[development] Drupal administration survey draft based on 10 interviews

Kieran Lal kieran at civicspacelabs.org
Wed Aug 9 18:48:35 UTC 2006

On Aug 9, 2006, at 10:00 AM, Dries Buytaert wrote:

> Thanks for doing this work, Kieran!  It's important.  I do have  
> some questions though:
> On 09 Aug 2006, at 04:54, Kieran Lal wrote:
>> 	Non-technical user developing community or social change web site  
>> forced to become "accidental technologist"
> Does it matter what the user is developing?  Maybe the following is  
> sufficient:
>   Non-technical user forced to become "accidental technologist"

Yes it matters a lot.  If you want to build an online community or  
social change website you are going to end up being recommended to  
use Drupal.  Drupal's community knowledge extends beyond just CMS  
development but is now a expert community in online community  
building and social change websites.   This is important to know  
because this growing user base has certain expectations and goals.    
This was clear from the interviews, maybe 4+/10 people fell into this  
category.  We need to get a sense of how many Drupal sites are  
falling into this domain.

>> 	Inexperienced with Drupal but curious. Learning fast based on  
>> other web site building experience
> Does it matter whether I'm learning fast?

Yes.  Many people who are using Drupal are leaving alternatives and  
learning the Drupal way.  They are website developer converts and we  
need to recognize the speed at which they understand Drupal.

> What if I'm an inexperienced user learning slowly?

Then you would be a new user!
I'll try to clariify.

>> 	Learnable website that can be taught to users and allows website  
>> developers to leverage existing learning when building new sites
> I don't understand what this means.

Ok, I'll re-write it.  Clustering answers is hard, and it's good to  
know what's not working.  The feedback from professional site  
builders was that there customers can learn how to use Drupal  
quickly.  Also, professionals will just keep building in Drupal no  
matter what rather than switch from WordPress, to Joomla, to home  
grown CMS.  Drupal's learning curve has a high rate of return for  
Drupal consultants!

>> 	Module configuration, extensibility with new modules, and clean  
>> code make it easier to configure the website as  you need it
> Clean code does not affect Drupal's configurability.  Maybe this  
> needs to be rephrased?

Yes, clean code greatly impact configurability!  To administrators  
the ability to patch clean core code is an important option, when  
they can't accomplish this in the theme layer or through the  
administration interface.  You might see this differently, but to  
customers and administrators it's configuration, even if it's code.   
Note: they couldn't/wouldn't do this do other CMS code bases because  
the code is unclean!

>> Why do you use Drupal?
> What is the difference with the previous question (eg. How does  
> Drupal help you accomplish your goals as a web site  
> administrator?)?  Looks like both questions have sometimes similar  
> answers.

True the answer do overlap significantly.  But the second question  
speaks more to personal choice (I like the community) rather than  
effectiveness in accomplishing goals. I'll revisit the summarize  
answers to see if it's worthy to maintain this distinction.

>> How does Drupal help your users?
>> (select all that apply)
>> 	Gives them the features they want quickly
>> 	Allows users to create web based content such as forum posts, or  
>> blogs
>> 	Drupal community innovates and provides community building  
>> capacity with Drupal
> I don't understand how this answers above question.  Whether the  
> Drupal community innovates shouldn't be of concern to users of,  
> say, twit.tv.

Many communities are limited by the commercial constraints of their  
community tools.  For example, yahoo groups feature set hasn't  
changed much in 5 years.  Users know that with Drupal they get more  
features faster to better meet their needs.  For commercial  
communities like Twit this doesn't make much of a difference.  But  
for more grassroots communities we are seeing a tipping point. "Go  
with Drupal they have the best and newest community stuff! "

>> 	Cost effective and winning over non-technical decision makers
> Cost effective for the user, or for the administrator?

Free tends towards cost effective for both :-)

> Why do user have to think of 'costs'?

If you are currently paying $20/month for commercial service like  
meet-up.com then your users and administrators know they have to  
raise money to pay for the service every month.

> Looks like some answers target users, while other answers target  
> administrators.

Agreed, this is confusing. I'll clarify.

>> What are some common Drupal administration tasks?
>> (select all that apply)
>> 	Monitor site through reviewing logs, looking at user activity
>> 	Manage spam through comments, track backs, forum, and user  
>> registration
>> 	Configure modules
>> 	Update modules, install modules, test patches, track fixes for  
>> modules
>> 	Work on themes and add theme template to customize module output
>> 	Learn about Drupal capabilities and features, understand  
>> terminology, and plan improvements
>> 	Manage users accounts, change permissions
>> 	Respond to user feedback during testing and make changes
>> 	Create web pages through the creating content types
>> 	Other_______________
> Some of the answers use technical language which not everyone might  
> be familiar with (eg. trackback, patches, theme template).

Ok, I try to preserve the language that the administrators use in the  
interviews.  I'll see what I can do.

>> What are some infrequent Drupal tasks?
> I would rephrase this question so it is similar to the question  
> above, to highlight the difference:
>    What are the MOST common Drupal administration tasks?
>    What are the LEAST common Drupal administration tasks?

> Would it make sense to merge the answers of both questions?  Two  
> questions, with the same answers.
I merged the questions for Easiest and Hardest in the last survey and  
used a likert scale.  The response rate fell off significantly.  I am  
recommending we go with two shorter questions and hope the response  
rates stay high.

>> 1-5	Upgrade modules manually, manage module conflicts in output,  
>> download modules that don't include dependencies
> What do you mean with "conflicts in output"?

For example(not a real example): categories module and freetagging  
module might overlap in the tags/terms they output.  The result is  
the administrator must change, usually the output of the contributed  
module.  Core tends to be clean, contributed modules tend to conflict.

> What do you mean with "modules that don't include dependencies"?

Example: If you want sign-up module: you download a tarball.  But the  
tarball doesn't contain the dependent event module.  If you build  
sites professionally, the need to get each dependency is expensive.

>> 1-5	Manage content specifically creating new content types,  
>> viewing differences in node versions, importing content, or seeing  
>> multiple previews of content on a single page
> What do you mean with "multiple previews"?

Steven Peck just corrected this on Drupal.org.  You are forced to  
preview.  That preview has two actual previews.  The first preview is  
the first part of the node.  The second preview is the whole node.   
If you make it through that, then you get to the submit button.

>> 1-5	Configure user permissions with existing granularity
> What do mean with "existing" here?  Without adding a new module?

this is wrong.  It should read increasing granularity.  People like  
Drupal's permissions, but want more.

>> What other important tasks did not fit into the categories above  
>> for you?
> Why do we make this a separate question?  Why not add it to the  
> answers to the previous question?

Most common, Least common, Easy, Hard.  That's a good cross section.   
But important gives the respondent an opportunity to talk about  
issues we didn't address.  For example in the ten interviews no one  
talked about internationalization or about cross browser support.

Just because the responses were listed above doesn't mean that they  
user would select to put any of those responses in those 4  
categories.  This is a challenge in this type of survey that what  
hard for some is easy for others.  I'll take advice.

>> (select all that apply)
>> 	Analyzing logs to understand the state of your site
> Wasn't this part of the previous answers?  If so, then it would  
> have fitted in the categories, not?

Maybe.  For some yes, for other no.

>> 	Integrating modules and resolving clashes in the output
> What do you mean with "clashes in the output"?

See the categories example above.

>> 	Work on the theme and templates to create structure and distinct  
>> looks to sections of the site
> Wasn't this part of the previous answers?  If so, then it would  
> have fitted in the categories, not?

It didn't come out in the interviews this way.

I'll make adjustments to the available responses and do a couple more  
interviews to see if the duplicate responses are causing confusion.

It's worth noting that I anticipate it will take 20-40 hours to  
analyze the results and get something meaningful to be presented to  
the Drupal community.  I am looking for volunteers to help in this  

Thanks for the responses!


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

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