Investing in the Big Idea: Prototyping with Drupal
by Meagen Williams
You have a Big Idea. Your Big Idea is going to change the way your agency works. Your Big Idea involves using technology to increase citizen engagement / be more efficient / collaborate internally / share data / do something awesome.
You need to convince your department to invest in this Big Idea. Should you:
A. Create a presentation with lots of slides, bullet points, charts, and clip art
B. Create a presentation with a few slides, giant words, and quirky pictures. Deliver it TED-talk style.
C. Build a prototype
If you want a chance at getting your Big Idea off the ground, pick C. Here’s why:
Prototypes are eas(ier) to understand: If you want people to really get your Big Idea, don’t just wave your hands at a presentation deck. Show them how it will work. If your idea is as good as you think it is, clicking around it will help your leadership understand it. They’ll be much more likely to fund something they understand.
Prototypes build consensus: Your Big Idea is probably competing with others for limited funding. A prototype can give you a leg up by helping to address the fear, uncertainty, and doubt that surrounds new projects. Doubt that anyone will use this new product? Your prototype has given you user testing data (more on that below). Afraid that it will cost more than expected? Your prototype has helped refine feature requirements that can guide efficient development.
Prototypes are testable: A prototype will give you something to user test. No product is perfect from the start. Maybe you’ll find your Big Idea is a flop with its intended audience. Or maybe it’s harder than you thought it would be. Or maybe it’s just different than you thought it would be. User testing will help you identify the best Big Idea so that you can ask for the right budget and timeline to start your 1.0. It will also prevent you from investing in a mistake.
Drupal makes prototyping easy: With a powerful core and a massive collection of contributed modules, Drupal makes it easy to you to build a prototype without writing much (or any) custom code. Need it to be even easier? Start with a well-established platform. For example, if you need an internal or external community site, Drupal Commons is a great start. Hundreds of hours of development, user-testing, and design has gone into this product, making it easy to use right out of the box.
Prototypes are iterative and collaborative: Imagine this: your department, Department A, invests in building the minimum viable product (MVP) prototype. During the testing phase, someone from Department B sees it. Department B has been hoping to build this exact thing. Department B decides to help fund Big Idea 1.0, with a few enhancements that will serve them. When Big Idea 1.0 rolls out, Department C sees how it can use the product and invests in building Big Idea 2.0. THIS REALLY HAPPENS.
If your Big Idea is ready for prototyping, Acquia can help. Check out our Web Experience Management videos that will help you build that great digital experience.
So put down that presentation deck. Step away from the clip art and stock photography. Start prototyping.