[drupal-devel] A collection of usability problems

Dries Buytaert dries at buytaert.net
Fri Sep 23 08:23:40 UTC 2005

I tried to identify a number of usability problems based on the  
comments in http://drupal.org/node/31896.

Creating a static brochure site with Drupal is extremely relevant;  
not only because some people create static Drupal sites, but mainly  
because even the most dynamic Drupal site has static content (eg.  
almost every site has an about page, a contact form, etc).

Problem #1: people find it hard to integrate pages in the navigation  
structure.  No one mentioned they were using core's menu module to  
setup a site's navigation structure.  Strange?  Maybe.  Either way,  
it begs the question: do we need to improve the menu module?

Problem #2: many people use the book.module to create structure.  The  
book.module is a logical choice <strong>if and only if</strong> you  
know Drupal.  If you're new to Drupal, creating structure using the  
book module is not exactly logical.  The underlying problem is that  
people need a way to link pages and to create structure.  Simply  
renaming the book.module to outline.module or structure.module and  
dropping the book node type might come a long way for new users, and  
might help focus development efforts.

Problem #3: many people use the menu on the fly module (menu_otf) to  
add pages to the navigation menu.  The good news is that Drupal 4.7  
will have menu_otf functionality built in.

Problem #4: you have to go to the theme system options, to add a page  
to the main navigation menu.  For new people, this is (i) not logical  
because creating links has nothing to do with the look and feel of  
your site, and (ii) the options are nearly impossible to find.  The  
solution is to integrate this with the menu system, so you can link  
pages in the main navigation menu using the menu on the fly module.   
I pushed Adrian to work on this, but we never managed to complete  
that work.  I'm convinced this is an important change; we need  
someone to pick up this work.

Problem #5: some people want to disable the author information and  
submission date.  I see two problems with this: (i) you can't disable  
them on a per-node basis so people are forced to use two different  
node types, and (ii) the configuration option to disable this  
information is almost impossible to find.  To fix (i), I suggest  
creating per node options to control some of the visibility  
settings.  The settings would be available in a collapsible form  
element on the node submission page.  Example toggles include (but  
are not limited to): display author name, display publication date,  
display taxonomy terms, display user picture, display '
link, etc.

Problem #6: quite some people use the front page module.  I've never  
used the front page module but I'd like to know how it is different  
from a static page?  The key difference I see is that you ca have a  
different front page for anonymous users.  If that is the only key  
difference, why aren't people using static pages?  Something is wrong  
here, and I'd like to figure out what.

Maybe some people volunteer to fix some of these problem?  If not,  
maybe we can incorporate them in the usability task list Ber and  
Kieran have been creating?

Dries Buytaert  ::  http://www.buytaert.net/

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