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Introducing Sections on Drupal.org

February 29th, 2016

Last year Drupal Association staff—in collaboration with Forum One—analyzed the state of content on Drupal.org. We developed a content strategy aimed at improving its quality and findability. Various recommendations were made for content structure, organization, and governance.

One of the main recommendations was to restructure content around areas of user activity instead of the content type used to create the content. On Drupal.org, content about a topic is often scattered, because some content types are only available in certain areas. But we’d rather have a single place for content on a particular topic, no matter which content types are used to create that content.

User research gave us a number of general areas of user activity or tasks, which we used as a base for top level content grouping. We’ve called those groupings “sections.” Each section is based around a particular set of common user tasks and has a clear purpose and audience. We started implementing these sections a few weeks ago.

Each of them will also have a slightly different governance structure. Some of the sections will have more editorial/curated content, while others will be open to edits by everyone. We wanted the flexibility of having different user roles with different permissions in different sections. We also wanted the flexibility of being able to display a single piece of content in multiple sections if needed, and perhaps even use a different theme per section.

To meet those requirements we decided to use Organic Groups. The work on getting all the modules ready on Drupal.org began in August last year. After a few rounds of performance testing and configuration review, Organic Groups and a few accompanying modules were in place to enable us to work on sections. The first couple of them were launched simultaneously with the Drupal 8 release.

Drupal.org section

At first, we wanted to test out our ideas and assumptions on a less visible area of the site with lower traffic. So, the first section we created was about Drupal.org itself. It consists of various information about the website, aimed at those who follow or take part in Drupal.org development. Its content is mostly produced by our internal team.

About section

The first highly visible section we tackled was About. It is a source of general information about Drupal and promotional materials. The content is curated and aimed primarily at evaluators, and the Newcomer and Learner personas.

To create the section, we audited all the content in the old “About Drupal” area (which was using the old book page content type), rewrote most of it, and re-created it using the new content types. While the initial round of work on the section is complete, there are a few more things we want to do, so expect additions to the section throughout the year.

Because of the curated nature of the content, this section has tight edit permissions, and is managed by the Drupal Association staff. Feedback is always welcome, however, so if you do notice a problem please use the Content issue queue to report it.

A big part of the About section is talking about the features of the Drupal software. And specifically with the Drupal 8 launch, we wanted to do it well, which brings us to...

Drupal 8 section

It is the landing page for Drupal 8 release, and the main source of high level information about Drupal 8 and its features. And it is a section too, created using Organic Groups and located inside of the About section.

This one was created from scratch. All the content was written specifically for it, by the Drupal Association's communications team with a lot of help, review, and feedback from Core committers team.

For this section, we went one step further. Not only does it have unique content, it was also designed to look completely different from the rest of Drupal.org. To make it happen, we created a separate theme, based on Omega, and used og_theme module to make it possible to use the theme on only one particular section of the site. This worked really well.

Again, this section has curated content and edit permissions are locked down. If you do find a problem, please report via the Content issue queue.

What's next?

These new sections don’t only introduce a new governance model and navigation patterns. They also introduce a new way we create dynamic content. I will talk more about this, as well as the sections we are working on right now, in following posts.