Drupal

Improving the UX of Views

By Bojhan on 3 May, 2013

We tested Views in Drupal 8 at BADCamp 2012 and this uncovered a large number of usability issues. Since then we have been hard at work resolving them.

We resolved over 20 identified usability issues. Most of the issues revolve around the following fundamental issues:

Seven style guide

By Bojhan on 17 Feb, 2013

We finally posted our proposal for a Drupal Seven style guide, after lots of discussion and iteration it's now at a point that we feel it reflects our idea of Drupals branding.


The goals of the style guide are:

  1. Identify Drupal core values that we can use to determine the look & feel for the Seven theme.
  2. Unify the visual language in Seven and ensure the overall look-and-feel supports the core values.
  3. Identify the visual and UI patterns used by Drupal core so that they form a conscious, shared language for us to built upon.
  4. Provide guidelines and rationale for others (e.g. contrib) to build upon as new interactions, styles and platforms emerge.

This proposal will require quite some discussion, but hopefully after that we can document it and bring this into core. With cleanup phase coming up we can now focus on consolidating all the different styles that were brought into Drupal 8. Creating this style guide has been a tremendous effort, of many many hours by the team, totalling 5 full iteration rounds. A great deal of appreciation should go to Ryan Fredrick (ry5n), for taking a leading role in making this happen.

First mobile usability test of D8

By Bojhan on 11 Oct, 2012

In early October 2012, we performed our first mobile usability test on a prototype toolbar for Drupal 8.

The study aimed to get answers to the following questions:

  • How do users use the toolbar on their mobile devices and on their desktops?
  • Are the users able to easily navigate to the tasks that they want to perform?
  • Do users understand the interaction pattern of the toolbar?
  • How does the experience differ when on mobile and when on desktop?

Overall, the results were encouraging, but also showed that we still have a lot of work ahead of us.

The study was a part of the Mobile initiative and Spark to make Drupal’s administrative theme and toolbar responsive.

Showing a mobile phone with participant hand
Participant using the new navigation toolbar

Dharmesh initiated the usability test as part of the Spark project, we setup a test and conducted a 6-participant moderated usability study on the new toolbar. The design was tested on desktop and iPhones (and on the iPad in some cases).

UX Team weekly open hour

By Bojhan on 27 Sep, 2012

We are starting up the UX hours again, building towards feature freeze we are facing an intense period of changes to Drupal 8

Our meetings will be held weekly (instead of bi-weekly, like before) in #drupal-usability in IRC on Mondays at UTC 8PM (4PM EST).

The meetings will allow for initiative owners to ask for feedback, contrib maintainers to submit their module for UX review, and all core UX activities to be discussed. The open hours have seen varying success, but important point in time to touch base on everything that is going on.

We have seen a relative slow down on many of the important UX issues for Drupal 8, which means some of the proposals set forward won't make it into Drupal 8. We hope more contributors jump in, and the UX-team will review intensely.

The main issues we are now focused on are;

The open hours are organized by Dharmesh Mistry and Bojhan Somers, feel free to get in contact if you have any questions.

Revamping Drupal Commerce’s UX

By Bojhan on 21 Aug, 2012

Drupal Commerce has seen significant user experience improvements in the last few months, mostly because there is now a focused installation profile called Drupal Commerce Kickstart that tries to provide a highly usable install for store administrators.

My involvement started in 2009, during an evening stroll through Paris – Mike’O Conner from Commerce Guys introduced me to the idea to build a eCommerce distribution from scratch for Drupal 7. It was a great opportunity for me, to learn how the patterns I was designing for Drupal Core are applied on a large scale.


The redesigned installer for Drupal Commerce Kickstart.

We quickly learned that doing all the technical work for such a large distribution and doing all the user experience work was nearly impossible. So the focus for Drupal Commerce 1.0 was to get all the major technical parts implemented and adhere to the new UI standards of Drupal 7.

Author UX - Known problems

By Bojhan on 12 Jun, 2012

A few people have asked me to share the UX-team list of issues around the content author experience. This list has been accumulated over the years, by testing the content creation screen in almost every usability study since 2008.

In general people expect a much richer user experience around content creation than Drupal offers, much of the functionality that people consider standard for a CMS is simply missing.

Most of these issues have relatively clear UX solutions, but lack the technical resources to actually happen. We found that this is one of those areas in core that although important, is not something that a lot of core contributors are excited to work on. This might change however if we are able to make a few large steps in this experience.

  • Previewing is a big part of creating content, and people are currently very confused by preview being shown in the back-end instead of front-end.
  • The meta tools we present users; menu, revisioning, authoring information are cumbersome and often result to conflicting mental models.
  • Text formats are still somewhat of a mystery to most of our users, they miss a WYSIWYG editor.
  • The lack of a common workflows like save as draft is a disappointment.
  • Tools for moderating content are almost non existent, our filters are hard to use and search is non existent.

All the issues below are ranked by priority.

Major issues

Almost finished with school

By Bojhan on 3 May, 2012

In the last few months, I have had a lot of questions about this final school year. I am now only 3 months of thesis work away, from hopefully completing my M.A. in Interaction Design at the Utrecht School of Art & Technology.

While I am obviously still very involved in a few of the major Drupal UX initiatives around mobile, layout & blocks and content creation much of my attention has been on my thesis project which has been quite exciting.

My thesis is focused on designing haptic feedback, from vibration, motion to mechanical forms. Most of my work is in researching how designers can make use of patterns (slow ticking of a vibration motor, variable resistance on a handle) in these actuators to communicate meaning.

Showing the inside of my Arduino setup, with jumper wires and sensors
Experiment using rotary encoder and potentiometer.

Redesigning content creation

By Bojhan on 14 Mar, 2012

In collaboration with Jared Ponchot the UX-Team has been working on redesign of the create content screen, a page that at the center of Drupal's UX which was in desperate need of an overhaul

The primary improvements that we focused on are:

  • Introducing a new grouping pattern in the form of a sidebar, to allow for easier scanning of settings and avoid the space-consuming vertical tabs.
  • Placing the primary publishing options closer to the action of saving.

Thoughts on D8UX Strategy

By Bojhan on 30 Nov, 2011

Drupal 8 development has been underway for some time now and we're seeing increased activity around issues that aim to improve Drupal usability.

What's been missing is an overview of where we should focus our time and energy when tackling Drupal user experience challenges. This post provides an outline of the topics we want to focus on to make Drupal 8 great.

In a nutshell, we want to:

  • Kick off some essential core UX design projects in the next months.
  • We will work on the content creation experience, fields UI and extending Drupal.
  • And last, we want to position the default profile(s) of Drupal core, and define a community-driven framework for making decisions on their directions.

One of our biggest challenges, is that we lack developers who are involved in each of these topics. We learned, that the best way to get great developers ready and willing to contribute to UX initiatives are, is when there are well-researched, solid design proposals. So lets all start there.

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