Improving Web CMS Usability: Drupal 7 Needs YouThe Drupal (news, site) team has a lofty goal, one shared by many content management system projects and vendors: to make their CMS the simplest to use. To that end, Leisa Reichelt and Mark Boulton of Mark Boulton Design have been tasked by Dries Buytaert to repeat their successful Drupal.org redesign for Drupal itself.

Funded by Acquia, Reichelt and Boulton are heavily engaging the community for this process. And that's where you come in.

The Goals

In "How we will make Drupal 7 simple to use," the dynamic duo has laid out their strategy for improving the Drupal user experience. Their strategy includes:

  • Make the most common tasks easy
  • Make the less common tasks "achievable"
  • Design for the 80% of Drupal users, who make use of only 20% of Drupal functionality.
  • "Privilege the Content Creator"
  • Make informed and thoughtful decisions about default settings, then let the end user customize from there. Don't make them do all the work

With this strategy, they hope to:

  • Let non-coding, non-Drupal-experienced users to create and manage content without needing lots of training.
  • Let people set up a site and publish without having to deal with configuration, settings and options sections.
  • Get the interface out of the way of developers building out Drupal sites, along with those configuring and administering them.

How You Can Help

However, without community involvement, they aren't going to get very far. If you want to help make Drupal 7 the best open source Web CMS it can be, go to the Drupal 7 User Experience Project page. There you'll find a list of what you can do right now.

Ways to participate range from making sure that everyone you know who might be interested hears about this project, to watching tons of videos and reading various documents and sharing your feedback, to sharing how you've been customizing your admin interfaces, to participating in actual usability testing. Soon you'll be able to see and comment on some initial concept sketches as well.

If you join the conversation, you'll find it ranges across blogs, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Drupal Groups and just about everywhere else that people are talking online today. 

If this push truly takes Drupal usability to the next level, the rest of the open source Web Content Management crowd should definitely take note.

This ambitious experiment is well worth watching for anyone dealing with CMS usability issues.