Knowing that a simple page with paragraphs wouldn’t suffice, we built a map that allows the Rainforest Alliance to display data from a specific region. The user can then zoom in on those regions or look at specific data points to learn more. The map takes a large spreadsheet of geodata, created based on information from the Rainforest Alliance’s CRM, and creates an interactive map powered by CartoDB that allows users to see RA-certified organizations, and what they do.
The project took less than a month to complete, using a combination of Kanban and XP management processes.
Verité has an immense amount of data that has been collected over the last 30 years regarding labor worldwide. Internal efforts are ongoing to collect all of the hand-written and paper reports into a centralized database that can be queried and sorted. For the lay-person the data was still just numbers and figures. They needed a way to visualize the data for use by researchers, academics, and the general public.
We wanted to ensure the data was exciting to work with. Far too often, data is presented as merely tables and numbers. From the start we wanted to tell a story about the data, so together with Verité, LCM crafted a question-and-answer-based approach to displaying the data with creative charting and mapping elements built to place emphasis on the results of the data.
The site’s functionality continues to be expanded as data is collected with additional visualizations and database connectors to provide real-time data for global results.
Since early 2014, LCM has continued a productive, ongoing partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul, and supports their web properties and the associated infrastructure. Recently, Chicken Soup asked LCM to launch two new and completely different Drupal 8 sites within a month. LCM worked off of prototypes from Chicken Soup for the Soul and was trusted to move quickly. By deploying two separate teams of 2 developers, LCM was able to take each site from prototype to launch on D8 and Pantheon within two weeks, while another team maintained the ongoing feature release schedule on Chicken Soup for the Soul’s massive Drupal 6 site.
In June of 2016, Chicken Soup needed a simple site to promote their line of wholesome pet food and message of overall health and wellbeing for dogs and cats. The site needed to handle a collection of content pages for products and species, as well as a store locator to show users where their products are available. The Chicken Soup Pet Foods site is a microsite that follows standard D8 templating and functionality, as laid out for previous Chicken Soup sites LCM has completed, and new sites that are still to come.
Chicken Soup was looking for an alternative approach.
Building new features to support growing business lines inside their massive aging Drupal 6 site was becoming unsustainable. Over time, the site had accumulated so much functionality that each deployment ran a high risk of breaking something, which led to lengthy deployments. Recognizing that issue, a plan was developed in partnership with Chicken Soup for the Soul to spin out a series of smaller, more focused sites sharing a similar architecture. Drupal’s modular architecture, and particularly Drupal 8’s approach to dependency management, made it a great fit for this task. Additionally, while the core CMS functionality of Drupal 6 worked well, the UI was becoming dated and cumbersome to work with. Drupal 8 featured a lot of usability enhancements, such as the built-in WYSIWYG, that would make the site much more usable overall. Finally, the feature set of the site was tightly focused, and after consideration, we were able to implement it with a small handful of contributed modules, and very little technical debt.
After experiencing some past pain points in using the bare “Configuration Management” system in Drupal 8, we chose to use the Features module on this project. Features makes it easy to bundle configuration into modules, and makes it easier to share configuration (in the form of Drupal modules) between the brand’s sites should the need arise in the future. The site uses Last Call Media’s boilerplate Drupal 8 “scaffolding” tool, which produces an artifact build, and provides a lot of best practices and testing tools out of the box. Other than that, we worked hard to use as much of the core D8 functionality as we possibly could to reduce our future technical debt as contributed modules matured.
Thanks to excellent communication with Chicken Soup for the Soul’s Digital Strategy team, and Last Call’s experience in working with Drupal 8, we were able to turn the project around in just two weeks. This met the deadline set by the marketing team, and achieved all of the goals that were set out.
Working with the International Land Coalition gave us another opportunity to use our agile design process, generating ideas and a few unique solutions.
ILC has a lot of work going on around the world and we wanted to give users a way to explore the content on the site about each specific project that’s going on and the members involved.
Our approach was to focus in on the exploration aspects. What would give users the best sense of context of these global projects? How do we give attention to the members involved? What’s the best experience for sorting through the variety of project categories, subcategories and locations? And how do we present all this information without overwhelming the user?
How We Did It.
Building a relationship at the start
It was crucial we let ILC know that this is a journey we’ll both overcome together and they have our full support, as well as expertise with regards to questions or insight. They had many different goals for the project, but with the specifics undefined, we worked with them to help figure out the details and create a fully-realized vision.
The project’s dynamic was healthy constant dialogue between our creative team and everyone on the ILC team. We listened to their insights, we heard the things we needed to consider and the parameters we should work within. As things progressed, we started checking off the points on everyone’s checklists in order to be confident about the direction we were going.
First problem: Tools for finding relevant content
As mentioned before, ILC has many internal organizational projects. We needed an experience that helped users easily find content relevant to them. We mocked up a few ideas for a filter mechanism then iterated, each time pointing out the pros and cons then making changes specific to the drawbacks. This was our solution:
The thought process behind it was pretty straight forward. Present a lot of options and information without overwhelming the user, make it accessible while browsing and allow some filter terms to tell their own story on hover. It took a few tries to get here, but we believe it accomplishes those goals.
Second problem: The Map
I mentioned context earlier, during the project we decided a map did a great job of showing the global reach of ILC. We utilized the core framework of an existing map on their website but completely redesigned the visuals and added a little more functionality. On first load, we show users the globe with a few markers showing the number of their members. Users from there have the ability to zero into an area or region of interest, finding which member(s) are doing work and what the projects going on in those areas are. Here’s the break down:
Our work was well received by the ILC board and our solutions for giving their site users the best sense of context of resource content from all over the globe was deployed on time and budget. Site users are now experiencing new ways to learn about ILC members through new ways of exploring a variety of categories and locations.