecamp for Project Mgmt

Great show Matt and "Rob". Glad to hear you guys address this subject head on. I wanted to through out another simple but elegant project management tool. It is called Basecamp and is from the guys at 37Signals. You may have heard of them already (they also make Backpack and Highrise). I use all 3 and find them to be excellent tools.

Find out more about Basecamp at: http://basecamphq.com/

I'm probably going to be do a church website project this year so this series will be a definite help. Maybe you could get into some specific things that you (and the listens) have experienced in specific areas. For example, maybe discuss different situations or problems that came up and how you handled them. As you get into the development phase of the project what are some common stumbling blocks and decision points? Just a thought.

Keep up the great work guys!

Project Management and Future Topics

Not sure if this is the best tool for project management, per se, but the Drupal project and project issue modules can be beaten into submission and used for issue tracking once a project is in motion. The project node itself can work as well as a project spec. The project* modules suffer from not enough use outside of drupal.org, but we've managed to make them a mission-critical part of my day job.

As for future topics, here's one that might be kinda hard to do as a podcast, but it's a weak area from me: taking your graphics designer's Photoshop mock-up of a web site and turning it into CSS. (I'm thinking Zen theme kind of approach here.) We're moving towards what will probably end up being a redesign of four web sites at our church from static sites to Drupal, and this is the part I'm most concerned about.

This was a great episode. We're already having those preproduction conversations, but I realize now that the process needs to be formalized. I may have to listen to it again and take notes. Any chance that you'd be willing to post your outline from this episode? It would be a great resource!

Micah

Episode 80 Notes

Good Idea, Michah....
Here ya go: Episode 80 Notes

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Sweet!

Thanks!

Micah, I have been thinking

Micah,

I have been thinking of using the project module. I use projectpier for new projects that are not always development. I need an system for managing continous development of apps in prod and the project module might work perfectly since we have a Drupal shop. I use SVN too and am interested in trying out the SVN integration. Have you tried that?

For PS to Zen theme, check this out: http://theartlab.net/drupal-school-zengaged-themeing. This video is older and doesn't answer all of your questions, but it may give you some ideas. It would be great to have Rob and Matt fill in the blanks in their own way.

Thanks!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Re: Project Module

Shrop,

Like you, my day job is in higher ed. We use project* for tracking issues on our ERP system, which (finally) has its own version tracking built in, making things like SVN unnecessary in our environment.

This site was started for tracking issues during our last big version migration, but quickly grew to handling all support tracking. We're using the LDAP integration module for authentication, so all ERP users automatically have access and can submit their own issues. We created one project node for ongoing support, and projects for each customization that needs to be managed. Everyone on our team is subscribed for email on all issues, and the end users are subscribed for at least their own issues. This works out better than our regular help desk tracking software, as it's more versatile.

It's also given me an opportunity to get involved in the issues queues for project* and other contrib modules on d.o.

Thanks for the link to the theming video. I've got that bookmarked and will check it out when I'm more awake.

Thanks,
Micah

Micah Sweet! That is some

Micah

Sweet! That is some great info. I will definitely check out project more in depth. think we could use it. I looked at Trac for a bit, but it is a pain to install on OSX servers and since we are a Drupal shop.. well you know.

We use the LDAP integration module for our drupal sites too. It is pretty nice.

Thanks!
Shrop

Mark Shropshire "shrop"
Geeks & God Forums Moderator
http://geeksandgod.com/users/shrop

Case Tracker

I've never used it but there is the Case Tracker module (http://drupal.org/project/casetracker). It is intended to do the same kind of thing as the project module but not so specific to software development.

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Episode80 Notes

So, I posted these once before, but in a really ugly hard to read format. I dont know why I didn't just publish our google doc...

Here's a more readable version of the episode 80 (preproduction) outline

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

-Rob Feature
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.mustardseedmedia.com

Church Website Preproduction Worksheet

I thought it might be interesting to distill some of this podcast down to a worksheet for churches to work through. I started a Google Doc that anyone can jump into and have some fun with:

http://docs.google.com/Doc?id=df4n7s7j_45g5mb2dd8&...

I haven't gotten far with it yet.

Thank you!

This show was so helpful. My current employer pushes a new web project about every 2 months (idea-design-code-live) and I, as a part-time employee, keep wondering if I'm just that slow. It's been so frustrating to talk about the need for pre-production and time involved in development, design, customization, testing and maintenance, as if I'm unreasonable.
Well, now I can be frustrated, but at least know that it's not an unreasonable frustration.
Believe it or not, just knowing the sort of things that should be happening really does help when the situation doesn't allow it.
Great show guys. There is just so much helpful insight in what you're sharing with us with the podcast.

Pre-production--additional topics

Great show! I came across your podcast not too long ago; I have worked through about sixty percent of the past shows.
Anywhoo--it would be great to hear a show about the design manager and the avenues they have for buiding a team, or possibly even outsourcing. It may be that the person who leads is good in one aspect (programming, or graphics/design), and needs to rely completely on others for the skills needed to complete a moderately complex site.) This is where outsourcing may be a good option, if local talent is not available.

Keep up the great shows!

Pat

Making it into a series

Nice show guys.
I look forward to your podcasts and I was sad when you said you would be off for a week...

Figured I should chime in on the topic...

As a new web developer I find the process and importance of preplanning and planning very important. While your podcast talked about why it is important, and determining different asects (cost-time-scope), you only mentioned some of the process...

I would really like to hear more about how you walked through the process. I find myself getting excited about design, and spending time doing that, then thinking about a how it will work in Drupal and bouncing back to my Drupal sandbox for some testing....

Maybe the series could be a walkthorugh... pre-planning, what you do, what materials you use, maybe even share some materials for others to use as a basis or learning tool. Then how you take that info and make it part of your workflow. Do you start with the features, design, content? Costing out a project is always a touchy subject and the more I hear how others do it, the better I feel about it (I find myself wanting to do it for as little as possible, sometimes to my dis-benefit). Then testing modules, tweeking features, searching for modules.... sometimes I spend time trying to do something... only to find out there is module.... argh....
When do you start testing cross browsers?

In summary... perhaps a case study of a site that you could walk your listeners though.

Anyway,
Keep up the great work...

P.S.
Only one of the five tooltips on the cool top bar are currently working... :) at least in firefox...

buttons

The buttons at the top right aren't working for you?

I just tried them out in firefox and they all worked for me. Do you get some kind of error?

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Co-Host
www.innovatingtomorrow.net
www.mattfarina.com

Matt Farina
Geeks and God Former Co-Host
www.mattfarina.com

Buttons work, the helper

Buttons work, the helper text only exists on the last button (the iTunes one) the others have no roll-over helper text... I only mentioned it because from listening to the podcasts I gather you (like me) appreciate the details. :)

Sorry to alarm you... was not my intent... :)

Website Preproduction

I really dug the Website Preproduction episode! I know my attention to this has jumped from when I first began, but your show highlights overlooked areas in my process.

I don't know how well this would work as a podcast, but I'd like a show detailing how ministry demographics would guide this area of planning. Perhaps you could compare/contrast several ministries' needs based on income, age, location, education, perceived value and other relevant criteria I'm unaware of. Other topics might include, How does a ministry determine what content/functionality should be available? How can planning influence why one site thrives and another at a similar assembly does not? How much input should the creative professional exert during this phase?

If preproduction is, as you say, the most important step, then I think this series should be your longest (or at least more than one episode!)

Thanks!

-NP

Open WorkBench for Project Management

Open Workbench is a desktop application for project management and scheduling in which you can define a work breakdown structure, set dependencies and resource constraints, assign resources to tasks, auto schedule and then monitor progress.

http://www.openworkbench.org/

I'm a team lead, working for a major Telecom developing Fraud and Security applications. Since we have a limited number of Microsoft Project licenses in the group, we looked around for Open Source software that was compatible. Our development cycles are short, 6-8 weeks (Agile) and I've use this software for the past couple years to track my stories/bugs/resources for each release.

Michael
ps: Oh, yeah, the site above is a Joomla site! :-)