As we start to get some outputs that are getting higher and higher in fidelity (that is, more like what they’ll be when they’re done), it becomes easier and easier for more people to take a look and give their feedback. This is great, but it’s also a challenge. Why so? Well, because, D7UX isn’t for everyone – and if it’s not for you, then in order to give feedback we can work with you need to be able to put yourselves in the shoes of someone it *is* meant for, or better still – find one of these people and try it out on them.
A well designed interface doesn’t work for everyone all the time, that’s just an impossible dream. It should work for it’s defined target audience most of the time though, and that’s what we’re aiming for.
So, who is D7UX designed for?
There are two main audiences that we’ve had in mind as we’ve designed this interface for D7.
Our ‘Clients’, the Content Creators - the first group we’ve broadly named ‘our clients’ because for many of the community who make sites with Drupal, these sites are then turned over to another person or group of people who use Drupal to add and maintain content on the website.Often these people share the following characteristics:
- They’re not developers. They don’t know much about code and how it works,
- They’re not in the Drupal community, they don’t love Drupal as much as we do, they don’t speak Drupal-ese,
- Updating the website is probably just one of many jobs they have to do,
- They’ve probably used other Web Content Management Tools than Drupal in the past.
These people tend to have a small number of tasks they need to do on the website, and those tasks tend to be repetitive.
The best thing we can do for these people is to make those tasks as simple, question free, and error free as possible.
Non-technical Site Builders – these guys are a whole other kettle of fish. They have a more advanced understanding of what technology can do and how code works, but they’re not developers. They are, however, considered technology or web experts in their field, which may be something like academia, or ‘social software’ or they may just be the person at their tennis club or church who ‘understands the web’. People expect them to be able to build fairly sophisticated websites and they’d rather like to be able to do it themselves too, except without the technical skills, it can be hard. You’ll probably find a bunch of these people currently using Ning.Often these people share the following characteristics:
- They’re not developers but they do understand quite a bit about how code works and may be able to write and understand a little code themselves
- They find themselves needing to create websites (often for others) that have fairly sophisticated requirements, including forms, community tools, online stores, and content publishing using a range of page templates.
- They have experience with a range of online content publishing tools.
- They have probably heard of Drupal but had little experience with it before and certainly don’t speak Drupal-ese
If you know anyone who fits one of these two descriptions then these people will be idea test candidates for the D7UX interfaces as they emerge. If you don’t then here are a couple of very sketchy ‘personas’ you should consider when evaluating the usability of D7UX.
Verity (our client, the content creator)
Verity is a part time administration assistant for a cancer support charity. She is working part time while she completes her Social Care Diploma. Before she left work to study, Verity was a Personal Assistant in the Finance Sector. Verity is in her late twenties. She is quite proficient with the MS Office Suite (Word, Excel etc.), and she uses Facebook and email but she doesn’t consider herself very good with technology.
One of many tasks Verity has to complete each week is to update the ‘news’ section of the website and any other small content updates that are given to her to make by more senior staff. She doesn’t mind this job but she is often interrupted by the phone and other staff while she is updating the website, which can make it tricky for her to remember where she is up to in the process. If she has any trouble with the website updating there is an IT consultant Verity can call, but she likes to avoid doing this unless something is very broken as the consultant is both very busy and expensive!
What Verity Wants: to be able to complete her website updates quickly, without getting confused, and feeling confident that she’s knows where she is and what she’s doing at all times.
Jeremy (non-technical site builder)
Jeremy is a social software consultant (no, he doesn’t like that job title either). He works with medium to large organisations to help them understand how social tools could help their businesses be more successful and he recommends tools that they should use and how they should be implemented.
Jeremy is often frustrated because it is difficult to customise existing tools to suit his clients. Also, he often has to use tools from many different places to put together the solution they require. He would love to have the ability to ‘build’ a site that would meet his client’s requirements, however his technical skills are not great – for example, he can edit some PHP code to get it to do what he wants, sometimes, but he can’t write much from scratch. He understands what CSS is and what it can do, but he’s never written much himself.
Jeremy has friends who are developers and professional designers and he can call on them for some assistance. He heard of Drupal a few years ago at a social networking event and tried downloading and installing it but didn’t get very far and his general reaction to Drupal now is ‘it’s scary’.
What Jeremy Wants: the ability to build sites with rich functionality and flexibility without have to write code.
Note: these are not formal personas, they are just quick ‘sketches’ drawn from the research we’ve done to date (since August 08) that we hope will assist you to evaluate D7UX interface design.
What about the developers?
Good question. We do care very much about the Developer Experience (DX) but we also know that many developers are perfectly happy with Drupal the way that is is (as long as they have the Admin menu installed) and that they, of all people, know that essentially all Mark & I are doing is ‘theming’ the admin and that they can override this with ease. We’re not doing anything to The Way Drupal Works that will inhibit their ability to do all the amazing things they do now, and more in the future. Having said that, we hope that they are pleasantly surprised by the interface and might even consider keeping it. Or, perhaps, at least part of it. And in particular, we hope this buys them more time to do what they’re great at – development work – rather than spending that time training and supporting people who know (and need to know) Drupal less well.