Firstly, I want to start by thanking you all for your participation to date in this project – it has been beyond helpful! Of course, now I’m going to ask for more, as we move forward to working out what the Information Architecture for the new Drupal.org is going to be.
If you have been following this process you will know that the overwhelming response to the question of ‘one site or many’ has been – many. And for many very good reasons, covering issues from technical and implementation through to community, scalability and usability. So, it should be no surprise to hear that we’ll be proposing to take that approach to the information architecture.
In terms of how it breaks down, here are some initial thoughts on which I’d value your feedback.
We propose that Drupal.org have, in effect, two homepages. On ‘not logged in’ and one ‘logged in’.
The ‘not logged in’ homepage would serve as the public face of Drupal to ‘outsiders’ (those with little or know knowledge of Drupal) and will be the place where we can introduce Drupal and ‘sell it in’ – showing it’s features, capabilities, reliability, the scale of it’s use across industries and around the world, and it’s amazingly active community.
We will encourage people to ‘join’ Drupal.org so that they can access the ‘logged in’ version of the homepage. The purpose of the ‘log in’ is not to ‘hide’ content, but rather to ‘activate’ the homepage as a tool for managing the vast amounts of content and activity that make up Drupal.org (or d.o as the ‘insiders’ call it!)
We imagine the ‘logged in’ version of d.o to be similar in approach to Netvibes - the idea being that there are a range of ‘widgets’ available that you can select and arrange as best suits your needs – so depending on what you are most interested and engaged in, you can ‘tailor’ the content on your homepage to best reflect this. Developers might also be able to develop new ‘widgets’ and submit them for use on the d.o logged in homepage.
We believe that a single login solution is imperative (and we’d like to suggest that supporting OpenID would be an excellent idea).
We also advocate a unified search across all of the d.o content, with a search results page that better identifies the type of content found and it’s source, and good filtering capabilities.
Although we agree that the ‘many site’ approach is the correct approach for this project, it is important that we resolve a current issue with the information architecture which is that many of the current sub-sites are unfindable – we need to make these visible and easily accessible to all.
The logical way to approach this is to use a ‘network header’ which is global – shown on all pages of all d.o sites – and which contains links to each of the sub-sites in the d.o network.
A different visual treatment may be developed for some or all of the subsites to allow for their specific purpose and character, whilst clearly positioning them as a part of the Drupal online presence. We want to balance the need for flexibility and scalability with their inherant threat to usability.
A few people mentioned jquery.com as a reference site and – broadly speaking, in terms of the header/sub-site treatment, this is a guide to the approach (not to any great level of detail and not from a visual design perspective of course!)
It is quite a big task to decide what ‘sections’ are required and what requires it’s own ‘sub-site’, but here is a first run at what we are thinking.
Sections of d.o (but not their own separate subsites):
- About (includes marketing information – features, benefits, demo etc. – also information about Open Source in general)
- Jobs (pulling it out of the ‘groups’ site and making it more prominent)
- Events (also pulling it out of the ‘groups’ site and making it more prominent)
- News (similar content stream to current d.o homepage. Include link (at least) to Planet Drupal here)
- Get Started (a quick start guide for new players, helping to get them over the hurdle of getting their Drupal site up and running and showing them how to access the community and other help)
- Get Involved (an overview of ways that people can get involved in the Drupal project and/or community)
- Professional Services (a directory of hosting, design and development services for rent, possibly paid listings?)
Sub-sites of d.o
- Community – the social hub of d.o hosting groups, discussion forums etc.
- Documentation- where all drupal related documentation is hosted, including Handbook and API
- The Drupal Project – the project management aspect of the site for core, modules, themes etc. Issue lists etc. live here
- Download – essentially an alternate ‘window’ on The Drupal Project, but focussed on helping people locate then download core, modules, themes etc. (rather than the ‘development’ aspect of them)
- Association – as per the existing Association content
As I said, this is the first run at the structure and I’m looking for your feedback on where we need to make improvements. Specifically feedback that I’m looking for is:
- Is something missing? Is there an important part of d.o content that you don’t see fitting into one of these categories?
- Technical issues. Is something that I’m suggesting here going to cause more technical pain (which will equate to implementation delay) than it’s worth? Let me know.
- Drupal Project / Download – two windows on the same content – what do you think of this idea? I’m not sure that it’s entirely right, but we *do* need to resolve the fact that people who access modules just to ‘download’ them seem to have entirely different needs to people who access them to ‘develop’ them.
- Design and UI – perhaps this is just my personal mission (I hope not!) but I’d like to make an information architecture that was more appealing to people like me who might want to get involved with the project. I was toying with creating a section specifically for design/UI/UX… but it didn’t feel quite right. At the moment I’m imagining it living under The Drupal Project… what do you think?
I have some images that I’ll put up shortly to roughly illustrate these for those who prefer pictures to words (don’t we all!) – my internet access doesn’t allow me access to my images at the moment… grr.. but I thought I’d get this up now rather than wait.
Looking forward to your thoughts on this!
Updated: here are a couple of images that might illustrate my thoughts a little. Larger versions available on Flickr (via links below)
Larger version available here.
Larget version available here. (Note: this is not the proposed design for the header, just a sketch of all the ‘bits’ that might be in it).