At FOSDEM, Roy shared his experiences on the Drupal project and his advice for anyone looking to increase UX design in their own project.
Why bother with UX?
- It must be usable, if a user can't install it they can't tell if it's useful to them.
- Once they know, there are probably other products available, so you need to make your product delightful or desirable.
- Drupal was getting popular, there were many complaints that it was hard to use.
- Initiated two full blown usability tests.
- The results were disastrous. Even with a help desk to call, no one made it through.
- The community realised it had to do something about it.
- Dries blogged, critical UX issues, Drupal 7 is not getting released without it. Put UX in the spotlight.
- The community UX team was formed.
- The community struggled to make an impact, improvements were iterative.
- Two professional designers outside the community were hired by Acquia, to develop a grander vision for Drupal 7.
- They did design research, usability testing, developed a grander vision for Drupal 7. 80,000 euros for half a year were spent.
- Drupal 7 was lab tested, the critical usability issues were fixed.
- After the grander problems were fixed, we could focus on more specific efforts. For example the content creation form.
- Drupal is a large project, everyone has an opinion about design. Every design issue does not get committed under 100 comments.
- Codifying patterns and best practices, drawing up guidelines on how to implemented UI consistently.
- Moving towards smaller, more focused releases after Drupal 8.
- Avoid opinion based discussions by using data.
- "7/10 people struggled to complete this task, we have to change something"
- Recorded usability tests show people the pain of users.
- Pre-Drupal 6 - the implementors of Drupal were also the users, the technical and user mental models were mixed.
- It sets a baseline, the next test will show you if you've improved.
- Students who were involved in the project had access to a lab, the community UX test helped write the test script.
- Ask an interaction designer to review the UI, they can help prioritise problems.
- Be open to reviews
- Look at the support requests for common user problems
Build a design culture
- The project lead has to champion the vision, for example, not releasing Drupal 7 until the UX issues were fixed
- Develop a design vision for the project, develop principles
- Set priorities, you have to make trade offs
- Allow for the design process to happen, adapt the tools and processes to help the designers.
Tools and processes
- Create a design tag to make the design issues easy to find
- Post screen shots in issues, so it's easy for designers to review UI changes
Help Developers get better at design
- Teach developers about learnability, efficiency and performances, memorability, safety, satisfaction.
Show the work
- Document and publish usability studies and improvements and guidelines.
- Don't try and get many designers at once, one designer can make enough work for many developers!
- Try and make strong relationships with few designers
- Make a clear point of entry on your site for designers.
- Start with your own user base