The American Craft Council (ACC) is a nonprofit organization that celebrates and promotes American craft by creating community in various forms. They offer a bi-monthly online and physical magazine, put on national, regional and local events, have an extensive library of craft resources, and offer both digital and paper archives of craft materials and writings from the last century.

Strategic Partnering

ACC’s nonprofit status had not afforded them the ability to create a state of the art digital presence, and they were struggling with a very ad-hoc website to manage their content, calendar, resources, and shows. Users were not easily able to find or discover much of ACC’s vast collection of articles, the calendar was difficult to navigate and understand, and most of the publishing and content management process was tedious and manual.

However, with support of their donors, ACC was able to augment their technology budget, bringing in Four Kitchens to strategically architect and redesign both the backend and frontend of their Drupal website. Not only does the new site optimize for ever-increasing mobile use, it also spotlights their beautiful photos and videos of the art of craft, further developing a sense of community and shared joy through online engagement.

Rework to improve

ACC’s timeline was very flexible, allowing us to rework some of our initial designs to better align with the new content model and improve relationships between content and taxonomy terms. Because of the artistic nature of the organization and its focus on visuals, the design phase of our project more deeply involved the nuclear and extended ACC teams. We spent a significant amount of time laying the framework for the Drupal 8 implementation, and aligned the development to coincide with specific modules being available for D8.

Agile working

Because ACC is so focused on the world of print, interacting with a web development agency using Agile development principles was new for most of the staff. As a result, the Four Kitchens team engaged just a few key functional members of their team to provide daily insight into customer needs and guidance on design assets. I assumed the role of product owner on behalf of the client, to translate customer needs into development stories, direct the efforts of the development team, and prioritize work in order to meet the launch date.

Steering Our Drupal 8 Flagship

Because of the concise vision and goals for the ACC site, this project was an ideal Flagship Drupal 8 development opportunity for Four Kitchens. We selected Drupal 8 to extend the life of the web platform for ACC by several years, allowing them to spend their future years’ technology funds enhancing the site with features and developing better online marketing programs to reach more craft lovers and makers.

The site infrastructure consists of D8 with just a few key modules implemented to enable design and display flexibility, as well as automation of the backend process of publishing and managing content. Although we migrated the bulk of ACC’s content to the new site, we chose not to migrate the hundreds of basic pages that had been created over the years on their previous platform, which allowed ACC to recreate only that content that is relevant and useful today.

Longevity on the cutting edge

The client needed a site with longevity, re-architected based on the needs of the site visitor. This was achieved by migrating ACC’s content onto the cutting-edge Drupal 8 platform with a concise and effective content model and clean, easy-to-browse navigation. The added benefit and focus while redesigning the site was to enhance the browsing experience with big, beautiful images and clean design.

Drupal 8 is still new and many modules are not yet available or developed enough for our needs, which led to a few challenges that required custom development or compromise to achieve the desired result. On a few occasions, we chose to implement a simplified version of some features, with plans to follow with more robust solutions as support for Drupal 8 becomes more widespread.