How Drupal Could Become Easy to Learn, Easy to Use

After some thought, I've come to the conclusion that Drupal's most significant usability problem is findability. Findability[1] is defined as:

a. The quality of being locatable or navigable. b. The degree to which a particular object is easy to discover or locate. c. The degree to which a system or environment supports navigation and retrieval.

The true seriousness of drupal's findability problem may not be immediately evident to expert drupal users. In addition, in various usability surveys, and studies, there is no immediate evidence of Drupal's findability problem.

Holy Christ AOL is Lame

Okay, so time for a confession. I use AOL instant messenger for IM. Its not that I'm unaware that there are better clients; really its just that I'm lazy, and all of my contacts are on it.

As most AIM users have no doubt noticed, everytime you sign on, a stupid AIM browser opens up, and you get to take a quick look at the AIM homepage. This is a picture of the one I saw tonight:

Now this is worth sharing for a number of reasons.

A UI Design Fortune Cookie

"A modern paradox is that it’s simpler to create complex interfaces because it’s so complex to simplify them." -- Pär Almqvist , Fragments (of Time)

Welcome to Anti-Usability Club

The more I think about it, the more I dislike the word "usability", and this abstract construct dubbed "the user".

This is not an entirely enviable stance for me to take. A brief search of my past writings will reveal that I've been downright promiscious in terms of discussing users, and their useiness. So why the change of heart?

Well, think about it:

  • have you ever thought to yourself "my, this website is insanely usable!".
  • Can you even remember the last time you uttered the word"usability" outside of a discussion about usability?
  • Have you ever heard a person who doesn't read web design blogs mention a site's "usability"?['1']

It seems to me that the word "usability" is much like the Tao: though one can speak of usability, the true, and eternal usability can only be nameless. If it had a name, than it would not be of the eternal usable nature.

Sam Harris: Why Religion Must End

Worth a thought, and perhaps a full read. 

All we have is human conversation to do this with. Either you can be held hostage by the human conversation that occurred 2,000 years ago and has been enshrined in these books, or you can be open to the human conversation of the 21st century. And if there's something good in those books, then it is admissible in the 21st century conversation on morality.

A Very Timely CVS Command


Normally I wouldn't double-dip the planet like this, but this is truly a nugget worth sharing. For the last few months you, like me, have probably been working off of the CVS head. However, as Drupal 4.7.0 is SO close, its time we return to the land of sanity. Imagine, my brothers and sisters: soon, we can checkout modules and EXPECT them to work! Truly glorious.

Unfortunately, as we all know, if we update our collection of modules and core files using the 4-7 tag, we'll lose all modules that aren't tagged for 4.7. For some time, I thought this was just "the way it was". But then, Dave Cohen brought this gem of a command to my attention.

Taking Drupal's Marketing to the Next Level

Someday, I'll have a chance to design some halfway decent drupal ads. In the meantime, however, I can only offer some general thoughts on how Drupal could become the poster child for good grassroots open source marketing.

The Focus of Our Marketing SHOULD NOT BE Drupal

Drupal's biggest problems, in terms of marketing is two fold:

Notepad++ : My New Code Editor of Choice

For a long time I've been using dreamweaver to do the majority of my coding. However, I've found a better code editor. And unlike Dreamweaver, which runs for close to $400.00, this one is free, and released under GPL.

As you can see from the screenshots, this editor was clearly designed for, and by hardcore codemonkeys. It features all sorts of useful stuff like zooming in and out, tons of visual guides to help you see where your loops are starting and ending. Really clear color coding, and so much more.

A Brief Overview of the Future of Drupal: Short Term and Long Term

Last summer, nearly every client that I talked with who wanted a CMS would ask for Mambo. This was in spite of Drupal's obvious superiority in terms of code, flexibility, and power.

I was forced to conclude that Drupal's biggest weakness was the first impression it was making. I spent about 2 minutes looking at, and Mambo's homepage, and the cause of Drupal's weak first impression was dead obvious:

Writing the Textbook for Drupal

During today's break, I participated in the second meeting of the drupal curriculum development group. For those of you with sex lives, our group is building a 5 day training course on all things drupal. The curriculum is targeted towards people with some sort of web design/development background. I think this makes sense, as I can't see anyone with a casual interest in drupal spending 5 hours for 5 days talking about drupal. However, I do know that there is more demand for experienced drupal developers than the current pool can supply. It is of the upmost importance for our platform to meet this demand.


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