Sliding into home … ish

Minion-Higgs-Boson

Our little minion heads were ‘splodin’

On Monday — as we rounded into the final week of the redesign project and were looking down the barrel of “There’s-still-so-much-content-to-be-migrated-and-a-bunch-of-bugs-to-be-fixed-aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” — heads were exploding, limbs were falling off, neurons were firing in ways that even quantum physics couldn’t foresee (image the Higgs-Boson running in circles until it collapses … or maybe your three-year old child).

Sometimes its only by virtue of sheer exhaustion that you’re able to see the forest for the trees: “Hmmm. If the product isn’t ready, maybe we should push the launch date. What a novel idea.”

But then that darn Higgs-Boson starts running in circles again: “But. Nooooo! First we said Aug. 11, then we said Sept. 8, if we move the launch again, WE’LL BE FAILURES!!! Pant, pant, pant, pant, pant.”

Again, exhaustion. But the good kind of exhaustion. The kind where all resistance is removed. The kind you might actually call … surrender.

The heavens open. The light descends. Clarity pours forth.

Minions in awe

Us. Light-dawning.

It’s kind of a no-brainer: What are we in service to? A date? Or our community?

We’ve promised a product that is fresh, on-message and usable. If the stuff you need is not there and things are wonky, then the site is not usable. As it is, there’ll be a learning curve for everyone simply by virtue of the fact that its a completely restructured site. You don’t need to be worried about whether your stuff is there. You just need it to be there.

Integrity doesn’t lie in rigidity — in holding firm to an idea that no longer works — but in flexibility. Fluidity. Seeing what’s true and operating from what’s revealed in that truth in concert with a commitment to your original objective. Our objective from the get-go was to provide the best product we can to all our constituents.

So we ask for your patience as we once again shift our timeline in order to complete our task.

Sept. 4 – 11 Testing and debugging finalized
Sept. 4 – 13 Content migration finalized
Sept. 14 – 22 Content owners/web editors review
Sept. 14 – 24 MarCom edits site per owners/editors review
Sept. 25 – Launch (I’m not even going to begin to use any exclamation marks here as I’ve probably overplayed that hand … uh … uh … ah! OK, I can’t help it! I know, I know. I need to go to Exclamation Mark Over-users Anonymous)

When next we post, may it be to announce a shiny new website.

As ever,
Your devoted MarCom Minions

I am Groot!

Unfortunately … or … not, since I’m the one writing this blog, you all have to suffer through the cultural references that I have either stockpiled over many a year, or recently been exposed to. My latest? Guardians of the Galaxy. For those of you who haven’t seen it, it’s the story of a bunch of misfits (aren’t they always) who band together to vanquish evil (don’t they always?).

Now if I were Groot, I could make this entire blog post read “I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot. I am Groot.” (Gotta rent the movie…) But then you’d have to go out and find someone of the genus Procyon to translate every line (like I said, the movie, kinda have to see it).

As luck would have it, I have someone who fits the bill!

Carl "The Rocket" Racoon

Carl “The Rocket” Racoon. A.K.A. “The Translator”

VanGroot and The Translator

VanGroot and The Translator

So we can just get started!

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “We’re in the homestretch of the website redesign project. Yaba-daba-doo!”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “But there are a few things left to do.”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “1. OHO needs to finish building out the design and make sure everything works. 2. MarCom need to complete the content migration. We’re about halfway there thanks to our incredible team of student workers! (Can I hear a “Right on!” — or “I am Groot!”) 3. Acquia, our hosting company, needs to do a technical review and load testing.”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “In order to offer you, our community, the biggest-bestest-most-polished-el-fabuloso website ever seen by the eyes of a human being … we’ve had to adjusted our launch date.”

VG: “I am Groot.”

TT: “Our new launch date is …”

VG: “I am Groot!”

(Oh, get on with it already!)

TT:

“September 8, 2015!”

Ya-ta-dah-ta-dah-dah, ya-ta-dah-ta-dah-dah, ya-ta-dah-ta-dah-dah-dah-dah-dah! (Think clowns at the circus when you try to pronounce that one out. Or maybe not … since clowns are downright scary!)

Anyway … we’re still scurrying like little hamsters with the cheerfulness of our mascot Dug, mining, mining, mining all those website gems! That’s the scoop, the skinny, the low-down.

We’ll keep you posted, as always, but before we leave, we want to show off, once again, the most brilliant web team ever assembled! (A lot like the Guardians of the Galaxy.)

MarCom web team extraordinaire!

A WELL-deserved burger-break before the final push! Back row, l-r: Meg Dwyer, Christine Towey, Ellamae Donato, Amy Pollard, Kristofer Sirks, Joseph Cserni. Front row, l-r: Matt Hankins, Genevieve Chan, Carl Lew, Vanessa Schuler.

 

The pitter-patter of hamsters hamstering

In the spirit of moving like we got a purpose, this is a quick-ish update on the website redesign project.

A tiny (ar, ar, hamsters, get it?) diversion

Today, just because we can — and because it’s in the title, we begin with a bit of patter*:

Hamsters hamstering

What?! No! This is NOT a gaming console.

Weeeeeeeeeee…are the very model of a modern major website team.
We’ve architected something that we do believe will cast a beam.
On six-eleven Drupal passed so OHO the website could theme.
We type and click and resize pics while Carl builds pages like a dream.

Not a hamster

Squirrel? I don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m a hamster just like the other guy.

Nooooooooow…OHO’s theming up a storm to add design and make things gleam.
While Joseph, Kris and Matthew too are plugging content in with steam.
Our Ellamae and Amy toil,
And Christine crops photos…with oil?
We’d better end this patter soon,
So you won’t fly off to the moon!

*I’m sure you’re all Gilbert and Sullivan fans, but for those who think they’re purveyors of exotic coffee beans, find out about these dudes who are synonymous with patter and to whom I’m offering my sincerest form of flattery.

So…uh…where we are at?

Gru's Carl

Drupal Carl.

Regular Carl

Regular Carl.

Well, Carl has built some 820+ pages — and counting — in our Drupal staging site. Yowlza! The rest of us are working, working, working putting content into those pages. OHO’s completing development and theming, and as the theme gets applied to the staging site, we’re all testing and debugging.

And just when you thought this update couldn’t get any better…a website redesign photo essay!

Content matrix

Welcome to the matrix, Neo. The content matrix, that is. This is the Grand Poo-bah of documents for our new website. Everything we build comes out of this.

The web team

The most AMAZING team this side o’ anywhere!

Wrigley

The one. The only. Wrigley the Dog! Wriggles attacks Drupal with abandon!

wrigs-drupal

The rest of the most AMAZING team this side o’ anywhere!

Drum roll please! A sneak peek!

What we see - the back-end of Drupal - homepage

Meet the back-end of Drupal. This is what we see to enter the content.

What you'll see - homepage

Meet the front-end of Drupal. A.K.A. our new website! This is what you’ll see.

Add employee information

This is an example of how we’ll add employee information.

Professor Bode

And this is what it will look like. (Note that Professor Bode sent a lovely environmental shot for us to use on his employee profile. Learn from him, Young Luke. The ways of the force are strong with him.)

The rest of the story

And so we come to the end of our update. We’re hamstering away and on target for launch mid-August. YAY!

We’ll poke our heads out here and there. Maybe ask for a bit of this kind of content or a few of those kind of photos. But for the most part we’ll be on our hamster wheels, hamster feet running as fast as they can!

MarCom hamsters


OHO: Way the coolest kids on the block

UX Designer Lindsey WagnerOne of the reason’s we love OHO Interactive and are grateful we get to work with them: they’re totally cool and they think with heart.

We want to acknowledge our beloved UX designer extraordinaire, Lindsey Wagner, who moved on from OHO to a fellowship with Blue Ridge Labs — another majorly cool organization that designs technology solutions for low-income communities in New York City. Lindsey’s depth of knowledge, gentle hand and big heart have guided much of this project. While we miss her awesome demeanor and singular talent, we wish her the very best in this exciting and important work and in all she does in life. Congrats, Lindsey!


Timelines and Tools!

Greetings web team! Here’s a website redesign update just for you — our web assistants and content owners. And in the spirit of pith, it’s just the facts Ma’am.

Dug: Doggone! (We're) Unbelievably Good!

I think we should adopt Dug as our project mascot. He gets the job done and is always cheerful. We love Dug! (For us DUG = Doggone! (We’re) Unbelievably Good!)

We’re a breath away from the content migration phase of the website redesign project. YAY!

We’ve been moling away, prepping this and that and that and this. What does it mean for you? It means reviewing content and Drupal training. For the whole down-low on the low-down…or low-down on the down-low…or the low-down on the low-down…keep a-readin’!

Timeline

  • June 1
    Next week (I can still say this because it’s Saturday, even though most of you won’t read this until Monday) several things will happen:

    • Content audit / mapping
      I’ll be sending each of you a spreadsheet of your current website pages along with where they’ll go in the new website* – this is for you and/or your content owners to determine if:
      1) stuff should be deleted, and/or
      2) stuff should be edited, and/or
      3) the mapping (from old to new) makes sense…which in all likelihood…it won’t. (Don’t worry, we’ll tawk.) 🙂
    • Generic Drupal training
      This is the tool we’ll be using to edit the website moving forward. Carl will send you an invitation early next week for training on a generic version of the tool towards the middle-end of next week.
    • New student workers
      Kristofer and Joseph join us next week on behalf of student affairs. If you’re in a student affairs office and wonder where to turn, these’ll be the guys to help! (We’ll have to figure out their dwarf names later.)
  • June 11 – Content Migration Kick-Off
    You’ll be receiving an invite for our kick-off meeting. This will consist of:
    1) a very short overview of Drupal (our new content management system) for those who were unable to attend either of the Introduction to the Introduction to Drupal presentations** and
    2) a 2-hour presentation-style training session with OHO. In this session they will be showing us how we will be entering information into our new website.
  • June 11 – 15 – Carl sets up user permissions within Drupal
    This will give us access to the areas of the website we’ll each be working on. (This will be a process, so you might not have access on the 15th.)
  • June 15 – Migration begins
  • June 15 – 30 – Drupal training
    We will schedule a number of Drupal trainings in June so that everyone can get the training they need!
  • July 15 – Last day for delivery of content edits
    This is to give us enough time to make the edits. (This is only for content owners/web assistants who won’t be updating/migrating their own content.)
  • August 7 – Migration ends
    This doesn’t mean we’ll never be able to edit anything again, just that at this point we have to stop the presses until OHO flips the switch and makes the site live. Which is scheduled for…
  • August 11 – SITE LAUNCH

Tools

Template, Wireframe and Design samples *In addition to the spreadsheet I’m sending with your content audit and mapping, use the templatesWireframesDesign.pdf to help see where and how your content will live. Send me an email if you want to discuss.
Introduction to the Introduction of Drupal **For those of you who were unable to attend the Introduction to the Introduction to Drupal, here’s that hedgehog presentation that I’m sure everyone was talking about!

Okey doke. That’s it for now. Be checking your email! And stayed tuned!

Saint Martin’s and the seven…eight…uh…no, fourteen (and counting)…dwarfs

“Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, the project’s all a-go! (whistling) Heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, heigh-ho!”

Dopey with diamonds

Mining the gems of Saint Martin’s University’s new website

Yes, just like the seven dwarfs mining for diamonds, Saint Martin’s (along with web-super-heros, OHO Interactive) have been dig-dig-dig-dig-dig-dig-digging to unearth the pre-production gems that are soon to become our new website!

With a whoooole lot of help from all of you who sacrificed your time to a) wrap your minds around wireframes, b) raise your hands at feedback sessions, c) sit in on design presentations or d) take surveys, we’ve moved the project forward from the primordial ooze of inception, to the rubber-stamping* of the first four…count ’em, FOUR!…phases of the project (if you haven’t seen ’em before, take a look and leave us your comments at the bottom of the post):

  1. Messaging architecture (who we are and what we want to say)…approved!
  2. Sitemap (how folks with navigate the site: by what they want to do)…approved!
  3. Wireframes (how the pages will be laid out)…approved!
  4. Visual design (what the pages will look like)…approved!

What do we have left to mine?

Weeeeeell…there are four phases left to the project — hence the halfway-through thingy.

  1. Development
  2. Content migration
  3. Testing and debugging
  4. Deployment [this is when we lah-ha-ha-haunch the site!]

Pretty cool, huh?

So, this week in Boston, OHO begins development. Wahooo!

They are taking everything we did from January until now (a.k.a. messaging, sitemap, wireframes and design) and turning them into the ultra-modern-highly-advanced-state-of-the-art-newfangled-cutting-edge-squealing-headlong-into-the-future-designed-to-make-things-easy-to-find-and-mobile-ready website that we’ve all been dreaming of. This jewel is being built with, Drupal, an open source content management system (CMS) that allows us to do fancy things like re-purpose content and search on and filter stuff (a bit of an over-simplification, but true nonetheless).

Whilst OHO plugs away at development, the dwarfs of MarCom head down the mineshaft to prepare for phase VI — content migration.

Our task(sssssssssss) include: mapping everything from the old site to the new site; writing new content where none has existed before; revising old content to present a streamlined message that is aligned with our messaging architecture of…

  • Pacific Northwest feel
  • Transformative spirit
  • Academic rigor

…then migrating everything from old to new. All serving the goal of a lean, mean, hospitable web machine that gets folks what they want and need as quickly and efficiently as possible.

So if you’re wondering what we’re doing down there at the east end of Old Main through the months of May, June, July and August…well, we’ll let the dwarfs do the talk…er, singing.

Collecting more precious jewels!We’ll map, map, map, map, map, map, map
From the old the whole day through
Then we’ll write, write, write, write, write, write, write
That’s what we like to do!

It ain’t no trick, to code real quick
If a team like OHO you do pick
Writing lines! Writing lines!
Writing lines! Writing lines!
So a website sapphire shines!

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho
It’s off to work we go
We’ll map and write
Then migrate lite
We’ll jump for joy
When we deploy
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho
Heigh-ho, heigh-ho!

That’s all for today, folks. We’ll pop our heads out like little moles as soon as we have more to share. Until then…Web on!

snowwhite_dwarfsline

Heigh-ho, heigh-ho!

This update has been brought to you by your website redesign team — or as we like to call ourselves the As-Many-Dwarfs-As-We-Can-Get-Our-Hands-On-To-Complete-The-Project.

 vanessa Vanessa = Bossy
 genevieve Genevieve = Cheery
 carl Carl = Drup(al)y
 meg Meg = Smarty
 deanna Deanna = Crafty
 marki Marki = Arty
 sarah Sarah = Aces
 matt Matt = Funy
 jamie Jaime = D.C.
 christine Christine = Eagle-eye
 ellamae Ellamae = Sharpy
 connor Connor = Crackerjack
 ted Ted = Squirt1
 noa Noa = Squirt2
 harlow Harlow = Squirt3

This project is a collaboration between OHO, MarCom and all of you. We couldn’t have made it this far without your participation. If we haven’t said thank you before, we’ll say it now. If we have, we’ll say it again. Because you can never be too thankful for the folks that help you get where you’re going.

*Don’t forget that the website is a living thing, shifting and changing as we step into the future. We just had to rubber-stamp things to make sure we hit our project launch date of mid-August.

The Mystery of the New Website or, How Sherlock Holmes Found a Way onto the Blog

A question you might be asking yourself right about now (along with what Sherlock Holmes has to do with anything) is “How, fine MarCom folk, can you possibly build a brand spanking new website by the end of August?!” Well, to that we say…

Sherlock Holmes knows the answer!Wait for it… waait foor iiit…

“Elementary, my dear Watson!”
(Ha, ha! Yes! This joke is the sole reason for Sherlock Holmes to be on the blog.)

Where are we now on the redesign, Holmes, my good man?

Quite simply, Watson, the easiest way to answer that question is to show you.


The Real Reason for This Post!

Along side having a bit of fun and updating everyone on our progress, the reason we’re posting the bunches of stuff below is because we want to know what you think. This is your new website. A collaboration with all of you. Please feel free to review anything or everything and leave your thoughts, comments and feedback (below) or email us at: marcom@stmartin.edu.


The Messaging Architecture

First buliding block of a website: the messageAfter spending time with us in January, then compiling all they’d heard, OHO (our website design vendor) came to the table with the foundation of our project: what it is we want to say about who we are.

When someone visits our site, even if they don’t read these exact words, this is the experience we want them to have:

  1. Northwest Sensibility, Family Feel
  2. A Transformative Spirit
  3. Perpetually Seeking Intellectual Challenges

[Read the full Messaging Architecture report.]

STATUS: Complete


The Sitemap

Second building block of a website: the sitemap

Saint Martin's 2015 sitemap

2015 Redesign Sitemap

The sitemap is essentially the navigation of a website. Think of it as an outline or table of contents.

Just like writing a thesis, once we’ve figured out what we’re writing about (our message), we chart how we’re going to say it.

  • My Thesis
    (i.e. website home page)

    • Topic One
      (i.e. academics landing page)

      • This information
        (i.e. accounting program)
      • That information
        (i.e. biology program)

The sitemap (and wireframes) help us to map out the user’s experience without getting sidetracked by the visual design.

For our new website we’re moving from a sitemap based on how the institution is organized to a sitemap based on how our primary audiences of prospective and current students utilize the website (or would like to!).

Review the sitemap

STATUS: In final review


The Wireframes

2015 Saint Martin's Wireframes

2015 Redesign Wireframes

Third building block of redesignWireframes block out the contents of the website, again, without having to worry about all the bells and whistles of the visual design.

We play with how blocks of content can, will or should be laid out to optimize the user’s experience — getting folks what they need as quickly as possible.

Review a sample of the wireframes

STATUS: Round 4 Revisions [Final approval 4/24/2015]


The Visual Design

2015 Saint Martin's Design Concept #1

2015 Saint Martin’s Design Concept #1

Fourth building block of redesignAnd now we come to the really juicing stuff — visual design!

Last week, OHO presented two design concepts to a group of Saint Martin’s stakeholders. By unanimous decision, the first design had hit the nail on the head. YAY!

One round of feedback has been delivered from SMU to OHO at the end of last week. On 4/14/2015, OHO will present Round 2 which will incorporate our feedback and mock up a few more pages.

STATUS: Round 2 Revisions [Final approval 5/13/2015]


That’s it! That’s where we are. Development (i.e. coding and all that stuff) are set to begin 4/23/2015, completed 8/13/2015. Soon we’ll be calling on folks to do user testing — whoohoo! Then you’ll get to click around and play.


‘Come, Watson, come!’ he cried. ‘The game is afoot. Not a word! Into your clothes and come!’
Sherlock Holmes, The Adventure of the The Abbey Grange

What’s Your SMU Aha! Moment?

Faith and frost on a crisp, March morning.

Faith and frost on a crisp, March morning.

This morning as I motored onto campus I was once again moved by the beauty of our little 380 acres. The canopy of trees on Abbey Way opened to pre-sunned fields, crunch-covered with frost. The water ponds on the left, still hazy, steam rising. Red-winged blackbirds standing tall on threads of grasses, defying physics. As I got out of the car the air kissed my face with that yummy chill that comes on early mornings when the temperatures are low, the skies are blue, the sun is up — though not quite — and some mystical force makes the edges of everything a little more distinct.

I was reminded of the first time I drove up Abbey Way in 2012 for my job interview. It was the first of April and we had a freak snow storm. My interview was at 8 a.m. and being all ya-gotta-do-this-and-ya-gotta-do-that-if-you-wanna-make-an-impression, I arrived at about 7:30. Crossing College Street, hustle and bustle dissolved. I plunged into stillness, spaciousness. The snowflakes were wet and heavy, falling lazily to the ground, stitching an elegant, alabaster quilt over the entire landscape. Reflexively, my foot came off the gas. My shoulders slackened. My brow softened. Everything slowed.

That was my SMU Aha! Moment. The moment when you realize you’ve landed someplace wondrous. Is it the sight of Old Main on the hill? The way the monks have tended the land? The trees surrounding us? There’s no doubt about it. There is something special about Saint Martin’s. This place. Perhaps it’s the way the sunlight breaks onto the fields. Or the fact that for 100 years our monks have lived here, worked here, died here and are buried here. Is the very soil infused with something that makes it easier for us to touch the tender parts of ourselves?

As we spent time with our stakeholders, and OHO, in January, it became clear to Carl and me that there was something, some other thing, that makes us sit up and take notice — this is part of what OHO is helping us to define. For the OHO folks it was standing on the balcony of Cebula, looking across campus and saying, “It’s just right.”

For Carl, it was when he was coming for an interview. “When I was initially hired to consult with Saint Martin’s (1999) I got lost trying to find the campus although I had lived in the area for six years. A hidden treasure? Once I called and got directions (I was only a few blocks away) and drove onto Abbey Way I was presented with tree-lined drives throughout campus. At that time, I thought, ‘I get to work here?'”

For Sarah Holdener it was about a year into working at Saint Martin’s. “I headed down to St. Gertrude’s for lunch and as I wandered through the café and the seating area, I recall saying hello to everyone there… because I knew them all. I was overcome with a sense of community that day. I love that I know practically everyone on campus. It paves a smooth road for collaboration.”

It seems that everyone has an SMU Aha! Moment. People walk this campus and instantly know that this is where they need to be. Students and their parents. Faculty and staff. Our local community. It’s elusive. It’s a mystery. But it’s here. And it’s why we’re here.

Do  you have an SMU Aha! Moment? Share it with the community by leaving a comment below.