Welcome to the latest iteration of the Drupal.org redesign project which you can find here:
We’re both excited and nervous to show you this latest version because we’ve taken a bit of a deviation from our previous path as a result of both feedback from you and usability testing, and us not being quite satisfied with the work that had been done so far.
There were a couple of things that were really bugging us in the versions up to now. In particular, the navigation in the header (there was so much of it and it looked kind of messy and confusing and in tests, we observed that people completely ignored it!). The Logged In version of the homepage was a good idea but the execution was coming up short as we learned that ‘hard core’ Drupallers thought it was a v valuable addition to the site but just about everyone else wasn’t interested…
A behaviour which we have observed since the very early days on this project has the use of search – lots of people use search lots of the time, and a lot of the tasks that the site has to support are heavily search oriented (finding modules, finding help etc.). Drupal.org users have some of the most advanced Google skills I’ve ever observed! – and yet up until now, the redesign of the site didn’t really pay this much heed – it was still very much a hierarchical site made up of silos of content… forcing people to choose between this section or that to find the content they required. Another thing that we had largely ignored is the use of URLs as shortcuts to information (eg api.drupal.org to get direct to the api documentation site)
(Having said that, I am very pleased that the information architecture has actually performed well in task based testing – with a few exceptions like, say, ‘Professional Services’ which was too limited for the content it needed to hold and has now been changed to ‘Commercial Services’ (you like?))
So, as a result of these issues, we’ve made some fairly significant changes to the homepage and navigation structures, placing a much greater emphasis on the search behaviour from the homepage (and throughout the site), and significantly simplifying the ‘header’ navigation. Early participants in the crowdsourced wireframing exercise may also be pleased to see the inclusion of the ‘big ass footer’ (refer to some early posts on the Flickr group if you have no idea what this refers to!)
We did some initial usability testing showing a more ‘search’ based alternative earlier this week and it was quite well received – since then we’ve done quite a bit more work on it.
There is one important thing that has been missed in this version (which hopefully Mark will be able to get sorted tomorrow!) which is that the search refinements (modules, themes, documentation and forum posts) will be links direct to a ‘landing page’ for those sections to better support a browsing interaction style).
The ‘logged in homepage’ has evolved to a ‘dashboard’ which we hope will be more useful to a broader audience whilst still supporting the needs of the ‘hard core drupaller’. The idea would be that you could set whether you see your dashboard or the standard homepage as the default when you visit the site.
There are a whole range of changes and updates and additions, I won’t go through all of them here, rather, dive in and take a look for yourself. I’d really encourage you, as you do so, to think not only about ‘how do I like the look of this‘ but also think ‘how do I use the Drupal.org website now (or how would I?), and how would I do what I want to do on *this* version of the site?’
I do want to give a little more feedback on what we’ve learned from usability testing which explains the high priority and size of the ‘case study’ on the homepage. With virtually everyone that I have interviewed so far, almost without fail one of the most valuable pieces of content (not including modules etc.) is the case study – this is true both for ‘outsiders’ who are evaluating Drupal, but also for ‘insiders’ who are on the learning curve – the case study is a great opportunity for us to challenge the perception of what a Drupal site looks like, to showcase some of the great companies and organisation who use Drupal, to explain more about how Drupal sites are built, what modules were used, the team that is involved, any challenges and learnings along the way – in short – they are really very productive and impressive for a large group of our audience. As I said to Mark recently – I cannot overstate how valuable case studies are to the people I have met and talked to about the Drupal.org website – hence their very prominent position on the site.
We still have a lot of work to do – in particular, I’m hoping that we can make some good progress in the ‘documentation’ section and the modules and themes pages. These are very important parts of the site and what you see there at the moment doesn’t reflect our current thinking on how it should work (which has been influenced and inspired by listening to the community talk about what they need and what they’d like to see!). The community landing page is still very much up for grabs (needs more thought and love and doesn’t really reflect our current thinking).
Please go in and take a look and let us know what you think – show your friends and tell us what they think, and consider getting involved in our crowdsourced usability testing if that takes your fancy.
This week I’d really like to invite people to do some usability testing comparing the previous (iteration 6) homepage with this one to get some feedback on this new direction.
Please feel free to post any feedback here, or there is also a discussion over on groups.drupal.org if you’d like to join in over there. I look forward to talking with you about this some more!