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FOSDEM 2008: Usability in Drupal

Thomas Moseler is talking about usability in Drupal. He wants to improve it and showed some stuff.

As a good examples he showed the Apple iPod and the Nintendo Wii. As a bad example he showed an airplane cockpit (although I heard from pilots that it’s actually quite logical).

3 factors for usability:

  • Pleases the eye
  • Reuse familiar patterns
  • Everything at one glance (but not clutter)

Why use these? Because it’s in the genes.

Problems in Drupal

e.g. add content-type form (4 screens long if you unfold all the collapsible sections)

  • Everything in the form is vertically
  • Horizontally space is wasted
  • Grouping is very lose, Hierarchy is very flat.

Advantages of Status Quo

  • Seriality: clear order
  • Easy for modules to put in new options
  • Easy to maintain and implement

Everything at one glance in Drupal forms

  • Hierarchy
  • Grouping information
  • Right amount of information
  • Make forms shorter
  • Summaries (instead of collapsible fieldsets)
  • Use horizontal space
  • Buttons for actions

A new approach for forms

He then showed a mockup showing a better way of organizing it. It contained multiple columns with clear defined groups. If you are in one column this one is highlighted. Subgrouping is also used shown with the main groups in stronger and not so strong boxes. Font size is smaller than normal.

Additionally he showed an example of the new Views 2 alpha release which seems to solve many of the problems he mentioned, like grouping, using more horizontal space and so on.

Next up was the Translation server which uses colors to help people orientating and showing status information. He suggested to maybe not let the buttons stand out that much (less colored) and again using more horizontal space.


  • Yes, we rely on it
  • Heavily
  • What do competitors do: a look
  • We are doing pretty well

He looked at Joomla and switched off JavaScript and encountered that without that not much is working anymore.

Wanna get involved?

Some of the tasks are now written out and you can get Karma points to work on them.

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