Drupal The Guide to Planning and Building Websites. Wrox

Cindy McCourt


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Drupal The Guide to Planning and Building Websites

CINDY MCCOURT has been a freelance website planner and builder, instructional designer and
instructor, project manager, and facilitator, and has taken part in planning and building numerous
Drupal and non-Drupal websites and web-based systems over the past 14 years. In 2005, she built
her fi rst Drupal website using Drupal 4.6 and has been using Drupal on her website development
projects ever since.

Over the past 20 years, Cindy has been designing, developing, and delivering workshops and
courses on technology- and non-technology-based subjects for both corporate and higher education
organizations. She has also written technical papers on many topics for governmental and
private-sector clients. Cindy maintains a close relationship with the Drupal community through
her blog (http://idcminnovations.com), by speaking at Drupal events, and by offering Drupal
training. She has been described by some in the Drupal community as a professional cat herder

Cindy started acquiring many of her skills in 1985, when she went to work for TRW. Her 12 years
at this worldwide contractor provided her with signifi cant insights into project management and
the many tasks associated with the lifecycle of a project. She was also an early TQM facilitator and
trainer, and has made process analyses, design, and improvement tools in her web development toolbox.

Cindy built her fi rst website for George Mason University’s Graduate School of Education in 1997
and maintained the site until she graduated in 2000 with a Masters degree in Education. She went
to work for GMU in 1999 and continued to build her web development skills by developing several
more department websites, as well as by designing and coordinating the development of the online
Workshop and Events Management System (WEMS), which is still used today by GMU’s Division of
Instructional Technology. She has also taught Instructional Design, Project Management, and Web
Design for GMU’s Graduate School of Education, and provided technology workshops to GMU’s faculty and staff.
Cindy’s extensive project list can be found at 

DOUG VANN is an independent Drupal Developer and Trainer.

Doug entered Geekdom as a fi fth grader in 1983 with a Commodore 64 and a 300-baud connection
to CompuServe. Twenty-eight years later, he leads the Indiana Drupal Users Group and is a full-time
provider of Drupal Training and Drupal Development.

Doug believes in the power of Drupal to meet complex business needs in a rapid-deployment system.
Catch his blog at www.dougvann.com. Google “Drupal Song,” and you’re likely to fi nd a few videos
of Doug, jamming on the guitar, unabashedly proclaiming his passion for Drupal!

His love for learning and experimenting in Drupal is overshadowed only by his love for teaching
and evangelizing it. He has presented in Minneapolis, Toronto, Houston, Indianapolis, multiple
LinuxFests, DoItWithDrupal, and DrupalCamps in Dallas, Madison, Atlanta, Chicago, Orlando,
Nashville, Denver, Los Angeles, South Carolina, and DC. You can often fi nd Doug on the
FREENODE IRC Network in Drupal-support helping people get through the steep learning curve of Drupal.

Doug, his wife of 14 years, and their four children reside in Indianapolis.

I WANT TO THANK BJ for being the most supportive husband one could ask for. 
Thank you for your patience and understanding over the past six months as I worked to fi nish the book. Thank you for taking care of all the things that would have been a signifi cant distraction to me. I love you. I want to thank everyone at Wrox for giving me this opportunity. Thank you to John Kennedy, for bringing my book to the attention of executive editor Carol Long; to Carol Long, for reaching out to me and for convincing Wrox to give me a chance; to project editor John Sleeva, copy editor Paula Lowell, and technical editor Doug Vann, for all your efforts editing the chapters and for helping me improve my writing and the book’s content — your energy and enthusiasm were incredible; and to all the people in the graphics department, for your work on all the fi gures.

I also want to thank all my friends and colleagues who have been supportive throughout the writing
process — for listening, answering questions, and being helpful. Special thanks go to Carla Briceno, for your positive thinking and feedback; to Konstantinos Ordoulidis and Evangelia Ordoulidou, for making your theme comps available for use in the book; and to Emma Jane Hogbin, for encouraging me to write the book in the fi rst place.
Last but not least, thank you to Dries and the Drupal community for making Drupal possible and
sharing your expertise. I have learned so much from you over the past fi ve years — from your modules, themes, tutorials, and books. 
Thanks for providing help to me and to all those who reach out for assistance.
You are so generous.

— Cindy McCourt


IN JUST MINUTES, you can install a basic Drupal site and start adding content. 
In a few more minutes, you can have a new feature at your fi ngertips, ready to use, by installing one or more of the many modules that come with Drupal or any of the thousands of modules contributed by the Drupal community.

With so many modules to choose from, it is sometimes hard to know which modules are the right
ones and how to best confi gure them to achieve your goals. This is where planning helps. In a nutshell, you identify what your site needs to do, decide what it should look like, and identify who will use it. With that information in hand, you can decide which Drupal installation and modules will give you the site of your dreams.

Sounds simple, and in some cases it is. You can plan a site, its development, and its future growth on a napkin over drinks. But most the time, it will take a little more planning to leverage the power and flexibility of the Drupal framework.

If you have never worked with Drupal before, you might be wondering how you can plan a site built with Drupal. One option would be to work side-by-side with web designers and developers who have experience with Drupal. But if you don’t have access to those who can help, that’s okay. This book provides a series of analyses and tasks that will enable you to start thinking in Drupal and help you plan each phase of your site’s lifecycle.
I hope you fi nd this book helpful as you venture forward on your next Drupal project.

If you are involved in or responsible for collecting requirements, creating a design plan, planning
development, coordinating implementation, and/or sustaining a site built with Drupal, this book is
for you. You could be a site owner, project manager, requirements analyst, interface designer, and/or site developer. Note that the book is not intended for those looking for detailed instructions on how to install and confi gure Drupal.

The analyses and tasks provided in this book are not specifi c to Drupal, but they are presented from a Drupal perspective. The Drupal-specifi c notes provided throughout the chapters speak to Drupal 6 and Drupal 7, providing you with development insights as you move through the planning process. Chapter 9 plans a Drupal site and Chapter 10 offers a Drupal 6 and Drupal 7 module solution.

The order of the chapters refl ects a site’s lifecycle and the waterfall development methodology.
However, the sequence of the chapters is not necessarily intended to promote the waterfall methodology.
Analyses and tasks provided in the chapters can be performed in an order suitable to your
project. If this is your fi rst exposure to development, consider walking through the chapters in order so that you can make an informed decision about whether you want to adjust the sequencing on your own project.
 Part I: Planning Your Website
Chapter 1, “Introduction to Drupal and Planning,” provides a quick introduction to
Drupal, an overview of a site’s lifecycle, and where planning fi ts in.
Chapter 2, “Managing Open Source Projects,” provides insights into various
development methodologies and management practices 
you might fi nd useful on a Drupal project.
Chapter 3, “Conducting a Needs Analysis,” goes beyond asking the question “Do I
need a site?” and identifi es the purpose of your site and how your competitors might infl uence how you proceed.
Chapter 4, “Collecting Requirements,” offers a series of analyses designed to
facilitate the identifi cation and analysis of what your site needs to meet its purpose.
Chapter 5, “Creating a Design Plan” provides a process for translating your
requirements into a visual representation of your site.
Part II: Building and Sustaining Your Website
Chapter 6, “Planning Development,” offers a process to identify a development
solution that meets your specifi c requirements and design.
Chapter 7, “Coordinating Implementation,” covers site launch and more. It covers
many of the non-development tasks that should be considered for a successful site launch.
Chapter 8, “Sustaining the Site” explores both routine and planned maintenance for
your Drupal site, as well as site-management tasks that support your site’s users.
Part III: An Example Site
Chapter 9, “An Example Plan,” puts into practice the analyses and tasks presented in
Chapters 3 through 5.
Chapter 10, “Example Build Recipes,” creates a development plan and Drupal 6 and
Drupal 7 module recipe that can be used to build the site defi ned in Chapter 9. It also
describes how the site will be implemented and sustained.

There are references to Drupal settings, modules, and resources in notes throughout the book, so
access to the Internet and a Drupal installation, while not required, might be useful. Analyses and
tasks discussed in the book can be performed with pencil and paper, on a whiteboard, using various applications like Microsoft Word or Excel, or a with simple drawing tool. If you opt to perform these analyses and tasks, choose a strategy that works for you.


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 505 p
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 978-1-118-14983-6 (ebk)
 978-1-118-14982-9 (ebk)
 978-1-118-14981-2 (ebk) 
 2011 by Cindy McCourt 

Exploring Drupal 3
Drupal Components 4
From Data to Site Structure 7
Drupal Terms 8
Going Beyond HTML Sites 9
A Website’s Lifecycle 11
Where Does Planning Fit In? 12
Summary 13
Development Methodologies 15
Waterfall Methodology 16
Agile Methodologies 18
RAD Methodology 21
Spiral Methodology 22
Phased Methodology 24
Managing Integration 26
Module Integration 27
Systems Integration 27
Determining Scope 28
Avoiding Product Scope Creep 28
Avoiding Project and Operational Scope Creep 29
Budgeting for Costs 29
Software 29
Hardware 30
Labor 30
Materials 31
Support 31
Training 32
Marketing 32
Setting a Schedule 32
Eff ects of a Development Methodology 32
Ensuring Module Availability 32
Considering Other Schedule Challenges 34
Managing Resources 34
Content 34
People and Roles 36
Ensuring Quality 39
Satisfying Requirements 39
Meeting Standards 40
Using Best Practices 40
Communicating with the Community 41
Assessing Risks 42
Getting Site Support 42
Application Redesign 42
Open Source Application Cancellation 43
Ensuring Site Security 43
Missing Delivery Dates 44
Not Meeting Site Requirements 44
Working with Vendors 44
Identifying Future Maintenance Costs 45
Facilitating Procurement 46
What Gets Procured? 46
Procurement Challenges 46
Summary 47
Identifying Your Site’s Purpose 49
Marketing Brochure Sites 50
E-Commerce Sites 51
Learning Management Sites 51
Collaborative Community Sites 52
Media Sites 53
Information Dissemination Sites 54
Business Management Sites 55
Online Applications 55
Multipurpose Sites 56
Doing It All with Drupal 57
Considering Site Alternatives 58
Conducting a Competitor Analysis 59
Summary 59
Where Are the Wireframes? 62
Why Do Requirements Matter? 62
How Much Detail Is Needed? 63
Purpose 64
Simple Use Cases 64
Specifi cations 64
Confi guration 65
Where to Start? 65
Audience Analysis First 66
Content Analysis First 66
Design First 67
Reality 67
Audience Analysis 68
Audience Segments 68
Personas 71
Process Analysis 74
Types of Processes 74
Life’s Processes 74
Business Processes 76
Pre- and Post-Launch Processes 79
Task Analysis 82
Organizing Your Tasks 82
From Task to Use Case 84
Documenting Use Cases 84
Content Analysis 91
Making Content Decisions 91
Identifying Types of Content 92
Assigning Purpose to Content 94
Determining User-Content Relationships 95
Identifying Content Data 96
Identifying Content Sources 104
Reusing Content Data 110
Categorizing Content 114
Identifying Categories and Terms 118
Establishing Content Relationships 120
Determining the Need for Metadata 122
Accommodating Multiple Languages 125
Controlling Access to Content 126
Collecting Content about Users 130
Communication Analysis 134
Contact Forms 135
Commenting 135
System Messages 136
Subscriptions 137
Email a Comment 138
Chat 139
Mashups 139
SMS Communication 140
Email Confi guration 141
Search/Browse Analysis 141
Search versus Browse 141
Filter versus Sort 142
Drupal Search 143
Solr Search 144
Query Search 145
Feature Analysis 146
Creating a Feature List 146
Associating Features with Entities 147
Describing Features 148
Integrating Features 149
Role Analysis 149
Role Strategies 150
Levels of Permissions 152
Performance Analysis 154
Response Time 154
Site Success or Popularity 157
Usability 160
Defects 161
Security Analysis 162
Site Access 163
Server Access 164
File Access 165
Abuse 166
Security Assurance 167
Requirement Collection Strategies 168
JAD Approach 168
Assumption Approach 170
Survey Approach 170
Interview Approach 171
Summary 172
Which Aspects Get Designed? 176
Information Architecture 176
Content Design 176
Interaction Design 177
Visual Design 177
A Design Process 178
Design Can Create Requirements 179
Defi ning the Site Structure 179
Common Structure Types 180
Complex Sites 181
User Structure 182
Identifying Page Components 182
Strategy Overview 183
Identifi cation Information 184
Path Structures 186
Navigation 192
Content 199
Features 216
Component Access 218
User Page Components 218
Component Planning Strategies 221
Creating Wireframes 223
Theme Structures 224
Content Area Layout 229
Block Layouts 231
Above the Fold 231
Component Location 233
Determining the Needed Detail for
a Wireframe 245
Designing Themes 249
Creating a Style Guide 249
Using Comps 250
Incorporating Visual Elements 252
Ensuring Visual Appeal 253
Exploring the Theme 255
Accessibility in Drupal 261
Mobile Web 262
Summary 264
Planning a Development Process 268
Creating a Requirements Inventory 269
Creating a Build Recipe 271
Selecting a Drupal Profi le 272
Selecting Modules 272
Planning Custom Modules 281
Planning Theme Development 285
Identifying Development Sequences 297
Build Recipe 297
Development Methodologies 298
Project Team Availability 299
Setting Up Your Environments 299
Development vs. Production 300
Servers and Hosting 303
Version Control 309
Access Control 315
Documenting Your Development Plan 315
Project Lifecycle Site 316
Development Management Site 317
Combining Documentation Strategies 317
Building Your Site 317
Testing Your Build 319
Integration Testing 319
Regression Testing 320
Site Security Testing 321
User Acceptance Testing 322
Usability Testing 322
Accessibility Testing 323
Populating Your Site 323
Separating Pre- and Post-Launch Data 323
Using a Development vs. Staging Site 324
Loading Content 324
Summary 331
Change Management 334
Assessing Current and Future States 334
Strategies for Managing Change 338
Training 339
Analyzing Your Needs 340
Defi ning Your Objectives 343
Designing a Solution 344
Developing the Solution 348
Delivering the Solution 349
Marketing 350
SEO Strategies 351
Social Networking Strategies 354
Traditional Strategies 354
Confi guring Your Site to Go Live 354
Confi guring Performance Settings 355
Confi guring Cron 355
Confi guring Log Reporting 356
Checking Security 356
Updating Theme Settings 357
Disabling Modules 357
Maintenance Plans 358
Summary 358
Performing Routine Maintenance 359
Monitoring-Related Tasks 359
Backing Up Your Site 369
Performing Planned Maintenance 370
Planning the Update Process 370
Scheduling Updates 371
Updating Custom Modules 371
Upgrading Your Site 371
Site Management 372
Managing Content 372
Providing User Support 374
Summary 376
The Client 380
The Purpose 380
The Competition 381
The Requirements 382
Audience 382
Use Cases 385
Content 388
User Profi les 396
Communication 398
Search/Browse 399
Features 399
Roles 401
Performance 402
Security 402
The Design 403
Site Structure 403
Page Components 408
Wireframes 416
Style Guide and Theme 423
Mobile Design 430
Summary 430
The Requirements Inventory 433
Pages 434
Content Types and Fields 439
Taxonomy Vocabularies 442
Blocks 443
The Module Recipe 445
Comparing Drupal Core Modules 446
Site Modules 450
Drupal Distribution 458
The Development Sequence 459
The Environments 460
The Implementation 460
Expert Acquisition 461
Training Plan 461
Marketing Plan 464
The Sustainment 465
Maintenance Tasks 465
Site Management Tasks 465
Summary 467


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