The Sun Microsystems site includes a blog (Martin Hardee) with an article entitled as above that poses eight questions. These questions can greatly inform the process of creating a strategic brief (which is also provided for download). Although the item is from 2005 and the context differs - contrast a corporate website design and a future website for Hodges' model - there is value for me in answering the questions. So here goes... starting with the opening paragraph from the original blog post then the questions in bold, interspersed with my responses:
As I've mentioned in previous postings, the most important single step you can take in designing anything for the web is to create a strategic brief. This should be done early in the discovery phase of any design project. The reason it's so important is that it will make you focus and it will provide a guide map for whoever is creating and implementing your design. To write a strategic brief, you'll need to know a lot of important but oft-ignored basics such as:
A) Why are you embarking on this design (or new web site, or whatever), anyway?
The existing website was created in 1997 using Hot Metal Pro and written in HTML. The site was built as a personal and spare time project around the original course notes of Brian Hodges. These were in the form of Word files produced with secretarial support as part of a Post Graduate Certificate of Eduction project. As a result the current website has developed in a rather ad-hoc manner, with the addition of pages on informatics and information. The home page was re-designed in 2005 using Fireworks reflecting the model for which it is 'home'. At no point thus far has the website provided a community for users of Hodges' model. The site is currently static, without a database to support dynamic content development and a community of users.
Use of Drupal will provide a (truly) dynamic lever by potentiating the following:
- sheer unadulterated enthusiasm and fun (lifelong learning - literacy skills);
- a more professional footing (hosting...);
- international customisation (multiple languages);
- ultimately address several audiences (health, education, informatics and public);
- find out what would-be users of the model want;
- create some consistent styling;
- provide an archive;
- building on the foundation provided by the website and this blog W2tQ;
- provide a foundation for future research (by producing my 1st Drupal site - a beta);
- (As already noted I have wondered about linking this project to a research course, but at the moment I ask myself what's the point...?)
B) What are your business objectives and how would you measure success?
There are no 'business objectives' as such, but if this blog and a future site can generate some revenue to support purchase of hardware, (some) software and services then "that's about time". General objectives are to generate critical thinking and decisions on:
- content types to support the use of Hodges' model;
- phased development;
- interface design - use of Ajax, jQuery.
- to invite users to contribute to the model's development;
- reopen the question of visualization in the social sciences;
- to learn of other conceptual frameworks that might also support 'global health for all';
- to produce a virtual learning environment that conjoins health, informatics and education;
- to influence nursing curricula development;
- to create a self-sustaining global community of users
- to cover some costs and let go. ....
C) Who are your various audiences or customer segments and what are their objectives (often different from your business objectives, btw)
+ students (health and social care); students (generic - PSHE);
+ all qualified care professionals
The objectives here are diverse, but include completion of learning and course tasks, including essays and case studies, tools to support and demonstrate reflection and holistic / integrated care in theory and practice. Lesson plans and means of assessment are also essential, to what extent can students and professionals - indeed all users of a conceptual framework demonstrate - competency? This has to be through specific assignments and marked assessment which could include:
- case study;
- oral presentations, audio, video podcasts;
- quizzes, e.g., multiple choice;
- and possibly specific 'roles' through the Drupal site.
+ patients and carers
Patients and carers would often benefit from a means to facilitate dialogue with their keyworkers and the associated health and social care team. Hodges' model can help provide a schema, portal and media form for such dialogues. This dialogue can potentially act as:
- an aide-mémoire for the patient during a Consultant appointment (maximising the time available for both parties);
- a means for educational engagement (medication concordance, relapse prevention....).
These stakeholders are concerned with metrics, outcomes, quality and evidence.
+ information and communication technology staff
In addition to project management tools ICT staff would benefit from tools that support socio-technical perspectives.
For all the would-be users of Hodges' model the critical question is evidence. The new site should provide a foundation for research in Hodges' model and other conceptual frameworks.
D) What's the scope: How much are you going to tackle at once?
By using a content management system Drupal provides a means to be more productive (once sufficiently skilled!) in terms of addressing the objectives and scope delineated above.
I need to acknowledge advice already provided from friends at the Drupal NW England group and Ruby community. Basically - do what you need to to get a site out of the door. What I must identify is the baseline functionality and design that will provide the foundation for a site. The baseline must include:
- roles and access rules;
- at least one specific content type (whether existing or new) for Hodges' model;
E) What sort of constraints do you have in terms of product, business process, technology, or budget?
Hodges' model is nebulous and grand in its potential scope so it is vital that constraints are imposed on the project. A new PC and software will prove a great advantage leaving behind a trusted 7 year old machine. There is a no dedicated budget for the project.
The biggest constraint is time. This is non trivial and has already impacted this blog in that the comments are disabled. Early on the comments facility invited spam.
F) What existing projects and groups does this project need to coordinate with in order to avoid a train wreck?
None. The only legacy commitment are to move the existing pages to an archive that is readily accessible and signposted.
There are however two considerations:
1. Since first identifying Drupal as the platform to adopt, it was at version 4.7. It is now on the brink of version 7.0. This dynamic development environment presents challenges of its own.
2. As already highlighted if the new site is to reach the educational community it will be necessary to take heed of existing Drupal modules and resources, e.g. the DrupalEd distribution, The Scientific Collaboration Framework and assess their suitability - 'off the shelf'.
G) What kind of market and "voice of customer" research (including site metrics) do you already have?
In ten years with the existing site evidence shows that people do not have time to 'get in touch'; more needs to be offered. The existing website is 'failing' in terms of:
- as stated its dated design;
- site metrics - hits;
- publishing standards (academic, relevance, timeliness and currency, referencing, styling, semantic markup);
- and user engagement.
H) What are the roles on the project? For instance, if you're engaging a design vendor what are they delivering vs. what are you delivering to the final mix?
As per the existing site and given budget constraints (i.e. there is none) there are no 'roles' on the project. All are up for grabs and presently rest with me. Hence the appeal of a content management system (Drupal) to ease the design and development burden.
Sun Microsystems blog post:
* The good example here is the title of the Sun Microsystems article and not necessarily my answers to the questions.