Planet Drupal

Syndicate content
Drupal.org - aggregated feeds in category Planet Drupal
Updated: 23 hours 2 min ago

Spinning Code: SC Dug May 2020: Virtual Backgrounds

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 22:04

This month’s SC DUG meeting featured Will Jackson from Kanopi Studios talking about his virtual background and office.

Before everyone was learning to use Zoom virtual backgrounds, Will had built out a full 3D room for his background, including family pictures and other fun details. He talked about what he built and may inspire you to try some more personalized than swaying palm tree and night skies.

If you would like to join us please check out our up coming events on MeetUp for meeting times, locations, and remote connection information.

We frequently use these presentations to practice new presentations, try out heavily revised versions, and test out new ideas with a friendly audience. So if some of the content of these videos seems a bit rough please understand we are all learning all the time and we are open to constructive feedback. If you want to see a polished version checkout our group members’ talks at camps and cons.

If you are interested in giving a practice talk, leave me a comment here, contact me through Drupal.org, or find me on Drupal Slack. We’re excited to hear new voices and ideas. We want to support the community, and that means you.

Community Working Group posts: Loss of Work Resources

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 21:31

It’s been a long few months for many of us and we’re all ready for some good news!! Luckily, as a part of the Drupal open source community, we have some. Our group continues to be full of strong, resilient, and uplifting individuals who truly understand that we're all in this together. 

You Have Resources

We cannot recommend strongly enough to please, stay connected and in-touch with your local community. Now more than ever, this can help maintain momentum and provide the companionship that many of us miss during this time of social and physical distancing. Many local and regional meetups provide time at the beginning of their events for networking, including dedicated time for those looking for work and those who are hiring. We encourage virtual event organizers to continue to provide (or even expand) this aspect of online events.

Beyond the power of word-of-mouth, there are other online resources available to you in these unusual times. There are Drupal Camps that have year-round job boards posted on their websites. Drupal.org has a whole section of their website dedicated to those looking for work. The organizations that are posting here are invested in Drupal, just as you are. This common spark could start you on a new path. 

What You Can Do for Yourself

In spite of the global state, there are many things you can do - you are empowered! We suggest you start with the following:

  • Add your profile on Drupal.org
  • If you already have one, give your Drupal profile an overhaul and be sure it’s up to date. 
    • Update your bio: Ask yourself if that is really how you see yourself
    • Past companies: Don’t forget to show your growth
    • Bio Picture: Just make sure that if you look like it’s your prom picture, that you intended it that way.
    • Ask a fellow community member to review and provide suggestions for improving it. Many of us have difficulty in promoting ourselves, so ask for help to ensure that potential clients/employers see you for all that you are!
  • Update your resume
  • How to prepare for an interview
  • Don’t get shy. We repeat: Don’t Get Shy! Even when feeling the “aloneness” of it all, get out there virtually. Attend local meetups and camps to network and grow the community
  • Keep learning. In the face of everything, stay curious! It’s probably how you started down this road, to begin with
How Employers Can Help

Great leaders know that communication is the key to success. Now more than ever, your leadership skills and community contributions are needed to help pull us through this global crisis. Please, 

  • Be transparent with employees and contractors. We are all in this together.
  • Sponsor DrupalCamps at the job board level to get connected.
  • List any open positions on Drupal.org.
  • And remember the gift of presence; network at local and regional meetups and mentor those you can.
We Never Stop Growing

Even in challenging times, we as individuals and as groups cannot stop growing. Take time, get talking, and get excited. There are many more roads to be traveled, together.

Resources

We welcome additional resources in the comment section, thanks!

DrupalCon News: Mailchimp Newsletter - Test

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 15:34
*|MC:SUBJECT|* */

Mediacurrent: Introducing Mediacurrent Multisite+

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 14:10

One of the most powerful features with Drupal is the ability to create multiple site instances from the same base platform. The Drupal multisite system is great for managing university departments, government agencies, and corporate microsites wanting to standardize design and features across many sites.

The problem with the standard multisite setup is that it’s not easy to spin up new sites without the help of a developer. Mediacurrent makes this process painless with our new launch tool for multisite! The Mediacurrent Multisite+ solution allows site administrators to create a new site from a simple web form located in their website’s Drupal 8 admin interface. Creating a new site instance now takes a matter of minutes. 

Read on to find out how this works, or contact us now for a free demo.

Here’s how Multisite+ works

We will get you up and running in 3 steps. For our initial launch, we support Drupal 8 on Pantheon.io’s hosting platform with Acquia support in Q3, 2020 and Drupal 9 coming soon. 

Step 1 - Configuring the Application

The first thing we will do is set up the application environment to be compatible with a multisite environment. Drupal 8, by default, is built to be multisite-compatible by allowing configuration to be re-used across multiple site instances. 

For the Pantheon hosting environment, we will create a custom Upstream from the desired Drupal 8 application. Our Multisite+ integration will leverage this Upstream to provision new sites, each with their own dedicated resources.

Example of Upstreams created by Mediacurrent

Step 2 - Setting up Automation

As a next step, our DevOps team will set up the automation that allows the Drupal application to interact with the hosting environment. This process does the “heavy lifting” of actually spinning up the site instance and running the installation process.

Step 3 - Enabling the Multisite+ Module

Finally, we will add and configure our Multisite+ module for the primary Drupal 8 application that needs to kickoff new site installations. This module connects your application to the automation that does the actual work to set up your new website instance.

When we’re done with this one-time setup, a new form becomes available that administrators can use to initiate a new website build.

Multisite+ form example

And that’s it! Now your administrators have the keys to create new campaign sites, microsites, or any other type of site that leverages an existing Drupal 8 application.

Ready to get started?

Mediacurrent would love to work with you to better enable your teams to manage multiple Drupal websites. For more information on how to get your organization set up, please visit our contact page or chat with us right now (see bottom right corner of the page). We would be happy to talk more about your project or schedule a demonstration.

OpenSense Labs: Drupal Distribution: Vardoc. For Documentation & Organisational Communication

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 09:13
Drupal Distribution: Vardoc. For Documentation & Organisational Communication Tuba Ayyubi Thu, 05/28/2020 - 12:43

Vardoc, a Drupal distribution, is a knowledge base system, a wiki system, and a document management system designed to host a massive amount of content in a structured and easy-to-find format. With Vardoc, your content can be easily structured, and scheduled. It allows you to personalize your content easily and contribute your expertise in the knowledge base.

You can build a connected organization, product, or knowledge area to allow everyone involved to find the answers they seek and contribute their expertise in the knowledge base with the help of Vardoc. Think of it as a wiki site of your product, user manuals, or organizational processes with an easy structure, collaborative tools, and a friendly design.

An insight into Vardoc's elements Who can benefit from Vardoc? 

Let’s get to the part where we understand who this system is for. The agencies who want to document their software, product documentation sites and website based interactive user manuals can benefit from Vardoc. It also works a great deal for documentation of Open Source projects and inter-organisational processes. Vardoc is cost friendly and saves the usual development time.

What makes Vardoc wonderful? Search

A by default powerful search which searches through the vast repository of the documents and provides the relevant results. The search mechanism is already set and tailored for the knowledge base system by prioritizing headings and titles more than the content's body.

Editorial features

The distribution supports editorial features which help keep the documents up to date. The editing mode is also tailored for quick review and vetting of information. Vardoc’s media library is full of interesting features that provide an appealing way to display media libraries. Vardoc also allows one image to have many previews with the help of image cropping and settings present within the CMS. And, it provides simple and easy ways to create and manage new and existing pages respectively.

Taxonomy

Being a knowledge base, the website at its core provides powerful features to structure the framework in which the documents are to be stored. This gives the user the power to tailor the structure and present the data in a hierarchy which best suits the organization.

User Management

To control and regulate the engagement of the website the admin will have full control of their roles and permission. You don’t need to worry about losing the important experience that is needed when a team member retires or leaves. Vardoc helps you to engage users from various departments to use the information that is needed in one space.

Customisable themes

It is essential to have proper theming on your website. You can brand your website by modifying the starter theme with some easy-to-make and quick CSS changes.

SEO

When potential users are searching the web, make sure your website is there to be found. On Vardoc you are immediately optimized for search engines when you update your sitemap.xml, create and set customized URL paths and custom page titles, and include specific keywords.

Accessibility compliance

The Vardoc based website already complies with the accessibility requirements (WCAG 2.0) for various user groups.

Social media Integration

Out-of-the-box social media integration which enables governments to link their social handles to the website.

Compatible

Vardoc provides a front-end design to work with all the latest versions of all the commonly used web browsers. Vardoc makes sure that you are able to reach your audience across all devices and web browsers. It is completely optimized for mobile and other devices to access whenever and wherever you want to.

Multilingual options

Vardoc provides access to several languages with localized and translated content, date formats, country flags, modern fonts etc.

Analytics

Vardoc’s real-time analytics feature allows users to measure and monitor the site activity in real-time through google analytics professional integration. 

Summing Up

It is much cost friendly and saves the industry-standard development time. It has everything under one roof. Organisations may find it easy to decide but depending on their current website’s dynamics, our resource involvement depends. 

Vardoc is currently available for download for Drupal 8 and has stable releases that are covered by security advisory policy. For more information on its Drupal 9 readiness, check here.

OpenSense Labs has always been keen towards finding the appropriate solution for clients and prospects in general. Feel free to reach us out at hello@opensenselabs.com for help.​
 

blog banner blog image Drupal 8 Drupal distributions Vardoc Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On

Promet Source: Anticipating Post Pandemic Web Design Trends

Thu, 05/28/2020 - 01:57
Is a design revolution on the way? History says yes.

Lullabot: Should You Upgrade from Drupal 7 to Drupal 9?

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:37

Drupal 7, our much-loved CMS that was released in 2011, is nearing the end of its life. No, that's not hyperbole; Drupal 7 is scheduled to reach end-of-life in November 2021. Drupal 8 has been out for a few years, but at the time of this writing, Drupal core usage statistics indicate that only about 350,000 of the more than 1.1 million reporting Drupal core sites are using Drupal 8.x. Over 730,000 of those sites are still using Drupal 7.

Droptica: Why Do Developers Choose Drupal as a System for Building Web Applications?

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:32

Drupal is one of the most popular CMS-es in the world. Currently, over a million websites use Drupal. The larger the website, the more likely it is that it was built on Drupal. Why should you choose it for your project? Take a look at what programmers are saying about this topic. 

Robert

Robert develops web applications on a daily basis. He has been doing this for over seven years. 

Why did he decide to work using such a technology?

"Drupal has a ready-made system with clear documentation. It is also a safe tool for building websites. We can be sure that it will work properly and will not be hacked. Confidential data is therefore secure. 
Drupal provides many ready-made modules at drupal.org, making it is easy to organise a website like from building blocks."

Grzegorz

Grzegorz has been working with Droptica for almost three years. Every day he further develops Droopler – thus he offers a real contribution to Open Source. Why does he use Drupal?

"Drupal is different from other CMS-es with which it is often compared. Its characteristic feature is open architecture. As website creators, we can choose what data we want to present on the web and how it should be edited. We are not limited to the article/category/static page model – we can freely model the content, responding to even the most specific needs. Building a basic, functional website is extremely fast when compared to other solutions."

Bartek

Bartek is not only a PHP developer, but he also has set up his online Drupal-based store.

"I have built a simple platform for selling electronic products that will be easily accessible to those who have paid for the order – everything is automatic, without any additional admin work.

It required installing and configuring several modules and adding a dozen or so lines of my own PHP code. It took several hours of work. The question is: what will help you do it faster?"

Why should you consider Drupal for your next project?

This is a more complicated issue, so: 

1. Immediately after the installation, I have a working page with the most important functionalities for many types of pages:
  • logging in,
  • skins,
  • creating various types of content (fully extensible forms),
  • simple interface for building queries in order to present data in various ways.
 2. Unlimited expansion options:
  • There are many additional modules that add even such complicated functionalities as a store with just a click of a button.
  • Drupal has extensive documentation and a well-described API. If like me, you are not a programmer, you can always use the help of a professional.
  • Drupal uses Symfony components and has a similar structure. If you are familiar with this framework, you will find your way around it quickly.
3. Security

Drupal's security team operates on a very high level. Security updates are being released immediately after finding and fixing any problem with the system.

4. Drupal is Open Source What does it mean exactly?
  • It is free,
  • you can modify it according to your own needs,
  • you are independent of other service providers, so you can develop it yourself or it can be done by any team associated with Drupal.
Mariusz

"Drupal 8 is the best CMS written in PHP with programmers in mind. It is also an Open Source platform – accessible by everyone. It is built on Symfony components. It is a very rich API, with a very good and – most importantly – reliable documentation. Why am I a Drupal supporter? It has a huge community that is active and participates in contrib projects. By choosing Drupal as a technology for your website, you get the support of a huge community with members from around the whole world."

Summary

These are just a few examples of the programmers' opinions about Drupal. The longer someone works with Drupal, the more clearly, they see its huge number of advantages. Clients also notice this and intentionally choose Drupal as a technology for building their websites, e.g. Bossa or Here.com

If you are thinking about choosing a technology for your company website or web application, consider Drupal. You can find the complete information on Drupal at "Why Drupal".


 

OpenSense Labs: Rooting for gender-inclusive web design

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:16
Rooting for gender-inclusive web design Tuba Ayyubi Wed, 05/27/2020 - 19:46


Usually, the restrooms are marked as ‘men/male’ or ‘ladies/female/women at offices, restaurants and other public places. Have you ever imagined yourself being in a state of utter confusion while deciding which restroom to use? No? Well, this is an everyday issue in the life of trans genders and gender-nonconforming people. The sad truth is that they fear harassment and keep running into such unnecessary barriers which makes their life harder. No wonder a report on gender and sexuality by J. Walter Thompson Innovation Group had some staggering revelations to make.


With the world gone digital, web designs are one of the barriers in the life of these people. While filling a form or signing up for something, the options for genders are most likely to be male and female. Rarely, we find websites with either no gender options (when not required) or other preferable options to choose from.

In order to provide the best user experience, you need to understand how the facet of their lives intersects with your website. For that, it becomes important to educate ourselves about the LGBTQ terminologies and issues so that you develop a sense of when and what is appropriate to say or ask. If you want to increase the lifetime value of your customers, you need to make your website more trans-inclusive which will enhance the user experience for everyone.

Getting things right

Using gender inclusive language and designs means writing or speaking in a way that does not discriminate against a particular sex or gender role. Moreover, it promotes gender equality and stands against gender bias.

Designers should not limit the gender options to male and female, and definitely not make it mandatory! In fact, gender should not be asked where it is not needed. And wherever required, the gender options should not be limited.

Key Considerations for gender-inclusive design


Before asking for the gender of a person, make sure you have a good reason behind why you need that information. And when you are sure that it is needed, make sure you give more diverse options to choose from. ‘Prefer to self identify’ or ‘add your own’ are great additional options. 

When people are not identified as male or female, they do not like being referred to as ‘he’ or ‘she’. Hence, you can ask for pronouns, so they can be referred to correctly during their experience with your website or app.

Images representing different body sizes, genders on the websites and ads allow room for representation. You can hire models for photoshoots. If you cannot have your own photoshoot, you can use the trans-inclusive stock photo collection launched by Broadly which is free for wide use.

If you ask needless questions or limit the options for the users to select, you lose value in the eyes of the users. Designers should make sure that they put in options that do not perpetuate gender stereotypes. 

There should also not be any sort of restrictions to make changes. Once, someone creates a web address, username or complete profile, they should be allowed to make changes if required. The users should be made aware that their information will not be shared with anyone. And if there is some kind of information that needs to be shared, let the users know. This will make them feel safe and build trust.

It is important to have a name change process. It is likely that you have one for marriage related name changes already. Create a process that allows anyone to change their names without any legal documents.

Many websites and applications incorporate gender in their designs and products even though the product is gender neutral. Like, clothing, wine or toys etc. Brands should evaluate an alternative and see what else can be done. Several OTT platforms ask for gender while signing up which is not really needed.


Zee 5, an Indian OTT app, while signing up had male and female as the only two options while asking for gender.

 

Snapchat profile setting menu does not ask for gender.

There are a lot of gender options and so it is not possible to use all of them. And even if you want to, you will have to change the control you use. For example, consider this screenshot.

Source: keepitusableConclusion

We all want to be treated with dignity and respect regardless of our gender, religion, or where we come from. So, make sure that these diverse groups feel at home when they visit your website. Eliminating gender inequality is the future of design. 

So tell us, are you ready to ‘trans-form’ your website?

blog banner blog image Web Design Inclusive Web Design Diversity And Inclusion Diversity Trans-inclusive web design Gender-inclusive web design Gender neutral Inclusion Blog Type Articles Is it a good read ? On

Drupal blog: Drupal in COVID-19 Series: Homeschooling support during a pandemic

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 15:08

Continuing our short series of articles highlighting ways that the Drupal software and its community are building solutions to help combat the effect of COVID-19, today we hear from Greg Harvey of Code Enigma. Here, he describes their project at the the National STEM Centre in York, England

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. STEM Learning is the company that built and operates the National STEM Centre in York, England. They provide specialist training in STEM subjects to teachers from across the UK. As well as classroom training opportunities in state of the art facilities, they provide free, high-quality online education resources via their website. They have been using Drupal to deliver this important content since 2015.

Supported by their principle Drupal services supplier, Code Enigma, STEM Learning increased their server capacity when it became clear the COVID-19 pandemic was going to hit and many children in the UK would soon be homeschooling. 

STEM anticipated increased demand (having seen how online education resources in France were beginning to feel the strain of school closures (one of Code Enigma’s directors is a parent in France) and decided to react before it became an issue. 

Code Enigma is also an AWS Select Tier partner. The website is hosted at AWS, so it was possible to quickly scale the solution using AWS’s public cloud products and services. The fact that Drupal is ready to Enterprise-scale right out of the box, with the right support, was also extremely helpful.

Consequently, when the UK Department for Education contacted STEM Learning to inform them they wanted to sign-post teachers and parents to the website from the main UK government website, everything was already in place. Code Enigma’s developers and designers worked quickly with STEM Learning to adapt the front page to help people find homeschooling resources efficiently. They also designed and created some new landing pages, such as this one for parents, to help people get straight to the relevant content.

In short, thanks to Drupal, STEM Learning is actively supporting homeschooling in the UK during this global pandemic, by providing high-quality teaching resources online and for free.
 

Web Wash: Drupal Live Site Build (Part 2) – Create Layout Builder Section, Bootstrap Carousel

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 13:45

In the show notes below, I outline what we implement in part 2 of the Drupal live site build. We start off by fixing a few bugs, which I introduced and didn’t notice until I started playing around with the site after the first video. For example, we couldn’t drag-and-drop any of the card components because I overrode the inline-block template.

Part 2 (this video) is a little more advanced because we create a custom module, implement two layouts and implement a hook_preprocess_HOOK.

So we start off by creating a Row layout which fixes the bug from part 1 and we implement the Bootstrap Carousel component (clients love carousels) using block types.

Agiledrop.com Blog: Why you need a future-ready development team

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 12:18

In this post, we’ll dive deeper into the importance of a development team that’s future-ready, explain what future readiness even means, and look at some tried and tested methods for acquiring a team of future-ready developers.

READ MORE

Amazee Labs: Multilingual Drupal - Part 1: The Process

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 10:43
In this series about building multilingual sites, we will use Drupal as our central content management system. In this blog, we will dive into how we can implement translation for different features based on defined user stories with Drupal core and contributed modules.

Unimity Solutions Drupal Blog: Presenting Data through Stories

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 09:37
Presenting Data through Stories udhayakumar Wed, 05/27/2020 - 13:07

In the era of Information overload, data can talk and communicate powerful stories. Here is  what we did while building an Aid Transparency portal for a large Non Profit, communicating using data made the portal “Come Alive” and  present to the users the impact of the work done by the organization.The approaches implemented include:

  1. Use of Data Highlights
  2. Intuitive Search Interface
  3. Data Visualization
  4. Use of Animation in Design

Aid Transparency is about presenting data around donors, funds received, fund utilization/expenses, areas of impact in  a transparent manner. The first step was a study of the customer’s domain and the work carried forward by the customer organization. Understanding the donors, the impact areas, the funds received, funds utilized, regions in which they work. Mapping all the key parameters of the underlying data, their meta information and their inter-relationships.

A sitemap was defined to communicate the different perspectives of the data like: pages on fund utilization, pages that were contribution/donor specific, pages that detailed the resource utilization, etc. The best graphical visualization was identified for these pages. Yet some of this graphical information could be overwhelming for  visitors who do not relate to the representation and numbers.  To further simplify this, a layer of Data Highlights was introduced.  The Data Highlights  represented a one line story around the data that was presented and was much easier for a lay user to understand. These Data highlights were presented on the homepage and across the site.

Above is a sample Data Highlight that leads to a page that allows you to see the utilization of funds, based on the area of impact, region and year.

Intuitive Search Index 

A very important feature on a data-intensive site are the Search Interfaces. To make them intuitive, Narrative based Search Interfaces were implemented.

On the homepage a Natural Language form was used to identify the type of the audience and understand the area of interest of the user to direct the user to the exact section in the site that would meet his needs.

In scenarios where distribution of data needs to be presented across locations or location is one of the key attributes, using Maps to present the data helps the user to drill down to the location of choice. 

Data Visualization

Effective use of Bar-charts, Doughnut charts, Sankey Flow diagrams, Maps were used to present data. The Visualization of data makes it easier for the user to understand the data and each of them represents a particular Data Story.

 

  • Bar charts are used to compare categorical data. They are oriented vertically instead of horizontally. The main advantage of bar charts is that it is better with many categories, especially on a small screen, as the height can be adjusted to show all categories. 
  • Donut charts are the same as a pie chart, but by only displaying an area along the outer edge of the pie, it becomes easier to compare the elements to each other. These are used to present the data as a percentage of sum total as 100%. In Donut charts, the space in the middle could also be used to communicate additional information.. 
  • A Sankey diagram is a type of flow diagram, in which the width of the link between two nodes is shown proportionally to the flow quantity. Here this is used to depict the flow of Funds from Donors to area utilization or to type of supplies used.
  • Map Charts are used when we need to show distribution across geographies. In this case both impact and fund utilization across geographies is presented using maps.  Additionally Map also serves as a navigation tool to zoom in to identify the destination the user is looking for to get more specific information.

Use of Animation in Design

The home page used a video in the background to tell the story about the organization. Simple Animations on the page helps to bring the page alive. In the Data Visualization some of the popular Animations used were timeline animations, growing bar charts, rotating pie charts. These animations helped amplify the Data Story put forth by the visualizations.

                                                     

This Site has been built using Drupal Solr and Highcharts.

The Russian Lullaby: Drupal Migrations (III): Migrating from Google Spreadsheet

Wed, 05/27/2020 - 02:00

The systems and subsystems related to Drupal’s migration API are certainly exciting. In the previous articles in this series, I wanted to draw as complete a map as possible (part one) of the vast amount of resources, possibilities and referenced experts. In the second part I wanted to expose some basic mechanics of the migration processes in Drupal and knowing that this opens the door to thousands of options, possibilities and techniques….I didn’t want to let a third article go by without sharing some experiences migrating data from a common format as a Google Spreadsheet, …

Chromatic: Announce Your Organization’s Drupal.org Statistics In Slack

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 20:19

As longtime members of the Drupal community, Chromatic strives to contribute whenever we can. Some of those contributions are monetary, such as with the ongoing Drupal Cares campaign, but others involve activity directly on drupal.org, including creating/testing patches, maintaining projects, and submitting case studies. For organizations that list themselves in the Drupal Marketplace, these statistics are all inputs into a formula whose output is your organization’s rank on the marketplace pages.

Tag1 Consulting: The best-kept secrets of headless Drupal - part 1

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 16:49

Now that decoupled Drupal has permeated the Drupal community, even to the furthest extremes, articles (including my own) introducing concepts and how-to tutorials describing how you can build your first decoupled Drupal architecture are ubiquitous. As a matter of fact, decoupled Drupal now also has a book on the subject as well as an annual conference dedicated to the topic. Particularly with the JSON:API module in Drupal core as of 8.7.0, decoupled Drupal out of the box has never been easier.

Read more preston Tue, 05/26/2020 - 08:50

DrupalCon News: How are you including Drupal strategically in your digital transformation?_MJ

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 16:11

Day 2, Keynote - Monique J. Morrow - DrupalCon Vienna 2017. Photo by Dominik Kiss

Acro Media: What It Costs to Build an Ecommerce Site

Tue, 05/26/2020 - 16:00

Many costs are associated with developing a new ecommerce site or migrating from an antiquated setup to an upgraded version. And unless you work in the thick of ecommerce development every day, you likely don't know what questions to ask to ensure you’re getting the full picture.

This article explains what your typical expenses will look like and makes a few suggestions about how to approach budgeting for this undertaking.

Open Source vs. SaaS: A Comparison of Costs

You need to decide whether you will go with open source or a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platform to power your site. The cost of doing business is very different with each model.

An open source ecommerce framework has the expenses front-loaded. You pay for development time and configuration costs, and then the final product is yours to own and manage—license-free. 

A SaaS approach is quicker to get live and has lower costs up front. But then you pay an annual license fee and give a percentage of your revenue to the platform with each transaction made. 

Start by doing some easy math. Calculate three percent of your average annual sales. With an SaaS approach, if you sell $50 million online each year, you'll pay $1.5 million in revenue share (on top of licensing fees). If that is an acceptable cost of doing business and allows you to “set it and forget it," then SaaS is likely the right way to go for you.

But if you're a business that needs or wants more control of the front- and back-end experiences, you can use that three percent as a starting point to decide how to shape and invest in your online architecture. With open source software, you’d invest this money up front in year one. In years two and beyond, expenses taper down to about 15 percent of this initial investment annually to keep operational. 

Complete this exercise in relation to your own revenue and figure out what your working budget would be to get started. If three percent leaves you with peanuts, I’d suggest searching out a DIY platform-first ecommerce tool and seeking the help of an independent contractor to start generating revenue online. Your year-one investment may look closer to 50 percent of your annual online revenue to get where you need to be. 

Try to avoid thinking of this as an expense. Instead, think of how much money you’re going to spend to get a return on investment. How long will it take you to earn that ROI? Are these expectations realistic?

How to Budget for an Open Source eCommerce Architecture

Moving from an existing platform (typically SaaS or home-brew) over to a fully open source, headless ecommerce architecture setup incurs costs like:

Planning

Planning is the backbone of a successful ecommerce development project. If you don’t spend the time and money to work out that foundational blueprint, you will get a half-assed outcome that will likely cost more than you were initially promised.

On average, the planning processes for building a substantial ecommerce site for businesses that generate $50 million or more in revenue take 10 weeks of work and cost about $50,000. 

Planning is the absolute MUST-DO on your list. If you skip it, you may save $50,000, but your project will spend it on the other end trying to figure out who meant what because you flew cheap and blind. 

Ask if your proposed agency completes the following activities in their planning phase: 

  • Visualization / live prototyping 
  • Conversion planning, persona development, user journeys 
  • API integration planning, platform and integration reviews and selections 
  • ERP / product mapping 
  • Server and dev ops planning, security, performance and scalability planning

If you’re being pitched the above list, and you can see working past examples of blueprints such as these, then you’re spending your money wisely and you have a shot at getting this project right the first time. 

TIP: This plan should be detailed enough that you can either take it and build out your new site in its entirety with your on-staff tech team, or take it to ANY agency and have a crystal-clear spec for execution. 

Planning is not conceptual. It is a fully operational blueprint that the engineers have stamped and approved. This is a one time cost and the most essential ingredient in your budget. 

If you can only afford to get through planning in year one, make it a priority and wait for the next round of capital expenditure funding to implement it.  

Creative Design

Designing a new eComm site is the fun part. This phase of the project should be done after planning is fully signed off on. That’s because planning allows ideas to flow and evolve. And changes in functionality dictate front-end experiences. 

Your design phase will vary in price depending on what you want to see mocked up versus just built by the team without your input. Set aside $25,000 to $45,000 to make sure your creative phase reflects the quality of your business accurately. This is a one-time cost.

Here are a few tips to ensure that you’re spending your money wisely:

  • Beware of agencies that propose mockups for 30 pages within your new ecommerce site. This is a waste, a cash grab, and a sign of an inexperienced development team.  
  • Limit mockups to the home page, catalog landing page, product details page, and a general content page. However, if you have some funky options in your cart and/or checkout process, design them, too. 
  • Don’t bother fully mocking up creative designs for responsive options. If you’re dead set on seeing the mobile experience, start with the homepage on phone only and evaluate from there. 
  • Don’t waste time or money creating full mockups for each page. You can always add more designs as you go, if needed, or designers can provide elements to improve designs on single pages.
  • Complete and approve the home page design fully first before moving onto any “internal” templates. You don’t want rework across multiple designs. 
  • Use a web design agency, not a design agency. There are specifics for designing to web standards that don’t apply to companies that deal in logos, brands, and print work.
Sprinting / Development

Your project team should work with you to break your planning into stories, block these stories into epics, and group these epics into sprints. You’ll then have an idea of how many sprints you’ll need to get live.

Typical costs for sprinting range from $20,000 to $60,000 a month for the lifetime of the build cycle, which is usually six to 12 months. After this investment, you have a feature-rich ecommerce setup to push live. (Remember: These expenses are front-loaded. After this one-time cost, you own the site and don’t have to pay licensing fees or share your revenue).

Sprinting costs depend on velocity. That is, how many bodies can we afford to put on this development until the sprints are done? If you have $20,000 a month to spend for six months, you’ll get through $120,000 worth of programming or about 600 hours (give or take per agency).

That’s a decent amount of programming time for a version one go-live. You can alter the velocity, or speed with which you move, by altering your spend. After you get to that first launch, you may have the option to taper down resourcing (i.e., output) and slow spending over the following months.

Additional Features or Ongoing Support

Your site is not a static business channel. You’ll need to budget for continued rollout of new ideas, features, integrations, and changes. We often work with companies to train an in-house developer and take the agency expense out. With an open architecture and open source ecommerce setup, the ongoing costs are fully in your control.

Plan out your monthly spend over 12 months to figure out what’s realistic to your ROI, and if you should start right away or take a break.

TIP: Budget for  at least a year of ongoing expenses at whatever rate you deem suitable if you want to get a little consulting, training, advice, or coding from some experts. Just be sure to align your expectations of output with your willingness to spend.

Third-Party Expenses

Look past your site to see the full picture. What else does it need or plug into that has an annual contract? Account for these costs, too. A few typical additional expenses include:

  • Hosting
  • Server maintenance, security, updates and monitoring
  • Accounting software
  • ERP software / PIM 
  • CRM software
  • 3PL software (shipping, warehousing, labeling)
  • Programmers on staff
  • CSRs on staff 
  • Training and documentation
Conclusion

Your website is not an expense; it's a revenue channel that needs to be flexible and well architected. A substantial investment will be needed to compete online, so make sure you understand the costs involved. 

If you don’t know where to start, chat with a consultant to see if your math lines up with your goals, and then take this information to your internal team. You have options, and they should be clearly laid out for you up front, not presented to you with an invoice when you’re well into development with an agency’s team. 

Inform yourself on the process, not on the programming, and you’ll be in a better position to evaluate the best path forward.