Getting the most out of Open Outreach

Read the documentation pages. They have been written specifically for non-technical users, so they should be easy to get through. If you try something as noted in the documentation and it doesn’t work or the instructions seem dated, please drop us a line so we can fix up the section for other users. And please, look for your question/issue in the documentation before your contact us or post an issue on the queue, as quite often the answer is right there.

Use the issue queue (and use it well.) When you run into a issue using Open Outreach, take the time to post an issue on the queue. That way we can see where problems are and it also allows any Open Outreach user to wade in with potential fixes or ideas. Before you post an issue, search to make sure your issue is not already there. If it is, you can add your comment. If it’s not, add a new issue. When posting an issue, make sure you provide as much information as you can as that will enable everyone to better understand the problem. And if you can offer support to another user, please do so as that helps to share out the work load.

Understand some of the basic site building tools for any Drupal site. Some good places to start are learning about nodes, content types and fields, taxonomy and menus.

Learn about the modules that comprise Open Outreach. If you’re happy working with Open Outreach more or less out of the box, then you likely don’t need to learn a lot about the dozens of contributed modules that are in play. But if you do want to customize your site, you’ll quickly get into the realm of needing to understand how to work with some of these very complex tools. There is a lot of excellent documentation on and also lots of really great video tutorials out there, so take some time to hone your skills. Views and Panels are both important modules related to how information is displayed, and while complex may be ones you want to be able work with to more fully meet your needs.

Share the load. An Open Outreach site is designed so that many people in your organization can contribute. Make sure that you share the work load by getting staff and volunteers posting content. Create user accounts for these bloggers, contributors or editors (making sure you assign them the appropriate role for the tasks they will be taking on). If you need to, you can tweak the existing permissions for a role, or create a new role to more specifically meet your needs.

Choose the theme that works best for your site. When getting going with your site, take some time to play with the range of themes that ship with Open Outreach. Any of the themes using AdaptiveTheme as a base, allow you a lot of scope for working with colours and fonts. Make sure to add your own logo. The size and shape of your logo may work better in some themes than in others, and this may be a consideration. And remember, whenever you’re using an AdaptiveTheme you need to save the settings page (even if you made no changes) to ensure that the block placement takes effect.

Make the most of your home page. We often see sites where the highlighted slide show is being used on the home page, but the images are too small for the space. If you’re going to use this tool, make sure your images are wide enough (an image that’s too small will have a black border around it.) And if you want to customize the home page, take the time to learn a bit about Panels so that you can add/remove or rearrange the content panes and blocks that are in use.

And if you need paid support, don’t hesitate to contact us at Chocolate Lily Web Projects. We do pretty much all of our Open Outreach work as volunteers, so hiring us to help with Open Outreach site building, customization or training helps us be able to continue to keep this distribution going.