Drupal7UX – How does Drupal talk? (on brand, personality and tone of voice)

So, there we were, just starting to work through the workflow for Drupal – we got as far as the login screen when we thought ‘let’s write something nice on this screen’, and, pen poised… we were stumped.

We wanted to write something friendly like Moo would. Or Innocent drinks. We wanted to make it visually interesting like Vimeo do. Or Picnik. But… is that Drupal?

We realised we have no idea what Drupal’s personality is. And it would make our lives much easier, and help make a much better User Experience, if we can work out what it is.

Isn’t this completely touchy-feely and a waste of time?

Well no. One way or another, words will go on screens and a personality will emerge. Or, worse still, a few personalities, or a few dozen personalities. Much better that we spend a little time and give a little thought and see what we can come up with.

So, here’s where you come in:

The Personality Exercise:

Take a minute to v quickly answer the following five questions. Go with your gut reaction, don’t over think it. Try not to read everyone elses’ responses first. Don’t worry about being silly! (This is a kind of silly exercise after all, albeit useful)

  • If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
  • If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
  • If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
  • If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?

So your answers might look something like this:

Drupal would be a squirrel/Paris Hilton/SS Commodore Ute/Teacher*

Get to it – what do you reckon?

*the opinions expressed above are not those of the author. Except for the SS Commodore one.

Drupal7 UX – We Need You NOW!

We plan to make the Drupal 7 User Experience something very special.
The biggest risk to this project is community rejection/involvement too late in the project.

Get out of the issue queues, quit bitching about your other CMS tools.

Come reject our ideas NOW not later!

Get over here and help us make something amazing.

Thank you! (and even bigger thanks to those who are already involved)!

Drupal7UX – The Audience Matrix Evolves (and you can play at home!)

Over the past week or so Mark and I have been working out the details that go on the panels of the Audience Matrix  that we shared with you last week (or dress-up-doll document as it has otherwise been named).  We’ve made a few changes and added a bunch of definitions.

Here’s what we’ve come up with so far:


  • Content Creator: a user who primarily creates, reviews, and edits content for a site. Key tasks: Add  content, edit content, find existing content, view list of content creation/revision tasks.
  • Site Editor: a user who has authority to approve, edit or reject content and who may be able to manage some editorial workflow and user permissions. Key tasks: Add  content, edit content, find existing content, view list of content creation/revision tasks, review content, reject/feedback on content to original author, schedule content,
  • Site Admin: manage user permissions, manage site structure, adding new content types, create and review reports and manage some site settings (RSS Publishing, IP Address Blocking). Key tasks: Manage user permissions, Add / Edit / Delete Content Types, Manage Information Architecture (site sections, sub-sections, taxonomy (as in, vocabulary), Create a report, Review a report.
  • Site Builder: creates site from scratch by choosing, writing, customising modules and/or themes, manages setup and maintenance. Is a developer (for the purposes of audience definition, themers are considered developers). Key Tasks: Develop site functionality, implement site design.

question: who can/should be able to create new content types? who can create new site sections and subsections (vocabulary and/or terms)   etc.


  • Brochureware Site: hierarchical structure of relatively static content, often includes forms (eg. contact/feedback), may be multi-author
  • Blog: sequence of chronological posts that may be assigned to categories, may also include ‘fixed’ pages, often includes comments, trackbacks, RSS feed, most often single author
  • News: a categorical/hierarchical grouping of content usually ordered chronologically but often ‘curated’ by an editorial team, may also include  comments, trackbacks, RSS feed, often multi-author, often requires multiple templates
  • Events: a combination of content supporting an event, including content about the event, a schedule/calendar of events, list of participants,  online registration, may also require online submissions, social networking functionality, news, email update list
  • Social Site: comprises member profiles and communication between those member in the form of discussion forums, wikis, events, blogs, require member signup, subscription, RSS,


  • 1 : no permissions, no workflow, that user does everything (one stop shop) BUT most like to have simple requirements (how manage giving access to all functionality when the mostly won’t need it). Likely to generate small amounts of content.
  • 2-5 : multiple authors, may require permissions, may require workflow (simple approval process), may require separation between content management tasks and site management tasks but usually not overly complicated requirements.
  • 6-15: multiple authors and editors, likely to require permissions, likely to require workflow, likely to require separation between content management tasks and site management tasks may have some complex requirements, will have significant amount of content generated.
  • 15+ : requires permission management (several permission profiles), probably requires workflow (content review/approval), likely to generate a lot of content to be managed and require content scheduling – it’s a complicated machine and it needs a whole section around managing the machine, let alone making the content to feed the machine. Involves a lot of content and likely complex taxonomy.

question: should it matter how much ‘experience’ you have with Drupal? Should we add another row for this? (Insider/Midsider/Outsider) – we can’t decide. One one level it seems like it does matter, but we also think that it shouldn’t matter… would adding this add unnecessary complexity? (For the time being we’re leaving this out).


This is going to be a pretty instrumental tool for us on this project and we’ll be referring to it regularly. If you’re interested in checking it out in more detail or if you’d like to get more involved in this project, the perhaps you’d like your very own copy. Yes? Well, you’re in luck because you can now download a copy here: Audience Matrix PDF


Over the coming weeks we’re going to be inviting you to submit your ideas for revisions to the Drupal7 Admin interface and overall user experience. It will be very helpful for us all to use this document to help make sure that we’re designing for the 80% and not necessarily just for ourselves! And it is also a really great way to expose missing elements and possible flaws in our concepts. Using the document to test the example we show in the video above helped us to realise that we needed things like a close button on the dashboard (I know, d’uh!), a place to hold the user generated content from things like comment as well as contact forms, and got us thinking about a whole host of thorny permissions and workflow issues. (Don’t get me started!)

This is, however, a living document – we welcome your feedback and questions on the changes we’ve made and how we’re using it – so, please – let us have it!  (but don’t pay too much heed to the concept we’ve presented as an example in the video, it is very early days and it’s just one of many ideas we’re working on.)

Ada Lovelace Day – Rachel Dixon

With apparently thousands of others, I recently made the following pledge:

“I will publish a blog post on Tuesday 24th March about a woman in technology whom I admire but only if 1,000 other people will do the same.”

I’d like to open with a hat-tip to Suw Charman-Anderson for actually doing something about the Women In Technology (or lack there-of) issue. Well done Suw. May we all be as constructive and proactive as you have been with this initiative.

The woman in technology I’d like to pay tribute to today is Rachel Dixon, who I was fortunate enough to work with several years ago, and who today, I consider to be a friend and mentor. It says something about Rachel that the only options I have to link to her are a LinkedIn profile and a holding page for her consulting company. Rachel, you see, is mostly too busy making other people look good (or, more to the point make smart decisions) to have time with self-promotion.

I first met Rachel when she joined the interactive agency I was working at as the Managing Director. Rachel is brings what I think is a truly magical mix of experience and insight to discussion about technology in business or the public sector – she has a strong understanding of technology (current and potential future), respect for and engagement with creativity and design and strong business sensibilities.

After a brief dabble with architecture, much of Rachel’s work was as a Producer in the film industry. In more recent years, many an interactive employee has been given the title ‘producer’ but I think that, particularly from the  business side of things, interactive producers could learn a lot from our film counterparts and the tricky path they walk between the competing demands of the creative genius and the investors.

Rachel has since extended her reach into technology, particularly web based technology and, although she may not be a ‘rock star’ on the interactive scene, her influence extends far beyond the bounds that many of more public players. Rachel is, I think, the only woman I know who declines dinner invitations because she has board meetings to attend. I probably should have interviewed her in advance of writing this post, but off hand I know that she has been a board member of AIMIA (the Australian Interactive Media Industry Association) and Choice (the consumer advocate) for some time – I’m sure there are many others among this. She’s always involved in one committee or another either advising or lobbying the Australian Federal Government to act sensibly with regards to the internet (and goodness knows they need it!). Rachel is acting at a level that many of us only aspire to and others of us know we’ll never quite be up to!

For myself, I have long since abandoned any hope of achieving such a broadranging expertise myself, but it has been inspirational to have been in such close quarters with someone who can really hold their own in each of these three quite different arenas.

It is hard for me to quantify what it is that I have learned from working with and knowing Rachel. In some ways, some of insights she has given me are tiny little, almost-self-obvious nuggets. One that I think about probably at least once a week is to think about the medium I’m using to communicate – don’t default to email. Don’t underestimate the power of the telephone, or better still, meeting in person.

For better or worse, it was through Rachel that I first found myself speaking at a conference – doing an appalling job of trying to squeeze 30 minutes of content into 10 minutes on a panel, but also meeting some incredible people and (obviously) getting a little hooked on the experience.

On the grander scale though, Rachel’s confidence in herself and those around her, and her willingness to engage in such a comprehensive way with the challenges she takes on for herself, and perhaps even her inability to say ‘no’, has been and continues to be an inspiration. So, from me and from the others that I know you’ve similarly touched, thank you! I sincerely hope we have the opportunity to work together again in the future.

ALSO: if I were going to