usability testing of the Drupal administrative interface University of Baltimore May 2008
we are : graduate students in the Interaction Design and Information Architecture program at the University of Baltimore and we : performed the second round of testing of the Drupal administrative interface testing took place at UB’s User Research Lab
who’d we bring in? career or hobbyist web developers experienced in various content management systems (RedDot, SiteExecutive, WordPress, Joomla and others) but with no Drupal experience
and we asked them to get a website started for a small non-profit by: creating content creating navigation (i.e., primary links) and setting up a user account for board members
we used a pre- and post-test questionnaire to get participant opinions before and after using Drupal, collected gaze data with the Tobii eyetracker, and asked lots of questions
afterwards we analyzed the tapes for usability patterns across participants
so, why go through the trouble?
the Drupal mission statement: By building on relevant standards and open source technologies, Drupal supports and enhances the potential of the Internet as a medium where diverse and geographically-separated individuals and groups can collectively produce, discuss, and share information and ideas . With a central interest in and focus on communities and collaboration, Drupal's flexibility allows the collaborative production of online information systems and communities .
who are these people, and does playing with Drupal encourage them to become a Drupal user? diverse and geographically-separated individuals and groups can collectively produce, discuss, and share information and ideas
who wants to read a manual? “ I’m not sure what nodes are at this point because I didn’t read the manual, obviously, as I never do, I just install it out of the box and pretend that everything is going to be fine.” - - Participant 1
no one. people want to produce, discuss, and share information and ideas
and Drupal has user experience goals to try and achieve this developers: well-tooled with a system of hooks that provide ready means to accomplish most foreseeable coding aims that involve interaction with core elements administrators: easy to install and set up so that there is a minimum requirement for specific technical expertise, intuitive and self-explanatory so that administrators can easily find the configuration options they need and highly configurable so that site administrators can present just the interface they wish users: intuitive and self-explanatory so that users with minimal prior experience can easily discover, navigate, and use functionality, uncluttered so that users are not faced with a difficult task of sorting the essential from the non-essential
Drupal enables people around the globe to create powerful websites
and has some successes in the admin interface, like: participants liked the welcome page (despite some inconsistencies between the contextual links and the admin menu) and all easily located and used the Create content link
but we did find some problems
everyone expected a WYSIWYG and searched for formatting options
(modules were not considered by any participants)
participants didn’t get page and story, and spent a lot of time thinking about it
the parent item was not what they expected
and more, such as:
confusion over the term primary link,
locating content after creating it,
finding the link they need on the Administer page, and
not noticing Garland default theme primary links most often until they moved on to the next task
to meet Drupal user experience goals, creative solutions to these problems must be found
but wait… overall, the major challenge for all participants was that they didn't get that the administrative menu overlays the website itself – leading to questions like:
where's my home page?
how do I preview pages?
… and see the structure of the site?
how do I see the difference between the CMS and the website I'm making?
this misunderstanding was the root of a lot of the problems, confusion and frustration “ Nope, can't do it.” P3 “ I have no hope that I am anywhere close.” P3 “ I don't understand what this does at all...” P1 “ Huh. That's crazy.” P2
3 of our suggestions:
find ways in which to visually distinguish the administrative menu and pages, and incorporate the style into the default Drupal theme
surface more of the content hidden under drop-downs within node forms and in the primary navigation menu (for example, add a “manage content” link)
use more consistent, intuitive labeling for basic tasks
Becca Scollan, Abby Byrnes, Malia Nagle, Paul Coyle, Cynthia York, Maleka Ingram Interaction Design & Information Architecture, University of Baltimore May, 2008