How to succeed at practically anything

their sitch is a lot like ours (no one actually doing content strategy)

I feel like the Rahel slide needs to go to SB et al just to get that solid definition across.

  1. focus on the things that matter
  2. do those things well
  3. tell everyone about the cool thing you did
  4. measure the results

super-obvious (her words), but a useful framework.

the core mission is NOT to create websites, or publish alumni magazines, or manage social media campaigns. know the actual core mission. “what do we know about what keeps the people ‘on the 2nd floor’ awake at night?”

“mission statement generator” LOLs — OTOH, can be focusing.

focusing on which things should be livestream — using “the things that matter” as a filter.

“invisibility cloak” story was a great win: came from a signature program and was also objectively awesome.

reminder that online, a press release is its own destination — no longer just serving traditional media relations role.

“more people will see your online press release than reporters ever will”

specialty stories may research specialty audiences – “twisting quantum cryptography” got views via Slashdot & Reddit. (and thus a reminder to think about it as its own destination)


sometimes you have to do dumb stuff, but don’t let it get you to phoning it in

doing fun stuff (what would be fun stuff that would actually connect to the things that matter to us?)

we should also create opportunities for others to make & share their own stuff (she wants to do this more in her environment)

experiment and show value. (my thoughts: what’s the “next level” for fields of study?)

“operation jazz hands” — how could they jazz up some stories? as an experiment.

“just doing things, and being honest about what it took to do them”

she thinks Georgia Tech does a great job with Facebook.

tumblr: Yale & Rochester “a way for little niche communities to find you”

Oberlin annual fund ad. (this is really delightful, actually. need to share this slide in particular.)


it’s YOUR job to make sure people internally know what you do for a living. it’s on you to make sure that people see the value.

Wayne State web communications blog.

THE LEGO HOME PAGE at Rochester.

“they’re your little content babies and you have to get them out there” — promoting the actual content. Basecamp (project planning) + Slack (to break down silos WITHIN communications)

each bit of content needs its own distribution plan

slide about how people find news.


“what does victory look like?”

be honest about the amount of effort and what result will make you happy

[how are M & JM working together on analytics-type stuff? also, looking at news page and thinking about earlier ideas, how are we following up on stories that are basically “interesting event X is ]

“oh, I’m sorry it’s “only” for the web where it’s seen by THIRTY-TWO THOUSAND people” (re photography)

analysis about tweeting to admitted students. congratulated 92 students in kind, 44 of them retweeted: 13K followers of their own. “measuring the value of the high five”

“facebook challenge”: 50% organic reach, 1% engagement on each post. don’t always hit it, but it’s a strong goal. [link to really good presentation on this slide]

they have a list of things that work on Facebook. “own who you are”

[what IS successful in our livestreaming site? is it doing us any good?]

Increasing viewership


virtuous circle. (for sure)

“don’t wait for the process”

Keynote: Collaboration

(watch this presentation online)

Her early computing experience is much like mine, but a few years earlier. (Also, her dad insisted she learn how to type because she was interested in opera & philosophy; which sounds a lot like my mom with the typing.)

I want you to feel good about the mess we’re in — this is just naturally what happens.

why would you know? you just made it up. [‘that thing you just said. oh, yeah, I’m on it.’]

people are trying to replicate the good things, but don’t have the standards or governance and do it imperfectly. set a protocol to avoid the chaos pit. “build better collaboration models”

“this is why it’s hard” — because “it’s a hard use case” (we’ve put everything on the internet)

you must get organized

things. take. time.

[this part reminds me of the information technology book, title escaping me ATM]

“you might retire and it still might not be right” – don’t measure the transformation by your own vocational tenure (it’s bigger than you are)

holistic responsiveness via standards

“remember when you couldn’t put a bagel in your toaster?”

create effective instances of content within a standards-based framework

“we have super-cool jobs, let’s keep them super-cool” (being positive, sharing instead of blaming)

what we want at minimum: a team that works together and follows rules and makes quality content that get real work done

moving to more organic models: giving management information so they can make effective decisions

then going from hierarchy to object oriented thinking about teams “execution atom” – everyone operating against a nucleus of standards and known objectives surrounded by an array of people

“information supply chain management” – can we manage information the way we manage manufacturing? (fascinating but a little disturbing)

your role? to create information flow – that goes beyond the boundaries of page, site, app, etc.

Out of the box layout

what I’m hoping to get out of this: gotchas I may not have considered in building the theme, things I might want to share with Justin & Naomi.

[full disclosure: not 100% listening, because I’m trying to get my screenshots together.]

Fieldgroup is in fact the bomb. (he’s using “div” in order to have something for theming. So this is on Manage Display. I should talk to Justin about that maybe for some of the more complex content types. Faculty profiles, maybe? Can also add classes to those divs in a fieldgroup under manage display. (I feel like maybe that’s something I’m already doing somewhere?))




what I’m looking for: I’m not really sure TBH.

forming/storming/norming/performing — this actually clicks with the confab presentation — and I think we can add that awareness to our work sessions! Because we want them to conform to our process, but we also have to feel out their anxieties and interests.

and I want to grab this stat about verbal vs vocal vs body language for my presentation as well, for that section on active listening.

“common frame of reference” — that’s why we added the intro/kick-off, and that’s what a lot of the question-asking is about, building a frame of reference. and that’s why the questions should be as low-level as possible, because you’re trying to understand their frame of reference, and listening to find out the underlying issues.

“what’s the gap?”

retrospective — that’s the word I was looking for yesterday! (we should totally do more of those.)

“don’t argue about the experience” — “you shouldn’t be mad” — can’t talk people out of that feeling.

interesting note from audience from book “how to talk to your children so they will listen …” – don’t tell people they don’t feel a thing. (I HAVE FEELINGS ABOUT THIS.)

the 6 basic feelings: happy, sad, mad, afraid, ashamed, confused (also: surprise? disgust? words & pics don’t quite match.)

YUP, I definitely want to bring in some of the therapy tools to my confab talk.

CRM integration

what I’m hoping to get out of this: what are some possibilities for integrating? What should I be looking for?

make it easy for editors to build pages/forms and connect them to the campaigns in the CRM

avoiding tightly coupled systems

at the one end, just link to the forms built in the CRM, and at the other, actually building a CRM in Drupal

finding the habitable zone.

using “Users” to manage sessions, without actually giving them a login?! the hell.

entity registration (module)

fields to represent CRM integration

form block (module) to put user registration on lots of different content

a kind of “guest” user with a long session lifetime

I’m not sure if any of THIS is appropriate to our uses, but its intriguing.

drop-down field for “lead source” and then details, including a campaign ID. (the lead sources sync, but could be just as simple to give editors access to Taxonomy)

when the form is filled out, it also sends a POST to create them in the CRM. (so the important thing to know is how to do the POST. From there: cake?)

“the end user watching the video would never see [the CRM’s] interface” (HELL YES)

Form API post-submit handler (could probably also do this in webform interface?)

There’s a whole thing of a sorta-blank form with a button? I’m not 100% that I get it, but ok.

[long discussion of de-duping]

be careful of the cache_form table if using their system, could get out of control?

they use hidden fields to send that stuff in the form, rather than doing it all server-side with the post-submit handler, etc. (stuff I wouldn’t even know what to do)

they’ve also thought about creating a queue and doing batch, but the downtime just wasn’t enough to justify the work. have a logging system in case of a failure.

[lost track for a sec, I think something about analytics tracking urls?]

context form alteration seems intriguing. (there’s other modules mentioned in a slide)

How to audit Drupal sites

what I’m hoping to get out of this: what are some cool tools for making sure I’m not messing it up?

“views cache bully”?

site audit – drush. can produce html reports.

doesn’t check usability & UX (obvs!) or design (including accessibility) or the actual content.

the HTML output is pretty sweet, TBH…but it does require shell access, so that’s maybe an issue?

module: unused_modules – things that can be safely deleted.

module: security_review

cacheaudit has some overlap with site audit, but does some slightly different ways of looking at what is and isn’t cached.

[slides with a bunch of generic PHP cleanup/audit tools, maybe send to Dave/Jamie?]

GitStats (does Gitlab integrate some sort of statistical analysis?)

ESLint is in D8, FWIW. — that’s the one Justin uses, yes?

Nice slide on the structure of an audit report. is for reviewing custom modules? if you want to post them to

nice audience recommendation of

there’s a version of site_audit available already for D8.

Build awesome search pages with Solr

what I’m hoping to get out of this: some understand of what Solr is, how it works, and/or what we might get out of using it over Google Site Search







Search API vs actual Solr module: more flexible? Also has more options? I’m a little confused TBh.

[slide about installing Solr — his handwaving feels a lot like mine for tomorrow’s presentation.]

There’s also a bunch of hosted Solr options, if I want to try stuff out.

Can include/exclude specific fields from being indexed. (“Compound fields”, which includes the body field! are available through an extra expando-box.)

(I’m glad he said this was a run-through. It feels really rough. But watching this, I’m wondering if I should move away from the screenshot method vs actually running a live demo, because it is a lot easier to understand this way.)

Interesting gotcha of having to make sure to index the full content. If you’ve got it set to index as items are edited/created, then it isn’t being indexed with cron.

Interesting stuff in the Search database advanced config, as far as highlighting, etc.

Sounds like the layout is adjusted through Panels vs Views? (I try to avoid Panels, because of previous bad experiences, but in some instances it’s ok: I’m already doing that to override the My Workbench default.)

Honestly: are facets really useful for most people most of the time?

Primary performance savings is on the indexing (which is important) vs the display.

But the sorting of results (by pub date or something else) using Views is sort of intriguing.

Aaaaaaannnnnnd then his computer crashed.

“Aggregated fields” — can use to combine fields into a single indexed *thing* — “like field collections”

This session really feels unfinished. (Like, I actually feel really prepared compared to this!)

Can bundle into Features, but then add an override (there’s a module, search api solr override?)

One place where faceted search might be useful: pages vs directories.

Potentially useful blog post on troubleshooting.

PNW Drupal Summit: The Drupal Development Pipeline

what I’m hoping to get out of this: specific tips that will help us in getting to a really great live site.

curious idea of using codepen for demoing components to clients.

“you could have up to 200 developers [later: ‘guys’ :\ ] working on a D8 site w/out stepping on each other’s toes” (I don’t understand why, tho.)

discussion of tags, header hierarchy: but without discussion the editor experience? how odd. (most of our issues with poor use of headers come from things editors do.)

estimating: 130%


this “developer tools” slide is a venn diagram overlap with my presentation tomorrow.

Semantic Versioning

modules to look at

  • “smart trim”
  • “stage file proxy”
  • nodequeue (“curated list of content”)
  • metatag
  • redirect 403 to user login (does this work at all with CAS? what would the alternative be?)
  • something about Entity Custom Modes (or whatever that’s called) — and improved caching when creating views with custom mode view something something. [would this help with the Workbench Access every page views?]

Drupal Coding Standard? [does this matter at all for us]

custom environment module for stopping yourself from accidentally emailing all the people or whatevs on the dev site. (Dave does something like this, I think?)

use AdvAgg on production sites

I kinda hate the term “post-mortem”, but I think something like that would be a good idea.

Quick notes on Drupal usability testing

At work we’re in the process of converting from our current CMS (proprietary system which I will not name) to Drupal. One of my big goals is making a really great experience for our several dozen (maybe 100+) editor-authors. I’ve been eagerly following work by Eileen Webb (her UX Burlington keynote is amazing) and Johanna Bates (forex, this great piece on authoring homepages) on the topic, and particularly on implementing with Drupal.

Yesterday we did usability testing with three of our editors. We got a nice mix, both in their overall tech-savviness and in which parts of the current system they use regularly. (We have two separate setups, one for the “old template” and one for the “new template”.) Justin was the person in the room with them — because I’m waaaaaay to close to it — and one of our student workers, another site editor, Susan, and I were observing. It was a fairly short test because of time constraints, only about a half an hour. We picked the most common tasks based in part on our experience and in part on a survey we did back in the spring.

  • Explore the dashboard (Workbench, in our case) and look at the pages in the fake site they’d been assigned.
  • Update some text based on a Word document. (Advanced: add bullet point and correct the spelling.) The text was in our “Primary Content” field.
  • Add some links to some existing text; some of the linked content was in Drupal, some was not. The text was in our “Secondary Content” field.
  • Upload an image and style it to match the main design.

The final task was going to be uploading and linking to a PDF, but there’s still too much wonkiness with that and Media CKEditor. But we did ask if there was anything else that they would do normally that we hadn’t asked them to do, and that did come up twice, so the follow-up to that was to ask them to explore how they might do that.

Here’s what we discovered really needed work:

  • If you’re using the CAS module for authentication, logging out via the Admin menu doesn’t actually log out of CAS! After the first test, we discovered we had to close Firefox entirely and reopen.
  • Nobody sees vertical tabs. I know people are really into them in Drupal editing screens, but for those secondary content links, it was way too hidden for the first two users. I switched it to horizontal tabs before the third user came in, and wow was that better. Our student worker noted that it was a much better match for how people’s eyes move across the screen. I’m inclined to agree.
  • Styling terminology needs to be pretty verbose. A style labeled “Image” in the CKEditor Styles drop-down was a bit  vague.
  • For our uses, alt text really needs to be required, and one of our testers skipped that but entered the title text, which is kind of pointless.

Other than that, it was really successful! They got the hang of the basics right away and expressed a lot of happiness about how “clean” and “simple” everything looked.

(Also: people who deal with lots of documents really want to be able to upload multiple documents. They can’t in our current system, but one of our testers uploads quite a bit of Excel, and other quite a bit of both PDF and Excel. They both found their way to the (broken, because libraries) multiple uploading functionality, but couldn’t use it. I’ll definitely be testing that in more detail.)

And the stuff that needed work: it’s all done already.

  • The simplest way to handle the CAS logout issue is to set a Rule: when a user logs out, redirect them through /caslogout. I feel like this needs to be added to the CAS module documentation.
  • Horizontal tabs FTW.
  • Justin changed “Image” to “Image Right-Aligned” — we’ll see how that plays out next time around.
  • Structure > File Types > Image > manage fields. Remove Title and make Alt Text required.

I know there’s still more complex stuff coming, and I have work to do wrangling Media CKEditor to handle documents the way I want them, but overall I’m really really pleased. These folks walked in without any training in using Drupal as editors, and walked out having accomplished the very most common tasks they need to do to be successful.

PS: making fake website content is just too much fun.

A little thing about Workbench

Today I talked about Workbench (a suite of Drupal modules) at the Olympia users group. Here’s the notes I wrote to get ready. I’m posting it here for my own reference and in case it’s of interest to anyone else!

Also, here’s the links I posted to

Workbench is several different things. But one aspect of it is a way to better manage the author experience. I’m really big on author experience right now, because these folks are the people using Drupal the most but they don’t “do” Drupal. And because it’s so flexible, it’s up to us to make it a good time for them and to make their day a little nicer.

The main Workbench module provides a really nice page for getting around in reviewing and creating content.

On My Workbench, I can see all the pages I have access to and the things I edited most recently. There’s also a spot that can be used for custom help or site news. I have a tab for creating new content, too.

So from here I can see all of my content and create new things. Which you could do with the built-in Dashboard, but Workbench also has an Access module and a Moderation module, and those give you more options.

Workbench Access allows you to limit who can edit which pieces of content, and to let a group of people all work together on their own content.

This is what it looks like when I’m logged in as an average site editor. In this case, I’m set up to edit the “advising” section of the site. My toolbar only gives me access to My Workbench, and when I go there, it’s just the content for my site section. I can also edit content that someone else in my group created.

As an administrator, it’s pretty easy to set or review access for the different sections. I can either go to the Workbench Access settings and see that “advising” has one editor, or I can go to the “user” profile and see that they’re set to the “advising” section.

In our case, we’re also using Workbench Access to set some standard content that differs between sites. If anybody’s curious, I’d be happy to talk about it another time. [ed: there was actually a LOT of interest in that, so I ended up talking about it for a while. There’s some crazy Taxonomy+Views stuff going on to make it work.]

Workbench Moderation provides a way to work with draft content and to have review states for content. I’m going to switch over to a draft of a Calendar that students and staff can submit to and then specific staff can review and post.

As a student, I belong to a group that’s hosting an event on campus. I can log in and go to the Post an event link, which is just a normal node entry form. They can save it, but they can’t edit it. I’m still working on some tweaks so they know what’s going to happen next.

What’s going to happen next is that the staff member who reviews these items is going to go to their workbench. I’m working on integration with the Rules module so they get an email, but let’s just say they have a regular time to check. Joe here is already logged in, and on his workbench he has a tab called Needs Review and here it shows the events that Jane has submitted.

The other thing you can do with this that I don’t have a demo for is if you have changes that you know about but can’t show to the public yet, you can create a new draft and save it while still leaving the old version visible. You can also use Workbench Moderation to look back at the history of changes to a piece of content.

So I’m finding Workbench and its modules really useful for making a site that is friendlier for our authors and editors.