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How does Drupal talk? (on brand, personality, tone of voice)

Posted: March 26th, 2009 | Author: | Filed under: Brand | Tags: , | 138 Comments »

So, there we were, just starting to work through the workflow for Drupal – we got as far as the login screen when we thought ‘let’s write something nice on this screen’, and, pen poised… we were stumped.

We wanted to write something friendly like Moo would. Or Innocent drinks. We wanted to make it visually interesting like Vimeo do. Or Picnik. But… is that Drupal?

We realised we have no idea what Drupal’s personality is. And it would make our lives much easier, and help make a much better User Experience, if we can work out what it is.

Isn’t this completely touchy-feely and a waste of time?

Well no. One way or another, words will go on screens and a personality will emerge. Or, worse still, a few personalities, or a few dozen personalities. Much better that we spend a little time and give a little thought and see what we can come up with.

So, here’s where you come in:

The Personality Exercise:

Take a minute to v quickly answer the following five questions. Go with your gut reaction, don’t over think it. Try not to read everyone elses’ responses first. Don’t worry about being silly! (This is a kind of silly exercise after all, albeit useful)

* If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
* If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
* If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
* If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?

So your answers might look something like this:

Drupal would be a squirrel/Paris Hilton/SS Commodore Ute/Teacher*

Get to it – what do you reckon?

*the opinions expressed above are not those of the author. Except for the SS Commodore one.

138 Comments on “How does Drupal talk? (on brand, personality, tone of voice)”

  1. 1 bangpound / benjamin doherty said at 9:41 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a beaver/Oprah/old VW Beetle/hairdresser

  2. 2 garrettc said at 9:42 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a chimpanzee/MacGuyver/Batmobile/Quantum Physicist

  3. 3 galooph said at 9:46 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a dolphin/MacGyver/Landrover Defender/Sensai

  4. 4 Patrice_ said at 9:51 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a mountain lion/Christopher Reeves/Ferrari/Coach

  5. 5 yoroy said at 9:54 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a sleepy owl / any long-winded politician / amphibic army vehicle / radio news reader

  6. 6 Neil Drumm said at 9:56 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a platypus / ? / hybrid bicycle / handy(man|woman|person)

  7. 7 LL said at 10:00 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Slime Mold/Obama/Honda Fit/Community Organizer

    (Sometimes a plant, sometimes an animal, more about the versatility of the slime mold here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slime_mold and — hopefuly Kate Rutter’s Slime Mold presentation from the IA Summit last week will be up on slideshare.net soon and you’ll get a sense of why I picked this crazy weird animal)

  8. 8 roger said at 10:06 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    peacock / quentin tarantino / pick-up / goldsmith

  9. 9 jimg said at 10:08 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    owl / Christopher Charles Mintz-Plasse as mc’lovin / old volvo stationwagon / ben & jerrys ice cream shop owner

  10. 10 Senpai said at 10:09 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal is like an elephant/Simon Cowell/Aston Martin/Carnival Barker.

    If Drupal were an animal, it would be most like an elephant. (stalwart, reliable, strong, but difficult to push around)

    If Drupal were a celebrity, it would exactly mirror Simon Cowell (well known, talented, but sorta crotchety & tongue-in-cheek).

    If Drupal were a car, it would be a replica of an Aston Martin. (fast, sleek, and cause everybody wants one. Come on, admit it to yourself.)

    If Drupal had a professional career, it would be a Carnival Barker. (“Come right over here, and lookie what we got in all these tents!”)

  11. 11 andremolnar said at 10:10 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Animal: Chameleon: Adapts to its environments
    Celeb: Steve Buscemi: You’ve seen him in a lot of stuff – and you like his work, but you think he’s kind of funny looking.
    Car: Humvee: Lots of power under the hood. Completely underutilized by the majority of owners that take it to the grocery store rather than going off road.
    Career: President of some weird country where everything is really swell, but they have a bunch of completely crazy rules and funny ways of doing things.

  12. 12 webchick said at 10:16 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    One could actually argue that Drupal’s goal is to impose *no* personality on its users, at least as much as possible. A lot of work has been done since the 5.x release of Drupal to make it fully possible to create a “white label” distribution of Drupal that doesn’t mention Drupal at all in any user-facing text.

    If you take a gander through some of the high-profile sites that are using Drupal (http://buytaert.net/tag/drupal-sites), you’ll see a wide mix of sites that are being built with the Drupal platform that only serve to back this up:

    http://community.michaeljackson.com/: Fun, social, classic
    http://recovery.gov/: Solemn, serious, ambitious
    http://www.symantec.com/community: Corporate, sales, support
    http://ketnet.be/: Fun, vibrant, kids

    Just as Leisa didn’t appreciate Joomla! basically creating an advertisement for itself as the default user experience, so too does someone like Amnesty International not want to have to theme out “Hey, bubba! Why dontcha log in thar now?” when they are focused on highlighting human rights crises.

    So I would say it’s probably much better for Drupal to portray a plain, non-descript personality… a “blank canvas” if you will… that site designers can then tweak to add whatever special personality traits that make their site their own.

    But to answer your question. :)

    Drupal would be a chameleon/some attractive person whose work you enjoy but can’t ever seem to recall their name/hand-built custom car/carpenter

  13. 13 tdskate said at 10:26 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    An ant.
    Johnny Depp, he can play anybody.
    A full-option Mercedes Benz S-Class. (Although right now you kinda have to push-start the car yourself because you can’t find the keys.)

    Drupal would also be of the male sex, … I mean just look at all the blue.

  14. 14 tdskate said at 10:30 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    And Dries is thinking right now: “Why the hell are we paying these people!”

    No I think you guys are geniuses!

  15. 15 George said at 10:31 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a Chameleon /Sean Connery / Range Rover / Valet

  16. 16 Sarah P said at 10:32 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Puffin/Angelina Jolie/Geo Tracker/Pimp

  17. 17 Michael Prasuhn said at 10:36 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Dog (Schipperke) / Matthew McConaughey / Alpha Romeo / Surfer

  18. 18 Ruby Sinreich said at 10:36 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    I sort of agree with Webchick’s principle, but I don’t think it’s incompatible with having a personality.

    Drupal would be a … lemur … Noam Chomsky … Honda Civic … librarian.

  19. 19 davexoxide said at 10:37 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Stephen Hawking
    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    Either Chrysler 300M or 1970 Barracuda
    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?

  20. 20 James Sinclair said at 10:59 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a Pengiun (from In The Wild) / George Clooney / New Mini / Magician

  21. 21 Mike said at 11:03 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a killer whale / tom hanks / volvo SUV / renaissance man

  22. 22 Ake Johansson said at 11:15 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Ant (-society)/ McGyver / Pickup-truck / Handy-man

  23. 23 Greg said at 11:37 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    chameleon/MacGyver/Tesla/rock star

  24. 24 Bojhan Somers said at 11:40 pm on March 26th, 2009:

    Otter/Jan Peter Balkenende(Prime Minister Netherlands)/Fiat Multipla/Mainframe Designer

  25. 25 steve said at 11:53 pm on March 26th, 2009:


  26. 26 chris said at 12:45 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Belgian draft horse

    Dries Buytaert



  27. 27 sturm said at 1:28 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Drupal is…

    hawk/matt damon/1987 isuzu trooper/noir detective

  28. 28 Jeff said at 1:54 am on March 27th, 2009:

    SS Commodore Ute – where are you from—Australia?! ;)

    Lion/Brad Pitt/Ferrari/Traffic warden

  29. 29 sun said at 1:54 am on March 27th, 2009:

    What webchick said.

    The best example for a past failure on this is probably this tiny, innocent text that appeared instead of search results on *all* Drupal sites (of every size) and took a vast amount of time and resources to remove, which could have been used for *real improvements* instead:

    Replace “blue smurf” in no search results message

    We, really, yes, really, want to avoid to introduce such things.

  30. 30 sun said at 1:56 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Can we disable comment moderation here? ;)

  31. 31 Antoine Lafontaine said at 2:04 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Drupal is a chameleon, Mc Guyver, soap box car, rocket scientist.

  32. 32 Amy said at 2:08 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Animal: chameleon
    Celebrity: Meryl Streep

    (For the same reasons — adaptability to surroundings.)

    Car: VW. It invites and encourages tinkering. Generally never the flashiest, it tends to come with things you never realized you needed and, once configured, just works.

    Occupation: librarian. It wants to be very helpful and tell you lots of things about everything you ever wanted to know, really fast, all at once, and with a LOT of words.

  33. 33 psynaptic said at 2:10 am on March 27th, 2009:

    After reading webchick’s comment I couldn’t agree more. webchick++

    I don’t think we should be trying to give Drupal some kind of personality. We should be removing as much of that as possible. This of course could also be considered one type of personality and if so, then fine, let’s make Drupal quiet, concise, flexible, adaptable, cope well alone or in groups and someone that can make things happen when it counts.

    I do agree with standards (in Drupal we already have documentation guidelines, coding standards, etc.) and I think having a clear target, goal or principle in mind is beneficial. If we’re striving for consistency then great but we don’t want to suddenly give Drupal a talkative, friendly or other personality.

  34. 34 dr.fail said at 2:11 am on March 27th, 2009:

    What if drupal was a guy with no face, and you can put your own face on, or like a Mr potato head. I could see a druplicon potato head type thing…

  35. 35 Rick Vugteveen said at 2:21 am on March 27th, 2009:

    - Animal: Anything that travels in a herd will do.
    - Celebrity: Will Smith. A versatile and bankable A-list star. Both your mother and buddies think he’s cool.
    - Car: Scion. Completely customizable from the factory. No after-market hacks needed.
    - Profession: A therapist. You tell her your secrets and she repeats them back to you, just phased clearly. You think she’s a mind reader for doing so. Like any good therapist, she’ll also make you angry but you later realize it was for the best.

    As a side note, Webchick makes an excellent point. Drupal can’t have the same “off the wall” attitude as a WordPress or Flickr. It needs to shape-shift. I think the voice should be friendly, helpful, and concise. Jargon should be avoided where possible.

    Hope this helps!

  36. 36 Cary said at 2:24 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Anteater (http://tinyurl.com/cehz3e) / Daniel Craig / BMW M5 / librarian

  37. 37 sepeck said at 2:26 am on March 27th, 2009:

    I’m sorry, but Drupal software shouldn’t have a personality. I would be appalled if you managed to ‘get it one’. Drupal shouldn’t have one by itself.

    Drupal should be a lump of clay that lets _you_ inject _your_ personality into your site. If Drupal had a personality it would get in the way of people creating their own.

  38. 38 Mike Goodwin said at 3:33 am on March 27th, 2009:

    If Drupal was an animal, it would be a whale.
    If Drupal was a celebrity, it would be Johnathan Hodgman.
    If Drupal was a car, what would it be a Honda Accord.
    If Drupal was a profession/career it would definitely by in academia.

  39. 39 qbnflaco said at 3:51 am on March 27th, 2009:

    platapus/Bo Jackson/hovercraft/handy man

  40. 40 Jeff Geerling said at 4:48 am on March 27th, 2009:

    grizzly bear / tom cruise / ford f-150 / utility infielder

  41. 41 Eric said at 4:54 am on March 27th, 2009:

    dolphin/Schwarzenegger/Honda Civic/architect-slash-engineer

  42. 42 Tony said at 5:24 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Dog ( man’s best friend, reliable),
    Hugh Jackman,
    Family sedan or mini bus ( take everyone to the game),
    School teacher ( So much to learn ),

    Maybe personality can be a profile based installation choice. Business Personality for business sites, Humorous for personal blogs …

  43. 43 doolang said at 5:34 am on March 27th, 2009:

    *Animal: Hippopotamus if you get too close it will swallow you.

    * Celebrity: Johnny Depp enigmatic but intriguing.

    *Car: Mercedes, fun to drive but a nightmare to work on (from a mercedes mechanic/web developer)

    * Profession: Customs Agent, obtuse, full of odd requests, deny’s access.

  44. 44 Darren said at 7:24 am on March 27th, 2009:

    I’d echo what webchick said.

    Drupal should be a mute.

  45. 45 Oli said at 7:25 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Note: installed but never used Drupal, so these are outsider impressions only

    * Animal: Ant-eater—looks peculiar & a little scary, strange habits, good at what it does
    * Celebrity: pass
    * Car: Family car from the ’60s that has cred to people who are into that kind of thing, but which requires you to do running repairs or pop the hood to start it on cold mornings
    * Profession: IT tech support at a University

    General impression; confusing, a lot of Drupal-specific jargon, seems powerful but with a large learning curve. Interface felt like it had lots of sharp edges.

    Occasionally following your progress, and think you’re doing a fantastic job. Really hoping you get buy-in and can run with it. Best of luck!

    (Currently have sites on MT, EE, TxP and RadiantCMS. For me RadiantCMS has been the most usable, probably due to being the simplest)

  46. 46 k said at 7:40 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Tilda Swinton
    WV Transporter

    (btw. the comments field is in funny place in the posts… had to look around for it – usability is #1)

  47. 47 Susheel said at 8:34 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a…

    animal – I dunno… Something Innocuous on the outside, but totally whacked out on the inside…
    celebrity – Al Pacino
    car – Custom made Junk Car.
    profession/career – Rocket Scientist

  48. 48 Naxoc said at 9:34 am on March 27th, 2009:

    jellyfish / Bono / Prius / Programmer

  49. 49 Jan said at 9:54 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Chimpanse (smart but has it’s own will)
    McGuyver (Can do everything by combining things)
    Prius (very modern car, but not experimental)
    Housewife/Houseman (does all the work that needs to be done)

  50. 50 Mark Boulton said at 10:04 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Just to clarify, the aim isn’t to literally apply a given personality to Drupal. We’re not trying to make Drupal like Clint Eastwood. Rather, we’re establishing how people perceive the brand of Drupal. Drupal already has a brand – or rather a bunch of brand attributes, such as tone of voice. The replies to this thread are already showing trends.

    It’s our collective job to ensure the voice of Drupal matches the vision & the Experience Strategy for Drupal 7. These brand attributes should be omnipresent throughout the interface to build trust, help users when they need it, and do it in a way that makes them feel great about Drupal.

    We don’t know what that voice is yet, and it may be different things to different people. It may be quiet and professional, friendy and efficient, or mute and invisible. I guess the important thing is that Drupal *will* have a voice: it already does. It will have one either by design, or by consequence.

    Don’t you think?

  51. 51 Waxstrong said at 10:19 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Drupal is a:

    highly trained dog
    Robbin Williams
    warehouse fork-lift vehicle

  52. 52 Adrian Simmons said at 10:31 am on March 27th, 2009:

    A fish.
    Jeremy Clarkson
    A Ford
    Business IT.

    Oh wait, that’s what it *is*. This should really be about what we want drupal to be, no?

    An Orca.
    Carol Vorderman.
    Air steward/stewardess.

  53. 53 Keyz said at 10:58 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Animal: Chameleon … Drupal adapts to its surroundings. Strong runner up though, ant and/or beaver, as Drupal’s a hard industrious worker and carries more weight than its size might imply.

    Celebrity: MacGyver … Drupal makes amazing things and saves the day with style, using otherwise innocuous household objects… er, code snippets I mean :P

    Car: Honda Ridgeline … Drupal’s not satisfied being just one thing, it wants to be several things in one, serving a variety of purposes depending on the current need.

    Profession: Teacher … Drupal wants to help you succeed, to do things you didn’t think were possible, to inspire you to great heights.

    I think my choices are probably more optimistic (in some areas) of what I imagine Drupal could/should be more than it always currently is (in which case some other choices might have been more relevant hehe).

    My understanding/impression is that this “personality” we’re talking about here is for the language of Drupal’s UI, help text, etc, primarily and especially for those “working with” Drupal, not necessarily (or much at all even) regarding the front end of a completed site (which should indeed be in the hands of each site to determine, fully separate from how Drupal is “behind the scenes”). I think it’s a good idea. Of course Drupal should not throw in random jokes or anything; but a consistent, friendly, concise voice that’s approachable and encouraging for non-developers would be a win.

  54. 54 Roger Saner said at 11:09 am on March 27th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a caterpillar/Macgyver/Landrover/Special Forces Operative

  55. 55 Josiah said at 2:47 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?

    A police dog – My two year old can walk up and pet a police dog. The dog is friendly and casual, but has a clear personality of professionalism. It is clearly well toned and ready for action should something arise.

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?

    Stargate SG-1′s Samantha Carter – Again, highly skilled and capable, but casual and friendly until the situation requires her skills. I at first through Daniel Jackson, but he tends to bumble through his words. That may be currently accurate, but something that needs to be fixed.

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?

    The Tesla Bluestar (never on the market)
    It took me awhile to come up with a car that really said Drupal to me. Here’s what I ended up with for reasons why this fit and others didn’t.
    - it is socially conscious
    - it is innovative
    - not too sporty like the other Tesla
    - functional in many ways, take it to the beach, the office, grandma’s house and everyone’s happy
    - sufficient cargo room
    - not too noisy

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?

    A manager of geeks. The ideal manager knows how to talk to leadership who doesn’t understand the tech in a clear and plain way that highlights the points needed for decision making and places the non-relevant (if still techy cool) in the background making leadership’s decision simple as possible and then can take the leadership’s directions and clearly communicate that back to the tech.

    Simplicity and clarity are key in this scenario.


    I wonder if translation concerns should come into this now or later. How does the voice appear in translations? I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that he Portuguese translation of Drupal comes across entirely different in that culture as a result of the translator and simply the tone of what is being translated.

  56. 56 Josiah said at 2:56 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    Yeah, webchick makes a good point with excellent examples. It needs to be super easy to change the personality. Drupal is for everything and the text that goes anywhere should be easily changed quickly.

    Out of the box though, it has to have something and the casual, friendly, professional type seems to be the best fit for the goal as it is the most all inclusive/inviting.

  57. 57 MoSnow said at 3:52 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    Animal: Grizzly Bear
    Celebrity: Tom Hanks
    Car: Audi A4
    Career: Middle School Teacher

  58. 58 Sutharsan said at 4:03 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    Lynx/?/BMW/Family doctor

    Animal: At first it looks like a friendly cat, but when you look closely it is a wild animal.

    Car: Solid, reliable but expensive with petrol

    Profession: Someone you can trust and is knowlegable

  59. 59 george said at 5:09 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    cat – kitten/cat -they’re cute but sly; loving, but owners, never owned.

    someone who’s in and out of the limelight , with class and an alter ego…like bruce wayne, clark kent!

    currently, a knocked-up ford escort with a v8 rolls-royce engine inside

    hopefully one day, a toilet-cleaner – doable by everyone. (maybe a prostitute would have fit this analogy better, but still!.. maybe, on second thoughts, it would be paris hilton if it were a celeb)

  60. 60 Frank said at 5:09 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    animal: bees – emergent organization
    celebrity: Ron Paul ?
    car: 40 passenger bus
    career: community organizer – think H. Milk “I’m Drupal, and I’m here to recruit you”

  61. 61 catch said at 5:15 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    Is this Drupal the brand including Drupal.org / cultism / cool sites built with it, or the branding of Drupal the thing you download? I don’t think they’re at all the same thing.

    Answers are for core specifically since I think that’s what you want:

    What it is now:
    Animal: owl (hat tip yoroy)

    Celebrity: Richard Whitely minus the bad jokes appearing on Just a Minute.

    Car: http://fronttoback.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/03/homer_dreamcar.gif crossed with http://bedrock.deadsquid.com/img/group/flintstonecars/fred_wilma_baby_car.jpg

    Profession: librarian

    What I’d like it to be:

    Animal: flock of starlings (multi-layered)
    Celebrity: Nicholas Cage
    Car: Prius (minus the annoying Zach Goldsmith-esque driver)
    Profession: heart surgeon

  62. 62 Rob Dean said at 5:39 pm on March 27th, 2009:


  63. 63 EclipseGc said at 6:39 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?

    A: Well at the expense of calling us animals, Drupal would be a human. It’s practically exited the food chain and has advantages no other platform has.

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?

    A: Ewin Mcgregor… they guy can play ANY role.

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?

    Drupal would probably be a souped up kit car.

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?

    Standardized Parts Manufacturing & Design

  64. 64 Geoff Holden (BrightLoudNoise) said at 6:40 pm on March 27th, 2009:


    Cristopher Walken

    a kit car

    Jack of all trades (Master of none?)

  65. 65 Karoly Negyesi said at 7:54 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    animal: beaver (builds stuff, “busy beaver”, and accidentally, we host in the beaver state)
    celebrity: Christopher Bale (can play the Machinist or Batman)
    car: Chevrolet Avalanche (very versatile)

  66. 66 Karoly Negyesi said at 7:54 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    Let off the trade. Engineer w/ Lego NXT.

  67. 67 Brade said at 8:10 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    jackal (just b/c I think “jack of all trades”)
    Land Rover

  68. 68 mlsamuelson said at 8:12 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    big horn sheep/Steven Soderbergh/Toyota Carolla/civil engineer

  69. 69 Dan Butcher said at 9:55 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    While I understand what Webchick and others are saying about Drupal having no personality, I think Mark Boulton is right: Drupal already has one, and the goal here is to figure what that personality is.

    It seems to me that there’s a difference between the personality communicated by the Drupal site and the experience the user has when working behind the scenes with a Drupal install. As I’m understanding what Mark is asking for, it’s what should the personality be at drupal.org–what does someone new to Drupal see and hear and feel when they show up at the site for the first time. “Personality-less” seems like the wrong approach if the goal is to win new users.

  70. 70 Roland Woldt said at 10:31 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    I haven’t read the other comments (but will). Here are my answers:

    - animal: a dog (one of those big shepherding dogs who cares about his herd)

    - celebrity: none. Drupal is the guy next door who will help when needed (not necessarily geeky)

    - car: a Smart car or a Beetle – friendly, tech-savvy, not pretending to be “more” or glamouros

    - profession: I have no idea …

  71. 71 Youkho said at 11:10 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    * Animal = Whale
    * Celebrity = Steve Jobs
    * Car = Mercedes
    * Profession = Engineer

    It took me about 3 years to change my mind about drupal cause it was intimidating me before.

  72. 72 Roland Woldt said at 11:15 pm on March 27th, 2009:

    oh, btw – I like the tone of the Basecamp and Photojojo wording. Casual but not too relaxed (like “Howdy” in some other software).

  73. 73 George DeMet said at 12:24 am on March 28th, 2009:

    So, I’m only going to answer one of the five questions, but I’ll make up for it with an extra-long answer ;-)

    I noticed that you’re using VW.com as the starting point for some of
    your concepting sketches, and as a Jetta owner, it struck me that the Volkswagen brand echoes many of the same values that I think Drupal aspires to.

    Volkswagen is literally “the people’s car”, and with its vibrant community and open source mission, Drupal is unquestionably “the people’s CMS”.

    Volkswagen cars used to be symbols of the counterculture, but are now accepted as mainstream, just as Drupal started as a hobbyist project, but now runs many enterprise-level sites.

    Drupal is also like a Volkswagen in that it’s usually pretty reliable, but when something does go wrong with it, you have to take it to a specialist, because it’s full of strange European-engineered parts ;-)

    In terms of user experience, I believe that Volkswagen sets a great standard, and is one that Drupal should aspire to.

    The thing that I love most about my Jetta is that when I get into it, whether I’m a passenger or a driver, everything feels like it’s in the right place, and I don’t have to guess where individual knobs or
    controls are at, or what they do.

    On the other hand, the controls on my other car, a Toyota Prius, are sometimes non-intuitive in their placement and operation (have you seen the goofy gear shift they have?), and the car is less enjoyable to drive, even though it’s much newer and has more technological amenities.

    Drupal to me feels like it wants to be a Jetta, but is more often a Prius: full of cutting-edge technology, but with a lot of its basic controls in weird places.

    If the experience of working with a Drupal site was more like the experience of driving a Jetta, I think we’d have a lot more happy users :-)

  74. 74 Michael Haynes said at 12:56 am on March 28th, 2009:

    Drupal is a Giraffe, Paul Giamatti, Honda Accord, Science Teacher.

  75. 75 Hilde Austlid (zirvap on drupal.org) said at 10:54 am on March 28th, 2009:

    Icelandic horse. Small and friendly, but strong, hardy. A lot more powerful than it looks.

    Charlie Chaplin. Friendly, funny. But his films also can be heartbreaking, or deadly serious (“The Dictator”).

    A pickup.

    Janitor. The guy/gal who you don’t notice until (s)he’s missing, and you need something small and trivial, but absolutely necessary, to be done.

  76. 76 Chet Woodside said at 5:15 pm on March 28th, 2009:

    - Moody Cat
    - Charlie Sheen
    - Volkswagon(people love or hate them)
    - Hockey Player (they’re respected but no one really gets what they’re all about).

  77. 77 SLIU said at 11:47 pm on March 28th, 2009:

    1. Elephant

    2. Dries Buytaet

    3. SUV

    4. Contractor

  78. 78 Elephant, Dries, SUV, and Contractor « drupalsliu.wordpress.com said at 2:09 am on March 29th, 2009:

    [...] Elephant, Dries, SUV, and Contractor By drupalsliu “Elephant, Dries Buytaert, SUV, and Contractor” is my answer to Lesia and  Mark’s personality quiz: [...]

  79. 79 Hot News » Slash And Be Slimed said at 7:20 am on March 29th, 2009:

    [...] Posted Items « ‘would you ask jacques cousteau to play go fish?’…Drupal 7 User Experience Project » Blog Archive » How does Drupal talk? (on brand, perso…Giffords Condemns Democratic TV Ad Trashing Her Opponent « ScrambleWatch 08…The cult of the [...]

  80. 80 J-P said at 1:13 pm on March 29th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a big but lean rabbit / Woz / Trice TNT recumbent trike with panniers, side-bag mount, neckrest and mirrors / irascible chief electrical engineer for a world-leading academic department, who builds robots and rockets in his spare time.

  81. 81 Oliver said at 11:23 pm on March 29th, 2009:

    Duck-billed Platypus crossed with a Chameleon

    Wall-e crossed with Christopher Walken

    Citroën 2CV crossed with Land Rover

    Brain surgeon crossed with a Janitor

  82. 82 langworthy said at 7:22 am on March 30th, 2009:

    drupal would be a panda, Obama, a VW Passat and a philanthropist

  83. 83 Michael said at 9:55 am on March 30th, 2009:

    Drupal would be: an owl / Stephen Fry / Rolls Royce / an arts teacher.

  84. 84 Anne said at 2:59 pm on March 30th, 2009:

    Mostly, I agree with what webchick said. I also think that some of the supposedly confusing things that are being “identified” are simply part of the learning process. Anytime we try something new, there’s a bit of “huh?”

    But in an effort to play the game:
    Drupal would be a zygote/(can’t think of a good anti-celebrity)/kit or model car/anonymous stage hand or editor.

  85. 85 Liabo said at 4:50 pm on March 30th, 2009:

    Oooh! What if there were personalities based on install profiles? ;)

    And the social network profile would totally have to include the greeting ‘Holla!’

    Drupal would be a pufferfish/Christopher Walken/Scion xB (fab-o once you’re in but not too attractive on the outset)/One of those HGTV handypersons

  86. 86 Hbazzz said at 2:06 pm on March 31st, 2009:

    Kameleon/Heath Ledger/Volkswagen/craftsman

  87. 87 Drupal 7 User Experience Project » Blog Archive » Current Activities - What you can do NOW! said at 3:11 pm on March 31st, 2009:

    [...] Personality Quiz (Tone of Voice) – how does Drupal talk? Answer a few quick questions and help us work it out. [...]

  88. 88 addzero said at 3:51 pm on March 31st, 2009:

    Off the top of my head:
    Octopus/Jeff Goldblum/Moller skycar/Jack of all trades

    But I like the idea of it being a mute- a blank slate. But the default admin interface, login page, help docs will need a consistent voice…

  89. 89 paul said at 9:55 pm on March 31st, 2009:

    Animal = donkey. A strong reliable workhorse, but if you don’t know just the right way to coax it into doing what you want, you’ll get nowhere fast.

    Celeb = Cate Blanchett. Extremely versatile — she can masquerade as anything from an Elf queen to Bob Dylan. Talk about range!

    Car = Civic, Scion, or some other vehicle that takes well to modding but which is also wicked cheap.

    Career = Reference librarian.

    Also: since I’m sure that the authors of this site care about grammar, you might want to change your “was”s to “were”s; as in, “If Drupal _were_ an animal”. It’s the subjunctive. Look it up!!!

  90. 90 Liam McDermott said at 10:22 pm on March 31st, 2009:

    I came here with exactly the same notion as webchick. Drupal doesn’t have a personality.

    If I were to liken it to something in the physical world it would be Lego.

    That’s not a bad thing though. Lego is cool, you can build anything you like from it.

  91. 91 bejames said at 10:58 pm on March 31st, 2009:


  92. 92 Droplits said at 12:05 am on April 1st, 2009:

    Drupal would be a Chameleon-hummingbird/every(wo)man/a really smokin’ bicycle/an unemployed gardener

  93. 93 Sal Polifemo said at 1:10 am on April 1st, 2009:

    Drupal would be a /elephant/Jen Aniston/suv/counselor/

  94. 94 Marc said at 8:19 am on April 1st, 2009:

    Drupal would be a horse/Q(from James Bond)/Land Rover Defender/carpenter

  95. 95 Robert said at 8:38 am on April 1st, 2009:

    Elephant / Stephen Hawking / BMW / Architect

  96. 96 Serge said at 11:27 am on April 1st, 2009:

    German Shepherd / Tom Hanks, the Forrest Gump one / BMW / Professor

  97. 97 tavi toporjinschi said at 1:47 pm on April 1st, 2009:

    alien / roger federer / toyota / researcher

  98. 98 papapep said at 3:20 pm on April 1st, 2009:

    Caster/McGyver/KITT (Knight Rider)/Inventor

  99. 99 cattlecall said at 7:19 pm on April 1st, 2009:

    I think this is an interesting exercise – Drupal, as a product, has a brand identity; it’s inescapable. But how do you brand something in a state of anarchistic flux, and to what end?

    Animal: Komondor (Dog)
    Celeb: William S. Burroughs
    Car: Volkswagen Thing (with an assortment of Aston Martin parts)
    Career: Sales (constantly negotiating, with prospect of excellent returns)

  100. 100 Milhaus said at 8:46 pm on April 1st, 2009:

    Human/Charles the IV. (of czech kingdom)/GAZ/some good old russian vehicle/manager of big company

  101. 101 Morgenstern said at 9:29 pm on April 1st, 2009:

    Drupal would be a bear / Michael Phelps / T1 VW Bus / Project Manager

  102. 102 zeropaper said at 8:01 am on April 2nd, 2009:

    lynx / Andy Wahrol / Knight rider car / NASA or CERN consultant

  103. 103 Waldo said at 9:00 am on April 2nd, 2009:

    I love this discussion–

    Animal: Cheetah — sleek, fast, focused, confident.

    Celebrity: Meryl Streep I’ll go with those who said Streep for her uncanny ability to adapt and disappear into any role, no matter how simple or complex, and deliver flawlessly with apparent ease.

    Car: Honda Civic. I think people who are saying “Jetta” are also on the right track. Drupal should aspire to be something practical, dependable- “reliable transportation”. A car for everyone. Not too flashy. Not too expensive. But a Civic can easily be configured by anyone who wants to trick it out with aftermarket enhancements, Drupal can do more than just get you from A to B. Civics are also very efficient and streamlined for maximum MPG– there’s even a hybrid version.

    Profession: Your Favorite Childhood Teacher: The Drupal UI experience has to represent the precision and clarity of your favorite school teacher– the one who not only helped you understand the basics of how the world works, but got you excited enough to explore unlocking its potential on your own. The teacher whose kindness, calmness, confidence, and patience you’ll remember your whole life.

    I hope basic HTML tags are on in these comments…


  104. 104 Waldo said at 9:07 am on April 2nd, 2009:

    Let me add one thought to the above– what ever Drupal is, it needs to be friendly. Not chummy, but a trusted, dependable friend who knows what they’re talking about and uses language that is terse, informal, helpful, and above all, clear.

    Things I was just thinking about– How would Apple brand Drupal? Also, what does the word “Drupal” connote? The first time I heard reference to Drupal, for whatever reason, it made me think of India- the word Drupal seemed to fit in, linguistically, with “Rupee”, “Taj Mahal”, “Dhrupa”, etc.

    The name has nothing to do with India, but I wonder what other people first thought of when they hear the word “Drupal”… and whether there’s any value to exploring the name and what it connotes…?


  105. 105 John Kipling Lewis said at 5:53 pm on April 2nd, 2009:

    Drupal appears to be a talking friendly water droplet (who is not a native speaker of your native language.)

    Moving to 7 I think Drupal needs to be a talking friendly water droplet who you trust, because what he says makes sense and is easy to understand.

  106. 106 Robert Castelo said at 8:39 pm on April 2nd, 2009:

    Well, as the point of this exercise is to think out-of-the-box I’m going to bend the rules a bit and give an answer that could sort of fit in any of the categories…

    I’ve always thought that Drupal should be like Hal, the computer from 2001: A Space Odyssey (minus trying to kill the user of course).

    So there you go, problem solved!

    Once we get Vertice to code up an AI for Drupal we can reduce the UI to a shiny red glowing orb.

  107. 107 Giles Kennedy said at 11:58 pm on April 2nd, 2009:

    It needs to have 2 personalities.

    1: a chameleon. I don’t want Drupal’s brand on the sites I build (e.g. a message about blue smurf or bike sheds when a search returns no results). String Overrides module is kind of essential.

    2: that aside:
    faithful dog/George Alagiah/VW Golf/nurse

  108. 108 Giles Kennedy said at 12:03 am on April 3rd, 2009:

    Ah, confusion … are we talking about what Drupal *is* or what we want it to be/what it “should” be? I went for the latter.

  109. 109 Marion Taylor said at 4:30 am on April 3rd, 2009:

    hedgehog/??/vw beetle/customer service

    …. reminds me of Legos.
    Even with the instruction books, it was confusing and time-consuming and superb

  110. 110 mac said at 1:10 pm on April 3rd, 2009:

    animal -> An ant colony (not a single ant). Because drupal is about co-ordination between 1000′s of people around the globe, because you see a “simple hole” in the ground but there are kilometres of “complex tunnels” under the surface, because it is community-oriented.

    celebrity -> Dr.Jeckill and Mr.Hide (both of them, depending if you test a finished/polished site at the end or if you approach it as a developer/webmaster without previous knowledge)

    car -> A custom car, born from the union of a smart and a Jeep (smart, efficient and environmental friendly as… a smart, versatile and all-purpose as a jeep)

    profession/career -> butler (the gentleman of a gentleman) :)

  111. 111 Xamataca said at 8:38 am on April 4th, 2009:

    Elephant-SeanPenn-Fantastic Car-Astrophysician

  112. 112 Nick Young said at 6:48 pm on April 4th, 2009:

    If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    At present, a Lion. Wild and a bit rough, but with patience can be tamed.

    If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Sandra Bullock – sexy, multi-talented and hard working.

    If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    Any 4×4 gas guzzler – Gets the job done, but not efficient.

    If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    Coal miner – real hard worker but not glamorous

  113. 113 Finn said at 3:53 am on April 5th, 2009:

    Giant Squid: elusive, massive, has a hand for everything.

    Seriously? Drupal is devoid of all appeal other than function, the opposite of celebrity.

    Titanic: huge, opulent, brilliantly engineered, but unresponsive and surrounded by a fatal hubris.

    BSD Sys Admin: careful, stable, prickly

  114. 114 Adam said at 1:09 pm on April 6th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a fox/Tom Sellec/Land Rover Defender/Structural Engineer

  115. 115 Bevan said at 10:42 am on April 7th, 2009:

    Drupal is currently not a car, but a tank. Ideally Drupal would be a Ford Falcon – a blue one; Nice to drive, easy, fast, powerful, all the bells and whistes. It makes the driver feel safe, and in control whilst taking her passengers for a ride. It also reminds the driver that there is a lot of power under the hood if they want to rev it, and are prepared to handle the power.

  116. 116 Bevan said at 10:44 am on April 7th, 2009:

    After reading some of the other responses, I think there is some confusion. I think most people are answering about Drupal’s CURRENT personality.

    Shouldn’t we be saying what we thinkg Drupal’s personality should be, ideally? (Which is probably not it’s current one)

  117. 117 Anna Feruglio Dal Dan said at 10:57 am on April 7th, 2009:

    Well, as of now, Drupal is a tarsier, John Hodgman, a very old and dusty Mercedes, and a grumpy geek.

    The problem is that I like tarsiers, John Hodgman, and grumpy geeks…

    As for cars: the mere fact that you thought that asking what a car Drupal would be is telling, me lads.

    If it was a means of transport, right now Drupal is a crane: essential, functional, and beautiful in its own way, but hardly glamorous. I’d like it to be a sailing boat: small, not quick, not easy to manouvre, you need a bit of a passion for it, but elegant and sleek and eco-friendly, with all those memories of people who did it all by hand for a living and hated it and loved it.

    The kind of thing that when you sit on it at the end of a day at anchor in some little bay, after you have spent ten hours trimming your sails and burning the tip of your nose to reach the same place that all those other motorboats have gained in two hours of diesel-fumed-filled noise, and you look around, you think to yourself, yeah, but I had more fun, and if a storm comes, they’re stuck here while I can haul a storm jig and go.

  118. 118 so4 said at 4:36 am on April 8th, 2009:

    Drupal would be a frog/agent smith/vw/architect

  119. 119 Divya said at 4:39 pm on April 8th, 2009:

    Drupal would be an elephant/marlon brando/rolls royce/manager

  120. 120 chachasikes said at 9:12 pm on April 8th, 2009:

    puppy/martha stewart/bike/freedom fighter

  121. 121 frank said at 9:50 pm on April 8th, 2009:

    keanu reeves
    vw golf

  122. 122 seutje said at 2:09 pm on April 9th, 2009:

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    I wasn’t sure if I should go with chameleon or dolphin on this one:
    - Chameleon, because there’s a bunch of drupal sites out there of which no one would guess they’re drupal
    - Dolphin, because it’s slick, intelligent, aquadynamic, agile, fast and (most of all) blue

    so I’d say some sort of freakish, chameleon-like dolphin

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Sean Connery: Been around for a while, but still standing strong… never a scandal, no rehab, nothing… just great movies :)

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    If it has to be a car, I’d say a Ferrari F50, but the size of a smart. If it doesn’t really have to be a car, I’d say a motorcycle like R1, easy to part and fast as hell, since it packs more horse power than kilograms

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    drupal is like that guy from the show “The Pretender” (I know… old)
    if drupal needs to be a handyman, it’ll be the best handyman u’ve ever had, if it needs to be a mailman, it’ll be the best mailman u ever had

  123. 123 Tobias said at 9:23 pm on April 10th, 2009:

    Asking those question is a great idea. Personally I think Drupal needs a great language-Switcher to make it easy for a Site-Admin to choose the language he likes.

    But the question I really wanted to ask is: How do you plot the results of this quick survey? I really hope you share the interpretation as well…

  124. 124 JohnAlbin said at 7:37 am on April 13th, 2009:

    Animal: Gorilla – powerful, hard to understand at first

    Car: It would be an engine block and frame with an exterior to be supplied by the buyer. It would come with no manual.

    Celebrity: Felicia Day – geeky and not super well-known

    Career: General contractor – can get stuff done.

  125. 125 Nathan said at 10:32 am on April 13th, 2009:

    Beaver/Bill Nye The Science Guy/Honda Civic/Professional LEGO sculptor

  126. 126 Ben said at 2:54 am on April 14th, 2009:

    Skunk/Phillip Seymour Hoffman/Minivan Hybrid/Undertaker

  127. 127 Dan said at 5:23 pm on April 14th, 2009:

    Dolphin / Matt Damon / Tesla Roadster / College Professor

  128. 128 Pawel said at 5:16 am on April 15th, 2009:

    Animal: umm… maybe the Blob or Kirby (becomes what he eats ;)

    Currently, dr. Greg House. Knows his stuff REALLY well, loves corner cases and doing new things, achieves miracles on a daily basis, cannot be bothered to do the basics (write your own forum privileges)

  129. 129 Pawel said at 5:46 am on April 15th, 2009:

    Animal: umm… maybe the Blob or Kirby (becomes what he eats ;)

    Celebrity: House, MD. Knows his stuff really well, loves corner cases and doing new things, achieves miracles on a daily basis, cannot be bothered to do the basics (write your own damn forum privileges), wears ugly t-shirts in an environment where smart clothes and labcoats are the norm, his patients prefer to deal with his simpler but more presentable employees even if it kills them, he uses horribly technical language and calls you and idiot for not knowing what it means, requires a team of patient professionals to handle him.

    Car: A Lego technic car.

    Career: Civil engineer / furniture designer.

  130. 130 Peter said at 2:19 pm on April 20th, 2009:

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    A dog (human’s best friend, reliable, eager to please), as long is it doesn’t bark!

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Dr. Phil (he’ll point you to the right direction and tells you when you’re wrong, but hey… it’s your life… If you choose to do it differently, just do!)

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    A Tesla Roadster! Looking smart, fast and cheap on energy, ready for the future!

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    A butler! Discreet and unobtrusive, but helpful to the ones they serve.

  131. 131 Peter said at 11:36 am on April 26th, 2009:

    These are answered more from the idea of what I would like Drupal to be, than what it is now, of course.

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    A human. Its versatility allows it to thrive in many different environments and adapt quickly to new ones or changes in the existing environment.

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Leonard Cohen. No idea why.

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    A BMW. Form follows function, but that doesn’t mean it has to be ugly. (Is that what BMW’s say? I don’t know anything about cars)

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    Really good IT staff. If they do their job, you won’t even know they exist.

    PS. Could you tweak the font-size/line-height on the comment box? The large letters, small line-height and short lines make it really difficult to type proper sentences. It may be costing you feedback.

  132. 132 JThan said at 10:31 pm on May 13th, 2009:

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    A horse – if you know how to ride it, it will get you anywhere.

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Q – can do everything, just ask the right questions.

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    No, cannot think of any. Cars are not flexible enough.

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    The unknow admin – nobody knows what this guy is really doing – but if he is off for a day, nothing works. Even the company CEO visits him from time to time to have a chat and bring him some presents.

  133. 133 eric said at 5:01 pm on May 14th, 2009:

    Drupal is…

    a burro: unglamorous and sometimes slow, but can subsist on very poor fodder

    orson welles: brilliant and never quite living up to his current potential or early promise.

    a citroen 2cv6 with a Porsche flat six bolted into it: Real impressive at a conceptual level and when going in a straight line. But don’t expect to drive it in the city or carry passengers.

    an installation artist: difficult to apprehend, and occasionally ending up nonsense once you “get” it.

  134. 134 Jake Strawn said at 3:55 pm on May 28th, 2009:

    Cougar/Johnny Depp/A Big Van/Social Worker

    Cougar – It’s attracting all the young talent.

    Johnny Depp – Really great at some roles, but willing to try even the crazy stuff.

    A Big Van – It can be creepy sometimes, but you can spruce it up with lights, running boards, tinted windows, and switches, and a horn that plays the Duke’s of Hazzard theme song so that it’s just the way you like it.

    Social Worker – Well… that should be obvious!!!

  135. 135 Michael Thorne said at 12:54 am on June 2nd, 2009:

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    He would be a robotic and acrobatic monkey with inspector gadget like devices – something for every occasion.

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    no comment

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    Bus, probably on tour, havin a party …

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    A teacher of community organizing.

  136. 136 Myh said at 11:22 am on June 4th, 2009:

    cat (strong personality, doesn’t let to be pushed around, you need to get to know its quirks if you want to build a relationship, but the reward is high once you get there)

    Woody Allen (confused and clumsy but highly abstract)

    no comment on the car

    an accountant (does tedious work, needs to be reliable and error proof)

  137. 137 Alyssa said at 11:21 pm on June 24th, 2009:

    Elephant/Marc Jacobs/Volvo/Therapist

  138. 138 Nollind Whachell said at 9:37 pm on September 6th, 2009:

    Been reading Mark’s “Design in Open Source” article and shaking my head at the developers and designers arguing with one another. It made me realize that Drupal’s greatest problem is that it has no unifying identity or “heart” which clarifies what it is and unifies people around it, no matter their background. Searching online, I was surprised to find a link back to the D7 UX site with a post asking this very question here.

    The problem that I’m seeing here is that while you are going in the right direction, I think you’re asking the wrong question or maybe asking the question incorrectly. You said it yourselves, you’re trying to find the personality or characteristics of Drupal. The easiest way I’ve found to do this with my clients is to list character traits as though Drupal was a real person (i.e. friendly, inviting, sharing).

    Yet the answers people gave to your questions don’t really help in the slightest, because saying an actor’s name means nothing, unless I explain “why” I chose that actor, particularly in relation to their characteristics. And yes, you did ask people to explain their choices but look at how few even did this.

    The sad thing at this point in time is that Drupal’s current symbolism of what it represents is “community plumbing”. The ongoing joke for those who have tried to use it and gave up in frustration is that, yes, it’s “community plumbing” because it’s messy, a pain to use and work within, often requiring specialized knowledge to really utilize (i.e. hire a plumber to fix the pipes). Yet Drupal, as an open source platform, should really represent something wonderful, an experience of ease and empowerment that people want to share with their friends the first time they use it. Yet that’s obviously not the case.

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