DRAFT: Drupal.org Experience Strategy

The redesign project for Drupal.org will be guided by an experience strategy that will inform our decision making in all aspects of the redesign and which will, we hope, be able to be used as ‘a star to sail our ship by’ (as Jesse James Garrett would say) – as a clear objective to design towards.

What is an experience strategy?

An experience strategy is a clearly articulated touchstone that influences all of the decisions made about technology, features, and interfaces. Whether in the initial design process or as the product develops, such a strategy guides the team and ensures that the customer’s perspective is maintained throughout.

Subject to Change, Creating great products and services for an uncertain world, Merholz, Schauer, Verba & Wilkens (Adaptive Path) 2008

This is a good example of an experience strategy:

Google Calendar Experience Strategy

How it worked out for Google Calendar:

Google Calendar Stats

(hat tip to Peter Merholz for images)

Experience Strategy for Drupal.org (Work in Progress!)

  • Drupal.org is for anyone who is interested in Drupal (not just developers!)
  • Drupal.org will make building a site you’re proud of as painfree as possible (from deciding to use Drupal through design, development and deployment)
  • Drupal.org is the home of the Drupal community.
  • UPDATED: Drupal.org is the project management and release tool for the Drupal software (thanks Robert Douglass)
  • Drupal.org will support people and companies from their initial experience of the product and community and as they continue to increase their knowledge and experience with Drupal and become more active in the Drupal community.
  • Is a showcase for what can be done with Drupal

What we believe:

  1. Drupal.org is as much (if not more) a social site than a content site
  2. The Drupal Community is as important (if not more) than the Drupal Product
  3. The Drupal product is a market leading CMS solution
  4. The ‘end point’ (goal) is not getting more people to download Drupal, the end point is to get more people to have a Drupal site running that they love (with as little pain as possible)
  5. Anyone can find out what they need to know about Drupal on or from Drupal.org
  6. We must flatten the learning curve – anyone can learn as much as they want to learn about Drupal
  7. Modules are easy to find and evaluate and are an obvious asset to Drupal
  8. People can see/learn and align themselves with Drupal’s (and Open Source) values…
  9. Drupal.org is a living organism and, with the help of the community, will continue to grow and improve.

How this plays out

Drupal Family

Drupal.org has two equally important audiences – people who are new to Drupal and people who are already part of the community.

Drupal.org needs to inspire and educate people who are new to Drupal – the end goal being that they become active participants in the Drupal community who have a Drupal site (or sites!) up and running that they are proud of.

Note: getting people to ‘download’ Drupal is not the end point. If anything, it’s just the beginning.

Drupal.org also needs to be a comfortable and safe home for members of the Drupal community, wherein participants are both able to develop their own skills and experience (grow up), as well as help others on their developmental path (help grow others up).

Things we need to do:

  • be nicer to ‘outsiders’ (non drupal, non developer)
  • encourage people to engage with the community (starting by showing them that it exists!)
  • work at flattening the learning curve
  • get all the right content on the site and keeping it updated
  • show the community in action (without ruining it)
  • make things findable (IA)
  • communicate drupal/opensource values
  • help Drupal users kick ass

Getting past the brick wall

Brick Wall

As one person I’ve interviewed described it: ‘I can get Drupal downloaded and installed and get an ugly blog that I don’t want, but then I hit a brick wall’ – Drupal.org’s job is to help people over that brick wall – to help them get the site they want using Drupal.

Helping Users Kick Ass

Bert Boerland pointed me to this great diagram that Dries posted a while back (inspired by Kathy Sierra) which I think really nails a big part of our strategy.

Drupal Users Kick Ass

So, that’s what we’re thinking.

Over to you now. What do you think of this as an Experience Strategy for Drupal?
Questions? Comments? Suggestions?

(Remember, there are lots of ways you can point us to things you think are important for d.org)

28 thoughts on “DRAFT: Drupal.org Experience Strategy

  1. This is GREAT! I’m excited for both you and Drupal.org

    I’ve been thinking a lot about design and OSS and the one part that I feel you may need to add to this is about the culture of OSS needs to change to being one of Design-centric or User-centric instead of one of code centric.

    What I mean by this is that code-contribution cannot be the primary form of achieving value or making decisions within the OSS project.

    Opening this up needs to be a primary part of the experience strategy.

    Am I making sense?

  2. I am so excited about this process, thank you Leisa for making this transparent!

    I really love, “The ‘end point’ (goal) is not getting more people to download Drupal, the end point is to get more people to have a Drupal site running that they love.”

    @David, I completely agree, but like all things it’s a balancing act. One point as an example of this is when I go to the new Drupal.org homepage I want to see somewhere (prevalent) what the latest version of Drupal is, like 6.4 and 5.10.

  3. I’m worried that I don’t see:

    “Drupal.org is the project management and release tool for the Drupal software”

    anywhere on the list. What Drupal.org currently does exceptionally well is let developers manage the software project. If we don’t focus on this experience as well it might get swept under the rug.

  4. Very insightful. I really like the emphasis on the social aspects.

    Minor nits:
    – I suggest striking the “(not just developers!) from the experience strategy. Too much editorializing for such a prominent position. Many of us have worked hard to make drupal.org work for other audiences.
    – “Be nicer to outsiders”. This sounds like a manners class. Rephrase or remove IMO.
    – “Grow up” and “Grow others up” is a great concept. I think it is a bit clearer to say “Educate self” and “Educate others”. I suppose we can keep the verb ‘grow’ if others like it but self/others is clearer IMO.

  5. @Robert – don’t be worried, that’s exactly why we’re putting this out for you all to comment on. What you’ve added makes perfect sense to me – I’m going to add it to the experience strategy now.

    @ David & Ben – I’m glad you’re excited :) me too!

    David, I’m kind of hoping that taking this transparent approach makes a design/user focus implicit to the project… I think that there is have a big role that we can play to help increase awareness and thoughtfulness about the end user and design.

  6. @moshe – thanks so much for your feedback.

    I really understand where you’re coming from on this, particularly the ‘not just developers’ and ‘be nice’ comments.

    From my perspective, I put those comments in as they represent what I heard when talking to people who were outside of the Drupal community, or trying to start becoming a part of the Drupal community. I know that they probably fly in the face of what the community has been trying to achieve (obviously you haven’t been trying to exclude people!), but that shouldn’t invalidate the opinions of the ‘outsiders’…

    These two aspects have been included only because the represent strong voices from the research I’ve done to date… so, for the time being I’d like to leave them in, but I’m really happy to hear what others think about this.

    Re: ‘grow them up’ vs ‘educate others’ etc. I agree, this language wasn’t very much thought through and could definitely do with polish. I think I’ll update my sticky note accordingly and you’ll probably see this in the next draft :)

    thanks again for your feedback.

  7. An interesting challenge is explaining how to “meet” the community, as it lives in lots of scattered places: front page, RSS feeds, IRC, forums, newsletters… You can’t follow all of them, it would be a full-time job!

    The page behind the Support tab on d.o has a list of those places, but doesn’t really explain which channel people should use.

  8. I personally think it’s very important to include the perspective of “outside” users in this larger strategy. It’s something we need to address at least equally as much as we need to address contributors’ needs, because we only get new contributors when we help outsiders over the brick wall. :)

    I LOVE the family analogy. And thanks so much for doing this all out in the open where we can watch the process play out. Very cool!

  9. “Drupal.org is the official website of Drupal, an open source content management platform.” –taken from the mission block on drupal.org

    Drupal is a platform that can be used to build simple CMS to full fledge communities, stores, wikis, news-zine, etc.

    As a matter of fact, I’d never refenrence Drupal as beign a CSM.

  10. I have a few typo in my last comment, corrected below.

    “As a matter of fact, I’d never reference Drupal as beign a CMS.”

    Let’s change all CMS occurence to CMP.

    A CMP is much more open and offer much more possibilities than a CMS.

    We may also add that Drupal is a developer platform.

    Keep up the good work. It’s nice to see this process public.

  11. @Jaques
    ‘We may also add that Drupal is a developer platform’

    really? do we all agree with that?
    obviously it is a platform for developers… but isn’t it also a platform for designers, and content people, and community people?

  12. @leisa I think leaving it implicit is the same as not addressing it at all. All OSS w/o exception start from the premise of code decides. You cannot bring designers into the mix unless you take on this fundamental cultural change. At the very soul of the OSS community to develop truly user-friendly, easy to use, functionally fit, and approachable to learn is a design centric perspective that starts before and in parallel to but separate from the contribution of code.

    While many a developer has kicked ass to bring Drupal this far, the rest of your perspective falls apart unless you address a necessary fundamental shift in the culture of OSS.

    This is a project that I know is being taken on at Mozilla org/com and they are struggling with it. However, they are not leaving it ‘implicit’ (i.e. unsaid).

    — dave

  13. I agree fully with N 8 comment by: webchick.
    I’m a typical no english native outsider and only because one “Documentation Team Member” @Dman dedicated some time to understand my difficulties to find and clear many organization aspects of the “Handbook” on Drupal.org I did not resign to continue in learning on how to implement the great functionalities of Drupal. Today I’m happy to be part of the Drupal community and joined the “Documentation Team” and share my experience as a no native english fan of Drupal with all other members and visitors.

  14. I’ve always seen Drupal as a website building toolkit.

    I can’t wait to see d.o get a facelift (it isn’t that ugly) alongside IA improvements.

    What I’d like to see is a easily findable section which has an how to contribute/be a part of the Drupal project without being a developer.
    For example: Usability/UXD enthusiasts can join the Usability group ( http://groups.drupal.org/usability ) to improve the end user experience of the Drupal software product whether it be through mockups, suggestions or actual code that improve the UI/UX.

  15. I’m linking the down to earth pen & paper thingies :)

    Search is important for the “open” web but also very important for big websites like D.O. I therefore think that having an excellent search and well thought out results screen within D.O is critical.

    Another thing is that I miss a good top level navigation and a consistent way of telling me on which part of D.O I am.

    For climbing the curve, I’d say it’s important to make people aware of how much information there is, how it’s structured and how they can get to it. Linking how-to’s to handbook pages on how stuff works is a small step in that. I’m thinking about more of an integrated learning environment.

    If I’m reading about RSS in Drupal, I want to see links to: “how to set up an rss feed”, “rss feed video tutorial”, “support questions on RSS”, a link to #drupal-support, links to modules that extend the abilities of Drupal Core concerning RSS. Like Google context-sensitive ads, but then advertising the Drupal resources.

  16. One general comment, that leads to several others. The general comment: We need a careful balance between the “way we are” and the “way we want to be” (the future state we want to reach.)

    Now some comments.
    I’m happy to see the “What we believe “#6” listed, though I personally would want to have seen it be more user-declarative — e.g. “Drupal.org makes it easy for people to learn what they need in order to succeed in building their Drupal site.”

    The reasons for my language modification recommendation:

    – Focusing on the goal may suggest an alternate solution. (E.g. “provide help to get up the steep curve” vs. flatten the curve.)

    – The current goal of “helping people learn Drupal” doesn’t necessarily aim at the right future state / goal. Many people who want the benefits of a Drupal site aren’t looking to become Drupal experts; they want an effective website that helps them achieve their goal (e.g. build a children’s museum website), and they really only want to know “enough Drupal” to make a beautiful website that functions as they want. (Gasp; I know this may be sacrilege, but it’s true.) So for _some_ people, learning Drupal is the goal. But, I assert that for the (vast majority of) others, Drupal.org’s goal should be to make it easy to find _help_ to build a Drupal site – not teach them Drupal.

    — A sub-point #1 to this: A _LOT_ of people who are building Drupal code, and making the community great, are making money from working on Drupal by building sites, theming, etc. I think it’s worth at least _discussing_ whether the d.o redesign publicly surfaces the commercial interests of those who work on / contribute to Drupal. I assert that there ought to be a “What we believe #10”, to wit: “The Drupal project, and the users of Drupal, benefit from having a viable commercial ecosystem around it, and it is part of Drupal.org’s mission to expose that ecosystem to those who want to use Drupal.”

    — Sub point #2 to this: I think What We Believe #8 is also somewhat exclusionary for the same reason. I may want to use Drupal, but either (a) don’t give a rat’s ___ about the community’s values, or (b) simply disagree with them in some way. I don’t want to exclude these people either; we’ll _never_ convert them to the Drupal Way if we subconsciously make them feel they’re not welcome if they don’t subscribe to our values. You should not have to be a Believer to utilize Drupal.org, nor should Drupal.org try to force you to convert to our Beliefs. See, learn, align should != make you uncomfortable if you aren’t aligned.

    Another sacrilegious comment: I want us to question the “We belive” #2 — community > product. I think this is is either (a) a function of the community that has been interviewed – and not of the entire body of people using Drupal – or (b) is simply a belief that doesn’t represent a healthy long-term view. Just look at the numbers. There are x00,000s of Drupal sites, and though there are a large number of CVS accounts, there may be only a couple of thousand active community members (in fact, only a few _hundred_ actively contribute to core).

    If drupal.org treats as second class those who don’t want to be “active” in the community, we’re like religious/political/… zealots who aren’t tolerant of non-zealots. And we see how good that has been for the world! It will result in a homogenous, zealots-only community that risks not achieving its goal of helping lots of people build beautiful sites that they love.

    Finally, NOWHERE do we make a point about talking explicitly about great design, and we need to make design a higher value goal for the community. Look at your 3×5 card, and see “ugly blog.” The only way to fix that is with better design. Many in the community want to see us prioritize design. I’d love to see us agree putting either in the Experience Strategy, or the What We Believe that prioritizes the value of design. I propose something in the What We Believe, thusly: “We believe that people’s happiness with their Drupal site will be directly affected by how beautiful they think the design is, and how well that design suits the function of the site.”

  17. Finally, I STRONGLY wish that you guys were building this site / discussion using Drupal (vs. WordPress – gasp!), so we had some reassurance that the people charged with the d.o redesign were “eating the dog food….” :-)

  18. […] disambiguity – » DRAFT: Drupal.org Experience Strategy "The redesign project for Drupal.org will be guided by an experience strategy that will inform our decision making in all aspects of the redesign and which will, we hope, be able to be used as ‘a star to sail our ship by’ (as Jesse James Garrett would say) – as a clear objective to design towards." (tags: design webdev usability CMS website process redesign draft drupal) […]

  19. I kinda think a lot of the social aspect is groups.drupal.org, and probably forums should be transitioning there. I see drupal.org as more of a develop/document/distribute site, rather than a social site.


  20. Hello Leisa, Thanks for the heads up.

    This looks great and I look forward to the redesign. I hope I can give some useful input where I can.

    I’ll be looking forward to the change in IA since I think that is what will matter most. The ability to navigate with ease will speak volumes towards how we define our community.

  21. We are getting in the neighborhood of 1000000 unique visitors per month to Drupal.org and roughly 3.5% of them log in every month. The future of the Drupal project and the success of this particular design effort depends on increasing the participation in the Drupal project. This design effort is doing many things to reach that goal, but it might be worth explicitly stating increased participation is the desired outcome.
    –Experience Strategy for Drupal.org
    Bullets 3 & 4 addressing home and project management might better as a single bullet that addresses the goal of increasing participation through our home and PM tools.

    What we believe:
    “The Drupal product is a market leading CMS solution”
    -CMS is a 5B industry. WebCMS is a 750M sub-industry. Drupal is a rising star, but it’s lost in that sea of competition (http://www.cmswatch.com/CMS/Report/Vendors/). Our inability to define what Drupal the product is, is the root of the branding and design problem. We are not a traditional CMS, we are much more, we are not a framework, we include one, but it’s not a framework. I believe we need a new category. Drupal is a social publishing system. Defining what a social publishing system is key to our branding. It’s a blank slate, like our redesign and we should use it.

    One of the explicit goals of the redesign effort was the economic sustainability of Drupal.org. I’d like to see us address that economic sustainability not only from a Drupal.org revenue standpoint but as a economically sustainable community. Sustainability might be another part of the merging of point 3&4.

    Keep up the good work.


  22. I have been using Drupal for about 6 months now and my issue is with finding modules (and themes) to do what I need to get done. AND finding modules can be timeconsuming… The Advanced search needs an option to sort by date so I can see what’s been happening within the past two to four months and not years ago with v4.7 which I never used… Even searching for v6.x should sort by most recent stuff FIRST. ALSO there should be a download hit counter for MODULES and THEMES to give a hint at popularity. AND a second number download hits in the past 3 months to show recent activity. Thanks and keep up the great work.

Comments are closed.