[consulting] A defense for new users

Jeff Eaton jeff at viapositiva.net
Fri Feb 24 20:14:15 UTC 2006

> Unfortunately, we are no longer able to make progress. The criticism  
> from the most advanced users to build an interface that meets their  
> needs over the needs of new users is too strong.   New users don't  
> understand what "users" means, they don't understand what "content"  
> means.  They have goals they want to accomplish and tasks they need  
> to complete and those things are too obvious for the critics to  
> tolerate because they know too much already.

It might be overkill, but have you considered that there is ABSOLUTELY
no way to satisfy both groups with the same interface? I'm not
criticizing your attempts at building something that works, rather I'm
wondering if the attempt to secure buy-in from experienced developers,
rather than end-users, is a mistake.

Berkes has argued before in favor of the idea of Drupal as a CMS
framework rather than a CMS app. Adding the sort of task-focused UI for
administration you're talking about is a perfect demonstration of
something I think would be a critical part of a 'basic drupal site
Drupal' distro, rather than something forced on everyone who's building
with it.

> I need some people to stand up for the new users, to put aside their  
> personal needs and opinions, to look at the data, understand what it  
> means for users to not already have a conceptual model of a CMS, and  
> help these new users accomplish their goals.   I'll walk you through  
> the data, show you the advice of Usability PhD's, the recommendations

> of our advising information architects so that we can build an  
> objective argument that I have failed make.

Drupal has a very fundamental tension that must be resolved. Are the
'users' developers who write software  with Drupal as the base? Are they
builders who put together and manage a Drupal-based site on a day-to-day
basis? Are they content creators who post stuff, participate in
community, but do not 'control' the site? Those thee groups -- builders,
adapters, and end-users -- have different and many times conflicting

In my dream world, I imagining drupal.org greeting new arrivals with
basic options:  

* Are you a developer, looking to develop or adapt a custom site
framework? Click here to download [a stripped down] drupal core and
learn more about the system...
* Are you a builder, looking to create a custom site from drupal modules
and themes? Click here to learn more about Drupal site-recipes, and
browse the modules directory...
* Are you a creator, looking to 'turn the key' and accomplish a task?
Click here to download a Drupal Distribution and hit the ground

In that sort of world, the 'developers' in group 1 would probably not
care about the admin streamlining you guys are working hard on. The
builders in group 2 would probably find it very useful. And the people
in group 3 might find it still too confusing -- they might need an admin
panelgeared just towards the options they need for their particular site
(ie, blogging/forum-oriented discussion/etc).

Well. I've rambled enough now. Other thoughts go to a blog post. Sigh.


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