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.

46 Responses to “Drupal7UX – How does Drupal talk? (on brand, personality and tone of voice)”

  1. Damian March 26, 2009 at 10:57 pm #

    SS Commodore Ute… resource intensive and hard to sell ?

  2. leisa.reichelt March 26, 2009 at 11:00 pm #

    play nicely Damian. ;)
    intensely desirable and worth the effort, of course.

  3. redndahead March 26, 2009 at 11:18 pm #

    Chameleon
    (no celebrity)
    1989 Taurus SHO (innocuous on the outside, power on the inside)
    LegoLand expert builder

  4. Chris March 26, 2009 at 11:33 pm #

    I think Drupal would be an octpus (but not necessarily with 8 legs… a mollusk of some sort for sure), definitely not Tom Cruise – more likely Jack Black in kung fu panda, Ford Edge (which is kind of confusing in itself), and certainly (though not original at all I am sure) its a web developer.

  5. Chris March 26, 2009 at 11:34 pm #

    darn… “redndahead” is right its a “LegoLand expert builder” for sure!

  6. matthew March 26, 2009 at 11:43 pm #

    Animal: monkey
    Celebrity: Jon Stewart
    Car: army jeep
    Career: mechanic

  7. Hueij March 27, 2009 at 12:03 am #

    Animal: cat
    Celeb: Marilyn Monroe
    Car: ’56 Corvette
    Career: rednahead’s Lego girl

    They all make you feel warm when you first meet them but after a while they make you feel that you have to run away as fast as you can. But somehow you get to know them better and after a while you get a new couch after your cat died and you know you want another one to tear it apart, you realise you are watching Niagara for the umptieth time, tell yourself that you will get a drivers-license if only you could get your hands on the most beautiful car ever build and that lego girl… well…

    In short, once you get to know Drupal you find out she is sexy (and for me, still full of mysteries).

  8. jpetso March 27, 2009 at 12:05 am #

    animal: an elephant (no idea why i thought of that one)
    celebrity: Woody Allen
    car: an Audi A6
    career: haha… software engineering :P

  9. nadavoid March 27, 2009 at 12:56 am #

    ant / Paul-the-apostle / element / administrative assistant

    Ant = tinies cooperating
    Paul = being all things to all people, and has a mission
    Element = highly configurable. kinda cool.
    admin assistant = gets it done for you

    I also like the Elephant idea. Elephants are very communal, family oriented, and intelligent.

  10. geilhufe March 27, 2009 at 1:11 am #

    Not being capable of actually following directions:

    Drupal is an enabler.

    Drupal isn’t an animal, it is the zoo keeper that has the animal YOU want to be.

    Drupal isn’t a celebrity, it is TMZ or OK magazine (US-centric reference alert) that connects you with the celebrity that YOU want to be.

    Drupal isn’t a car, it is CarMaxx (US centric again), a place where YOU can find the car you want.

    You get the idea.

    I think the value of this exercise is to define just how schitzophrenic we want to design Drupal to be. Right now it is designed to be clinically insane. ;) So rather than ask what car is Drupal, I would first ask how many cars does Drupal get to be by design?

    Animal: Something soft and cuddly for the “kids” (a Koala– they look soft and cuddly, but in reality are mean as heck); something big and powerful for the corporations (I like Elephant); something sleek and efficient for the digerati (dolphin).

    Car: Something fast and sexy for the digerati (Tesla Roadster); reliable and efficient for the hobbyists (Civic Hybrid); something powerful and utilitarian for the corporations (Delivery van?)

  11. LeeHunter March 27, 2009 at 1:35 am #

    Really, I’d be happiest if Drupal just communicated very simply, clearly and directly with no personality whatsoever.

    I don’t need it to be amusing or endearing. In fact, the people who are seeing Drupal for the first time are probably dealing with way too much information already – that’s why they’re here. If we want to impress them, we should just help them do what they want to do with a minimum of fuss.

  12. leisa.reichelt March 27, 2009 at 1:38 am #

    acknowledging those who say they’d like ‘no personality’ and asking… is there such a thing?…. just wondering. My gut reaction is no.

    Completely taking the point that you don’t want an intrusive personality and yet…

  13. overlobe March 27, 2009 at 2:06 am #

    animal: large animals don’t really cut it here for me; I want to say the Borg (but benign), or bacteria that build into something bigger – like the chameleon, but in a functional way not a presentational way. essentially its a swiss-army knife. so.. maybe Jan Svankmajer’s dancing knives (if you need anima too)

    celeb: someone good, dependable and flexible. wrt acting; not method, more technical. Jeff Bridges ?

    car: 70′s landcruiser, with no extras. inside: utiity. outside: utility

    profession: hardware store owner. trainspotter on the weekends.

  14. vishnu March 27, 2009 at 2:28 am #

    Drupal would be a dolphin/Amitabh Bacchan/Tesla Model S/carpenter

  15. elramirez March 27, 2009 at 2:46 am #

    Drupal goes along the personality of the muppet babies. (http://is.gd/paT6) We are a bunch of dreamers and make use/contribute of the awesome support of the community (more buddies) and the platform as we wish.

  16. Bill F March 27, 2009 at 4:16 am #

    Chameleon

    Ferris Buller (Matthew Broderick)

    Jeep Wrangler

    Electrician

  17. cpelham March 27, 2009 at 5:03 am #

    Drupal would be a human/ Bob Dylan/ General Lee (from Dukes of Hazard)/mechanic

    human because transform our environment, Bob Dylan because he re-creates himself over and over, the General Lee because it’s a car for everyday people that has been souped up to be elite, and mechanic because mechanics are useful and practical as hell but also love to tinker and make something their own.

  18. hasakanyol March 27, 2009 at 6:09 am #

    Drupal would be a Butterfly / Ernesto “Che” Guevara / German Car / Revolutionary

    @butterfly: short life span, determined, soil to sky in no time.
    @che: asthmatic, guerilla, doctor, revolutionary and simply put just a man.
    @german-car: has a spirit, well designed, efficient, prestige and most importantly reliable.
    @revolutionary: or evolutionary, rich in soul not cluttered, fulfills a destiny.

    Its hard to say what Drupal should talk like. Right now Drupal has a personality disorder and doesn’t speak much. Thats got to change. Since simplicity is the ultimate sophistication, the interface shouldn’t get in you’re way. The text should be short but sweet. Clear, focused and the word I’m looking for is; concise. It shouldn’t be WordPress or Expression Engine.

    I would compare it to A List Apart’s CMS, but that would only be the front-end, the point I’m trying to make is most software makes you unproductive, it gets in the way, too many buttons, to many options and to many of everything. Thing’s should be visible only when they are required and only reachable at where they belong. There should only be one way to do something, not two or three! Democracy doesn’t work with design or programming.

    There should be basic rules or constraint’s. Simply put there’s only one path to happiness and thats pursuit. There should only be one way to reaching you’re need with Drupal, not many. Interface should present itself, clearly, navigation should flow like you would expect it to.

    We don’t need to have a conversation with Drupal.
    Small talk is just fine, as long as we are both on the same frequency.

    Good luck,

    Hasan

  19. patrickkennedy March 27, 2009 at 6:27 am #

    “SS Commodore Ute”! Glad to hear there’s plenty of Aussie left in you despite you stint in Britain :)

  20. ncam March 27, 2009 at 7:57 am #

    Husky, kayne west, ?, management consultant

  21. Alexander Langer March 27, 2009 at 9:10 am #

    animal: dog
    Well behaving and always at your side if you taught it right. Will defend you and what’s yours for not more than a bite to eat, some water and occasional caressing.

    Celebrity: Robin Williams
    Convincing as comedian, everyday hero and even as villain. No matter what role you give him, he’ll play it in Academy Award like fashion..

    Car: VW Beatle (the old one)
    Don’t know how this came to my mind. I guess I ain’t good at cars ;)
    A Beatle is one of the few cars that seems to have a soul. It may not be so powerful at first (though there’s plenty of customized Beatles with Porsche engines), but whoever sat in a Beatle (especially the convertible) just instantly fell in love with it. It’s friendly, reliable and easy to fix for almost anyone.

    Profession/career: Scientist
    Back in the days a scientist was not just a nerd. He was interested in so many different things, even combined it with art. Take Da Vinci as a well-known example of someone who excelled in so many areas.
    Drupal is such a scientist. It may end up as a specialist of some sort, but it’s pure nature is that of an artist, writer, natural scientist, philospoher, …

  22. Wim Mostrey March 27, 2009 at 9:33 am #

    * Animal: (Greater) Roadrunner
    * Celebrity: Kanye West
    * Car: Smart
    * Profession/career: Lead Engineer

  23. moshe weitzman March 27, 2009 at 1:29 pm #

    I didn’t read any responses. Here goes:

    If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?

    Panther. Nimble, fast.

    If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?

    James Bond. Full of tricks. Can manage any situation.

    If Drupal was a car, what would it be?

    Dunno

    If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?

    Air traffic controller

  24. Noyz March 27, 2009 at 1:41 pm #

    If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    a chameleon. you never know what it’s going to become.

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Jack Nicolson. Odd behavior. hard to pin point. a bit reckless – but also superior.

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    A range rover. It can do lots, but its quite messy when it all comes together

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    Surgeon. Takes a lot of knowledge to get it going, but once you know it, you can save lives. :)

  25. m&m March 27, 2009 at 5:25 pm #

    >If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?
    Dolphin – graceful and fun

    >If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?
    Jack Nicholson – when it comes down to it, he’s a smooth operator

    >If Drupal was a car, what would it be?
    Chevy Silverado – reliable, best-selling, longest-lasting….Like a Rock

    >If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?
    Landscape Architect – combo of design and functionality at its core. Could also be Bill Nye the Science Guy (cuz he’s just flat-out cool). :)

  26. daniel March 28, 2009 at 1:29 am #

    Elephant/ Cory Doctorow/ amphibious vehicle/ Architecture.

    ps. in this theme, why do I have to scroll down to read the article, then scroll back up to the top and click some arbitrary number (of comments) in order to make a comment? (just askin’).

  27. Joeri Poesen March 28, 2009 at 5:46 am #

    animal: grizzly. Can’t say why. Other animals might make more sense, but I experience her as a grizzly.

    celebrity: Johnny Depp. Awesome and talented, yet curiously unpredictable and notoriously hard to manage, until you get to know him.

    car: skoda roomster. Undervalued, underappreciated, much more than meets the eye if you care to look. Could have been fancier and shinier, but still worth every penny, and hey: get a custom paint job if you want to stand out.

    career: marriage councilor: negotiating so much points of view with so surprisingly little conflicts.

  28. Joeri Poesen March 28, 2009 at 5:46 am #

    make that surprisingly few conflicts

  29. Thijs van den Anker March 28, 2009 at 4:13 pm #

    Horse/Ronaldinho/Jeep/Social Worker

  30. dalin March 29, 2009 at 4:15 am #

    * If Drupal was an animal, what would it be?

    dog – man’s best friend

    * If Drupal was a celebrity, who would it be?

    Barak Obama

    * If Drupal was a car, what would it be?

    Electric car

    * If Drupal was a profession/career what would it be?

    Creative Generalist

  31. pwolanin March 29, 2009 at 7:07 pm #

    cat;
    Barak Obama;
    Land Rover;
    talent agent.

  32. Scott Bryant March 29, 2009 at 9:59 pm #

    Personally I’ve always thought the name Drupal is rather brand defeating…makes me think of “droop” not a way I’d prefer to be feeling conducting tasks or doing work

  33. Susan Campbell March 30, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    Jackrabbit – sometimes runs too fast (new releases) that it misses things

    Dennis Hopper – good actor, but a little weird

    Volvo – reliable, but not attractive and difficult to get repaired

    Chef – with enough heat and sweat you can get a good product, but definitely not instant food (i.e., doesn’t work out-of-the-box)

    Thanks for all your efforts, Leisa and Mark!

  34. Jim March 30, 2009 at 3:09 pm #

    Oh dear. This is where the design process goes bad.

  35. Jeff March 30, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

    A person – drupal should be like the mac guy (justin long) as drupal community has been perceived as not-so-helpful forum and in need of a friendlier image for others to get to know about.

    A car – Beetle! timeless and never-out-of-style, meaning that any version of drupal will have it’s own character and when in the future looking back, there will always be a certain character to each version of drupal.

    Career – can’t think of any

    Basically drupal needs to have a friendlier tone, calm and collective color (blue!), humble but with character!

    This is fun! lol

  36. Jeff March 30, 2009 at 8:41 pm #

    A person – drupal should be like the mac guy (justin long) as drupal community has been perceived as not-so-helpful forum and in need of a friendlier image for others to get to know about.

    A car – Beetle! timeless and never-out-of-style, meaning that any version of drupal will have it’s own character and when in the future looking back, there will always be a certain character to each version of drupal.

    Career – can’t think of any

    Basically drupal needs to have a friendlier tone, calm and collective color (blue!), humble but with character!

    This is fun! lol

  37. noirfatom March 30, 2009 at 10:07 pm #

    # an animal > a cat
    # a celebrity > james bond
    # a car > VW beatle
    # a profession/career > an illusionist

  38. Susan MacPhee March 30, 2009 at 11:10 pm #

    animal: chameleon
    celebrity: Johnny Depp
    car: zip car
    profession/career: structural engineer

  39. astanush March 31, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Drupal would e a Chameleon/Ben Kingsley/Jeep/Architect

  40. astanush March 31, 2009 at 2:35 pm #

    Drupal would be a Chameleon/Ben Kingsley/Jeep/Architect

  41. somnoliento March 31, 2009 at 6:31 pm #

    Animal: A horse; it’s not cuddly, not a pet, could be incredibly useful and feel like a friend after a while, but it’s not… domesticated.

    Celebrity: Can’t pin one down; I keep thinking “hard to like” or “take me on my own terms”, but also “deep” and “interesting”. Again, not cuddly. Brando?

    Car: x-terra – off-road, versatile, you could take the seats off or soldier on bike-holders in the back; and yet small and maneuverable.

    [Sorry to respond a few days late, I plan on being a bit more involved.]

  42. Elijah April 3, 2009 at 5:41 am #

    I think Drupal *should* be a Cheetah!!

    Yup, a Cheetah.

    A Cheetah!!!

  43. Jaza April 7, 2009 at 7:55 am #

    Drupal would be a monkey / Christopher Lloyd / Volkswagon / plumber

  44. Flimm April 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm #

    cow/it wouldn’t be, it would a behind the scenes person/a van/a sysadmin :)
    I think you should have asked what Drupal’s personality should be, rather than what it feels like right now. Here’s what I think it should be:
    horse/Peter Jackson/a van/a miracle-worker who’s a sysadmin

  45. Rowan May 6, 2009 at 1:28 am #

    > animal? –> dolphin

    > celebrity? –> interestingly enough, kate moss.

    > car? –> a car-building kit? not helpful, sorry… a subaru forester

    > profession/career? –> magazine publisher

  46. Matt Collins September 16, 2010 at 12:14 am #

    I agree with jpetso except for the whole elephant thing. I would pick a lion instead.

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