Visioning questions for web development

This post is a list of all the questions that I and my team would try to get our clients to answer (in some form or another) during our early conversations about a website development project at Summersault. I'm dumping them out here in case they might be useful to others.

Every project is different, but if you're planning a new website and/or are considering hiring someone else to help you with that work, you'll probably give everyone a head start by having these questions answered:

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Notes from Moogfest

I took a quick trip to Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend to visit some friends and wander around the area. It's one of my favorite parts of the country, having spent a fair amount of time there as a kid, with my grandparents when they lived in Swannanoa and attending a summer camp for several years in Black Mountain.

But in looking up things to do while I was there this time, I found a whole new great reason to visit, the Moogfest music/art/tech festival.

Moogfest 2014 Wristband

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Interpretations of "mobile-friendly"

This post is a revised version of a post that previously appeared on the Summersault blog, now edited to be more generally useful.

If you've read any kind of article on website development or related topics from the last few years, it almost certainly told you that making your website "mobile-friendly" is critical to its success.  Everyone wants their new website to look great and work great, and they want to make sure it's mobile-friendly too.

It's a great goal, but it can also be a confusing one.

Making a website "mobile-friendly" can mean a lot of different things depending on the type of site and the end result you're looking for.  Most new websites created these days now have some minimum level of compatibility with mobile devices, but when discussing mobile-friendliness as an interest or when you need to use mobile components to achieve a particular business/organizational goal, there are some details to talk about.

Here are a couple of different interpretations of the phrase "mobile-friendly" when it comes to website development:

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Creating effective proposals

Over the years I've gathered some notes and reminders for myself about what makes a proposal effective, and I thought it might be useful to dump those out here.  This info is mostly geared toward business proposals (pitching to a client, convincing a co-worker, justifying an expenditure, etc.) and other professional uses, but it might be useful for other scenarios too.

Plan

Before you start writing, make sure you have a plan for what you're creating:

  • Approach: is a formal proposal the right approach for this task, or would the people involved benefit more from a more iterative/collaborative/informal approach?
  • Audience: who are you writing the proposal for? What do they already know about the topic? Are they already "on your side" and just need some details worked out, or are you persuading them to change their minds? What other audiences might also see the proposal?
  • Goals: the primary purpose of a proposal is to get your audience's approval. Are you clear on what you're trying to get approval for?
  • Scope: what does your audience need to hear to give their approval? What kinds of information do they NOT need to hear? What will their reaction be?

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Powerlessness and Empowerment with Frances Moore Lappé

A week ago I had the opportunity to hear Frances Moore Lappé speak here in Richmond. She's primarily known around the world as author of Diet for a Small Planet, but she's also an Earlham College graduate, so it was great that she came back to her alma mater to give a talk.

Lappé's talk overall was about how we can move from a place of powerlessness to a place of empowerment when it comes to working on addressing various ills that plague the world - from climate change to energy/resource crises to poverty, and all of the other systems and issues that are related.

It's a topic, a question that's been on my mind lately as I think about my own vocation, and where (to borrow from Frederick Buechner) my talents and interests might meet the world's deep needs. The question wasn't answered for me during the talk, but there were a few insights and random bits of wisdom that I want to preserve here:

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