It's been a busy few weeks for our Fellows. They're deep into the production process and are now structured as fully functional scrum teams.

As we mentioned previously, our Fellowship program has evolved significantly since its launch in 2011. This year we have 5 teams of Fellows working through self-directed projects to design and develop their own digital products. They're already 6 weeks into the program - time flies when you're building stuff!

In weeks one & two, fellows created team identites & conducted user research. Here's what they've been up to since.

Week 3: Design Studio, Art Boards, Key Archetypes

Based on the research Fellows conducted in previous weeks, they defined a framework to solve their users' problems. Looking at their story maps, Fellows conducted a Design Studio, which is a fast-paced and highly interactive method for understanding, defining and designing an interactive system using iterative sketching and critique.

Fellows learned the following concepts:

  • Art Boards
  • Key Archetypes
  • Interaction Models
  • Content Strategy and Information Architecture
  • User Testing
  • Product Backlog

Week 4: Intro to Web Development & Drupal Phase

Fellows then shifted gears and began the implementation phase of our production process. Matt presented an Intro to Web Development talk with a heavy emphasis on Drupal, our favourite content management system. We introduced the basic tools for web development such as Apache, mySQL, and PHP. Then Fellows created their first Drupal site and learned how to establish basic configurations for their web application. Finally, we did a group critique of the first draft of Art Boards, presented by the Creative Lead from each team.

Week 5: Collaborative Programming: Git, GitHub & Drush

This session taught Fellows how to use collaborative programming tools such as GitHub and Drush. Sebastian led the group with a hands-on workshop focused on the "installation profile", which allows Fellows to share code and functionality amongst themselves. They installed Git and Drush onto their machines, and were shown how to create project sites on their local environments. They were introduced to the basic concept of content types and taught how they could "featurize" these content types and share them with their team members.

Fellows are now working in sprints - a designated block of time in which teams commit to completeing certain tasks. Product Owners defined the goals for the team according to the product backlog, and members worked together to ensure completion. Additionally, we conducted a group critique with Creative Leads on the second draft of their Art Boards.

Week 6: Views & Nodes

Fellows began to delve deeper into Drupal and look at one of its most powerful modules, Views. The workshop was facilitated by Yashar to demonstrate how to create multiple views in Drupal. Fellows worked through the process using Display Suite to create a custom node display, which will allow for flexible and scalable information architecture as their site grows and develops. Using that node display, we created a basic archive using the Views 3.0 interface. Node displays and views allow developers to quickly build aggregated content displays that can be quickly and efficiently reused throughout their site.

Understanding how you can make your code, or information architecture, more efficient is an essential skill for any good developer or information architect. Creative Leads revealed the first composition of their Key Archetypes, which is a high-fidelity composition of the most complex components of their web application. This was a good preview of the visual direction of each application.

We're incredibly proud of the Fellows and the work they've accomplished thus far. They'll present their completed projects on March 30 and, from what we've seen so far, we'll be introduced some very cool digital products!