In 2005, I was working for a newspaper company as a journalist while finishing up college. There was a guy that I worked with named Tony who was a brilliant designer and artist. It was effortless for him to draw some illustrations using illustrator and make them come alive using a number of different design tools. He was a news assistant and would help put together the weather page and contribute to local stories. What was ironic was that Tony hated writing and was the first to tell you that he was not good at it. He kept a good attitude and was happy to work at the newspaper but his talents, passion, and experience was in design.
When I get real honest with myself, I realize I am very passionate about building user-centered websites or applications that not only create good user experiences but also have a good internal maintenance plan. There is truly nothing worse as Web professional than working with systems, sites or tools that are shallow solutions. By shallow, I mean that on the surface, the solution solves a problem but in reality it's not scalable to satisfy real-life business problems and challenges. For example, you get sold on a system or tool that automatically alerts your team when any errors or 404 pages occur. But then when using the system, you discover that the system alerts you but does not provide an easy way to fix the issue. So now you have half a solution for a pricy system.
As I write this, I am sitting at Starbucks here in Redlands, California sharing a table with two ladies that are talking over there differences. One is crying and asking forgiveness about something she did to the other. This is a new experience, and I feel quite odd sitting here. But...I was at this table first and it's a hot sunny day and there are no other seats available inside this place.
Let me first apologize for the oversized picture of my head on this post...
Whenever I visit a new city, I love to get up early before I have to meet with clients or colleagues and take a stroll to get a good look around. With some headphones and a cup of coffee on a brisk spring morning in Portland, I am ready to to tackle the day. Worship music turned on full blast as I sing walking through the streets is a precious time spent with God. I lift up prayers for keeping my family safe while away and for the oppurtinity to plant some seeds in the hearts of whoever I may meet this week.
These past few weeks, I have been repeating this thought in my head to many colleagues and clients on several different projects. A lot of sites that I have been working with have been very flat sites with very little interaction. By "flat" I mean that the most exciting interaction you get on the site is that when you hover over the navigation links, they turn from blue to black. You click on a link from a static page and it takes you to another static page. No glitz, no glam, no nothing just the content. Yes, this might be effective and has minimal usability issues, which is extremely important.
There has been a lot of discussions over the years about which open source Content Management System is the best. The 3 in question, are always Drupal, WordPress, and Joomla. As if there is one system that is truly better than another. By better, we are talking about performance, usability, UI, integration, modules or plugins, customization, flexibility, and probably coolest logo. Well...coolest logo has to go to Drupal with no question.
Personally, these discussions are becoming tiring because all 3 of these CMS' do a lot of the same things very well and a lot of different things well. Just to take a step back, I have worked with all 3 of these systems on a number of different sites and projects over the past 4 years. I have even built a few custom modules on some of them.
One thing I love about my job is that I get to consistently work with diferent people (stakeholders/customers) on projects. It satisfies my constant urge to meet new people and discover new ways of doing things. Over the years I noticed that during the information architecture phase, I consitently hear the question "Can't we write text that tells people how to do something on the site?" This is a fair question because it seems very logical to write text that gives people instruction. Like an instruction manual for the Web page. It's helpful, right?
My company (Room 316 Studios) created new features and added new sections of the Dr. Seuss site using Drupal CMS. We worked with an amazing company called Big Bad Tomato who originally built the site and created all of the flash movies. It was a pleasure working with them on this project.
Check out the Room 316 Studios blog to get more information on how we did it using Drupal.