If you’ve been following along with the Drupal 7 User Experience Project (now codenamed D7UX) at d7ux.org you’ll know that it’s starting to get pretty interesting in the project. We’ve been so busy doing the work I’ve been a little remiss in cross posting over here, so, here is a quick consolidated update for you now!
Last Thursday afternoon we posted our initial concepts for the interface model for Drupal 7. You can see an overview in the video above and we describe it a little over here. If you haven’t already given us your feedback I’d be really interested to hear what you think of the direction we’re proposing to take (even if you’re not a Drupal user!)
Crowdsource Usability Testing is Go!
You might also be interested to know that our first round of Crowd Sourced Usability Testing kicked off last week (I know, I should have let you know here too!) – we’re really pleased that we have around a dozen submissions already from all around the world and in multiple languages (which is a challenge we’re still dealing with!). You can see some of the submissions on our YouTube Group. Another round of CrowdTesting is coming up very soon, so stay tuned for that if you’re interested in participating.
A question for you…
As we continue to work on this project we’re continually having to question and refine and experiment with the ways that we work. Up until recently, I’ve used this blog as place to communicate about the project and to ask you – whoever you are! – to participate in the project if you’re interested. One of the reasons I’ve done this is to try to get people who aren’t very experienced, or experienced at all, with Drupal to participate, which we think is incredibly important.
Something different has happened lately, which is that we’ve launched the D7UX website, which is now the primarily place that we’re sharing updates on the project. Since doing that, I’ve gotten some feedback to indicate that people are finding cross posting here and there a little unnecessary…. so I just thought I’d ask what you think?
If you’re interested in following the project, would you rather follow it here or at D7UX?
Are you happy/comfortable to post your feedback over at D7UX or would you rather leave it here?
Do you find it annoying/unnecessary to post in both places?
Do let me know and we’ll tweak our process accordingly!
Thanks in advance for your insight and support on this incredibly exciting yet ever evolving project!
If you took a look at our outline for the project process the other day, you’ll know that we’re taking an iterative and user centered approach to this project. That means that at regular intervals through out the project, as well as doing all this online stuff, we’re also going to sit down with real people in ‘real life’ and let them use our design work while we observe them and make notes about what is working well and what requires improvement. This is sometimes known as Usability Testing.
Now, Mark & I are going to be doing a bunch of this ourselves, and our friends in the Drupal Usability Group are also going to be helping out as much as they can (thank you!), and Jeff at Acquia will also be helping out – but (as we did with the d.o redesign), we’d like to invite YOU to help out with some usability testing as well!
Why on earth would you want to do this?
As I see it, there are three main reasons why you’d get involved in something like this:
you’d like to get some (or some more!) experience in usability testing. This is an opportunity get some experience under your belt, or find out what doing usability testing is like. You may have students or interns who need to get some experience, here’s a great project to keep them busy AND use their time to contribute to a great project.
you want to see for yourself how other people interact with the design. One of the main reasons that we do usability testing is that it is very easy to design for ourselves and often incredibly difficult to design for other people. People come to Drupal with all kinds of backgrounds and understandings, and very often what is clear as day for us is impossible to understand for them. (See the video we posted of Mark & I installing Drupal for some evidence to this point).
you love Drupal and this project and you desperately want to see it succeed: one of the key ways to reduce the risk of failure of this project is to get it out in front of people and see what they make of it. Not only does this ensure that we’re not designing and releasing something that is broken and unusable, it makes us feel confident that the decisions we are making are the right ones and that they will have a significant and positive impact on the user experience of Drupal.
As we move forward with this redesign and start to make some concrete decisions, we are going to have some tough discussions about ‘what users do’ – the BEST way to have these discussions is with *real* experience of our future end users, and not just sweeping statements about users in general. Help us build up that body of knowledge and inform yourself in the process.
How will it work?
As you can imagine, we don’t do this kind of thing every day. We tried this on the d.o redesign project and whilst lots of people voiced interest, the only person who actually did any testing was me! However, we still think this is a good idea and we suspect that, with a little more structure and a fixed schedule, it might work. So, here’s the current plan:
one week before Test Time we will release a description of the audience type(s) that will be appropriate for this round of testing. You should then recruit as many people who fit that description as you think you will have the time and/or inclination to interview/test. You should allow around an hour for each interview, but don’t schedule more than 4 or 5 in a day (trust me, your brain will melt and you will make a LOT of data to analyse)
a few days before Test Time we will release:
the Prototype that you will be using to test (starting off with PDF/Paper prototypes and moving onto web-based interactive prototypes as the project continues).
an Interview Guide that you will base your interview on, listing all the key tasks and issues we want you to cover in the interview
During Test Time (or as close to it as you can) you conduct your interviews. If you can (please!) record your interviews on video and post either the entire video or some highlights from it to the YouTube Group (or elsewhere if you prefer). We will also provide a place for you to log your test findings (TBC, we’re looking at a few options here, ping me if you have suggestions!)
We will then include your findings in our analysis of the design work to date and use it to inform our design decisions going forward.
The Testing Schedule:
We have penciled in some dates for ‘Testing Time’ throughout the project… these are subject to change, but if you are thinking of participating, perhaps see if one or more of these dates works for you:
29 June – 1 July
Need more help?
Over the coming weeks I’ll post some more information that will help provide support for those who aren’t seasoned researchers. Things I’m thinking of posting include: tips for a good interview, tips for recruiting, suggested software/hardware for recording/editing sessions… can you think of anything else that would be helpful?
I’m really excited about this exercise and I hope you are too. Please leave a note below if you’re interested in participating or if you have any questions, need more information, have any feedback on the proposed process. If you know of people in schools or companies who might be interested in participating, please send this on to them!
I really look forward to working with you on this!
At the beginning of this project we invited you to do a ‘show and tell’ of anything you’ve done to a Drupal Admin System that you think we should pay attention to – anything from a customised administration system, to a better view of content, to an in-line editing tool – whatever you think we should see. Happily, we’ve seen a few people participate and some interesting concept. (You can see some of there on our YouTube group).
You may also remember a little exercise we did for the Drupal.org project where we invited anyone to submit a wireframe of a page they though needed some attention and what they’d do to it (you can see the original post here)…
well… now is the time for us to bring that all together and to kick off ‘Pimp Your *Imaginary* Admin’ for the D7UX project!
Here’s how it works:
pick *something* or *somewhere* in Drupal admin that you think is particularly in need of love
get out your pen, pencil, visio, powerpoint, whatever works best for you (I’d encourage you to consider pencil!)
sketch out how you think it *should* work.
post your sketch(s) somewhere we can see them – the Flickr group is ideal for this if you’re a Flickr member (or inclined to become one) but if you post it on your own site, or wherever you share pictures and link to it in the comments below we will *definitely* take a look.
this is optional but we would consider you most excellent if you do it – take a short movie of your sketch(es) and talk us through them. Your movie should include: a) a statement of the problem – what are you fixing? what is currently wrong with it? b) an overview of your solution – how it works, why it solves the problem. Post the movie to YouTube and add it to our YouTube Group (again, same applies here, if you’d rather post it elsewhere, just link to it in comments below and we’ll make sure it gets looked at!)you can see a kind-of example of what your video might look like in the prototype walk-thru we do around 3 mins into this video.
go fast! Don’t spend too long on it – try to spend no more than a few minutes on a wireframe. If you’re not happy with it (and you probably won’t be at first!) just put it to one side and start fresh. You don’t want to labour over them too much at this stage.
you don’t have to be good at drawing: just take a quick browser through the images on the Flickr group if you want to get a sense of how un-pretty our wireframes usually are (particularly mine!). They’re not meant to be pretty, they’re meant to communicate. Even if they don’t do that, we have the video :) Don’t be shy.
everyone’s invited (not just ‘designers’) – Don’t think you have to be a designer or a UX person to participate in this exercise – this is all hands on deck. If you’re not an experience Drupal user or designer, you may actually be at an advantage in this exercise!
Really, really, really looking forward to seeing what you come up with!
As you may have noticed, this is not your typical design project… there are things about it that are pretty unusual, but there are also some pretty standard aspects as well. We thought it might be useful to give you a high level view of the approach we plan to take.
On a project like this, however, a highlevel view is really the only one we *can* give because, in all honesty, we’re not exactly sure what we’ll be doing in 2-3 weeks time let alone 2-3 months time. We have a mud-map though, and this is roughly what it looks like.
We are working with the team at Acquia on this project and they run an Agile shop, so we’re going to be trying to synch into their iterations as best we can.
One of the biggest challenges for User Experience and Design work in an Agile environment is getting the strategy and vision of the design worked through – to that end we are very thankful that our friends at Acquia have been flexible enough to give us a nice big chunk of time which we’re calling ‘Iteration Zero‘ and in this time we are doing a whole load of thinking, and strategising and talking with you to work out what our overall strategy is. This is why we’re asking about audience, and tone of voice and those more ‘abstract’ questions.
By the end of Iteration Zero, which for us is around 14 April, we hope to have an overarching strategy and ‘framework’ for the proposed interface for D7 in the form of some pencil sketches and a sitemap, an agreed experience strategy, audience matrix and tone of voice. We will have tested framework using some low fidelity (paper) prototypes with a range of participants across the spectrum of our audience matrix and we will feel confident that we know what we are doing and where we are headed.
During this time we will be working closely with the Drupal community to understand *how* our framework can best be implemented for release with D7.
The remainder of our time on the project, (which runs until around the end of July) will be spent working through exactly how the strategy is implemented, looking at the very many fine details and issues that will need to be resolved, whilst also testing and iterating the work we have done based on the results of our testing.
How and when can you get involved?
During iteration zero – it is VITAL that we get the foundations of our strategy correct so please engage and continue to engage with us as we work through the strategy, audience and tone issues. This will be mostly in the form of you reviewing what we’ve come up with and providing us with your feedback.
Get involved with the framework design – we’re going to be posting (very soon) some initial sketches that show the direction we’re heading in – we would love to have your feedback on that.
As we did with the d.o redesign project, we’ll be doing a CrowdSourced Wireframe activity that we would invite you to participate in where we’ll be asking you to take a part of the Drupal Admin you think needs work and drawing up a solution (or, if you’ve done it already, why not submit a screencast to ‘Pimp Your Admin’ on our YouTube channel!)
We are also going to re-launch the Crowdsourced Usability Testing for this project – this time with a little more warning and some more structure – so we would invite you to help us test our designs with people around you and contribute to our understanding of what is working and what is not, and help validate our approach. In the coming week I will be releasing a lot more information around this, including some timings, so it would be great to have you on board with this exercise (and it would also make a great exercise for interns, students, people new to usability/UX who want to get some experience doing usability testing).
As the Acquia team start to take designs from us, they will also start releasing a working prototype that you will be able to review and comment on – I’m not sure on timings for that but I’d expect probably mid-late May (I’ll update when I know more).
So as you can see – there will be LOTS of ways for you to contribute all the way through the project, and, don’t let us limit you! If you have ideas we need to see, or other ways you’d like to contribute – please let us know!
My name is Leisa Reichelt. I am the Head of User Research at the Government Digital Service in the Cabinet Office.
I lead a team of great researchers who work in agile, multidisciplinary digital teams to help continuously connect the people who design products with the people who will use them and support experimentation and ongoing learning in product design.
If you're interested in working with me or would like to talk more please email me