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Feb 11 2021
Feb 11

The past 12 months have presented lots of opportunities for looking at life and work through a different lens. Many of us have gained a newfound gratitude for the people, perspectives, and technologies that have sparked new possibilities and powered us through.

Love is in the air as Valentine's Day approaches and here at Promet Source, we thought we'd take this opportunity to share an inside look at some of new inspiration, developments, and tools that we've come to love lately. 

1. Haben: The Deafblind Women Who Conquered Harvard Law

Denise Erazmus, Accessibility Specialist

This is the memoir by Haben Girma, who is the first deafblind student to graduate from Harvard Law.

So much of what we focus on as web accessibility specialists is empathizing with differently abled people in order to understand how they consume content. This book gave me even more insight into that experience by showing a picture of a girl born deaf, who goes through the process of losing her sight, but not her drive to succeed.  The memoir also helped to further raise my awareness of what members of the disabled community can accomplish, which I believe is absolutely anything.

Haben: The Deafblind Woman Who Conquered Harvard Law book cover

2. The New, Accessible White House Website

Peter Ross, Senior UI/UX Designer

I love all of the design and accessibility features of the new whitehouse.gov. I also love that a Spanish-language version has been reinstated into the WordPress CMS. The layout is clean and reads much more like a news site. 

Whitehouse.gov screenshotA screenshot from the newly designed whitehouse.gov site

 

3. CrossFit. Definitely CrossFit

Andrew Kucharski, President

I love CrossFit because it kicks my butt. It sharpens my focus for all aspects of my life and it has moved me beyond wellness into fitness. Plus: I get the self satisfaction of being disciplined enough to stay at it. Every. Single. Day.

Andrew Kucharski at CrossFitAndrew Kucharski, President of Promet Source and a serious CrossFit devotee

4. Dual Monitors!

Chris O'Donnell, Digital Strategist

I love dual monitors. I have no idea how I worked with a single monitor for most of my life. I'm planning to get a KVM switch so I can share my second monitor with my Linux PC and have two monitors on my personal set-up too.

Chris O'DonnellChris O'Donnell at his desk with two monitors going strong

 

5. The Snapchat Filter for Zoom

Chris Sensat, Graphic Designer

I love the Snapchat filter for Zoom. Remote meetings can take on a whole new life when there's the option of showing up for a moment or two from the beach, as a bandit, or as an alien, or with a cat on your head.

Snap Chat during a Zoom Call

6. Provus

Aaron Couch, Director of Technology Solutions

We're just getting started, and I love all of the new possibilities that Promet's Open Source, drag-and-drop page building solution is creating. Provus is giving marketers and content editors the keys to take ownership of their websites with the ability to easily build pages, revise page designs, and a lot more. 

Provus banner

 

7. LastPass 

Patti Cardiff, Director of Support Services 

I love LastPass! I have a zillion client passwords to keep up with. LastPass makes my processes much, much faster!

last pass logo

8. The Drupal Community!

Danita Bowman, Drupal Trainer

Until you are actually a participating member, it's hard to realize how awesome the Drupal community is and how much there is to love -- the support, the inclusivity, the way this amazing worldwide team is committed to helping each other, and the continuous contributions to making Drupal a better CMS for all. 

DrupalCon 2019 SeattleGroup shot from DrupalCon 2019 in Seattle

 

9. Sketch for Teams

Mic Seaton, Senior UI/UX Designer

Sketch for Teams allows for amazing new possibilities that includes seamlessly sharing designs with stakeholders, sharing feedback within the team, prototyping previews for user testing and research, and staying organized!

Sketch for teams

 

10. Google Data Studio

Ishmael Fusilero, Digital Marketing Analyst

I love the depth and breadth of intelligence that's available from Data Studio.  We leverage Data Studio internally, and the tool also helps us to offer our SEO and analytics clients highly precise levels of insights and recommendations. 

Data studio screen shot

At Promet Source, we're a diverse team of experts with passions that run deep and wide. What unites us is our enthusiasm for igniting new digital possibilities for our clients. Let us know what we can do for you!

Jan 20 2021
Jan 20

Are your meetings falling flat lately?

For many, the realities of remote working are wearing kind of thin. We’re looking for ways to breathe more life into meetings and raise the bar for engagement, productivity, and yes, even fun. 

It’s easy to become frustrated with participants during a call when they’re on mute for most of the meeting, or texting, or only partially present. It’s true, of course, that this is business, and we’re all adults, and tuning out should not be an option. It’s also true that when the leader of the meeting gets intentional about a different approach to navigating group interactions, the energy and the impact of the meeting takes off in a new trajectory.

Remote meetings present distinct challenges, especially months into a global pandemic in which most everyone has been required to work remotely. Regardless of whether participants are sitting around the same table or separated by several time zones, there is so much that meeting facilitators can do to encourage all participants to lean in, actively contribute, and build upon each others’ ideas to come up with great solutions. 

Improv at Work

The rules of improv comedy can actually provide some great lessons for keeping meetings moving with all participants bringing their A-Game.

I had the fortunate experience of working with several coworkers at an interactive digital marketing agency who taught and performed improv comedy. I learned from them that the kind of hysterically funny, in-the-moment interactions present in improv is not as spontaneous as they may seem. Great improv results from a lot of study and practice. 

As it turns out, learning and following the basic “rules” of improv can have a significant impact on the energy and outcomes of business meetings. 

Here are a few improv comedy rules along with some thoughts on how they can be adopted for business. 
 

Rule #1: Say "YES"

“Yes AND …” along with “Yes ANDing” has emerged essentially as the catchphrase of improv. “Yes ANDing” is a skill that requires practice and, for many, a big mindset shift. 

The knee-jerk reaction during meetings tends to be either “Yes, BUT,” or a flat out “NO,” followed by all the reasons why a given idea isn’t feasible or isn’t based on adequately strategic thinking. 

  • “We tried that last year. It didn’t work.”
  • “Sounds good but have you thought about …”
  • “There’s no way we could get _______ to sign off on something like that.” 

While making someone else wrong might seem to represent discernment and critical thinking skills, the real impact is a gradual, or sometimes a swift, shut down of further contributions.

The objective of “Yes ANDing” is to validate, to be open to another perspective -- a Plan B or C -- to collaboratively build something together by adding to it.  

Here are some sample “Yes AND” responses:

  • “Interesting. I hadn’t thought about that, and this could be a good foundation for ...”
  • “We tried something like that last summer. That was when the market was very different  / or we didn’t do X, Y, and Z.”


The challenge, before shutting them down, is to help build out ideas, even if you don’t fully understand them or it wasn’t what you had in mind. For any number of reasons, the idea might not ever take shape, but taking the time to listen and learn, builds both productivity and relationships. 

Rule #2: Build up. Don’t break down. Keep it moving.

With improv, the second someone gets invalidated, the scene dies. A similar dynamic plays out in meetings when participants go quiet and they silently say to themselves:   “OK you figure this one out.”

Too often, poor participation and long silences stem from this kind of dynamic.

The genius of great improv is the pace. 

We don’t need to measure up to the lightning-fast wit of the improv pros from the likes of the TV show “Whose Line is it Anyway,” which ran from 1998 through 2007, but silence can kill the energy of a meeting, just as it does with improv comedy. Encourage participation and build from it.

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Rule #3:  Don’t ask questions. Contribute new information. 

This one can be a challenge to put into practice. The standard is to expect participants to defend their ideas or lead them into the realization that their ideas will not hold water. 

Avoid the expectation that only fully thought out suggestions are allowed to be voiced. 

Instead of:

  • “How could we ever expect the dev team to take this on?”

How about:

  • “I was talking with Deborah in dev the other day and she seemed really eager to try some new things. This might be right up her alley.”
  • “Let’s talk further about how we can get the dev team on board with us on this.”

Rule #4:  No Wrong Answers

We’re all familiar with the “no bad ideas” premise of brainstorming and the objective of a free-flow of lots ideas that spark other ideas, as a few “best” ideas start to emerge. 

Rules of improv are also built upon an understanding that making people wrong is wildly unproductive. The difference is that brainstorming is inherently focused on a number of ideas with the assumption that the vast majority of them will never see the light of day. Sometimes, brainstorming is exactly what’s needed, but improv is a bit different. It’s about co-creation and collectively building something together as a team.

Another difference: with brainstorming in general, it’s possible for some participants to sit back and others to dominate. Improv -- similar to Promet's Human-Centered Design workshops -- draw  in the whole group.
 

Rule #5: Everyone participates and brings their A game.

Improv rises and falls on the dynamic of the group. It’s not about who has the best ideas or who is the smartest. It’s about knowing each other’s strengths and how to best leverage them. We can bring this same principle into our meetings along with the expectation that everyone who has been invited to the meeting is there for a reason. 

With improv, everyone is expected to bring their A-Game, stay in curiosity, let go of their ego, take risks, and have some fun.  

Try injecting some rules of improv into your next meeting! First, inform your group of how it works and see how following these practices can actually enhance and motivate your team to have more participation, provide more ideas, and work together to create some new possibilities.

Interested in witnessing first-hand the impact of our collaborative energy on discovery session outcomes? Contact us today. 

Jan 18 2021
Jan 18

Human-centered design is a concept that gained traction in the 1990s as an approach  to developing innovative solutions based on a laser-sharp focus on human needs and human perspectives during every phase of a design or problem-solving process. Building upon the principles of human-centered design, Promet Source has served as a pioneer and leading practitioner human-centered web design. 

At the core of our approach to human-centered web design is a deep level of inquiry that questions all assumptions and engages key stakeholders in various exercises that call for letting go of individual preferences and moving toward an empathetic focus on optimizing the experience for the user. The results reveal new possibilities on multiple levels.

With an overarching emphasis on empathy, we look to open new opportunities by understanding the needs and expectations of the people who actually use the website. Sometimes this sparks a mindshift, that reorients the site architecture away from an organization’s internal structure, and focused instead on user journeys.
Too often, websites are architected from the perspective of insiders -- organized by department, without stepping back to ask: 

  • Who visits the site? 
  • What kinds of information are they seeking? 
  • How can we align the navigation of the site around what makes sense to users? 

The best web experiences leverage empathy, and begin with human-centered design processes that dig deep and question any all assumptions about how users’ interactions with the website can it be designed to ensure that they and easily find the information they need and that their experience of visiting the site is both engaging and value added. 

At Promet Source, we approach human-centered web design as a seven-step process.

 

1. Build empathy with user personas

The first and most essential question: For whom are we building or redesigning this site? Following the identification of the key persona groups, we proceed to dig deep, asking “why” and “how” concerning every aspect of their motivations and expectations.
 

2. Assess what user personas need from the website

Understanding of and empathy for user personas dovetails into an analysis of how they currently use the site, how that experience can be improved, and how enhancing their experience with the site can drive a deeper relationship. 
This level of inquiry at the front end might feel excessive or out of sync with what many are accustomed to, but as Tom Gilb, noted in Principles of Software Engineering Management, getting it right at the outset pays off tenfold over the cost of fixing after the site is released.

Ensuring that projects get off to an excellent start is at the core of what human-centered design is all about.

 

3. Map their journeys through the site to key conversions

Just as user groups do not all fit the same mold, what they are looking for from your site will vary, depending on what phase they are in relative to their relationship with your organization – what we refer to as the user journey. 
Too often, website design focuses on one aspect of the user journey. It needs to be viewed holistically, taking the perspectives of all user groups into account.

 

4. Identify Obstacles in their path.

Next step: identify challenges. We map user journeys through every phase, aiming for seamless transitions from one phase to the next.
This step calls for continuous inquiry along with a commitment to not defend or hold on to assumptions or previous approaches that may no longer be optimal, while pursuing answers to questions such as:

  • What have we heard from clients? 
  • Where have breakdowns occurred in conversions and in relationships?
  • How can we fix it with the messaging, design, or the functionality of the website?  
     

5. Brainstorm objectives

Our facilitated workshop setting is structured to build upon a productive flow of ideas via several exercises that draw upon stakeholder perspectives and expertise from multiple angles.

6. Prioritize solutions

While there are “no bad ideas in brainstorming,” in the real world of budgets and time, questions such as “how,” “what’s the cost,” “where to begin,” and “what will have the best impact,” need to be considered. 

As ideas are synthesized, these answers will begin to take shape.  

7. Create a roadmap for development

Too often, web design and development begins at this step. 
With human-centered web design, a depth and breadth of research, persona development, empathetic insights, journey mapping, solution gathering, collaborative energy, and excitement about what’s to come have already been invested when we get to this point. 
As a result, clients have the advantage of moving forward with a high degree of alignment among stakeholders, along with a conviction of ownership in an outcome that will enhance both the experiences and relationships with the humans who visit the site. 

Human-Centered Design Activities

The above steps help to define the “What” of human-centered web design. The “How” of human-centered web unfolds during facilitated workshops. Here are some of the activities that we leverage in the process of bringing human-centered web design to life.

Persona Development

Persona development example

Identifying individual personas helps to define the range of differing user needs and expectations, for purposes of tailoring solutions accordingly. 

Giving every identified persona a name helps to humanize the exercise and reinforces empathy for the actual users of the site. It also serves as a ready reference point or shorthand for further conversation for questions such as: 

  • What else is Joshua going to expect from this page?
  • Will this navigation make sense to Alexis?

Rose-Thorn-Bud

This exercise is designed to quickly gather a significant amount of data in response to specific and essential questions. Adopted from a Luma Institute collection of exercises, participants are given brightly colored Post-It® notes and asked to write everything that they view as an advantage or a plus on a pink (Rose) Post-It. Challenges or downsides are to be written on a blue Post-It (Thorn). Green

Post-Its are for collecting input on potential or emerging for opportunities (Bud). 
Every participant’s opinion ranks equally as responses are gathered and grouped on a white board according to identified categories. 

Affinity Clustering

Affinity cluster example

During this next step, the “Rose-Thorn-Bud” input is organized according to agreed-upon groupings, to reveal patterns, surface priorities, bring order to complexity, and spark productive conversation.

The use of different colored Post-Its is particularly useful in revealing that within a particular category there might be a mix of challenges, opportunities, or advantages. Participants might also have differing opinions as how to characterize a particular attribute.

For example, some stakeholders might view the current site architecture as a Plus (Rose), others might view it in terms of the inherent opportunity or potential (Bud), while others might be largely focused on the challenges of the and ways that the site’s architecture falls short (Thorn).  

In all cases, this exercise sparks engaging conversations and reveals new opportunities for achieving consensus.

Stakeholder Mapping

Stakeholder mapping results in what is essentially a network diagram of people involved with or impacted by the website. Typically, there are considerably more stakeholders than originally thought, and stakeholder mapping evaluates all the possible users of a system to then identify and prioritize needs and expectations. 

Abstraction Laddering

During this exercise, we guide teams through the process of deconstructing a goal as dig deeper into questions concerning “How” and “Why” for purposes of advancing toward greater clarity and specificity. 

Let’s take the example of the statement: “We need to get more visitors to sign up for a demo?” which on its own does not offer much context to develop an action plan. 

During a human-centered design workshop, we’ll move up the ladder going at least three deep to record answers to “Why” and down at least three deep recording answers to “How.” 

Importance / Difficulty Matrix

importance difficulty matrix

Inevitably, some of the ideas that emerge will spark excitement for the strategic leap forward that they could represent. The required time and resources to move forward with them, however, might exceed current capabilities. Other ideas might fall into the category of Low Hanging Fruit -- initiatives that can be achieved quickly and easily.

Plotting every idea on an Importance / Difficulty Matrix is an essential group activity that sparks conversation and accountability concerning Who, How, and When -- transforming good ideas into action items.

In the current environment, organizations tend to be defined by their digital presence. The stakes for getting it right are high and the margin for error is low. Optimizing ideas and perspectives at the outset, and continuing to iterate with feedback creates a strong starting point that serves as a superior foundation for web solutions that are capable of heavy lifting over the long haul. 
Interested in learning more about the possibilities for a human-centered design workshop in your organization? Contact us today.

Jan 05 2021
Jan 05

Even though 2020 came to a close with an overwhelming sense of “good riddance,” the year was not all bad. It was filled with as many surprises as it was filled with opportunities for growth, learning, and many new developments.

The realities of remote work revealed new levels of resilience and flexibility, Drupal 9 was released right on time, and here at Promet Source, we pulled together a lot of collective brainpower to introduce new possibilities for empowering content editors while streamlining web development. 

Our weekly blog posts reflect our commitment to draw upon a depth and breadth of our team’s expertise to convey best practices, new insights, innovations, and thought leadership for the Drupal and web development communities.

Here are Promet's 10 blog posts that grabbed the most attention.  

 

1. Drupal Enabled Drag-and-Drop Content Management, by Chris O’Donnell

Drupal enabled drag and drop blog image

Leading up to the end-of-year launch of Provus, which offers a new approach to designing, developing, and managing Drupal sites with intuitive, no-code, drag-and-drop page-building tools, this post explained the foundations of component-based web design systems and the accompanying leaps forward for efficiency and content editor empowerment. Read Drupal Enabled Drag and Drop Content Management.

 

2. Provus! Drupal Content Editing Reimagined, by Mindy League

Provus Feature Image

Signaling new directions and game-changing possibilities for 2021, this final post of the year sparked a surge of interest in Provus, Promet’s new platform for better content editing in Drupal, and presented insight into the kind of thinking that drove the development of this new platform. Read Provus! Drupal Content Editing Reimagined.
 

3. How to Master Entity Access in Drupal, by Bryan Manalo

How to Master Entity Access banner

The first in a two-part series on Entity Access, this how-to provided an in-depth tutorial on hook entity access, along with a discussion of when and how to use it. Read How to Master Entity Access in Drupal.

4. How to Facilitate an Innovative Remote Meeting, by Mindy League

remote work illustration

Early into the pandemic, as many began looking for new ways to enhance engagement, Promet offered a new approach for breathing new life into remote meetings by applying the techniques of design thinking and human-centered design. Read How to Facilitate an Innovative Remote Meeting.

5. Anticipating Post Pandemic Web Design Trends, by Mindy League 

Post pandemic design trends

As Covid-19 heads for the history books, “normal” stands to look a lot different than how we remembered it. Pointing to design changes that have been sparked by global upheaval in past decades, this post looked at what’s next and cited upcoming trends for web design. Read Anticipating Post Pandemic Web Design Trends.

6. Remote Work Success in a Time of Caution and Quarantine, by Pamela Ross

Promet's Pamela Ross

With a track record of attracting talent from all over the world and effectively collaborating via Zoom, Promet Source entered the pandemic with an edge over companies that were scrambling to adjust to working remotely. This post shared some of Promet’s expertise on the topic with five key strategies for optimizing the remote work opportunities. Read Remote Work Success in a Time of Caution and Quarantine.

7. Drupal 9 Has Dropped! What to Do Now, by Aaron Couch

Drupal 8 to Drupal 9 migration

Despite a global pandemic, Drupal 9 was released on time, as promised, on June 3, 2020. This post covers the key features of Drupal 9 and lays out a strategy for assessing migration readiness. Read Drupal 9 Has Dropped! What to Do Now.

8. Pros and Cons of Five Web Accessibility Tools, by Denise Erazmus 

scales for weighing pros and cons

There are a wide range of available tools designed to support ADA web accessibility compliance, but they vary in the number and types of errors they detect and the degree to which they can help ensure compliance. To help sort through options, this post covers the five most popular tools or extensions, along with the key pros and cons of each. Read Pros and Cons of Five Web Accessibility Tools.

9. Always Be Optimizing for SEO, by Ishmael Fusilero

Optimize for SEO

This post explains why and how organizations need to approach SEO as an ongoing activity, consistently monitoring metrics, along with a strategy to leverage the intelligence hidden within the data. Read Always Be Optimizing for SEO.

10. Drupal 8 Load Testing with Locust, by Josh Estep

Load Testing with Locust

Load-testing is an essential step in the development process. It quantifies the amount of traffic a site can sustain both during development and prior to launch. This post provides a how-to on the use of Locust as an Open Source load testing tool for Drupal 8. Read Drupal 8 Load Testing with Locust

With a diverse talent base, Promet Source is well positioned to share expertise and insights that connect, engage, inform, and spark new ideas. Do you have big plans for your website in 2021? Let us know what we can do to help you achieve your goals!
 

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Dec 15 2020
Dec 15

At Promet Source, our favorite types of questions are “why not?” and “what if?”  This mindset energizes new approaches and possibilities. It’s the perspective that’s fueled a lot of our collective brainpower lately, sparking some big questions such as: 


What if we could leverage the coding and the components that we create for one website, for purposes of building a foundation for vast new efficiencies while making content editing easier and more efficient?

And

How can we simplify content editing, while empowering marketers and content editors to revise and reconfigure their sites as they see fit, without requiring any tech expertise or tinkering with the code?

These are the kinds of questions that have driven the development of Provus

What is Provus?

Provus is Promet’s solution for making the content editing experience better for marketers and site managers.

Promet Source created Provus because we get it -- that within every organization, priorities, perspectives, and products are constantly evolving, and that keeping Drupal sites updated at the same pace is a big challenge for fast-moving marketing teams.

With Provus, marketers and content editors get access to a library of customized, commonly used components -- such as galleries, carousels, maps, lists, blogs, FAQs, quick links, grids, social media assets, and events -- that are designed to be mixed, matched, and rearranged. 

What Sets Provus Apart?

A big differentiator between Provus and other drag-and-drop page-building tools is that marketers and content editors can be assured that they won't "break the site" and any combination of components available within Provus will be ADA accessible, adhere to brand standards, and look great. 

Clients working with Promet benefit from our design team customizing options for their site to ensure that the range of possibilities for reconfiguring the look and layout of a page is within a system of brand and accessibility guidelines. Provus is Open Source and has the inherent benefits of an Open Source product. 

 

Content editors can also count on: 

  • Self-adjusting features that ensure adequate contrast between fonts and background colors for readability and ADA accessibility. 
  • The assurance that brand guidelines stay intact as layouts change. 
  • The ability to easily change patterns within the views, eliminating the need to switch back and forth between edit and publish modes.

Provus bridges the CMS divide that had formerly existed between easy-to-create and manage solutions, such as -- WIX or Squarespace -- and Drupal, which provides a scalable solution for complex, enterprise-level sites.

 

See the difference

This sequence of images demonstrates how a single view can be adjusted without having to delete the existing component, redundantly re-enter content, and start a new layout. Provus enables the content editor to simply select from several alternate views creating a variety of layouts with either manual inline content or pulling in automatic dynamic content from existing Drupal content types such as News or Events.

Screen capture of the Provus Content Editor experienceThe Provus CMS within Drupal allows easy selection from a variety of layouts.Screen Cap of the Provus CMSFeaturing the Card Carousel, the Group Display component provides multiple views of a set of contents.Provus CMS view of a simplified content editing experienceProvus users simply change the layout by selecting a new view within the component without having to reenter content. Multiple view options are available for this commonly used component.Carousel view displayed in the Wysiwyg editor.The newly selected view is then displayed in the Drupal WYSIWYG editor of Layout Builder. The library of components that are part of Provus provides ways to display engaging content that extends beyond basic content pages that are part of Drupal out-of-the-box.

 

What's New & Next

As a thought leader on how humans interact with technology, Promet Source has enthusiastically created Provus and we are excited about the new possibilities that are in store.

Interested in hearing what Provus can do for you, or seeing a demo of Provus in action?

Read more about Provus here and Sign up for a demo!

About Drupal Sun

Drupal Sun is an Evolving Web project. It allows you to:

  • Do full-text search on all the articles in Drupal Planet (thanks to Apache Solr)
  • Facet based on tags, author, or feed
  • Flip through articles quickly (with j/k or arrow keys) to find what you're interested in
  • View the entire article text inline, or in the context of the site where it was created

See the blog post at Evolving Web

Evolving Web