Submitted Sessions for DrupalCon Nashville
At Elevated Third, everything is Drupal. We standardized a decade ago and have since attended DrupalCon yearly.
This year in Nashville we’re looking forward to sharing what we’ve learned in Drupal 8, Drupal biz, project management, and more. Check out the sessions we've submitted.
SASS is a relatively new language in the grand scheme of things. As many of us have transitioned from writing plain CSS to SASS, we still generally write our code the same way. Websites are becoming more complicated, and as such, we need more robust ways to write our CSS so that it is scalable and maintainable, even when the project grows.
In this session, I’ll discuss the idea of creating a framework in SASS to decouple the most complicated pieces of your code from the actual implementation. With this approach, you’ll still be able to use any CSS system, such as utility classes, BEM syntax or even just plain Drupal selectors.
You may be interested in this session if:
- You are new to SASS and would like to learn about what it’s capable of
- You are experienced in SASS but feel like you still haven’t nailed down a system
- You are a developer and are constantly frustrated that none of your programming skills carry over to SASS
Zach Ettelman and Ayla Peacock
My best friend in high school was really good at math and horrible at writing. I was really good at English and terrible at math. To make a long story short, we were really good at cheating on tests. The dream team: what I lacked, she made up for and vice versa. We don’t cheat at Elevated Third, but we partner up. Last year we sent 4,000 emails to agencies who do what we don’t. The goal: to develop a trusted partner network to whom we can pass non-Drupal business; and when XYZ agency hears “Drupal website” from one of their clients, they think of us.
A partnership campaign like this one goes beyond email blasts. There are SEO link building opportunities, event sponsorship opportunities, and prospecting opportunities. In particular, Acquia has been one of our greatest allies in this metaphorical high school test-taking scenario.
In this session, we will cover the symbiotic sales and marketing relationships we’ve developed with Acquia and our other Agency partners. You’ll learn:
- How agency partnerships contribute to new business goals
- When the time is right to bring partners into the sales process
- How to leverage SEO when developing co-marketing content
- How to host co-branded events that lead to closed business
- Strategies to kick-start your partnership campaign
Zach Ettelman and Nelson Harris
Writing an RFP can be a daunting task, especially for services as complex and difficult to wrap your head around as a full website redesign in Drupal. With our years of experience reviewing RFPs and writing proposal responses, we have developed a set of conventions that you can use to make sure you’re putting out the best RFP possible in order to attract the right type of agency respondents.
Every attendee will even get a free RFP template to use!
Nelson Harris and Joe Flores
Dries said it himself: the future of Drupal is ambitious digital experiences. The power of building ambitious digital experiences comes with great responsibility. We owe it to ourselves, our users, our clients, and the community, to decommoditize Drupal development services.
Regardless of your tenure in the Drupal community, you’ve undoubtedly heard people talk about how “hard” Drupal is, and the steep learning curve it carries.
The truth is, Drupal development can be complex and “difficult”. We argue that’s a good thing, and that Drupal development is not a commodity, but rather a highly critical procedure to be performed by the skilled expert, with an emphasis on not cutting corners. Drupal has evolved beyond its place among the Wordpresses and Squarespaces of the world. It’s too complicated for building basic marketing sites, and the effort to reward ratio for a site like that just isn’t worth it. That’s because Drupal’s effort to reward ratio sweet spot is with more complex sites. It’s meant for ambitious digital experiences.
So why, then, do so many people try to cut corners and haggle on price when developing a Drupal website? These negotiation tactics are a practice that is reserved for commodities. You wouldn’t shop around for the best price on brain surgery. On the contrary - if someone offered you the “lowest price”, this would be cause for alarm and concern. This procedure is a massive investment and failure has massive repercussions. In this session, we argue that Drupal development is the same.
At one point or another, we’ve all struggled with effective communication, whether it’s gaining trust from your internal teams or being able to bond quickly with clients. This interactive workshop will share some tips, tricks and activities to leverage the power of storytelling, helping you navigate those conversations. You will leave not only with strategies, but also specific action items to apply to your real world projects, clients, and teams.
Please bring an example of how you generally introduce yourself, a project (past or current) that could benefit from a clear purpose, and a conflict (past or current) you would like to see in a new way. Attendees with learn the theory behind three storytelling strategies, then will be given the opportunity to apply them to real-world situations at their seat. Examples volunteered from the audience will be used to deepen understanding of the theory, so it becomes more actionable for everyone. All disciplines are welcome.
The skills of an activist and the skills of a Drupal PM are less disparate than they may seem. Activists motivate and coordinate large groups of people, often with differing ideas, without the resources agencies possess. Before becoming a Drupal project manager, Lily Berman (among other similar endeavors) led a political canvass office and a traveling nonprofit organization. She has slept on the sidewalk with Occupy Denver, given a speech with a crowd-powered “mic check” microphone in front of the UN, and has been a spokesperson for her nonprofit on Nevada Public Radio and NBC Nightly News.
This presentation will share stories and insights from the road, along with revealing tools and concepts that will benefit anyone working in a team. Attend this session to:
- Learn how to effectively navigate differing opinions while ensuring your perspective is communicated persuasively, via lessons from a canvasser (learned while knocking doors in politically-divided Cincinnati)
- Facilitate large meetings with ease, via tools and roles activists use to efficiently reach consensus with every voice heard (learned while living consensus-based decision making)
- Build stronger, motivating relationships and inspire action with your clients and internal teams, via strategies activists use to amplify community around their cause (learned while acting a spokesperson for a grassroots nonprofit organization)
Nick Switzer and Aron Anderson
Topics we’ll cover include:
- Why Drupal 8 is the right platform for building complex web apps that need to scale.
- Leveraging an agile philosophy to respond quickly to change, collaborate across disciplines and stakeholder groups and get to a working product in as little amount of time as possible.
- Balancing effective deliverables with shared understanding to produce working software that meets the organization’s needs.
- Organizational hurdles to overcome when adding structure and bringing an established paper application process online.
Attendees will leave this session with an understanding of why Drupal 8 is a good fit for a complex web app, examples of processes used to execute a Drupal 8 project on time and on budget and some real-life lessons learned through launching and continually updating a project with thousands of active users.
Drupal 8 has drastically changed the way developers think and work in Drupal. The Configuration Management Initiative (CMI) is one of the most impactful additions to the Drupal developer’s workflow toolbox, and is often either taken for granted by experienced developers or skipped over by those who are unfamiliar. Despite being extremely powerful and relatively easy to use, successfully integrating CMI into a stable development workflow can be an intimidating task. In this session, we’ll cover everything from the basics of what CMI is and how it works to a step-by-step example of how to implement CMI in a stable, scalable workflow.
Kathy Weisbrodt and Kylie Forcinito
As a small agency, we are always striving to be more efficient, and maximize our communication both internally and externally. How can we work smarter not harder, and spend more time focused on understanding our client’s business problem? We chose to be empathetic and listen to what’s not necessarily said out loud from both the relationship and business perspective. We use honesty in our communication backed by facts and expertise.
Join Kylie Forcinito, an accomplished senior account manager and veteran of the agency world, and Kathy Weisbrodt, Account Director with over 10 years of agency experience, to learn how they came together to ensure communications to their clients and their internal agency teams are honest and empathetic, while also driving projects forward to meet timelines, budgets and business goals, in a positive and supportive team environment - all disciplines are welcome!
The ideas of Atomic Design and component based design allow one to create an established structure within which a large scale front end project can be built. The CMS space hasn’t always been the most friendly toward implementing these types of patterns. Whether it’s difficulty in creating a content architecture that models your front end design system within Drupal or the feeling of lack of control over generated markup, sometimes it can feel like an uphill battle.
The Paragraphs module gives us the tools to create much more well defined and structured component based architectures upon which modular front end systems can be built. The Paragraphs module, however, comes with no rules. As a site architect and front end developer, you must decide how to implement Paragraphs. There is definitely a lot of room for flexibility in implementation, but there are many best practices that can be followed to allow for a very clean, scalable, and extendable front end design system to be built within Drupal 8.
Jill Farley and Lauren Motl
Too often we fall back on our gut instincts or client insights when it comes to understanding end users. But there is a tangible cost to making assumptions. Which is why initial research before launch and ongoing testing post launch is critical to optimizing the usability of a site. In this session, Elevated Third will show you how we leverage analytics, user interviews and testing on real projects. Our case studies reveal how making data-informed UX decisions will improve site performance.
In this session you’ll learn:
- Where to begin with tracking analytics
- When and how to set up different types of user tests, polls and surveys
- When and how you can run successful User Interviews
- How to scale your user research strategy using combinations of these methods so that they work for different types of projects
- Tips on working alone or with a team to synthesize data and uncover patterns
- How to use those patterns to make data-informed UX decisions
There’s a reason the term “unicorn” was coined for the person who is both a talented designer and coder—it takes a special person to be equally skilled at both. But that shouldn’t stop the rest of us from skill sharing and finding a common language.
Digital Designers who strive to understand the technical constraints of the medium they design for, and Developers who seek to understand not only what they’re trying to build but why, will ultimately find better solutions and bigger wins.
In this session, you’ll learn:
- Why approaching design and development as convergent disciplines fosters powerful collaboration within project teams.
- How backing your design decisions with technical knowledge can help you create stronger UX solutions and open up design possibilities.
- How empathy for the end user can help Developers implement better products and websites
- Tips on taking a more convergent approach to design and development
Component design has been a huge leap forward for content editors, giving great flexility to what an editor can create with minimal knowledge of HTML. As site builders, we can combine components with WYSIWYG editors and expand on these tools to make specifically the WYSIWYG editor work harder for a content editor’s precise needs while providing specific markup to match designs.
Drupal 8 has adopted a custom version of CKEditor to be its core WYSIWYG editor and this move requires that CKEditor plugins be integrated into a site using a module. Site builders can then use any of the extensive plugins that the CKEditor community has developed or roll their own custom plugin to fit their particular needs. By creating a module, we can also leverage other parts of the site to be dynamically included in the plugin providing a content editor with a superior editing experience.
Leave this session understanding how to:
- Build a module that integrates a basic CKEditor plugin
- Define plugin’s CKEDITOR.config options
- Create a custom CKEditor plugin that incorporates a taxonomy
Nelson Harris and Nick Switzer
Estimating a Drupal project can often feel like a combination of black magic and mind-reading, but, with the right team and approach it can be a great way to start a collaborative and open relationship with a product owner or stakeholder team. There is no single way to guarantee an accurate estimate, but a combination of collaboration, brainstorming and clearly stating assumptions has helped us build an estimating process that is efficient, open and reliable.
Composer is a dependency manager for PHP that assists with downloading, validating, and loading a project’s dependent packages. With the release of Drupal 8, Composer is now fully supported in Core, making your workflow, and your life, much easier. This talk will focus on the fundamentals of Composer and how they relate to a Drupal project workflow, including: installation, command line use, & versioning. Additionally, I will demonstrate how Elevated Third sets up Composer in new Drupal 8 installs, and how it effortlessly manages core/module installation, updates, & patching.
Data and Analytics are powerful tools to help us understand the complex interactions between our web apps and our users. If used correctly they can help us strategize content, improve user experience, and drive conversions.
The difficulty lies in bridging the gap between merely having analytics and actively using analytics to draw actionable insights. For many admins, marketers, copywriters, and even strategists, making sense of this web of datapoints and relationships is intimidating. My talk will outline a few ways to break down these barriers to entry and make data more accessible.
Attendees should walk away from this session with a better understanding of:
- Some common tools for measurement, reporting, and analysis (Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, Hotjar)
- Why Drupal makes the perfect partner for these analytics tools
- How to use dashboards to hone in on whats important, and prioritize a few specific site metrics
- Common applications for data analysis
- The importance of pairing/validating data with qualitative research
Interested in Drupal 8?