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Restructuring Drupal.org

April 6th, 2016

In this post I'd like to talk about one of our major projects for 2016, which comes as a follow up to the content strategy project of 2015.

Content restructure

Last year we presented our findings from the content strategy developed by Drupal Association staff in collaboration with Forum One. This year we're focusing on bringing as many of those ideas to life as we can. We call this implementation phase 'content restructure'. We'll look at one area of the site at a time, audit its content, change the way it is created and stored (content type) if needed, redesign the way it looks and reorganize it into a more usable and findable structure, improving content quality and giving content creators better tools to maintain it along the way.

The backbone of the new content structure are 'sections' or top level groupings of content. We created infrastructure to make those possible and have already launched the first few.

Together with sections we've been rolling out blogs to improve how we communicate about specific topics on Drupal.org. Recently, I talked in more detail how blogs and sections fit into our overall plan of making it easier to communicate important announcements and news to the Drupal community.

Our current focus is Documentation area of the site. We're working on a complete revamp that will change the way documentation looks and works, and will change the way users can navigate and improve documentation. We're working closely with the Documentation Working Group and performing rounds of usability testing to ensure the changes we are working on will improve the user experience across the board. More details on this can be found in the issue queue.

A big part of the content restructure plan is a content audit and migration. This is especially true for documentation revamp, where we have thousands of pages to migrate into the new system. We'll be turning to the community to help us with this effort. Not only because that's too many pages for a small team like ours to migrate on our own, but also because we need subject matter experts to look at a lot of the pages and evaluate how accurate they are, whether they should be migrated or archived, and so on.

More than just content

Along with the content restructure project, we'll be doing important work that complements and supports it, though each component is not a discrete project on its own.

Developing visual design system

The current Drupal.org design is based on branding and design work done in 2008 by Mark Boulton Design and Leisa Reichelt. They did a great job, but even the most beautiful site will age. Since more than seven years have elapsed since the last redesign, it's time to update the site for a more contemporary look.

Our quest towards updating Drupal.org visually started in 2014 with the user research project, which brought us user personas. The next big step was the content strategy project, which laid the groundwork for the content restructure work discussed above.

Building on what we learned about our users, and how to structure our content to best serve their needs, this year we'll be introducing the new visual design system for the site. There will not be a single, comprehensive launch, where you wake up and suddenly Drupal.org looks completely different. We'll do it iteratively, in parallel with the content restructure, by redesigning the specific area of the site we are focusing on at a given time. This approach lets us introduce visual changes sooner, and iteratively improve and refine them as we go. In fact, you've already seen some of the elements of the new visual system appear with the Drupal 8 launch.

Later this week, our designer DyanneNova will share a bit more details about the work we've already done towards the new system and our next steps.

Updating content style guide

Along with restructuring content we also want to improve the quality of the existing content during migrations, as well as the quality of the content that will be created in the future. To this end, we'll be taking a look at the content style guide, and plan to refresh and update it. We also anticipate expanding the guide to add information about specific content types and communication channels.

Capturing user engagement and contribution

Another aspect of our content restructure work will touch on user engagement and contribution. As we go area through area of the site, redesigning it and improving its content, we'll be looking at what type of user engagement and contributions happen in that area. We'll be looking for opportunities to better capture them, and subsequently better recognize and display those contributions. For example, right now 'documentation edits' count on user profiles show the number of edits user has done to 'book page' content type items, which may or may not be documentation. We'll make that calculation more precise to display the actual documentation edits. We'll also be able to display specific parts of documentation a user maintains, similar to projects they maintain.

Increasing sustainability

An ongoing challenge at the Drupal Association is ensuring we have sustainable revenue to support our work for the community. As we do this work, we will be looking into improving existing revenue opportunities and introducing new ones to make Drupal.org more sustainable. We will also work closely with partners who may be willing to sponsor specific improvements to Drupal.org on behalf of the community.

Other initiatives

The content restructure is not the only project we are working on right now. Some of the other initiatives will be described in future posts. Check our Roadmap to see all the things in progress.

And if you happen to be at DrupalCon New Orleans this May, come to our session to get further updates on some of the topics discussed in this blog.