It needed to be a simple site with easy to find options to recruit participants for a variety of quit smoking studies.
The site also needed to satisfy the academic sensibilities of its sponsoring group by providing access to and thus lending legitimacy to completed studies.
In keeping with Rad Campaign’s waterfall approach to project management my first task was to create a series of stakeholder interview questions (pdf). This document aimed to surface information in a variety of areas including:
- internal goals and objectives
- target audiences
- top tasks for audience members
- desired perception of the organization
- visual design preferences and dislikes
Reviewing the client’s reponses to these questions during the project kickoff meeting revealed some hidden technological requirements, such as:
- the need to be able to pass potential study participants to a proprietary sign-up system maintained in-house at the Truth Initiative (formerly the American Legacy Foundation)
- a primacy on mobile access for potential study participants driven by previous work Institute work with a mobile quit smoking app,
- an unexpected need to keep communications with senior managers concise and controlled to prevent this small site from ballooning and becoming something it shouldn’t be.
Organizing the Site
Competitive research on other quit smoking sites and resources revealed a level of complexity and a different approach than the one Schroeder Institute staff wanted to take with their site.
This competitive research confirmed that the Information Architecture Schroeder Institute staff suggested in their responses during the kickoff meeting was the best one for the site. With this knowledge and using recommendations from Rad Campaign’s contract SEO expert, I created a navigation schema.
I worked with Schroeder Institute staff to develop custom taxonomies covering study principals, types of studies, and an audience characteristics taxonomy.
I also worked with them on the Content Strategy for the site advising them on structuring content so audience members could quickly complete the tasks they’d come to the site to get accomplished.
Designing for Development
Following Rad Campaign’s waterfall project management process, I created a a Functional Requirements document (pdf) specifying the content types and fields to be created in Drupal, and specifying how additional functionality would work.
I began back-end development once Schroeder Institute staff approved Functional Requirements creating content types, fields, contexts, and other back-end elements.
I briefed Rad Campaign’s designer, including recommendations from the SEO consultant, to prepare him for creation of site wireframes on the client’s preferences and dislikes for visual design.
Throughout the design process I led Rad Campaign staff in reviewing wireframes and served as buffer between the designer and Schroeder Institute staff translating their feedback into a usable task list for Rad Campaign’s designer.
The design process, Schroeder’s choice of a visual design completely unlike any of their competitiors, further consultations with the SEO consultant revealed the Information Architecture needed to be simplified requiring additional, unplanned rounds of visual design.
It was my job as the Project Manager to convey the impact of this to the client and adjust the schedule and milestones accordingly.
Developing the Design
With desktop, tablet, and mobile comps approved, I finished back-end development by creating the necessary views and callouts. I then started on custom theme development.
Rad Campaign’s practice for custom Drupal themes was in transition to using Bootstrap as a base theme.
Rather than fall back on what was comfortable, I took the leap and started with Bootstrap to leverage its built-in mobile capabilities and deliver the best user experience to the audience Schroeder Institute staff anticipated.
I used the SASS version of Bootstrap to create a custom subtheme producing graphic assets from approved comps, extracting font styles, sizes, and a color palette.
As sole developer and project manager for this project my deliverables were myriad. Some of those deliverables were:
- stakeholder interview documentation
- competitive research analysis
- project timeline with milestones incorporating internal review for deliverables due to the client
- sitemap and navigation schema incorporating recommendations from SEO consultant
- functional requirements document serving as a blueprint for back-end development
- back-end Drupal customization including module installation, creation of views, contexts, taxonomies, and content types
- graphic assets optimized for multiple platforms
- custom SASS creating interactive UI and custom theme based on Bootstrap
I also created and delivered both basic training covering content entry, publication, and management, and advanced training covering site administration to Schroeder Institute staff.