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Help Us Modernize the Admin UI of Drupal

Take this survey to help us make Drupal the best platform for content editors and managers to use everyday.

Do you use Drupal? Before working at Palantir, I used Drupal only once: to help a legacy client with their Drupal 6 website. They had a support contract with my company, so if they had an issue or question I would do my best to help them, even though the original team who built the site had moved on to other jobs, and even though my company focused on WordPress sites.

I remember scrutinizing every menu item of the admin section, trying to familiarize myself with the platform while careful not to misclick and mess up something on the client’s site. Some of the terms I could understand—users, taxonomy—but some were new or vague, and not very clear to their meaning such as nodes, views, and blocks. While I was able to help the client at the time, I felt Drupal was too obtuse of a platform for me.

Redesign planned for Drupal

Now that I’m at Palantir, and knowing Drupal is a bigger part of my job, I’m still struck by how user unfriendly the platform can be out-of-the box, especially to a non-developer. While add-on modules like Workbench and Content Moderation can mitigate some of this complexity, installing and configuring those requires specialized knowledge. From talking to current clients, I know that I’m not the only one who feels intimidated by Drupal’s default administrative interface.

The Drupal community is also aware of the high learning curve to Drupal, and is in the process of modernizing the look and feel of the admin experience to make it more intuitive. Given how big the changes are, it’s the perfect time to include the people who work with Drupal every day to make sure Drupal is a system everyone feels comfortable using.

Therefore, I am working with fellow Palantir web strategist Michelle Jackson, Drupal front-end designer Cristina Chumillas, co-founder and front-end lead at Evolving Web Suzanne Dergacheva, project manager Antonella Severo, design consultant Roy Scholten, folks from the Drupal Association and other interested volunteers to conduct research on popular content management systems and web platforms such as Drupal, WordPress, Squarespace, and Joomla in order to learn how best to update Drupal.

Here’s where you come in

We want to make Drupal the best platform for content editors and managers to use everyday. Therefore, if your job involves updating the company blog, swapping out images, tagging content to group related information, or some other way you interact with your website, we want to hear from you.

We put together a quick, 5-10 minute survey that asks about your general familiarity with Drupal. For example, we want to know common tasks you perform on the platform as well as frustrating pain points. This way we can target our redesign efforts to make Drupal work better for you.

In addition to the opportunity to shape the future of Drupal, at the end of the survey you’ll have the opportunity to enter into a drawing for two great prizes: 1 full conference ticket to the (new) DrupalCon Content Marketing track at DrupalCon Seattle 2019 - $695 value (flight and hotel not included), or 1 two-day, online Drupal 8 training session from fellow Drupal agency Evolving Web.

Take the Survey

So what happens next?

This survey is step one of our research efforts. After reviewing the common tasks, we’ll ask folks who had provided their email address if they are willing to participate in card sort exercises to determine the best label for grouping common tasks together. Next we’ll design solutions to address the biggest pain points and ask participants to validate our assumptions through usability tests.

Looking at the long term, we are interested in comparing Drupal with other popular systems such as WordPress and Squarespace. We plan to reach out to people who use those platforms to find out what they find easy or difficult about them, which may inform the direction of the Drupal redesign. No matter which direction our research takes, we want to ensure we’re building a product with you, the content editor, in mind.

More ways to help

We want to make the new Drupal as intuitive as can be on a global scale, but as a small team of volunteers, there’s only so much we can do on our own. If you develop or design for Drupal, and are interested in our research efforts, there are a number of ways to get involved. First, check out the Admin UI and JavaScript Modernization initiative on Drupal.org. Then, reach out to us on the #admin-ui channel on Slack. We can show you how to copy the survey so you can run your own tests. We’re especially grateful if you’re able to translate it and test users in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

It shouldn’t take specialized knowledge to update and maintain a website on Drupal. With your help, we can make Drupal a more approachable platform for content editors. I can’t wait to hear from you!

Help us modernize the admin UI of Drupal.

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