Exploring solutions: Better Module/Theme Listing Pages

eigentor's picture

A page that is closely linked to the individual project pages http://groups.drupal.org/node/137914 is the Module (theme) listing page.

This page can be filtered a lot, but keeps basically the same look, if you filter by Module category, most installed or whatever. And they are also the same if you list Modules, Installation profiles or Themes.
What tasks do those pages try to accomplish and how do they achieve / fail?

What the user wants

I cannot look into their heads. But I guess what 80% of the users want, is to get a quick overview. They search, say, for image galleries and want to see what solutions are available.

D.O. Module listings

I choose the most installed, because maybe many people go there because being overwhelmed by the sheer mass and confusion presentation of modules. Statistics of d.o. usage could shed light of which listings are most often viewed.

As all these listings look basically the same except for different modules being involved, we can take any one anyway. This listing has the rockstar modules like Views on top which should be a shining example of how to do it right because they are so damn successfull :P

Sorry for not going much into that - a lot of things are here that make sense. Filters, Blocks with shorter listings, and the general list.
Even an introduction, that I only discovered today...
The items make sense, but they are taking up waaay to much space to get it all above the fold and having the feeling of a quick overview.

Firefox Plugin search

A shining example to me is the little window Firefox shows you when you search for Plugins inside firefox. The website view is not as good to me, so let's keep it to that.

Quickly it becomes clear that Firefox manages to cram a lot more information into about 1/10th of the space. We also see about five to six Plugins (the screenshot of d.o. shows less I think).

So do you manage to get an overview? You get a very short description of a plugin that says what it does. If it is done well you get it and will install it. If it was done even better you will not be surprised after the install that it does somethind completely different from what was described.

Maybe it would be a more fair comparison to compare the Firefox Plugin search window to the Download and extend overview page. But no. As soon as you search for something you are taken to the Module listing, so these two do compete directly.

In order to make this not a long and winded post but to save the time and do Mockups let me state the goals that we should strive for to make the listings more usable:

  • Get all important information "above the fold". Using a netbook with its 1024 x 600 screen can be an eye-opening experience here...
  • Reduce the amound of space for all elements - Hey, we can at least reduce it by three times without sacrificing much
  • Check if we show the most relevant elements / Filters - if not, exchange
  • Check inside the listing if the individual modules get the most important stuff over to the user to make this listing any useful - if not, improve

So let's see what can be done...

Life is a journey, not a destination


Speaking (stealing) from experience

BeWhy's picture

If D.O. had a fantastic way to search for/through modules, I would have been in Drupal a long time ago. Alas, I learned Joomla. One of the main reasons I learned Joomla (first) was that it was remarkably easy to find modules (components). I really think we should check out extensions.joomla.org to see what it has to offer, instead of just looking at our belly-buttons

What I like about extensions.joomla.org
1. clearly delineated categories on sidebar (ours is hidden in a dropdown and could be put in a user-friendly solr facet)
2. icons specifying type of module (C, P & M; see my comment http://groups.drupal.org/node/137914#comment-481559)
3. spiffy graphics/icons for many projects
4. blue colored bars breaks up the page (panels)

What I like about extensions.joomla.org/extensions
1. comprehensive list of all categories and subcategories
2. number of items in each category

What I don't Like about extensions.joomla.org and
1. random modules (well, i liked it when i was new)

what you don't know will inspire you

Definately worthwhile to

yoroy's picture

Definately worthwhile to collect some more examples of how other projects handle this.

Nice comparison with FireFox

Mojah's picture

Nice comparison with FireFox plugins!

Here's what I see as the most useful comparison points you brought up, as well as some other ideas.

  1. The use of images for easier scanning and differentiation/identification
  2. User feedback in the form of ratings displayed in the listing
  3. A summary statement of what the module does and can be used for
  4. Download links
  5. Stripped down filters and moved to the sidebar
  6. Tags with more meaning

I'm sure there are people who make use of the 4x, 5x & 8x filters as well as some the other more obscure ones like status, but how many? Better to provide filters for what most people would use --and move the filter form to the right. This will provide more real-estate on the left for the module listing. Perhaps a "More filters" link at the bottom of the form can go to a url like http://drupal.org/projects/modules/allfilters, which we can assume that the people who care about the less used filters will remember or bookmark.

We can strip out a few other things like the name of the module developer and date of installation. These may not be so relevant on the listing page.

Maybe something along these lines...

mockup of modules page

Although the Joomla projects page hurt my eyes, I did appreciate the layout in the New & Noteworthy section with images and community votes.

Spinning off an issue from this

mgifford's picture

Like many of the discussions in GDO, they didn't seem to make it to the issue queue. I posted this with summaries from here:

Feel free to edit.

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