Risky Business: Seven Ways to Avoid Problem Projects

As the owner of a web development firm, one of my primary jobs is to manage risk. When taking on new projects, I am betting that we can complete the work in the time we have estimated. If we win our bet, we have solid profit margins and a healthy work environment. If we lose our bet, we throw our schedule into chaos, stress out our team, and lose money. What makes this process so risky is that I have to make budget decisions about the projects we take on based on imperfect information. There is no way to know for sure how much time a website will take to build until it is finished. While different pricing models and approaches can mitigate risk, ultimately the client needs some idea how much a project is going to cost before they will agree to work with you. It goes without saying
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Webinar: How to Build a Component-based Drupal Site with Stacks

The frontend world is buzzing with talk of pattern libraries, atomic design, and component-based design. The benefits of implementing a component-based system have been discussed ad nauseam, but how can we fully integrate these concepts into a Drupal site? Better yet, how can we bring a component-based page building experience to the Drupal admin? The Brick Factory recently released a Beta version of Stacks, a contributed module that fully integrates component-based design and development into Drupal.  Stacks breaks content into reusable components called widgets. Once configured, widgets give content managers the ability to build rich, beautiful pages in Drupal.  The easy-to-use admin tools allow for drag and drop editing, reusable content, theme options and much more. Join us on May 31 at 2:00 pm ET  for a webinar in which we explore ways to improve the Drupal frontend and content admin using the Stacks module. We will cover:

“Design Systems, Not Pages” Presentation from MidCamp

A year or so ago I wrote a blog post, “Design Systems, Not Pages“, that outlines how our design process has evolved over the last few years.  Our primarily design deliverables are now style guides and reusable components, instead of page templates.  As an extension of this new process, we built a Drupal module called Stacks that allows for content mangers to create robust, beautiful pages using the reusable components we design.

At this year’s MidCamp in Chicago, my colleague Dan Knisley and I had the pleasure of giving a talk about how our design process has evolved.  In the presentation we explain why page-based design doesn’t work and walk through our new approach.  We share real-world examples of the design deliverables we now produce from a recent project.

Below is a video of the presentation and the abstract of the talk.  Would love to hear any feedback you may have!

Talk Abstract

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14 Takeaways from Drupalcon Baltimore

We went big at Drupalcon Baltimore this year. We were a Silver sponsor of the overall conference, sponsored the nonprofit summit, and half our team attended. We learned a lot and had a great time exploring Baltimore. Here are some reflections on our experience this year. (1) Our Chief Operating Officer Hannah Del Porto participated in this year’s prenote. The prenote is a sort of bizarre Drupal-inspired hour long variety show that kicks off the conference every year. Watching Hannah dance and sing while dressed up as a koala bear gave us all great joy. (2) On a personal note, this GIF I made of Hannah participating in the aforementioned prenote is probably the greatest piece of art I ever created. (3) In his keynote talk, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert said that the upgrade path for Drupal 9 will be much simpler than what we’ve seen previously. Traditionally Drupal has
Continue reading "14 Takeaways from Drupalcon Baltimore"

14 Takeaways from Drupalcon Baltimore

We went big at Drupalcon Baltimore this year. We were a Silver sponsor of the overall conference, sponsored the nonprofit summit, and half our team attended. We learned a lot and had a great time exploring Baltimore. Here are some reflections on our experience this year.

(1) Our Chief Operating Officer Hannah Del Porto participated in this year’s prenote. The prenote is a sort of bizarre Drupal-inspired hour long variety show that kicks off the conference every year. Watching Hannah dance and sing while dressed up as a koala bear gave us all great joy.

(2) On a personal note, this GIF I made of Hannah participating in the aforementioned prenote is probably the greatest piece of art I ever created.

(3) In his keynote talk, Drupal founder Dries Buytaert said that the upgrade path for Drupal 9 will be much simpler than what we’ve seen previously. Traditionally Drupal has

Continue reading “14 Takeaways from Drupalcon Baltimore”

Four ways to keep your team unblocked and the work flowing

One of the most challenging parts of running a web development firm is workflow management.  Inevitably members of our Brick Factory team get blocked, meaning they can’t complete their work while they wait on someone else to make a decision or perform a task.  Blocking is a huge problem, as it can result in delays, budget overruns and unnecessary fire drills.

In this post we  explain what it means to be blocked, why it is such a big problem and provide some tips on how to keep the work flowing.

Why do people get blocked?

We are a mid-sized web development firm of around twenty people.  A typical project might take 400-500 hours spread out among 5-6 staff to complete.   A project team usually looks something like this:

Four ways to keep your team unblocked and the work flowing

One of the most challenging parts of running a web development firm is workflow management.  Inevitably members of our Brick Factory team get blocked, meaning they can’t complete their work while they wait on someone else to make a decision or perform a task.  Blocking is a huge problem, as it can result in delays, budget overruns and unnecessary fire drills. In this post we  explain what it means to be blocked, why it is such a big problem and provide some tips on how to keep the work flowing.

Why do people get blocked?

We are a mid-sized web development firm of around twenty people.  A typical project might take 400-500 hours spread out among 5-6 staff to complete.   A project team usually looks something like this: