[consulting] A defense for new users

Kieran Lal kieran at civicspacelabs.org
Sat Feb 25 15:41:00 UTC 2006

On Feb 25, 2006, at 7:01 AM, John Sechrest wrote:

>  As we look at interfaces, I think it is important to understand
>  that there are many many different levels of users.

John provided us with new Drupal users to interview after the August  
2005 DrupalCon in Portland.   Based on interviews we categorized  
people into these categories and let people self identify in the survey.

New user, confused but persistent
Web developer: Site installer and configurer
Site maintainer: Can do maintenance, but do not understand what's  
Power user: very technical user capable of significant changes  
including programming
Other role

>  As a consultant, I find that my problems with drupal tend to focus  
> around maintainability:

One of the first things I did when I got involved professionally in  
Drupal was conduct a series of interviews with Drupal administrators  
to find out their pain.  We head that it took about 20 hours to  
upgrade a typical site.  We set off to fix that by developing these  
instructions: http://civicspacelabs.org/home/upgrade  which we  
reproduced here: http://drupal.org/upgrade/tutorial-introduction.  We  
also requested that http://cvs.drupal.org/viewcvs/*checkout*/drupal/ 
drupal/UPGRADE.txt be added.

We conducted a series of phone interviews with administrators and  
learned that the main problem for maintainers was upgrading and that  
one of the major reasons to not upgrade was that porting custom  
modules was hard.  To address that we got involved in http:// 
drupal.org/update/modules and ran a work shop on porting your 4.6  
module to 4.7 back in August.  We also funded a lot of the Forms API  
documentation to make the porting to 4.7 less painful.

We also funded the _upgrade hook so that modules could be upgraded  
automatically.  Our research has told us this among the most  
difficult tasks for inexperience administrators and we have tried to  
make this experience better for them.
>  In any case, I agree with Kieran about the need for focusing on  
> the user experience from the "new user" point of view,  but think  
> that we need to be careful to understand who the  "new user" really  
> is and what they really are doing.
John, we conducted a large survey after those initial rounds of  
interviews you helped us with and we were able to get some fairly  
consistent data about what tasks new users completed and what they  
found difficult.  We have made tremendous progress in fixing many of  
these issues.
>  And I hope that the process of working towards new user ease of  
> use also leads us to more maintainable drupal sites.

We are trying.

I am going to go put my energies into making that defense for new  
users now :-)


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