VIA Studio Proudly Presents: Silencio


Shawn Coots

on 10/21/2014

In a previous post we introduced Iterative Development, a process for rapid prototyping websites in the browser. Using this method keeps our production teams in constant communication with clients, demoing new features weekly. These demos are powered by a set of custom-developed tools, namely, Silencio.

For years now, WordPress has been our preferred content management system. The last time we checked, WordPress powered over 16% of the web. We’ve built hundreds of WordPress themes over the years, constantly evolving our set of best practices. Silencio is the culmination of that knowledge.

Why Build Another Starter Theme?

Seriously, doesn’t every development shop on the planet have a custom starter theme on Github already? Yes, there are lots of them around, every developer SHOULD have one, if they want to be efficient. What sets Silencio apart? It was designed to solve a particular problem – content!

The Lumbering Beast, also known as CONTENT

Guess I’ll go write some content…

How many times have you heard a client promise they’d write a page structure, complete with words and pictures for their site, then two days before the scheduled launch, most of the pages are barren and empty. Oh so sad.

It’s rather easy for content considerations to slide toward the end of development. The client sort-of knows what their site should say about their organization, right? Piece of cake! We’ll do it LIVE!


Moving Forward

In the past, content has been presented to VIA in a multitude of disasters, word docs, online services, you name it. There’s no substitute for guiding clients into the deep end of their CMS immediately. From start to finish, the whole process goes a little something like this:

The Project Manager holds stakeholder meetings to determine site goals and the state of content as it currently exists. Spoiler alert, it’s usually nowhere near where it should be to effectively communicate a strategy. That’s okay, we can help with that.

The PM meets with the Production Team and defines internal roles. This includes: Client, Content Wrangler, Designer, and Developer.

The Client visits our office for a meet-and-greet with the Team. It’s time to get everyone on the same page on where this adventure is headed.

The Content Wrangler determines content goals from that discussion, then summarizes them into a Site Map. This is an integral piece of the puzzle right here, as it’s the road map for the content going forward. However, the road usually throws us a curve or two.

Depending on the complexity of the content plan, a wireframe method is determined. It can be paper, digital, or handled directly in Silencio. Wireframes can be done by anyone with UX experience (although preferably the designer or developer.)

Once a Site Map and Wireframes are complete, the Developer can install a WordPress instance with Silencio. The Dev and Designer discuss content types with the Content Wrangler.

The Developer customizes Silencio to meet the content requirements. The theme has several tools built in to simplify this process. Silencio is launched to our staging server, which is accessible by the client. Meanwhile, the Designer begins work on the overall style of the site and it’s content.

The PM and Content Wrangler trains the Client on content management on the staging site. This keeps the client keenly aware of what is and isn’t finished from the very start. It also paints a clear picture of whether the established goals are being met.

If they aren’t, we’re able to pivot. Silencio is nimble and easily adjusted. If a client demo reveals some bit of content that they didn’t account for, we can shift gears quickly.

With an approved style and real content being entered into the CMS, the Developer begins implementing style to the theme’s UI Kit and Typography page. The Designer is able to adjust Content Design to find the perfect balance. No Lorem Ipsum was harmed making your website.

The Designer and Developer work together to complete theme design. The content is completed by the Client and Content Wrangler. There are no alarms or hidden surprises waiting at the end of the tunnel. Everyone is on the same page, from start to finish. Glorious internets for one and all!

The site launches to great fanfare. The team goes out for a beer. The end… or just the beginning?

It’s live… Let’s DRINK!

Words of Encouragement

Find your own happy ending on your next project by trying Iterative Development with VIA Studio. Let Silencio be your guide. It’s available for free on Github. Feel free to add and contribute, it’s open-source of course.

Happy Developing!

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