Microprojects launching!

Recently we issued a call to UX (User Experience) people who wanted to have a try at participating in a small open source project, or a Microproject (as we’re calling them). We were overwhelmed with volunteers and are now, happily, in the process of pairing them with a bunch of projects that have been suggested by a whole range of people within the Drupal community.

To kick there projects off I’m creating a home for them over in the Issue Queue on Drupal.org, but I’ll create an index of them for you here so you can dip in and out as you please 🙂

Please also feel free to leave any general feedback about the overall Microproject concept/framework as a comment to this post.

Active Microprojects: (in no particular order)

Note – there are still quite a few more waiting to come online, as time permits – I’ll update the comments below as more are added.

Join us for Structure Summit Sunday – 7 June from 16:00 GMT

Update – Transcript and Document Of Record

Thank you to everyone who participated in the Summit on Sunday – there were several dozen people in attendance and it was a very productive session.

A transcript of proceedings can be downloaded here PDF (note: it’s about 150 pages of Skype chat, so only do this if you’re feeling brave/bored/exceptionally curious). We also tried to keep a document of record showing our agenda, some outputs and an incomplete list of participants, which you can see here. It is not entirely comprehensive and should be considered a working document only.

The discussion around the overall outcome for Structure continues and we will post an update soon.

The essential information Our mission: to come to an agreement on whether the Site Building Tool should be included in D7 and if so, how we can best make it work for both the Drupal technical architecture and existing Drupal users AND for it’s primary target audience.

Should you choose to accept this mission:

  1. Join the Skype public chatroom here
  2. Download Skitch to help capture and share your ideas visually
  3. Add your name to the comments below so we can add you to shared Google documents (use your proper email address in the comment form so you can receive access notifications)
  4. Be online at 16:00 GMT on Sunday 7 June (what time is this where you are? and with profound apologies to our Australian and NZ friends for such an unsociable time)
  5. Spread the word! We want all kinds of people involved from Drupaller to People Who Should Use Drupal But Can’t, from developers to designers to shop owners and site administrators.

Our Moderator
I’m really excited to report that Ivanka Majic, Head of Design at Canonical, will be moderating our Summit on Sunday. Ivanka has a great appreciation for the challenges of designing for open source projects and a vested interested in D7UX being a good user experience, because the Canonical site is running on Drupal! She’s also a great moderator and I’m confident she’ll help us to ensure that we get to some firm and actionable outcomes on Sunday. Thanks Ivanka!

If you have the chance beforehand it would be great if you can check out the two most recent ‘prototype’ walkthroughs that we’ve posted (video see below), as well as the Project Framework Page for Structure.

A little background. If you’ve been playing along at home you have no doubt come across the Site Building Tool that we have proposed to live in the Structure section of the D7UX interface. We believe that the design and implementation of this tool can make the most significant difference in making it possible for non-technical users to make a reasonably sophisticated site using Drupal within a matter of hours, not the weeks or months that it often requires of new players at the moment.

The more time I spend talking to people who *should* be able to use Drupal but who can’t, and people who have had brief experiences with Drupal then ran away screaming in either frustration of fear, the more convinced I am of this. As recently as yesterday I took our latest prototype out to show some people, and despite the fact that it is still very rough and confusing, it’s potential was obvious.

We’ve been talking about this tool since early April – time is passing rapidly and if we want to make this happen we need to get on board with the concept and start working out how we can make it work. We need to do this as a matter of urgency. Our current channels are not moving us forward quickly enough, so I’m going to propose that we try something a little different.

Structure Summit Sunday

The absolute best way to get to the bottom of these complex issues is to get everyone in a room to thrash it out. Of course, we can’t all get in the same physical space together, so let’s try the next best thing and all meet this Sunday with the express purpose of coming to an agreement on what this tool can be and how we can make it happen.

I want to walk away from this session on Sunday with a clear vision for the tool and a feeling that the people who participated share this vision and our enthusiasm for the challenge ahead. (Of course, the flip side is that we decide that we can’t do it… which would be unfortunate, but I guess we have to consider it as an outcome).

I considered a bunch of ways to approach this, originally thinking that we’d do it in IRC, but with some more thought I’ve decided to create a public Skype chat that we can all join. This is a less intimidating environment for non-techy, non-Drupally people (and I’d really like to have a good mix of all of us in the discussion).

You can join the public chatroom on Skype using that link but we’re not really going to get the Summit going until 16:00 GMT on Sunday 7 June.

Why should I get involved if I’m not a Drupal developer?

  • chances are you’re more likely to be in the target audience for this tool – your insight will be incredibly helpful in helping us get this right. (Especially if you can identify with the Jeremy character sketched out here)
  • you will be the people who will be able to keep us focused on the right user experience, so that we don’t get caught up in How Drupal Works and What Can Be Done
  • you can be instrumental in making Drupal an Awesome User Experience – this means putting some pretty powerful tools in the hands of people who can do amazing things with them.
  • you will win mine and Mark’s undying gratitude by helping us solve a really tricky design problem that will make a big difference.
  • you’ll be working on Something That Matters.

Please, please, please come join us and help make this happen. The saddest thing of all would be if a good idea died because we didn’t act on it quickly and decisively enough.

14.0 Accessibility


We’ve said lots of times that we’re really interested in accessibility and that we’ll be keeping accessibility issues and guidelines in mind as a part of our user experience design process for D7UX, well, I’m happy to report that we are really kicking that into gear, and we’re starting by having a big pow-wow with a really expert in the field. We’re going to be spending We spent the day on Wednesday (13 May) with Ann McMeekin, an Accessibility Expert who is also an invited expert on the Authoring Tools Accessibility Guideline Working Group (AUWG). Ann is going to give us some advice on how we can contribute to making Drupal7 compliant with the impending Authoring Tool Accessibility Guidelines (ATAG) 2.0

We’re going to open up this thread to discussions around Accessibility, but first up I’d like to ‘open the floor’ to you all and give you the chance to your thoughts/issues/ideas/questions through to Ann for her consideration.

So, if there’s anything you think that you’d like us to ask Ann, or to draw her attention to, the please let us know in the comments below and we’ll include it in our discussions on Wednesday and be back here with some feedback! Ann can take a look and give you her feedback or make sure it’s being taken into account where appropriate.

Rough transcript of the video (so that you don’t have watch it if you’re not so inclined):

  • introducing Ann, a freelance accessibility consultant with about 5yrs experience, previously at RNIB . She helps people make websites better for people with disabilities and in turn for everyone
  • Why get Ann involved so early? Accessibility like Usability quite often comes to the table far too late. Ann thinks it is a great opportunity to get involved so early so that she can direct the design and production effort rather than having to ‘audit’ and require ‘rework’. Ann is able to pick out things that look like they might be problem areas so that we can design things in the best way to support good accessibility.
  • Ann has reviewed a lot of the work done to date – her initial feedback is that so far there is nothing she’s seen that has made her throw her hands up in horror. She thinks there are some really interesting things going on in what we’re doing to try to create a rich experience, but this can be challenging, but the work she’s seen so far has scope for the implementation to work for everyone – she’s confident we’ll be able to create a good UX for everyone.
  • Some of the challenges that these rich experiences pose for accessibility, esp. ajax and screenreaders. There are lots of technical challenges that don’t yet have solutions but this also poses a great opportunity to find ways to make these implementation successful. Thinking about how to implement that into the work now means that as the browser and screenreader technology improves the ‘hacks’ that are required now can simply be removed later on. The important thing is to ensure that the base level experience is a good one and that the richness is just an added extra. Basic things like form interaction, when it’s done well the ‘accessible’ experience is great, you don’t feel like you’ve got a less good experience even though you don’t have all the fancy JavaScript.
  • Authoring Tools Accessibility isn’t just about having a system that is accessible, it’s also about designing a system that helps people make good decisions about accessibility as they are building sites using Drupal. (Which is v familar to our design principle of helping people make good design/UX decisions when making sites with Drupal).

Buzzr – also making Drupal a better User Experience

We were really excited to learn of and see the work that the team at Lullabot with Karen McGrane from Bond Art + Science have been doing on their Buzzr project and thrilled that we’ll be able to talk with them about their experience on the project so far.

It’s particularly exciting that there are many similarities in our approaches to solving the user experience challenges for Drupal, and there are some differences as well which will be great to explore further.

We’re going to be comparing notes with the Buzzr crew in the coming weeks and we’ll be sharing some of the insights we gain from that with you here. Stay tuned!

Current Activities – What you can do NOW!

Drupal 7 has now passed code freeze but work continues on Drupal 7 usability.

What you can do:

  • our most urgent need is for developers who have some PHP + jQuery chops to help implement some of the UI that has been designed as a part of this project. In particular the dashboard is in desperate need of attention. If you’ve got those skills and a little time and would love to become a god(dess) amongst the Drupal UX Community, please let us know (in comments below or log onto #drupal-usability IRC channel)
  • we’re also looking for people to do usability testing on Drupal 7, we have a test environment, a discussion guide and all the support you could hope for – if you’re interested in helping out with some usability testing, please let us know!

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter (@drupalredesign and #D7UX), and join our Flickr and YouTube groups!

Comments have now been closed for posts on this site and this site is no longer being maintained – pls contact Mark or Leisa directly if you have questions (a quick google search should sort you out with contact details) or go to Drupal.org for more information.

Key Documents:
Who is D7UX for?
Audience Matrix
Experience Strategy
Design Principles

Why is this on WordPress?

You may have noticed that this is a WordPress blog. Both the D7UX and the Disambiguity blogs run WordPress. Mark Boulton Design uses Expression Engine. Since we first started working with Drupal there have been questions (and the occasional shout of #fail) that we continue to use these platforms and haven’t switched to Drupal.

Don’t we know Drupal can do all that WordPress can do and more?! Don’t we love Drupal?!

Well, yes and yes. We know Drupal is amazing and we love it (well, more to the point, we love the people all around Drupal), but unfortunately, for the time being, it is too broken for us to be able to do the work we need to do on this project at the pace that we need to do it. We don’t have time to ‘learn’ Drupal, nor the skills to bend it to our will (and make it look acceptably pretty), we can’t even get a blog post on the homepage (as you’ll see in the videos that follow the installation video about which I’ll post as soon as they finally make it up to YouTube).

We appreciate all the offers of porting this blog over to Drupal, but to be honest, I really like using WordPress and nothing I’ve seen of Drupal makes me want to switch over at the moment.

See, I love the *idea* of Drupal, but the sooner we all agree that from a User Experience perspective it is horribly broken and concentrate on FIXING that, the better it will be. Admitting this doesn’t make us Drupal Haters, far from it. It just makes us honest and informed. After all, we use a whole raft of tools to make and administer websites all the time – we actually have a pretty good perspective to be making this call.

If we didn’t *really* care about making Drupal amazing, we wouldn’t start difficult conversations like these ones. And there is a big reason why one of the key success criteria for this project is that once this project is done Mark & I will *want* to switch from WordPress and Expression Engine to Drupal.

And what of ‘eating our own dogfood?’ – well, again, back to that success criteria of Mark & I using Drupal once the new UX is implemented. If we’re not using Drupal then, I’m happy to be called on this. For now, the fact that we are NOT entrenched Drupal users is actually a great advantage to us, rather than a disadvantage. It gives us perspective, distance from the project that allows us to see things differently, to challenge accepted ideas and approaches, to re-hash conversations that have been had a thousand times already and have them a little differently. It helps us not see that things might be impossible (and, at this stage of the project, that’s a good thing).

We’re not entirely ignorant of Drupal, not at all. And becoming less so every day. And we are surrounded by an incredibly informed and amazingly helpful community who give us *way* more help coming to terms with Drupal than the average ‘newcomer’ would have.

We know that Drupal is not WordPress, and we have no intention of making it so, but using WordPress helps us get our work done faster and easier for the time being, and it helps us maintain perspective and distance – and for now those things are really important to us.

But if, this time next year, this blog isn’t running on Drupal and if it doesn’t look amazing – then please come and shout #fail as loudly as you can. Because then you’ll be completely right, we will have failed.

Let’s not do that. Let’s make Drupal amazing.

And thanks so much to everyone who has come on board and started to help shape D7UX by responding to our initial Experience Strategy, Audience Matrix and Personality Quiz. The feedback has been incredible and insightful. We’ll have more for you to look at soon!


We Need YOU! (how to get involved)

This project will live or die depending on your involvement. And we need your involvement NOW.


What you need to do NOW:


  • we’re going to be releasing some concept sketches VERY SOON – watch out for those, take a look, let us know what you think
  • we’re going to be asking for your help with some WIREFRAMING
  • we’re going to be asking for your help with some TESTING

We plan to make the Drupal 7 User Experience something VERY special. The BIGGEST RISK to this project is community rejection, or community involvement TOO LATE.

Get out of the issue queues, quit bitching about your other CMS tools.

Get over here and help us make something amazing.

thank you 🙂