Our Work


Website Rebuild FAQ

By Chris Alfano on July 16, 2015

On my first day at Illinois Legal Aid Online I attended a mini-staff retreat where we discussed organizational goals, successes, and plans for the future.

Fun, right? The truth is I was completely lost.

Although I appreciated such an immersive experience on my first day, it was tough wading through all of the unfamiliar terminology. It felt like I was taking a test I did not study for. My familiarity with the structure of the organization, its goals, and the aforementioned terminology has increased significantly as the months have passed. Except for one thing—I still do not understand what the website rebuild is all about.

I understand why the website is being rebuilt and think the reason is great! I’ve even been involved in periodic meetings concerning content lay out and user surveys. But I still don’t really understand the process by which the website is being rebuilt. A big reason for that is I just don’t understand the jargon that people use when they talk about the rebuild.

The Development team frequently mentions words like scrum, stand up, Drupal, and sprint. I asked my colleagues Chris Alfano and Gwen Daniels for help in understanding these words. Here is a compilation of their responses to help me (and you) understand the rebuild lingo:

ILAO Website Rebuild FAQ

1. What is a scrum?

"Scrum" is a method of agile software development. "Agile" means that the team is able to quickly react to feedback throughout the development process. Instead of developing a piece of software as a whole, and getting feedback when the entire program is complete, the team develops each feature independently, and receives feedback at the end of every two-week sprint.

2. What is a Scrum Master? What are the duties of the scrum master?

The Scrum Master is the team's facilitator and problem-solver. He facilitates the team's meetings and handles the administrative tasks associated with scrum, like setting up the Sprint in JIRA and tracking Sprint time. The Scrum Master removes impediments that prevent team members from completing their work (such as too many projects at once, too many supervisors wanting different things, etc.)

3. What is "a stand up"?

The stand-up meeting is also known as the Daily Scrum Meeting. It is a short 10 -15 minute meeting, during which the team members update each other on the status of their Sprint work. Everyone talks about what they worked on during the previous day and what they plan to work on during the current day.

4. What is a sprint?

A "Sprint" refers to a 2-week work increment (although they can be longer than 2 weeks, but no longer than a month). The product owner (Teri) makes a list of things that that she wants users to be able to do on our website, called "User Stories." The Development team then decides which User Stories to work on during a particular two-week Sprint. When they're finished, the Product Owner gets to decide whether she considers them "done."

5. What is Drupal?

Drupal is a free and open-source content-management system.

6. What is a front-end developer?

A front-end developer develops the part of the website that visitors can see and interact with. When you log on to a website you are seeing the front-end.

7. What is a back-end developer?

“The backend usually consists of three parts: a server, an application, and a database. If you book a flight or buy concert tickets, you usually open a website and interact with the frontend. Once you’ve entered that information, the application stores it in a database that was created on a server. For sake of ease, just think about a database as a giant Excel spreadsheet on your computer, but your computer (server) is stored somewhere in Arizona.” (Definition taken from this useful article). The back-end developer works on this aspect.

Hopefully these definitions will help our blog readers understand the rebuild as much as they have begun to help me! Thanks again to Chris and Gwen for their assistance in developing this blog post.

Your friend in understanding,