Tackling UX design challenges

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We're kicking off weekly meetings in IRC:

Taking inventory of who, what & how:


Designers and developers of all kinds, project managers, copywriters, testers, researchers, none/all of the above: leave a comment saying how you'd like to contribute (and any of the roadblocks you encounter in trying to do so).


See https://www.drupal.org/node/2497361 for a list of usability issues identified in Drupal 8.

  • Where can we start?
  • Is there a useful sequence to work through?
  • How do we decide on that?


Core issue about possible process for big UX changes: https://www.drupal.org/node/2573119

On a more ongoing basis: figure out how to keep aligned on current work and next steps.


UX is the top blocker for

cyb.tachyon's picture

UX is the top blocker for Drupal adoption at many levels and makes it a hard sell when good UX has to be purchased and isn't built into the value. This is a big priority for me in Q3 and Q4 of this year.

I'm a developer with all around experience and am willing to spend some time prototyping UX improvements to D8. Proof-of-concept modules, javascript, etc. I don't foresee any roadblocks besides having very little free time in Q1 and a lot of unknowns for my free time in Q2.

I think one thing that hasn't been discussed enough is separating content metadata from content itself. I typically use the lovely field_group module to do that, but an equivalent or better solution should be in core.

Thank you! I realise that

yoroy's picture

Thank you! I realise that this post covers a lot of things but this is exactly the kind of reply I'm hoping for :)

slucero's picture

I fully agree about the value of a better UX for adoption in numerous audiences. So many projects tend to focus on the front-end at the expense of attention to the administrative interface. Because of this it's very important to ease the burden of streamlining the authoring experience. Doing so makes Drupal more appealing to new administrators and editors on Drupal sites, thereby making these users more likely to enjoy and suggest Drupal for other projects.

I too am a developer with all around experience. I have a decent eye for UX issues and opportunities for streamlining or simplification. With these skills I'd love to contribute through suggestion, documentation and discussion of improvements. Also, as time allows, I could contribute with functional patches, modules or proof-of-concepts.

My time outside of a full-time job and family is limited, but I'm glad to help out to the best of my ability.

+1 on fixing the admin first.

Rene Bakx's picture

That is indeed one of the most underlooked issues in Drupal land. The admin experience looks and feels outdated. And I know there is Dries his ideas of adding more layers of javascript to fix this issue. But I don't believe that adding JS will fix the visual issues. Truth to be told, Seven as admin theme looks and feels outdated.

In my line of business we have to 'compete' against Wordpress, and have to defend the visual admin experience every single time. For Drupal 7 we settled for the Adminimal project and it makes that competion a lot easier. Unfortunately @anditko can only get so much done in his precious time, and the D8 version clearly lacks that TLC that the D7 version has. I do wish I could help, but as a PHP developer my knowledge of CSS is just touching the surface and far from good enough to help out.

But what surprises me the most is that $0.00 (that zero!) is spend on improving the overall admin experience with the D8 Accelerate grants. The Drupal community at large seems mostly focused on fixing code issues.

My personal opinion, forget adding layers of fancy AngularJS/Backbone/Whatever.js, but start with creating or even beter adopt the above mentioned Adminimal and start adding layers of fanciness on top of that. It feels so much more useful then adding layers of decoration to a failed cake.

To do or don't, there is no try!

Thank you for reaching out to the community

markdodgson's picture

I'm new to the community and would really love to get involved. Many of you have been very gracious to help me along the way, but I'm still finding it difficult to figure out how to actually contribute. There are issue pages, but unless you know someone in the community there is a barrier to entry in terms of figuring out how to actually start.

It might be nice to have open Google Hangouts from time-to-time to discuss specific features that need some usability/design fixes. Doing this would help with getting new to the community people up to speed with what's going on. The added benefit is these attendees could potentially be getting involved with projects that may get implemented (ie. issue credits).

Would love to get involved with Wireframing, Design, Research, etc..

Just my 2¢. Happy to be a part of the community :)

discussion formats

YesCT's picture

It would be good to identify what the barriers are to getting involved with issues. What has been your experience? What things have you tried?

I strongly recommend a text based discussion instead of a audio/visual Hangout, because a hangout makes it difficult for people with low bandwidth to participate, makes it difficult for people to multitask, and makes it difficult for people who are not as fluent in English (or the language of the hangout). It is also difficult to have a transcript or notes, and take makes searches for information from the discussions difficult to find later. Text discussion platforms can also benefit from bots which help record and share information.

Cathy Theys

I think it's not an

yoroy's picture

I think it's not an either/or. Text based is indeed potentially more inclusive in terms of bandwidth, but we have to be inclusive of what we need for good design work to happen and design is literally high bandwidth, in that it often needs sequences of visuals to communicate its intent. And multitasking is not something I'd want to optimize for anyway :)

Thanks for focussing the discussion on the barriers, that is one of the first things to know and tackle indeed.

Thanks Mark. there is a

yoroy's picture

Thanks Mark.

there is a barrier to entry in terms of figuring out how to actually start.

Yes, interested to hear what you see as the barriers to getting started.

happy to help with making it a movement

Gábor Hojtsy's picture

I have lots of experience making multilingual a movement with Drupal 8 :) I think UX deserves this even more so. Happy to help with making it a movement (figure out ongoing discussion times, help promote progress, identify blockers, etc). So mostly as a technically savvy project manager I guess.

Excellent. Your work in the

yoroy's picture

Excellent. Your work in the multilingual initiative is an inspiration for sure and a technically savvy project manager is a very welcome role :)

Happy to work on this!

ifrik's picture

I would love to work together with you on this.

I can bring my experience from the documentation working group - and the desire to improve usability instead of having to write pages to explain how things work afterwards.
Also as a former scientific editor, I'm quite happy to concentrate on the UI texts on the admin pages ect. because for sitebuilders that is (or could be) the first place to find out how to work with a particular module.

On communication: I'm with YesTC to rather have them text based (preferably on IRC), because in addition to the arguments given it also does not require invitations to contribute.

Site builder and Documentation WG member

Happy to contribute as well!

ironkiat's picture

Happy to contribute as well! I met Bojhan during the recent DrupalCon Mumbai and finally got some guide on how to go about contributing, I think the biggest barrier is knowing where to start, and having mentors to lead... having UX improvements sprints and tackling issues together as a team.

Another barrier might be also UX and designers may not have the technical background to go about contributing patches (and most issues seems to require some form of code) so that coupled with not knowing where to start can really stop people from doing anything altogether.

Happy to work on this too!

mattkevan's picture

This sounds like a great initiative!

I'm a UX designer and have worked with Drupal since version 5, and I'd be really happy to contribute.

For me the main blocker to getting involved is that it's hard to know where to start – there's so many issues. I don't want to duplicate existing effort or step on anyones toes. Also some tasks are quite big and will need coordinating between a number of people - I'm not sure where to start with that either.

I'd be happy to get involved :)

kae76's picture

I'm a site builder - have a passion for UX - I love making things simple - for me & end users.

I also deliver training when required (back in the day qualified as a college lecturer) *but* love it when I can build things that are simple enough for anyone to navigate!

I also work hard making supporting documents simple, clear and accessible - it can be a challenge - but worth its weight in gold.

"biggest barrier is knowing where to start, and having mentors to lead... having UX improvements sprints and tackling issues together as a team." as ironkiat said...

YES ^ this, where and how do I start?


ifrik's picture

After some heated discussion at DrupalCamp London, and a long talk with Emma (Thanks!), I can think of two ways of setting priorities.

One is to group the usability issues by type of user. There are the users who install Drupal for the first time, site admins who need to add content on a site that has been build for them, and experienced site builders who will add lots more modules, and probably a few more. Usability issue will be different for them. If we group them at least roughly along these lines, then it might be easier for us to tackle them with a more specific user in mind, and to test them. And if the same issue seem to call for two different solutions for two different types of users, then at least that's a bit more explicit.

Another way of setting priorities would be to choose issues that have a higher impact on contrib modules.
Complains about Drupal's overall usability or steep learning curve is not necessarily about core alone, but also about issues caused when dealing with contrib modules, especially when there is little consistency. My hope is that if Core set clear and consistent standards, that it's then easier (or more likely) that contrib modules follow them, thereby improving the overall usability of Drupal sites and Drupal site building.

Site builder and Documentation WG member

Thanks for reporting back

yoroy's picture

Thanks for reporting back from London :)

I think the first option you describe comes down to persona, right? It’s always useful (necessary!) to know who you’re building for. The tricky thing is that individual people will switch between roles like Site builder, Content creator and Developer. But yes, it would still help to know for which role a certain interface should be optimized.

Any ideas which kind of changes would have a higher impact on contrib? The working assumption has always been that what core does is by default the standard to follow. Granted, that standard is incomplete and does not cover the more complex and exotic interface requirements for contrib.

I'm also hoping that Bojhan can tell us a bit more about what competitive benchmarking is and what we could learn from it.

2 admin interfaces?

simohell's picture

One of my suggestions is to include 2 admin interfaces that can be easily switched. A little bit like built in masquerade so that 1st user can use a more simple content oriented interface or the power-user-see-all-at-once-less-clicks interface. But this can be switched easily from the toolbar.

This should, I think, reduce users worries about breaking everything, that seems to have come up in the testing.

Now I only took a quick look at the findings, but I hope to be able to do more on Drupal 8 next month or so. (for some reason I missed the report earlier)

Also we probably need different defaults for majority user generated content sites and majority admin generated content sites. Has a big effect on what should be accessible directly/quickly. I myself don't really work with sites that have user generated content.

I do mostly CSS and design and build D7 sites at the moment, but I have also done some user/admin interface design (mostly implenting it with views). And I've done some usability testing in the past.

Count me in!

kjay's picture

Looking forward to getting involved. I've been inspired and intrigued by your 'small pieces' UX challenge tweet Roy...

Count me in!

gourabmojumder's picture

I am a Project Manager working constantly with the UI/UX team for better interfaces for end users. I would be happy if I can add some value to this group. Please count me in. Thanks,

isaachorton's picture

I had not seen this post, I am also trying to to forward the design And usability of Drupal. I think there are some very clear goals we can accomplish to bring Drupal into a high value state of design integration. There are many elements that's need help but most imporatantly, we need more formalized discussion about how to better increase adoption of Drupal by the designer community. We need more designers and artists. We need to help them by solving the problems designers run into and then decide Drupal is too complicated. How do I get involved in these meetings?

@isaachorton, bascially join

AaronChristian's picture

@isaachorton, bascially join us in the slack channel. We have meetings every Tuesday & Wednesday.


Hope to see you there!

@isaachorton, basically join

AaronChristian's picture

@isaachorton, basically join us in the slack channel. We have meetings every Tuesday & Wednesday.


Hope to see you there!