One thing I’ve learned on this project so far is that if you’ve been using Drupal for more than about ten minutes, chances are you’ve had a look for a module or two.
Research participants are rarely unanimous but I think I can safely say that every single Drupal user I have spoken to has told me how difficult it is to firstly find and then evaluate the usefulness of modules.
So. That’s one thing we’d really like to help to fix in this redesign.
In the latest iteration, you can see where we’ve gotten to so far with the modules landing page – it’s a start but it doesn’t really begin to address the really difficult questions which are:
- how do people look for modules? and
- how do we design the interface and information architecture so that people can find the module they need?
Frankly, I could really do with your help.
Here’s the current version: http://drupal.org/project/Modules
And, here’s what we know:
- most advanced users will use Google search to find a module on Drupal,org using keywords that they think are likely to be in the module name
- advanced users refinding a known module are likely to use the URL (remembered or bookmarked) to get to the module page
- everyone finds it difficult to find a module from the current list of categories
- in some cases, the category names are not sufficiently descriptive or specific to be very helpful (3rd party integration is an example of this I think)
- in some cases, the category names are in ‘drupal-ese’ and meaningless to new users (new users don’t know what CCK is, or what Organic Groups are)
- modules can live in more than one category (this is not a bad thing)
- you can only order modules by category, date or name (check this)
- it is difficult to distinguish between a ‘big’ or important module ad a small, very specific module
- categorisation is very much about what a module actually does, rather than what you can do with it (for example, to use an example given to me the other day, if you’re looking for a module that will let you do listings for an estate agents site what module do you want?)
Here’s what I’m thinking
- we need to better support people’s desire to search for modules (hence the emphasis on search on the homepage and the associated massive improvements to the search capabilities of search for this site when it is relaunched)
- we need different ways to ‘cut through’ the modules to support different scenarios such as: I’m new to Drupal and I want to know which are the most important modules, or I’m building a site for an estate agent and I want to know what module would be best for making property listings, or I want a module that will automatically resize images depending on where I put them in my news site.
- we *could* try to do this with a controlled vocabulary, but would we ever be able to agree on what it should be. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time on this project to be able to complete it, and I suspect it would be extremely challenging to undertake this task as a community…
- we *could* harness the scale and diversity of the community and focus more on tagging in a less structured, more Folksonomic way – but this isn’t going to help guide people through the scenarios that need more support as outlined above…
- we probably need to do a combination of the two – with some broad, fixed ‘structural’ categories, and categories that go beyond just describing an aspect of what the module does or how it does it, supplemented with community driven tagging, to help enhance the findability via search and possibly generate new additions to the controlled vocab.
So, assuming you’re with me on this (and that’s quite an assumption I know) – here’s what I need some help with… I could really do with some help compiling some list(s) of categories that would help people find modules in the usage scenarios I’ve suggested above. Also, if there are other important scenarios I’ve missed please let me know!
We should probably do this on a wiki, or something similar. But perhaps lets start with some ideas here and I can compile them into something more comprehensive.
Anyone got any thoughts on this? (Don’t feel you need to be comprehensive)