... this statement applies to just about any endeavor you can imagine... I've mostly heard it associated with education, the idea that you can get a good education anywhere if you work diligently at it and learn what the teacher has to teach -- and likewise, you can often skate by in good schools without coming out the other end with much learned.
Like everything else, websites work the same way. If you put up a quick website with little or no thought, toss a few hundred dollars to a couple thousand at it, it's really not worth that much. Anyone can do a half-assed website using any number of site builders out there, and get half-assed results. What separates great websites from crappy ones is largely the content, what the site owner has put in it.
And that's not a one time deal. You might launch the best site on the planet, but if you ignore it and don't put anything more into it, it will quickly wither and become irrelevant. Websites become valuable through use.
We get a lot of questions about why somebody should choose Drupal over WordPress. These are really completely different platforms, and we frequently blog about their differences. But one of the most obvious ones has to do with who adds content to the site.
WordPress at its heart is meant for use by a small, cohesive team with some technical skills available. If you're going to spin up a quick, throwaway site for a marketing campaign, and there's only going to be 2 or 3 people editing it, it's a great platform. However, if you're going to have hundreds or thousands of contributors, and you need any kind of separation of access, you quickly end up in an expensive place with oodles of custom code.
Drupal is a much more capable Content Management System, a CMS with a far more powerful roles-based access system baked in since its very start. You can easily add sections of a site that particular groups can manage, while other groups have different sections. That difference at its core makes Drupal far better for a company extranet/portal, a CRM, an e-commerce system, a community organizing tool, a platform for user-generated content, a workflow engine, or an organizational site for a team with lots of different stakeholders. While WordPress can be made to do all these things, Drupal has a big head start and can do most of them with little to no custom code.
So when you want to get a lot more out of your website, and it's not just you putting stuff in, Drupal just might be a far better solution!
In early 2014, our friends at Bonavita came to Freelock requesting that we help manage their main website Espresso Supply. Soon thereafter, they wanted to launch a website for one of their brands, Bonavita. But it wasn't until early summer that they were ready to realize those dreams.
Behavior Driven Development, and DevOps for Drupal. That's what we do. Over the past nine months we've dramatically improved how we deliver on what has always been our core value proposition: solving business and organizational problems with web applications.
DevOps is a newish movement within IT, the intersection of software development, IT Operations, and Quality Assurance. With our long term strength in Linux server administration and our focus on ongoing work with our clients, DevOps turns out to be a great description for our core strength: helping organizations get the most out of their Drupal sites.
We've long been a hard-core Drupal development shop, mainly because we started as developers, not designers. We think in terms of information architecture, workflow, business goals, and results. We like to bring designers in to help drive user behavior towards those goals. Behavior Driven Development starts with specific user stories organized into features and scenarios, and provides a very specific testable outcome for all our new development work.
Key development practices:
- Behavior Driven Design (BDD)
- Drupal Build Plan
- Sprint-oriented development, strong project management
Web applications are living, dynamic things that need ongoing maintenance, security patches, and attention to not only keep running but to actively support business goals. We've developed a monthly maintenance plan that not only keeps your site safe and up-to-date, but also provides detailed feedback that can help improve the entire business. We provide detailed metrics letting you know what's working and what's not, our own rating system that indicates how effective your site is, and recommendations for what to consider doing next.
Key operational practices:
- Server monitoring
- Attack mitigation
- Backup verification
- Disaster Recovery planning
- Monthly maintenance
- Monthly site metrics, deltas
- Site ratings
- Emergency services
We've put together a bunch of systems to greatly improve the quality of our deliverables. We have automated deployment of development work and updates to a staging environment. We have automated screenshot comparisions between stage and production environments. We can feed the features defined with Behavior Driven Development straight into an automated testing tool that will tell us if the text that indicates the expected result of each scenario is visible on the resulting page. Our maintenance plan uses a template that acts like a checklist, streamlining our process and increasing our coverage. We're constantly re-evaluating and improving our processes to make sure the work we do for our clients is moving the needle, improving their operations, driving more business, making their lives better.
Key QA practices:
- Start with a plan.
- End by verifying the result against the plan.
- Roll into the next plan.
- Write automated tests to make sure things that get fixed stay fixed.
- Test deployments as well as new functionality.
Ongoing support for valuable web sites and applications
If you have a website or application that is vital to your business, and you need ongoing DevOps support, the first thing to understand is where you're starting from. We've developed a comprehensive site assessment that gives you a great picture of your existing Drupal site, with 3 key sections:
- Executive Summary: Site rating, assessing your site on 7 key areas including security, maintainability, performance, and more. Risks/vulnerabilities that need immediate attention. Recommendations. Summary of key expiration dates and vendors.
- Site analysis - business level. Includes a technical site audit, site reports, effectiveness analysis, administrative usability, and all the detail considered in the site rating and recommendations. This is the meat for decision-makers to get a clear detailed picture of how the site stacks up, and where you might go from here.
- Development analysis - a technical map of any major pitfalls/areas that need to be treated very carefully, a rough outline of how the site was built, tips on where to start when making changes to the site. This is essential information for any developer working on the site, whether it's us or somebody else, to be able to set realistic expectations about budget needs for various kinds of improvements.
To get the word out about our new offerings, we're knocking $300 off our Site Assessment for the next two weeks. Now through April 5, any company who purchases our site assessment can save $300 off the regular price of $1200! If you're looking for an outside assessment of your current Drupal site, and a DevOps partner to help your business thrive, contact us and get on our calendar!