The Design Initiatives main purpose is to build a new theme for Drupal 8 and as part of this initiative we are preparing a Design Brief. The brief will be part of a "Designers Toolkit" which also includes a set of wire-frames. The brief itself comprises of two parts - a set of documents outlining Drupal core output (to support and clarify the wire-frames) and a Use Case Brief. Its the last bit I want to talk about here and open up discussion on. In essence what should this use case be?
Before I get into this I want to make one thing very clear - this is not a discussion about implementation, code, semantics or starter themes and so on. This is about a discussion what the common use case is.
After some discussion and thought we basically narrowed down to two questions to help us frame the discussion - who typically uses a core theme and what types of sites do they build? I tend to think we can expand this a little bit and include contrib/free themes also because its pretty trivial to install a new theme.
There is very little data available to help us deduce any answers to these questions and everyone is likely to have their own ideas, I have my own perspective having been heavily involved in both core theme development and being a heavy contributor of contrib and other free themes for Drupal 6 and 7.
From my point of view the common use case that Jeff Eaton came up in the Snowman project has a lot going for it:
small groups that are doing something together together, telling the world about their project, and inviting others to join in
The emphasis for me is on "small", or even interchanging that with "start-up", basically meaning small groups who are more focused on the "doing" than being overly concerned with the actual theme, as long as it looks good and supports their required features/functionality.
I've come up with a bit of an overview of my thoughts so I'll share this here. I'm going to term this "Micro Community Social Networking".
Micro community social networking takes place at the neighborhood, club or group level. Such as a suburb or street, church group or local sports club. Typically they want to engage in discussions, post events and have a calendar and perhaps some documentation (such as club rules). They want to keep each other informed so they have a blog or news and want to post images in most content types and possibly even video.
From a use case like this we can see where we might want to place emphasis in terms of design. We'd want nice calendar and date styling, place emphasis on blog and book pages, and so on. We can probably make some assumptions about image styling and positioning. The designer can build up an idea of what might be important in the design and what the design problems might be.
What we don't want to do is build another very generic design like Bartik - we don't need two of these in core. We need to frame the requirements for designers in terms of both the output of Drupal core and provide a common use case to narrow the scope and provide real design problems.
The challenge I'd like to set here is for you to come with very short one or two sentence use cases. Keep it short and sweet and to the point - these are often more powerful than a lengthy exploration. These should provide many points for expansion and further discussion.
Of course our new theme must be gorgeous and as Dries coined it "a delightful experience". Stunning design is implicit to the goals of the initiative but does not exempt it from the functional requirements of core or a strong use case.
I'd love to hear feedback on my snowman inspired use case - I think it has a lot of merit and would like to hear your comments and discussion.