[consulting] A defense for new users

Allie Micka allie at pajunas.com
Sat Feb 25 00:26:45 UTC 2006

On Feb 24, 2006, at 1:33 PM, Kieran Lal wrote:

> 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.

When I describe Drupal to people, I explain that there is a definite  
learning curve, but the biggest burden is on the people who do the  
initial setup, configuration, IA, theming, etc.  I've always referred  
to the people who do this as Drupal implementors.  This step can be  
difficult and confusing, but it's usually better handled by an  
experienced implementor.  2-8 hours of time from someone who is well- 
versed in Drupal configuration can get you a site that would have  
cost $20,000 5 years ago.

When I've configured Drupal for people, I usually turn off all of the  
confusing stuff.  I provide admin access to only the functions  
required by the site's owner to do what they need.  Sometimes they  
can just add stories and edit existing pages.  When they're more  
experienced, they get user administration or stats access.  Sometimes  
they're still confused, but they're not nearly as overwhelmed as they  
would be if I just untarred it and gave them the keys.

I think that the best course of action is to identify these common  
functions and make them even easier, and possibly to group them  
somehow so we can have a site admin's view (as opposed to the  
current, implementor's view).  I think there's already some work in  
this area.

The implementor's role may be phased out in favor of install profiles  
and hosted solutions.  Maybe some of those implementors will write  
content, documentation, or become subject matter experts :).  At that  
point, work done on making the basic functions easy and navigable  
will be even more valuable.

Allie Micka
pajunas interactive, inc.

scalable web hosting and open source strategies

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