‘But is expanded choice good or bad?’, from The Paradox of Choice by Barry Schwartz

I use this study as an example with *so* many projects these days that I thought it might be useful to share the original source with you here. Schwartz is sharing the findings from a series of studies titled ‘When Choice is Demotivating’…

One study was set in a gourmet food store in an upscale community where, on weekends, the owners commonly set up sample tables of new items. When researchers set up a display featuring a line of exotic, high-quality james, customers who came by could taste samples, and they were given a coupon for a dollar off if they bought a jar.

In one condition of the study, 6 varieties of the jam were available for tasting. In another, 24 varieties were available. In either case, the entire set of 24 varieties was available for purchase.

The large array of jams attracted more people to the table than the small array, thought in both cases people tasted about the same amount of jams on average.

When it came to buying however, a huge difference became evident.

Thirty percent of the people exposed to the small array of jams actually bought a jar; only 3% of those exposed to the large array of jams did so

For the detailed answer(s) to ‘why is it so’ you should buy the book (and I strongly recommend it, as I said, I reference it *all* the time). For the short answer – people don’t do well with a lot of choice. Be a good designer and help them by guiding them towards good decisions, even if not the perfect one. A decision made can be remade and refined, which is much better than not seeing your customers for dust.

Drupal.org redesign – Cardsorting Module Categories

If you’ve been following along you’d be aware that one of the nuts we’re currently trying to crack is the modules section of the drupal.org website – how can we make modules more findable?

In the interest of gathering more information to help make a good decision, i’ve put together another little cardsorting exercise. If you have a spare 15mins or so, I’d love if you could take a look at it!

You can find it here: http://disambiguity.optimalsort.com/drupalmodules/

If you have any comments/questions/feedback to the contents of the cardsort or the process, feel free to post them here.

The cardsort is set to close on Friday 21 November.

Thank you!

Drupal.org – more thoughts on the Information Architecture (Part 1 – Projects, Downloads etc.)

Thanks to everyone who gave feedback on my initial thoughts on the information architecture – it was certainly food for thought and, as a result of that and some more work on our part, we’ve moved on a little in our thinking – I’d like to share some thoughts and some questions with you now, for your consideration.


In my previous post I suggested that perhaps two different faces on essentially the same content could be valuable – one being ‘download’ which would be used by people who were using Drupal as a tool and looking for the core, modules and themes to download and use, and one being ‘Project’ which was targeted at developers involved in further developing and, of course, maintaining Drupal, the project.

After hearing all the feedback to this, I now agree that this is not a great idea – in a nutshell because, as you have said, we don’t want to create such a void between using Drupal and contributing. Also, given that we have a ‘getting started’ page, people who are less familiar with Drupal will be directed there, and from that section they can be given an easy guide to what to download and from where.

So, based on your feedback to date, let’s remove ‘Downloads’ as a section or sub-site.

Information Scent for Core/Modules/Themes/Translations: I’m thinking of a word that is *like* ‘Project’ but makes sense to ‘outsiders’

That leads me to one of the reasons I suggested ‘Downloads’ in the first place – being that ‘Project’ is a very ‘Drupal’ word. To someone who is versed in Drupal-speak, ‘Projects’ means ‘things that we’re working on, like the Core project, Modules, Themes, and even Translations/Localisation. But for someone who is NOT Drupal-speak-savvy, ‘Projects’ or even ‘The Drupal Project’ is not good information scent for really important (perhaps some of the most important) content on the site.

Non-Drupal-speak-savvy people will not look under ‘Projects’ for Downloading Drupal, Modules, Themes or Translations… so we need to come up with a label for this part of the site that makes sense to everyone. (Or, at least, gives them a clue of what might be contained within, sends them in the right direction).

The card sorting exercise gives us the following insight:

  • When asked to categorise ‘Contributed Modules’ participants who identified as ‘outsiders’ used terms like ‘Development/Developers’ and ‘Downloads’. 
  • When asked to categorise ‘Themes’ participants who identified as ‘outsiders’ used terms like ‘Designers’ and ‘Downloads’. 
  • When asked to categorise ‘Translations’ participants who identified as ‘outsiders’ used terms like ‘About Drupal’ and ‘Developing’ 
Now, we know that we don’t want to use ‘Downloads’ because it doesn’t reveal the ongoing project work and encourage participation. I have given quite a bit of thought to creating ‘Developer’ and ‘Designer’ sections and splitting content off that way, but my gut feeling is that is a highway to pain – primarily because both the content and audience are rarely clearly divided into one of these categories – I imagine there would be an awful lot of crossover – and also because it seems unnecessary (and less than ideal) to divide the Drupal community by role.
That leaves us with the enormous question of – what do we call the section currently called ‘Download’ (on the Drupal website) and ‘The Drupal Project’ (on our proposed IA), from which the Core project, Modules, Themes and Translations can be accessed. It’s got me stumped for the moment, so I’d love it if you can throw some ideas at me. 
Or perhaps the whole idea of having one section to house all of this is the problem, and we need to expose the contents of this section at a higher level?
Any thoughts you have on removing the ‘Downloads’ subsite and re-naming ‘The Drupal Project’ sub-site would be most welcome! (Insiders and outsiders both!) :)

Drupal.org – what we learned from the card sort

If you’ve been following this project you’ll know that we’ve been doing an online card sort recently to help inform the information architecture for drupal.org. To date we have had more than 200 people participate in this card sort exercise, which is a tremendous effort and a bucketload of data! Thank you all!

In particular we were interested in understanding how we group and label different types of content, and whether the language (as in terminology) varied between insiders and outsiders.

The card sort is still running but we have done an initial analysis of the results to date – the findings are not really so surprising, but nonetheless, useful to have available.

Essentially, what we found is that insiders and outsiders generally use similar words to group and label content where that content is not particularly specific to Drupal, or doesn’t involve ‘Drupal-Speak’

So, for example, for both insiders and outsiders there were lots of occasions where a significant majority of users grouped terms into the same category, for example:

  • ‘Local User Groups’ was grouped into ‘Community’
  • ‘Installation Documentation’ was grouped into ‘Documentation’
  • ‘General Concepts’ was grouped into ‘Getting Started’
  • ‘Getting started’ was grouped into ‘Beginner/New/Getting Started’ and ‘Documentation’ – both equally split in this way in both groups!
  • ‘Features and Mission of the Drupal Project’ was grouped into ‘About’
  • ‘Administer Drupal’ was grouped into ‘Documentation’

However, when it came to content items or terminology that was particular to (or used in a particular way within) the Drupal community, the split became  more apparent. Drupal ‘insiders’ familiarity with the current structure of the drupal.org website also seemed to come into play – in fact, sometimes people actually responded with a specific URL! (eg. groups.drupal.org). Examples of these kinds of content include:

  • Contributed Modules – responses from ‘outsiders’ were all over the place and didn’t show much of a trend at all. Terms included community, customise, design, development, features, modules, enhancing Drupal, understanding Drupal, getting involved, mastering and  more. On the other hand, ‘Insiders’ showed two very strong categories – Download (where modules reside in the current IA) and Developer
  • Core Project – most ‘outsiders’ put this in a category called ‘About Drupal’, where as ‘insiders’ unsurprisingly used the same cateogories as for Contributed Modules (both are considered ‘downloads’ in the current IA
  • Themes – again, the categories suggested by ‘outsiders’ was wide ranging, but most commonly suggested was ‘Customise’ and ‘Themes’, were as by FAR the most common category suggested by ‘insiders’ was ‘Downloads’.
  • Same for Translations, which clearly went into a ‘Downloads’ category for ‘insiders’ but left ‘outsiders’ perplexed – again, no clear trend emerged from them and suggested categories ranged from Customise, to Advanced Help to Projects.

You  may also have noticed that, in general, suggested categories were quite broad – there was extensive use made of the categories ‘About’, ‘Community’, ‘Documentation’, ‘Developing/Developers/Development’, ‘Get Involved’.

So, what does this mean for our project?

A card sort is never intended to ‘set’ the information architecture, but is rather used as a ‘probe’ into the existing and potential audience to get a sense of how they make sense of the content that you are trying to organise. We are not going to take the labels suggested by most participants and map the content to those labels and call that our IA, but we have learned some very valuable lessons. Including:

  • We need to be very careful and aware of Drupal-speak – it causes no end of confusion for people who are not familiar with Drupal. This doesn’t mean that we abandon it – after all, it is part of the efficiency of communicating within the community. But we need to make sure that we don’t use it for major ‘sign posts’ in the information architecture and that when we do use it, we add ‘supports’ for new players (outsiders)
  • Opportunities for cross-referencing – there were several instances where a piece of content showed more than one ‘trending’ category, for example the inclusion of ‘getting started’ content in both a ‘beginners/getting started’ category as well as a ‘documentation’ category. There are several instances like this where we can ensure that content is cross-referenced from one section (or sub-site) to another based on expectations shown in the card sort data.
  • Category naming – for example, a term like ‘Community’ is not currently represented on the Drupal.org website but are widely expected by both ‘insiders’ and ‘outsiders’ alike. This supports the consolidation of the more ‘social’ aspects of Drupal (groups, forums etc.) into a major section labeled ‘Community’.

Going forward

We will use the insight we have gained to date from this card sort to help inform the proposed Information Architecture for the Drupal.org website, which of course we will continue to share with you as we proceed.

It is *possible* that we may conduct a further card sort in the near future, however this one will be a ‘closed’ sort, where you will be asked to place content into a set of pre-defined categories. I’m only half convinced that this is a good approach (having had mixed success with closed card sorts in the past… ), so I’d be interested in any thoughts you have about whether this would be an interesting and useful exercise.

I’m glad to hear that several of you really enjoyed participating in this exercise and I do thank you for taking the time to do so.