Pieces

When in doubt

Letterpress black text on white paper

Designer wanted for the new Drupal core demo

A quick reminder that there are a few days left to apply as the designer for the new demo installation for Drupal 8.

Drupal wants to make a better impression fresh out of the box and for that, we need to put something nice in the box first. We now have the opportunity to experiment with sample content in a new “Demo” install profile. That’s why we are now looking for a designer to make that sample content look and feel good.

If you are a designer and want to have a big impact on the initial Drupal core user experience, have a look at the plan and consider joining this cool project.

Fair warning: getting design work done in Drupal has been notoriously hard, but this project is well scoped and has buy in from the product managers, so I do hope you (or the designer friend you will pass this link on to) will put your name in the hat. Thank you!

Status page redesign in review

Stylized screengrab with colorfull circles overlaid

The status page redesign got committed to core the other week. This is a good thing because it shows that we can actually get decent design work done in core.

Or is it, because it has become the longest issue on d.o. and took way too long and seems too much work for redesigning a single page. It shows we still can’t get good design work done in an effective way.

But if you look closer you’ll find that:

A first iteration was committed at ±60 comments in. This was 5 years ago. Then another 60 or so comments of discussion about what could be improved about that initial redesign.

“Only” 9 months ago, Bojhan kicked off a whole new redesign. That actual design was agreed on in a decent amount of time and discussion (35 comments, 2 months and 2 or 3 discussions of it in our UX meetings). We spent a lot of time with a first and maybe even second round of implementation approaches before settling on a core worthy architecture. Refining that approach still took a lot of effort to get right but not extremely so.

In summary:

  • 60 comments for the first iteration, this was a long time ago
  • 60 comments discussing additional details of that first iteration
  • 35 comments to agree on a whole new design (!)
  • 170 comments to arrive at a core worthy approach for the frontend code
  • 150 comments refining the code, reviewing it and fixing minor design issues

Some lessons maybe:

  • Restarting a whole new redesign in an already years old and fixed issue is not how we normally work. It might have been better to start a new issue for the redesign.
  • I think we’d now also choose to create and agree on the design in one issue and implement it in yet another. Although we really didn’t redesign by committee that much in this issue. 35 Comments to arrive at a whole new design is in fact a quite spectacularly short amount of time.
  • Learn to recognise when a design introduced new frontend patterns. Because we need expert guidance on how to implement it correctly.
  • Outline and agree on the architecture for implementation before starting to write code.
  • Getting good design done + changing a stable core feature is still lot of work. It needs visual design, interaction design and information architecture. It needs HTML, CSS, JavaScript and PHP code. It needs to be checked on correctness for each of those. And don’t forget about accessibility (we didn’t). Without breaking backwards compatibility because we were changing a stable core feature. That’s a lot of disciplines that need to be involved, which means it takes more people to complete.

I’m happy the issue got committed. I had mixed feelings about whether this is really is an achievement worth celebrating given the length of the issue. Looking back at how the process went, it shows that we did in fact manage to redesign a core feature in a reasonable amount of time. And despite the length and complexity the discussion never went off rails and tone remained civil at all times.

For the design part it has been very valuable to discuss things in our UX meetings where we can share screen and provide feedback while looking at the actual thing. Imagine that! :-)

Thank you Christina, Sumit, Chris, Joel, Lauriii, Gabor and everybody else who chipped in. Well done.

Invent your visual vocabulary with Christina Wodtke

4 A6 cards, 2 filled with line drawings of full figures, 2 with just human faces.

Christina Wodtke on developing your own vocabulary for visual thinking.

I think I have settled on how to do figures some time ago. For simple human faces alone I have some more exploring to do.

Plates (before)

Prints (after)

2 prints, each with 3 superimposed layers from 3 different etched plates in red, green and black

Design doing

Designing the thing itself is such a small part of making a design happen.

Communicating the design intent and supporting the implementation phase each also take 80% of the time…

Media entity UI review

A note to self

This is now

Circles

Herfst op de hei

Drupal give 2016 so far

So far, ±240 hours worked on Drupal UX this year. If you want to express that in moneys: at least a €20000 investment.

Before

Alcudia

Teuntje, Roy & Nienke

globe

Desktop picture

Useful, usable, beautiful

“Do not make something unless it is both necessary and useful; but if it is both, do not hesitate to make it beautiful.”

First make it useful, then usable, then beautiful. In that order. Make sure you know inside which of these three the discussion takes place.

Colorproofs

A selection of eight of the ±30 prints made last monday evening.

Letterpress painting II

Pages