Maker Share: Chasing that Maker Faire Feeling

Tell us the story of your project: 

I joined Make: three years ago with the hopes of creating an online community for Makers where they could share their stories and communicate with each other. It just seemed like such an obvious thing to do and, in my experience, filling totally obvious user needs is not a bad start for a digital strategy. 

With the launch of Maker Share on June 20, 2018, my team and I get to start fulfilling on that dream. 

Make: has always wanted to launch a dynamic online community.

But in the fall of 2016, a new opportunity presented itself: a partner in the form of Intel came knocking. The company had a vision for supporting "open innovation" by encouraging student makers to compete in online challenges. 

At the same time, our founder, Dale Dougherty, had become very attached to the idea of Maker Portfolios, a way for Makers to not only share their projects but to communicate their identity as Makers and to connect with opportunities online, opportunities to find jobs, get into schools and learning programs, land commissions, find clients, and identify collaborators. 

WIth those two ideas linked, Maker Share was on its way. But it would be six more months before we were in range of launching. 

Our first site map: The first mockup that my boss, Dale Dougherty, really dug:

(Thank you Eric Singer for letting Maya use your bio to pitch our design ideas!)

Not only did Maya need to produce some 80 pages of wireframes and me hundreds of pages of user stories not to mention setting up a hosting environment and coding the whole thing, but we needed a brand name and domain; community guidelines and privacy policy; a promotional video and a T-shirt (you can't launch a website without a t-shirt!); a help desk. Oh, and Makers: we also needed content. 

Thank you to Ashley Qian, Hannah Edge, Emily Coker, Eric Singer, Chris Hackett, and many others for being our "Model Makers" and setting up their portfolios in advance so we'd have something to demo at Maker Faire. 

The Maker Share booth at Maker Faire:

The last piece to really fall into place was Missions. We'd originally set out to create much more straightforward contest functionality. But Dale had been talking about "Missions" -- a higher purpose that inspires a Maker to creativity -- in his talks for some time and really wanted to merge the two concepts. To be honest, I wasn't sure...but then Dale heard from Malia's mother, Donna, with the concept of The Articulator

And then it clicked for me: Missions are a way of tapping into the hive mind of the community to achieve a social good. It doesn't have to be providing world peace; it's about people supporting a common goal and sharing their different approaches to achieving that goal. Our role is, as always, to support the makers and curate the results so that the public can approach and appreciate their work. The Malia Project fits this bill so perfectly and really gave an emotional boost to myself and the team as we entered the home stretch. 

We just launched today and my mind is already racing with all the challenges ahead of us, starting with launching our missing Learning Center where we will curate our learning support material and help Makers acquire new skills. 

On top of all these features, my design goal is to create an environment that is fun for "armchair Makers" to browse. Many of you may never create an account here and that's okay: Makers come to Maker Faire because they want to put their projects in front of an audience. If all you want to do is Ooh and Aah at their amazing creations, then that serves the community too. (Do create an account if you want to "Like an Idea" using the lightbulb icon.)

We've barely gotten started...the difference now is that I can reach out to you, the Maker Community, to help me and the team make good decisions about what features and content will help really help support Makers. Figuring out what users really want is tricky business.

My favorite depiction of what it's like to build software:

Help us make your perfect tire swing! Leave me comments here or take the time to share your suggestions with me and the team in our Beta Feedback form (click on the hamburger in the far right of the nav bar.)

How-to: 

Part of our commitment to Intel is to use exclusively Open Source software and tools in our development process. The only exception is our use of Auth0 for token-based authentication as this is an existing company-wide service. 

Have any suggestions for useful Drupal add-ons? Let us know!

Share a "Show & Tell" video.: 
https://youtu.be/II30uNm9Hf8
Collaborators: 
clair
matthew
sarahstruck
jared
hany
maya.contractor
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Team Members: 
Team member name: 
clair
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Platform Manager
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matthew
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Content & Community Manager
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sarahstruck
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Design Lead
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jared
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Engineering Lead
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hany
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maya.contractor
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Head Of Orange Studio Dev Team
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Teaser: 
I'm the platform manager for Maker Share. There's no way to really bottle the excitement of being at Maker Faire. But my dream is to build an online community that connects Makers and attendees and keeps that idea exchange going 365 days a year.
Aha! moment: 
It had to be demo'ing the product at Maker Faire. It was quite a nail-biter leading up to the event but then when we put in front of real Makers, they instantly got the concept and responded to the look-and-feel. That weekend, I went from being afraid of launching to looking forward to it.
Uh-oh! moment: 
So many sleepless nights...it's hard to pick one. But the hardest moment was when I realized that the Learning Center wasn't ready and we'd have to start over with ideation. I had to make the call of pushing it off and it was very disappointing. But necessary. Now I think we're on a good path and I can't wait to add it.
Show & Tell video as default: 
Creation Date: 
Tuesday, June 20, 2017 - 00:00