2009-01-23 Strategy Discussion with Mike Haggerty at Trellon

Friday, January 23, 2009 - 3:30pm - 4:58pm
Conference call
Web Design
See Minutes.
Mike Haggerty, Simon Lindsay, Sam Kleinman, Ed Goodell, Walt Daniels, Doug Cleek, Georgette Weir, Ann Gruhn

Internet Strategy - discussion with Mike Haggerty (Trellon)



Challenges of site

Unorthodox in some ways but good implementation of Drupal

Resource constraints are always a challenge

User profiles - how to personalize sites better

Increase portability of content

Standardized ways to flow information

Expand TC profiles to have more info about users to help manage info flow and give users more opportunity to interact

  • Discuss pros and cons 
    • Mike:  Public user profile gives sense of identity within site 
      • (See pearlharborstories.org)  3 page registration process
      • Process captures contextual relevance -
      • Recommends hiding personal profile info - instead show trails they've hiked, etc.

Presenting personalized content ....

Use taxonomy system.  Can tag content as you add new info.  Then people could select topics they are most interested in.

Collect information that has meaning for users.  What kind of info is that?

Think of three things.

Deliverable:  over next week - provide Mike with 3 items that express who the user is .

He will respond with how to implement in Drupal.

Widget and Facebook:

Addresses problem of Attrition ... people don't come back.

At Trellon.com - see link to their widgets.

Widgets can be deployed on user's desktop, Facebook page, etc. --  for content, news feed enabled (top 5 items).  Relatively inexpensive to implement.  For Facebook - provide a carrot that brings them back - an application (e.g. a badge for their personal profile).

Doug: could be good way to provide stickiness back to site and drive traffic;  Widgetize overview map?

Q:  Have we done any iphone applications?   A:  probably do as widget as can make into iphone app.   Could do a trail browser ... and share experiences.  

Great idea for Phase II.  Iphone applications are a big step.  

Buddylists, personalized trail lists and badges

Give people opportunity to create relationships within the site.

User incentives to create more friends.  Member clubs could be incented to be more active through well-designed functionality. 

Use of organic groups - other clubs could organize themselves within our site.

Personalized trail lists - indicate favorite trails.  Create badge for ea.  (Badge = image that represents each trail.  Can upload & share.)  Add also club membership. 

Deliverable:  Think of three original things.  Re: Buddy list (Simon to advise Walt on how to do using UserRelationships. - will send Walt the link (linked).  Chiq.com implements it (avail in 2 weeks)) 

Personalized content

If users can select tags for content they find interesting and assemble all that info in one place.   One click access when log in to site.  Add to profile - pick list to collect favorite stuff.

Turn taxonomy on - can arbitrarily classify content then.  Control is via site administration (add tags) or free tagging ...

Objective is to provide opportunities to expose people to the dynamic content of the site.

(One Trellon developer for a week can get it done.)

Mike: Biggest area where there is room to improve.

Where are We?

Walt: Have to do something about profile before launch.  (Clean it up and set it up for expansion after launch.) Other items above are Phase II in our minds.

Other Items:


The more modules you install, the more hardware you need to run Drupal.  We have a lot installed - are they all needed?  What may be removed?

  • Walt should look at the configuration and see what could be trimmed.
    • Needs to get rid of what's not being used.  Could Simon or someone provide a look and advise?   Mike's suggestion:  take # and divide by 6 and install that many.  Ask Trellon to advise on what to do if you get stuck.
  • Have Trellon install memcache - allows one to generate Web pages much faster.
    • (30 sec. to less than 1 sec.  - needs higher level of support)
    • Still requires a big Web server. 
  • For Simon to do = 20 hours of time.

Site Management:

Trellon does not manage permissions through user permissions.  Do it thru workflow module.  Sam:  describe steps content goes through as it moves through the site.  Draft->review->publish for example. 

Also allowing specific committees to handle only their own stuff.

Walt:  doesn't think this is much of an issue - not planning to have many different levels of permission.

Ed:  are we on the right path in our plans for allowing private groups (e.g. committees) to have private access to their data. 

Mike: organic groups is the way to go.  However, we need to articulate our publishing strategy for the various content types that we have.

Next steps:

Follow up on Ed's questions.

Get back to us on content flow questions.  Follow up next Wednesday? Yes, if Mike can fit it in.


Comment: Please be relevant, civil, non-commercial.

Too many modules


I fixed so that there is a link to pearlharborstories.org and played a bit. Very variable performance - perhaps part of my ongoing optonline variability problems. I played with it a bit. The registration is completely normal, except no exposed username, only an email. Nothing other than essential (for Drupal) info collected. The rest of the info is collected by "telling a story" which just enters info into a database separate from the profile info. They handle the join a mailing list issue by separating it from the profile process - a prominent box on the home page. It remains to be seen if I get any email from them as a result of registering.

It is worth looking at the maps associated with their database. They are done with flash.


There are two ends to this issue: putting widgets on our pages and putting our widgets on other peoples platforms. 

  • The first is easy for at least some widgets, see my Google widgets page for an example of putting Google widgets on our pages. This requires no extra modules. Fancier things can be done with Drupal modules.
  • The second has a module to support Google widget style widgets, Embeded Widgets Drupal 6 only.

I believe the following facts are true:

Widgets are not universal. You can't write one and put it anywhere. Each platform (Desktop, iGoogle, Yahoo, Facebook, etc.) has their own interface specs. Some can be put in multiple places. They can be implemented in many computer languages, but not necessarily the same on each platform.

Simple widgets can do as little at put up an image that when clicked on goes to the link associated with it.

Definitely a phase III item or wait until someone backports to Drupal 5.

Notes taken during call by Ed Goodell

Ann ...

I thought it was a good call. Makes me excited to get going on phase II. Below are some rather muddled notes that I took. Feel free to use ...

1) User account profiles

Have been using the TC site to train junior internet strategist. Presents unique challenges. Some good implementation but also some unorthodox

Personal profile versus Public User profiles: How to personalize our site. How to make it portable. Create stadardized info flow. We should expand the personal information to give users opportunities to interact. User profiles are meant to give a sense of identity within the website and connect with other users. Top of list, solicit based on favorite hikes and regions. A dissuader is something the prevents involvement. Need to ask questions that are targeting. Don't understand the current display of information. As an alternative, hide and restrict personal information but display what they like ....

Personalized content: When creating content it can be tagged. When creating a story it can be tagged by category. Individual can create pages that display

When viewing a personal profile, what 3 or more classes of items that will tell the viewer abaout the person.

2) Widget and Facebook strategy

Good strategy to combat attrition. Widget are used to keep content in the mind of the user. Can be deployed on desktop, in Facebook, and start pages. Have a Widget which is ____-feed enabled. Relatively inexpensive and more advance could be Facebook enabled. Provide a badge on personal profile that links back to favorite trails. Cellphone widget ta

3) In-site social engineering - buddylists, personalized trail lists and badges

User account profiles: give people the opportunity to create relationships, similar to Facebook, etc. Users have an incentive to pull in more friends. Member orgs could be given functional place to operate. A badge is an image that is portable to other social networking sites. Badge can indicate preferred trails and club memberships. Use "user relationships" instead of "buddy lists."

Chiq.com ... trellon.com

4) Personalized content on the site

Select tags for content and pull information. On personal profile page so that they have one click access on the page they first see on site. Basic social networking ... this is the area where we have room to improve. Can measure this approach.

A large part of the site will be ultimately devoted to "intranet" or administrative activities of our volunteer committees. How is access to that best handled, via Groups? Using Organic Groups is the right approach. We need to take time to articulate our publishing strategy. Be concerned that we are adding new features.

how can we implement an online database? Both so that we can identify current members and so that volunteers could access database forms that recorded their hours which then could be aggregated across a variety of committees?

In regards to the performance issues, I looked closely at the code myself during our initial development phase. There are a LOT of modules installed. We build very large scale Drupal sites, and it is unusual for us to see even half that number of installed modules for much larger sites.The first thing we are going to recommend is reducing the number of installed modules and doing an assessment of what is really needed to have the site operate. Remove 5/6ths of the existing modules.

The second thing we are going to recommend is installing memcached, which will relieve a potential database bottleneck I noticed when benchmarking your site.

With regards to improving content flow and other user experience concerns, it would help me a great deal if you could provide me with a list of 'things' that concern you the most in advance of our meeting. I have one I have put together, but I am really interested in understanding how our perceptions compare and contrast. This does not need to be elaborate, but if you could articulate the top 5 or 10 items, it would help us be more productive.

* Performance (we are not satisfied with the performance we are experiencing)

* Site management (permissions, updating, etc.) Use the Workflow module. It allows content phases to give volunteers access by setting up various statuses.

* Improving content flow (e.g. are people finding it easy to navigate our site and if not, how can we improve it?)

As I understand it, the purpose of Friday's call is to review any outstanding issues for NYNJ Trails and discuss your social media strategy going forward. We have put a lot of thought into some general strategies for your site, and would like to cover the following topics:

Edward K. Goodell, Executive Director

New York-New Jersey Trail Conference

156 Ramapo Valley Road, Mahwah NJ 07043

W201.512.9348 x12 F201.512.9012

M201.803.6555 www.nynjtc.org