Drupal 8 Toolbar and Admin Information Architecture research study: your input needed!

lisarex's picture

I plan to run a Drupal 8 Toolbar and Admin Information Architecture research study, to inform any improvements to the current Drupal 8 admin IA. The target participant is a site builder and/or heavy content creator.

But first, what questions do you (or people you work with) want to know about the current IA? How people are using? When they are using? From what devices? Etc etc.

Put all your questions you'd like to answered by this study in the comments below. If there are duplicate questions, great! That will help inform priorities.

UPDATE: Study plan (in progress)

Lisa Rex


Do you want to access actions

jessebeach's picture

Do you want to access actions from the menu as well as pages?
Are the items under structure logically related to structure? Do they all belong there?
Is Views considered Content?

Actions and Views...

freescholar's picture

Do you want to access actions from the menu as well as pages?
Yes, with the ability to hide it on pages. Although it is not something I use a lot, the ability to have it on the page would be great if it showed that "this page is assigned actions"

Is Views considered Content?
Not really - I would consider it Appearance

Great questions! I have to ponder the Structure question...

Handbook on Platform Cooperativism, a movement building platforms and tools owned by the people. http://bit.ly/hackitownit

Views as content

dkre's picture

The views question really comes down to how people use it. With rewriting, and non-field data being displayed (ie. a simple count for example) a view can quickly become something which displays very little of the actual entities it is set to display.

A view of a users activity for example is content isn't it? It would, you would imagine, be a collection of referenced data etc.

What shortcuts have you

yoroy's picture
  • What shortcuts have you added, if any?
  • I wonder what people's starting point is. /admin? configuration? modules?
  • Do you go to Appearance to arrange blocks just like I still do? (Really!)
  • Any contrib modules installed that enhance navigating admin? If so, why, what does it solve?
  • Installing a module, how do you go about finding its settings, permissions?

Lots of angles to this, wide spectrum of tasks. I wonder if a card sort could help gain some insights.

workflow in setting up a site

pattyz's picture

yoroy brings up some interesting issues. I am not familiar with 8, only 7. One thing that seems less that user-friendly with Drupal is that there is not a prescribed path to setting up a site. Where DO people tend to start? Arranging blocks, as he mentioned, seems likely, but what do most people do? Dealing with modules might be too mysterious.

I am a Drupal fan, and have the patience to figure this out myself and hunt stuff down. 100% of the client base I deal with do not have such patience. Step 1-2-3 would be a big move forward. This does not mean that everyone has to follow it, but it would open up Drupal to a much larger crowd.

administration menu

loopduplicate's picture

I always disable the default admin toolbar. I use the administration menu module, https://drupal.org/project/Admin_Menu . I like how compact it is, how you can select things deep in the tree (with one click, you can edit a field in a content type; this takes about 5 clicks and 5 page loads otherwise). I like having shortcuts for clearing caches.

eatings's picture
  • Are there admin links you've bookmarked in your browser's shortcuts, and why? (a surprisingly common occurrence in my experience)
  • Are there pages in the admin which you could only ever access via a contextual menu from the "front" side of the site? Would you be able to find these destinations from navigating just the toolbar itself?

For developers/site builders or clients?

dkre's picture

Is Views considered Content? - Great question!

I'm assuming this research is aimed at other developers or site builders more than end-client/user?

If so I'm interested in how people handle admin tasks/workflow and UI for the end client(s) and users. Usually I find it isn't the task which is difficult for clients to understand, it is how it is presented to them.

  • Do you provide a full administrator account to clients?
    The complete admin toolbar with every menu and option available
  • If not, do you santise core labels, descriptions and workflows to help with usability?
    eg: I find it helpful to hide the format_wrapper (text format options on long text fields) because it can create distraction and overwhelm less technical users.
  • How important are small screen devices to you and your clients?
    I have many clients which, if it were practical, use their tablets and phones to update their site.
  • What are the most difficult common tasks/workflows for clients/users to grasp?
    Even with written admin guides, I find clients struggle initially with a task which is more than 2 clicks from page to (the task's) form.
  • Small Screen Devices

    Gastonia's picture

    I'd like to chime in on the "Small screen devices" question.

    I build sites for clients in Japan and throughout Asia as well.

    In Asia, 1 out of 3 people connect to the Internet via a mobile device. Here is some more information about growth in Asia and global for mobile use.


    Here developing for small screen devices is very important to our clients, and I think developing Drupal to support mobile as much as possible will really help it become more and more adopted in this part of the world.

    Yes, we'll focus on site

    lisarex's picture

    Yes, we'll focus on site builders and/or heavy content creators for this study. I also added this to the main post. Thanks!

    EDIT: and mobile is at the forefront of our thinking too, although this study may or may not include mobile. That may be a separate study...


    Sorry Lisa my bad, I should

    dkre's picture

    Sorry Lisa my bad, I should learn to read.

    But I guess my thinking with my questions is that when I think about the use of the toolbar and the organisation of admin tasks my highest priority is it's ability to be configured for current project.

    My first, and really my only, consideration is the end client/user rather than my own productivity when developing the site as it is this which costs time and in the end money.

    We discussed this quickly

    yoroy's picture

    We discussed this quickly during UX happy hour. Possibly thinking a bit ahead of you we thought we'd probably need to be able to make comparisons. As in, testable prototypes with different IA's to see which performs best. This may be part of what you want to achieve here or a follow up to this study?

    Also, card sort or treejack style tests sound applicable, no?

    We hovered back to the 'Sitebuilding' label instead of 'Structure' yesterday (as a better counterpart to 'Content')

    It feels like we want to do a

    lisarex's picture

    It feels like we want to do a couple studies and then put it all together again.

    Yes, a card sort sounds applicable. I think this will require a couple studies. :)


    Content Editors vs. Site Builders

    ScottLozier's picture

    How can Content Editors add Content Faster? Right now we use Add Another module for Content creators to NOT have to use the toolbar.

    Do Content editors need most of the toolbar?

    Do Site Builders want hot keys like the Coffee module. Can you get away from the mouse?

    Customized view for content editors

    pattyz's picture

    Great point regarding the content editors point of view. These are often a different crowd, at least on large projects, from the people actually setting up a site. They tend to be more editorial people than technical, and could easily be boggled by a menu with items they are not even supposed to use. Their own customized view might be very popular, and help with setting up proper workflow (which is a serious struggle with web sites, and not well addressed with Drupal).

    Oh--and I like the photo.

    Great questions everyone!

    lisarex's picture

    The questions raised above fall into two broad categories, that I'm calling 'day to day task completion', and 'customizing the admin experience'. It would be great to capture that information in interviews.

    If the UX researchers divide and conquer, we can each do 2-3 and have a really great set of data to augment a card sort exercise.

    I'm putting together some research questions now, in this doc. It's def a work in progress but I'm hoping we can discuss in Monday's UX meeting.


    I can provide some help

    ironkiat's picture

    Hey Lisa, I can help to conduct the research with my team and a few other Site builders in Singapore, or be the subject of research. Where shall we consolidate the data and such? How can we coordinate this?


    David_Rothstein's picture

    I'm interested in how people use the shortcuts (what kinds of links do they put in them? how often do their site's users access those links?) and whether it's a problem to have the shortcuts be less accessible (i.e., require an extra click to get to them) in Drupal 8 compared to Drupal 7. See issue https://drupal.org/node/1852346 for background.

    Meeting notes june 24

    yoroy's picture

    24 June 2013 meeting notes

    Study goals

    • Surface the biggest usability issues with D8 admin IA
    • Propose, research, validate changes to solve these

    IA Study

    What *are * the tasks?

    • A survey to the site builders and content creators to capture their top tasks. TBD: survey design and execution

    • What are the persona we're testing with/optimizing for?

    Roles, skill level, experience: 2 x 2 (x 2)?

    • Content creator, newbie, first time
    • Content creator, newbie, regular usage

    • Content creater, intermediate, first time

    • Conten creator, intermediate, regular usage

    • Site builder, newbie, first time

    • Site builder, newbie, regular usage

    • Site builder, intermediate, first time

    • Site builder, intermediate, regular usage

    (not all of these might make sense)

    How can we find out what these want to do in their first two hours of exploring Drupal?



    • How deep to test? (views, field ui, blocks are their own pretty complex micro-IAs)
    • How to prioritize what to test? Dagmar suggested to focus on testing the newly added/changed items, since we already know some of the existing issues from testing D7

    Well i will study this topic,

    articlesleap's picture

    Well i will study this topic, Thanks for the information. really appreciated

    Issue to track progress on d.o.


    Probably entirely the wrong

    Jeff Burnz's picture

    Probably entirely the wrong place to mention this (I just did the card sort, which I found very hard), but I have been doing a lot of site building the past year and one thing that I find most clients (my clients are nearly all experienced site builders and development shops not specialising in Drupal) simply don't get the idea of fields or how to use them - for example they frequently want a WYSIWYG editor and hard code the same stuff into every node, rather than using a field, for example dates or even things like "author" because often the content creator is NOT the author, merely the person publishing the item on the website. I see this again and again, just no understanding of how to leverage fields and content/entity types or even what they are. I just mention this because I think its quite challenging on how to differentiate between site building (in terms of configuring content types) and content authoring or where that line is in terms of the IA.

    Foundation tools

    paskainos's picture

    My team is experimenting with incorporating an 'all-in-one' menu using Zurb's Foundation [4] Top Bar. We understand the concerns with hitching your wagon to another code base - especially trendy or faddish stuff. But we've found the slogan to be true, "The most advanced responsive front-end framework in the world." We've had really good luck with it so far, which is why I believe of all the things we've looked at, played with, and considered, this direction seems the most promising. For what it's worth, if anyone's interested in a quick peek under the hood, here's a link to the _top-bar.scss file on GitHub.


    lisarex's picture

    This open card sorting study was launched on August 1, 2013 and closed on August 26, 2013.
    238 people participated and 106 (44%) of those people sorted all 62 cards into an average of 10 groups.

    During that time we've taken a look at the data, and although we're only taking into account the people whose primary role is content creator or site builder, it's still a ton of data!

    At the moment I'm looking the top 4 groupings each item was sorted into. There's also a similarity matrix that shows us how often items were grouped with each other item. For items that don't have a super strong similarity but still 50%, we will think about heuristics (rules) for those too.

    I've made a list items that were not categorized / most difficult to understand, and will think what do they tell us?

    You can follow along on this Card sort results spreadsheet.


    Huge thank you to ironkiat

    lisarex's picture

    Also wanted to mention that ironkiat is a star. He's let us use his OptimalSort account to run this study, which is very generous.

    Thanks Kiat!


    Hey Lisa, no worries and I'm

    ironkiat's picture

    Hey Lisa, no worries and I'm glad it helped!
    Thanks for all the hard work on the study, I can see how tough it is to go through all the data..


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