Leisa and I have spent a good deal of time looking at how we can define the audience for Drupal 7. A couple of weeks ago, we spent a day trying to come up with an effective model to use throughout the design process. Not just a model that we could use, but one that could be available to the whole Drupal community as we embark on the challenging task of looking at the user experience for Drupal 7.

The Flappy Paddle

Before I start to talk about this tool, it’s probably better if you just watch this video Leisa and I recorded a week or so ago.

This is the tool we’re using, but at this stage, it was pretty rough around the edges. So, we’ve spent a little more time defining the various tasks and definitions for each different user type, site type, and number of users. Combining this detail, in various different combinations, gives us a list of requirements for that type of user, using a particular type of site, with a certain amount of users.

Sweating the details

Yesterday, we spent some time fleshing out the various tasks and definitions for each ‘paddle’.

This is what we’ve come up with so far:


  • Content Creator: a user who primarily creates, reviews, and edits content for a site. Key tasks: Add content, edit content, find existing content, view list of content creation/revision tasks.
  • Site Editor: a user who has authority to approve, edit or reject content and who may be able to manage some editorial workflow and user permissions. Key tasks: Add content, edit content, find existing content, view list of content creation/revision tasks, review content, reject/feedback on content to original author, schedule content
  • Site Admin: manage user permissions, manage site structure, adding new content types, create and review reports and manage some site settings (RSS Publishing, IP Address Blocking). Key tasks: Manage user permissions, Add / Edit / Delete Content Types, Manage Information Architecture (site sections, sub-sections, taxonomy (as in, vocabulary), Create a report, Review a report.
  • Site Builder: creates site from scratch by choosing, writing, customising modules and/or themes, manages setup and maintenance. Is a developer (for the purposes of audience definition, themers are considered developers). Key Tasks: Develop site functionality, implement site design.

Type of site

  • Brochureware Site: hierarchical structure of relatively static content, often includes forms (eg. contact/feedback), may be multi-author
  • Blog: sequence of chronological posts that may be assigned to categories, may also include ‘fixed’ pages, often includes comments, trackbacks, RSS feed, most often single author
  • News: a categorical/hierarchical grouping of content usually ordered chronologically but often ‘curated’ by an editorial team, may also include comments, trackbacks, RSS feed, often multi-author, often requires multiple templates
  • Events: a combination of content supporting an event, including content about the event, a schedule/calendar of events, list of participants, online registration, may also require online submissions, social networking functionality, news, email update list
  • Social Site: comprises member profiles and communication between those member in the form of discussion forums, wikis, events, blogs, require member signup, subscription, RSS,

No. of users

  • 1: no permissions, no workflow, that user does everything (one stop shop) BUT most like to have simple requirements (how manage giving access to all functionality when the mostly won’t need it). Likely to generate small amounts of content.
  • 2-5 : multiple authors, may require permissions, may require workflow (simple approval process), may require separation between content management tasks and site management tasks but usually not overly complicated requirements.
  • 6-15: multiple authors and editors, likely to require permissions, likely to require workflow, likely to require separation between content management tasks and site management tasks may have some complex requirements, will have significant amount of content generated.
  • 15+ : requires permission management (several permission profiles), probably requires workflow (content review/approval), likely to generate a lot of content to be managed and require content scheduling - it’s a complicated machine and it needs a whole section around managing the machine, let alone making the content to feed the machine. Involves a lot of content and likely complex taxonomy.

And also, as you saw in the video, we’ve looked at using this tool now as we begin sketching out some ideas and concepts for how the admin may work.

An evolving concept

The Audience Matrix is work in progress and it’s going to be an instrumental tool for us in the coming months as we start fleshing out some of the design concepts. As Leisa says on her blog:

Over the coming weeks we’re going to be inviting you to submit your ideas for revisions to the Drupal7 Admin interface and overall user experience. It will be very helpful for us all to use this document to help make sure that we’re designing for the 80% and not necessarily just for ourselves! And it is also a really great way to expose missing elements and possible flaws in our concepts. Using the document to test the example we show in the video above helped us to realise that we needed things like a close button on the dashboard (I know, d’uh!), a place to hold the user generated content from things like comment as well as contact forms, and got us thinking about a whole host of thorny permissions and workflow issues.

We need your help. We’ve produced a PDF for you to download so you can use it in some of the upcoming crowdsourcing activities we have planned. (like the one’s we did for the Drupal.org redesign project).

There will be more from me

It’s a fair cop. I’ve not been as active blogging about this stuff as I could have been. Both the Drupal.org redesign, and now the Drupal 7 UX work, are both breaking ground on a process thought to be difficult, if not impossible. So, as of today, I’m going to be talking about it all a hell of lot more because, well, what other projects can you talk about as you’re doing it? We’re in an incredibly fortunate position.