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The One Woman Web Team

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Slides from SCaLE8x WIOS presentation. http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/scale8x/presentations/one-woman-web-team

Slides from SCaLE8x WIOS presentation. http://www.socallinuxexpo.org/scale8x/presentations/one-woman-web-team

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  • Tackle a web project by yourself with open source software, and without losing your mind. Taking on a large-scale web project without the support of a full-time team is not for the faint of heart, but (especially in this economy) there are many scenarios where a woman might find herself doing just that. This talk will cover tackling such a project with open source software, and without losing your mind. Here's a hint: behind every woman there should be several other women offering mentorship, guidance and support.
  • Previous version. Needed upgrade to drupal 6, we wanted a visual and functional overhaul
  • To this. Overhaul the site without drastic aesthetic changes, all while adding some user-centric features and keeping the 8-900k visitors who visit each month happy. All of this while keeping scalability in mind. We'll talk about some things that can sabotage that later.
  • We'll discuss the importance of knowing when and how to ask for help, and why sometimes it really is best to ask another woman. We'll look at opportunities for both technical and moral support from the community, and also opportunities to potentially contribute back to the communities of which you are a part. Additionally, we'll cover the ways in which we can draw on our diverse backgrounds and experiences to accomplish great things on the web, and why the most valuable contributors to the web of tomorrow may be women who are currently studying Economics or Art. Finally, we'll touch on some useful strategies for maximizing your time, honing your skills, achieving balance, and avoiding pitfalls.
  • Topics covered: *open source web platforms for your project (Drupal, etc) *Developing your plan of attack *Identifying your strengths and weaknesses *Community Resources and mentorship *Organizing your project (a.k.a. "help others help you!") *Drawing inspiration from non-technical disciplines *Avoiding common time-wasters and learning from your own and others' mistakes (featuritis, I will add x because I can)
  • Best practices vs. reality
  • Drupal – complex, versatile, user-centric, awesome community WP – Easier, ppl with less programming expertise can get a nice looking site up quickly For those with exceptional programming skills, homegrown may be your answer – for web apps and such For the most part I will recommend Drupal. It;s who I am. :) Drupal has awesome community. WordPress has a huge community, which can be a blessing and a curse. Lots of info, not all of it good.
  • Always remember the primary goal of your site. In my case, I deliver information. I also wish to build community and user interaction. With this in mind, I can then prioritize the features that are most important to achieving these goals. Do I need a flashy design? No. Do I desire legibility over all else? Yeah, I think so. I know to put most of my energy and time into delivering the content in the most logical way, and given that I can perhaps ignore some of the concerns, for example, that an entertainment site may have.
  • All of this sounds obvious, but frankly I need to constantly remind myself of all of these things, so I am passing along that wisdom to you! These are things that get overlooked when you don;t have the accountability of working with a team. Even if you have accountability to the rest of your company or organization, it can be easy to exist on your own little private “web island” Among the reasons to keep your project as organized as possible is that it will make it much easier for someone to help you if that becomes necessary.
  • This is what I use. Why do I use it? Because Addi Berry told me to. :) I guess this drives home the importance of mentorship. When in doubt ask someone else who knows more than you! There's no great secret here, but this works very well for me. There is a free option, and it gives you the option of git or subversion as well as a ticketing system.
  • Great designer? Rely on design and layout to communicate your message. Weak designer? Don't try to reinvent web aesthetics. Keep it simple. Your site can kick ass regardless. Great Programmer? Rely more heavily on perfecting your functionality. Don't know the first thing about UX? You'll learn pretty quickly by setting up a focus group (even just your friends). Non technical people are great at this feedback. Pizza and beer can go a long way!
  • Don't underestimate the usefulness of irc. Just remember to use common sense, etiquette Go to Shawn's talk tomorrow. Normally I feel my gender is irrelevant to what I do. Asking for help is one of the few scenarios where it can matter. Asking another woman can be easier. I've been lucky to have avoided most sexsim and unfair treatment, and even still I used drupal for months before I worked up the courage to post in the form. Many reasons. Don't want to embarrass yourself. Don't want to give other women a bad name. Remember that these are two-way mediums. These are places to find help, and also avenues for contribution back to the community.
  • Women in open source are incentivized by our novelty. It behooves us help each other, so in the case of mentorship, our status as talking dogs, unicorns, dancing bears, etc might actually work in our favor. If you take nothing else from this talk, I hope you will be reminded of the importance of mentor relationships.
  • It may seem obvious, but I am going to say it anyway. Remember that open source projects are community driven, and most people are donating their time. The most important help you can receive is helping you find the answer rather than giving you the answer.
  • Featuritis, also known as feature creep. We can add all these great features! -Why? Because we can! Look, our site site can do tricks! This is one of the most common time-wasters in web development as much as it is in software development.
  • Bonus points for anyone who knows what we're looking at. I frankly don't know what those points will get you when it's all said and done, but I digress...
  • Less is more. Your users will thank you, and you'll avoid what I call the “Kathy Sierra moments” (your users giving you the middle finger) -tell Kathy Sierra story Also adding unnecessary bloat can sabotage scalability. Why make your site work harder with things that don't improve the experience? Most importantly though, avoiding this will save you lots of time undoing frivolous additions, especially when you are working alone. Can't beat yourself up too much because we all do it. But when you are a one-person team, it seems to creep that much faster. SO... it is important to have a group of peers to bounce things off of. Create a focus group. Non-technical people are sometimes the best.
  • Design by committee – sometimes being alone is a good thing. Be careful not to get too many opinions here. Reiterate – prioritize. Don't spend twice as long developing a feature no one will use and forget the important stuff. Don;t forget who the site is for. It's probably not for you.
  • People who understand how we interact with our surroundings may become the next group of great developers. Stranger things have happened. Draw inspiration from fields outside of technology. We build things for humans, so embrace the complexity of our humanness.
  • Poll audience – how many started their careers in technology, how many cs majors, Career change stats
  • Transcript

    • 1. The One Woman Web Team Katherine Druckman Webmistress, Linux Journal WIOS - SCaLE 8x Feb 19th, 2010
    • 2. Going it alone ● Regional event site ● Open Source project page ● Or maybe you're just a masochist
    • 3. You want this:
    • 4. Assembling Your Team ● Graphic designer ● Front-end developer/UX YOU ● Programmer ● Sys admin
    • 5. Wait... What?? Photo by po go re lo va
    • 6. This is what we have, and this is what we're going to win with. -My husband (and the Israeli Military)
    • 7. Assemble your gear for the steep climb ahead Decide on the platform that is right for your project:
    • 8. Plan of Attack ● Identify your primary ● Prioritize! goals ● Define your most ● User-centric important features ● Content-driven ● How to achieve these with given resources ● Selling something? What? ● Weigh design, performance, usability ● Inform? Entertain?
    • 9. Getting organized a.k.a Do as I say, not as I do ● Version control!!! ● Git, Suvbersion, Bazaar (whichever makes you happy. Just please use something.) ● Time-tracking - get help with what's dragging you down ● Set a realistic timeline (and try to actually stick to it)
    • 10. Identify Strengths and Weaknesses ● Is ok to not be perfect. ● Give weight to those tasks you enjoy spending time on. ● There could be many ways of achieving your desired result – use the path of least resistance ● [disclaimer: I am going to get in trouble for this] You don't always have time for best practices
    • 11. Help!!! You've identified your weak spots, now what?
    • 12. Find help ● Local User Groups ● Regional Events ● Online Forums ● IRC As a woman, should I seek out women-centric resources for help?
    • 13. Resources ● Drupalchix - http://groups.drupal.org/drupalchix ● PHPWomen - http://www.phpwomen.org/ ● .51 - http://dotfiveone.com/ ● Women Who Tech - http://www.womenwhotech.com/
    • 14. How To Ask For Help ● Be respectful of others' time. ● Don't ask for a fish. Ask where the poles are. Your problem is probably not unique, and the answer is probably written somewhere. ● Just as you receive help, help others. There will always be someone who knows less than you.
    • 15. Pitfalls to Avoid ● Featuritis! (We can be just like Facebook!)
    • 16. l Photo by bookgrl This is SO temping, I know
    • 17. But you probably just need:
    • 18. Pitfalls to Avoid ● Featuritis! ● Design by committee ● Failure to prioritize ● Forgetting your users
    • 19. Multi-disciplinary approach ● Ergonomics ● Interior Design
    • 20. Photo by: annahape-gallery
    • 21. Multi-disciplinary approach ● Ergonomics ● Interior Design ● Psychology
    • 22. Multi-disciplinary approach ● Ergonomics/design ● Psychology ● Engineering ● Social Science Encourage women of all backgrounds. Recruit from different fields.
    • 23. Diversity should be a means to an end, not the end itself.
    • 24. Katherine Druckman @KatherineD LinuxJournal.com KatherineDruckman.com