The Interaction Design and Information Architecture program at the University of Baltimore and a team of eight graduate students in the Research Methods class, taught by professor Kathryn Summers, have completed a usability study on Drupal. The Drupal community has been working with Becca Scollan in the usability group.

The usability research used video recordings and eye tracking tools to follow participants gaze in the Drupal interface. The study used eight participants, which is considered a valid sample. The study duplicated some tests done in usability testing at the University of Minnesota, and confirmed several results.

Fixing the usability problems

Core issues from both studies

Content type creation problems from UMN study


JohnForsythe’s picture

Thanks for uploading this. Any chance of getting a high-quality version? It's hard to make out what the people are actually looking at. I could host it if you need bandwidth.

The confusion between what's "admin view" and what's "live content" is really interesting.

John Forsythe
Need reliable Drupal hosting?

IceCreamYou’s picture

The confusion between what's "admin view" and what's "live content" is really interesting.

IMHO that's a problem with other CMS's, and Drupal actually got it right. Why would content not be "on your site" if you've already created it?

mradcliffe’s picture

I think the confusion was that they did not understand the menu system or how to get back to the main page.

Is there a better way of visualizing the menu system during node editing? Or providing feedback to show the new user what they just did.

In any case I found both the video and report fascinating.

yelvington’s picture

I think you're right on this particular point. It's important when watching usability videos to think carefully about who you're watching, not just what you're watching.

In this case I think we were seeing some folks who had previous experience with other CMS systems that are organized along lines that are quite different from the Drupal model.

If that's your target, then it's a problem. But I don't think it's the right target.

Our experience in implementing Drupal in news organizations is that the print-oriented folks, who have no real experience in pushing buttons on Web CMS systems, are absolutely delighted that Drupal integrates content management into content display. See this item? Want to change it? Click the edit tab.

Some of our folks sat through a CMS demo from a vendor recently. After viewing an item on the live Web, in order to make a change they had to go to the admin interface and run a search to find the thing they'd already found. Hello? Anybody home?

mikeschinkel’s picture

Developers have a common problem of seeing their world through their own eyes and Drupal developers are no different (note: I consider myself a developer as well as other things: entrepreneur, marketer, etc.)

I am ecstatic to see this study published results and am surprised by none of the findings because I felt the same as I learned Drupal and my clients struggle with the same aspects.

Usability testing separates the "I think this is the best way to do it" from "this is a way people actually understand." It's a tremendous value to the Drupal community that are now have a usability study so we can cut through so many of the "I think..." vs. "No I think..." arguments and focus on the issues uncovered in the study. Many people use Joomla instead of Drupal because Joomla paid more attention to user experience even though Drupal is fundamentally better software.

Rather than justifying why Drupal is better maybe we should learn to appreciate Jakob's Law of Web User Experience and pay attention to the mental models that people develop elsewhere?

IceCreamYou’s picture

There's no "I think" to it. New users like Drupal. People who have used other CMS's like a separate admin interface. Both of those statements are confirmed by usability testing. The only questions is who Drupal is aimed for.

I personally think Drupal is aimed for both, but I believe a separate admin interface belongs in a separate module. Anyone who's used a CMS before can figure enough out to add a module that makes Drupal work like Joomla, but a new user should have an interface that makes sense.

alexrayu’s picture

The guys in the report were experienced users of other CMS. Of course they had issues. Drupal is so cool and flexible precisely because it's not like the other CMS. Other CMS fool-proof strategies made them rigid and inflexible. There is no need to reinvent Joomla in Drupal. If you want Joomla use Joomla. If you now put all that interface junk into Drupal there are very high chances that it will just stick Drupal back into the pile of a dozen of other CMS that want to be Joomla but can't.
Alexei Rayu, Web Designer and Developer
Volacci, Austin TX, Search Engine Marketing

marcvangend’s picture

IMHO that's a problem with other CMS's, and Drupal actually got it right.

The point of usablility testing is: if it confuses people, we did not get it right. You can't say "we are perfect, but unfortunately our users are too stupid to appreciate it".

That being said; when I built Drupal sites for customers, they usually have to get used to the concept that there is not a separate admin back end. But very often, once customers understand that, they quite like the concept. It feels as if not only the front end, but also the back end was made especially for them. In their experience, they're not creating content on a separate system and aferwards publishing it to the live site. Instead, they are just editing the live site.

I guess we can say that the Drupal way of merging the back and front end is not what most prople expect, but it is an acquired taste that does have some advantages.

IceCreamYou’s picture

The point of usablility testing is: if it confuses people, we did not get it right.

My point is, it only confuses people who have prior experiences with CMS's. It doesn't confuse everyone. We just need to consider both user groups.

dman’s picture

it only confuses people who have prior experiences with CMS's.

I think that "only" is inappropriate.
To begin with, there were no non-CMS-users in the sample, so claims about people who have not used CMS's (that it may not confuse them also) are specious.

And, following similar logic you could make the claim that "Drupal only confuses people in Baltimore". :-B

What this study does show is that : Drupal at least confuses people who (think they) know what to expect from a CMS.
It may well also cause some trouble for folk who are even less experienced.

I do agree with the trend that there's a bit of unlearning for webmasters. This is true. It's still actually easier than upskilling total ingoramuses though. :-)

And I'd rather be encouraging and working with converts than novices most of the time. It's more productive and interesting. [/opinion]

How to troubleshoot Drupal |

webchick’s picture

We've shown Drupal to many dozens of clients who are big enough to have a team of people separate from their web developers who do website content authoring and editing. And in my experience, there's one killer feature for people who have no web background whatsoever but whose job it is to manage content on a website.

It's not content listings that can be sorted dynamically, and additional fields added on a whim.

It's not whiz-bangy AJAX effects with fade-ins and animations that make the site feel interactive.

No. It's the freaking edit tab on nodes. :)

We've gone into demos time and again where we show off all the hard work we've done building a site, and they're like, "Ok, cool." And then almost in passing we end up saying, "Oh. And here's how you edit the content," and they're completely floored, every single time. It's just basically the coolest thing they've ever seen. Has anyone else had this experience? It cracks me up every time.

Granted, most of our clients are usually coming from some archaic proprietary CMS that was designed in the 1920s and takes 30 years to bring up their content in a separate interface. But still. I definitely caution ripping out something just because one group of users found it confusing. Usability studies, like everything else, should be taken as guidelines, not as law.

dman’s picture

Woah. I wasn't aware anyone was advocating ripping anything out, much less the edit tab which I certainly love. What made you think that was a valid idea?
I really like the instant-edit of Drupal, and my experiences when presenting have been the same.

What I see from the CMS-users is that they only need to be shown once, because they are looking in the wrong place. But they still need to be shown. So something to draw attention to it better may help. Such as making it look more like an action button than a flat tab option.
And I don't even think the Edit tab was a problem... the problem was that they didn't know that they had finished editing and were now looking at a live page!

I'm just commenting on the defense that something is not really confusing because the only people that got confused were infidels. Confusion still exists. Things could still be made better for them. But in no way do I imply changing or damaging the existing system!

Although people who don't know what they are doing don't even know what website structure looks like, these converts do, and they were frustrated that there was no home page and no content heirarchy overview when they went looking for it. If they even HAD found their way to the menu admin, they would have been (rightly) scared off because it looks like it's all about admin features. It does.
It's possible that filtering out that admin menu would make the structure management look more like what they expected. Without compromising existing functionality.

How to troubleshoot Drupal |

IceCreamYou’s picture

I've had the same experiences as Webchick, and I've read plenty of other usability reports. This study didn't investigate the issue I'm talking about, but my claims are valid nonetheless because they're supported by other studies.

Melton Cartes’s picture

Regardless of what's "right" or what the correct target audience is, this confusion could easily be avoided if either Drupal itself or the so-called How to Use documentation stated up front that there's no difference between the "front-end" and the Administer "area."

The front-end/back-end concept comes from basic HTML. In a static HTML site you have what it looks like when it's rendered by a browser, the front-end, and all those crazy tags that actually make up or "mark up" the page, the back-end.

It's not an unreasonable assumption to look for a difference. But knowing that there isn't one, right off the bat, would be immensely helpful.

dman’s picture

Home » Getting Started » Before you start » Understanding Drupal concepts »

In Drupal, viewing a page and editing a page are almost the same

Unfortunately, however well -written the documentation is, That doesn't mean that folk will read it or even realize that they don't know what they don't know.
If you've not even looked at the "so-called How to Use documentation" - then some of the information in it will not be absorbed.

To force that upon readers would require a modal, tutorial wizard that will not let you touch the site until they have clicked through a few pages of mandatory documentation. Which sometimes I feel would be a good requirement :-}


WorldFallz’s picture

To force that upon readers would require a modal, tutorial wizard that will not let you touch the site until they have clicked through a few pages of mandatory documentation.

one can always dream ;-)

Abilnet’s picture

Thanks for the cool testing & nice results! ...however, in my opinion it's better to focus to the .PDF -report than the video. Watching only the video is more or less misleading towards that Drupal only have problems. The .PDF analysis is giving more professional point of view, I think. However, it's a good thing to run this kind of usability tests to make Drupal even better!

My 2 centimos from sunny Spain...

stardate’s picture

gaze data in the PDF file. :)

It's quite painful to watch this video. The study itself, however, is extremely useful.

lelizondo’s picture

I agree that "page" and "story" is so confusing for the newbie. But better doesn't mean easier. maybe the problem is no one likes to read before starting to use a product... drupal could be hard-to-learn but we all know that once you start using it and understand the drupal-way to do stuff it's so powerful and easy..

maybe we'll just have to focus in how some words are being used in the site and how to introduce drupal to the newbies in a more friendly way...

the page and story problem could be solved if story is removed... my guess is that any not-so-newbie user ends up creating a new content type...



webchick’s picture

One thing that came up again and again in the usability study at the University of Minnesota was the lack of "getting started" info as part of Drupal itself. The closest thing we have is that initial front page that VANISHES as soon as you post your first piece of content. :) We also have Administer > Help, but that stuff is grouped by module and has no search.

I think there's a lot of work we could do in Drupal 7 to both improve the quality of documentation (maybe also links to videos, etc.) that comes with Drupal, and there's a Summer of Code project to provide core help system improvements.’s picture

Why bother to distinguish between page and story/article? It may be better to have one node type and let the user set/unset an attribute like "display in node lists".

A module could provide a workflow for beginners, where the user is led through all steps of creating and publishing content, including menu item creation etc., being able to skip unnecessary steps. Other modules, e.g. views, could provide further steps to the workflow, if installed.

Nevertheless, the drupal usability has to be improved, anyway.

webchick’s picture

For example:
- Theming (node-forum.tpl.php vs. node-image.tpl.php, each of which lay out the contents differently)
- Being able to add different fields to different types (articles get a "byline" field, pages do not)
- Different display options (it would be tedious to ALWAYS have to uncheck the "show author information" every time you made a proper "page")
- The ability to create useful views ("News" section = a view displaying only "Article" types)
- Different permissions (anyone can post a forum topic, but only admins may post Articles.)

I think we all realize that conveying these concepts to new users of Drupal is hard, and the node workflow process could be improved for this audience. What we need are people who are willing to come up with wireframes on how this could be done and people who can implement the new approaches so they can be field-tested.

yelvington’s picture

I would add that throwing in questions like "display in node lists?" is an even more confusing to beginners than presenting a choice between story|article or page. Beginners don't know what "node" means, and generally don't want to know.

I wonder if "stand-alone page" would be a more clear option. I don't really think changing "story" to "article" is going to help much.

The big picture is that few beginners realize that multiple content types are possible and desirable.

lelizondo’s picture

You're absolutely right, having just "page" makes things a lot easier, newbies don't want to know about multiple content types, which they're gonna find out eventually.

It's also important to tell the newbies that drupal by itself won't let them do much, we all know that what makes drupal great it's the modules. But a newbie won't know about cck, views or pathauto, so why don't we create a list of "the most popular modules" and make it available with a full description of what you can do with them. I remember having to search for this as I didn't know which modules to use and being lost in the sea of modules available, Lullabot has a great list of the Top 40 Projects but most users won't know about this.

One last thing. New users don't expect that old modules won't work with the latest drupal version. I've been answering lots of questions in Drupal Hispano about this, they discover Drupal and think that the latest version is the greatest and the right one to use, when in fact, we all know that it's not unless all the modules you want to use are available to the new version. This adds a lot of confusion. A newbie could understand that a new module won't work in an older version of drupal, but not the other way around.



mikeschinkel’s picture

I'll counter that for my last project I created an Article content type (vs. Story) and it helped a lot.

treksler’s picture

The real reason that "page" vs story is confusing is that "page" as a user interface concept does NOT map/represent a content type!

A PAGE is a hierarchical element of the SITE structure, while "articles", "stories", "features", "banner ads", "videos", "images", "image captions", "blog posts", "forum posts" are all types of CONTENT that go ONTO a page.

Drupal desperately needs to remove "page" as a content type.
Desperately needs a way to create a site hierarchy of pages that can have layout (kind of like panels) and it needs WYSIWYG in core.

The logical workflow for a user is to make a WEBSITE, that contains a hierarchy of PAGES, which contain CONTENT.

Right now there is NO good way of making this hierarchy of pages. i.e. there is no one single way to populate a menu with "pages".

The whole system is backwards. Eg. currently you make a "view" or you make a taxonomy "term" or a node of type "page" and THEN you go and slap that in a menu

Trust me, I have done some informal usability studies and counted clicks, steps to completion, errors, things that had to be written down on PAPER in order to proceed, and creating a site with Drupal is NOT "usable" right now. (@webchick: the reason thy freak out over the "edit tab" being so easy is that the rest of it is so damn needlessly complicated)

Don't get me wrong, I am not putting down Drupal, I love Drupal and have been working with it every day for two years, but usabilty is non-existent on a fundamental level.

To fix Drupal usability there have to be major changes, which I am almost certain the Drupal core developers are unwilling to make. As sad as it is, it seems almost impossible to convince developers that these issues are REALLY worth fixing. (eg WYSIWYG in core always gets shut down anytime it is mentioned, even though it would instantly increase usability by a factor of 10)

I have seen it time and time again in the forums. The prime, and most frustrating example, was the reworking of the book module which Dries had clearly stated had to do away with the book paradigm, yet the developers stubbornly implemented the book module over again to very little real usability gain :((


Amazon’s picture

Perhaps less ranting and more reading would have helped you realize that WYSIWYG will be in Drupal 7. However, Drupal's powerful and flexible input formats and content types meant there was a lot more work do get Drupal ready for a WYSIWIG editor.

It's the first link in this post.

Kieran Lal
Board member of the Drupal association
Coordinator of the security team
Coordinator of the test driven development team

Kieran Lal

dmitrig01’s picture

What is the weird styling of the fieldsets on the node form?


alpritt’s picture

Chill35’s picture

The 'Vertical tabs' layout should make it into core and be the default, if not the only way to display the form.

Dries’s picture

Incredibly valuable and consistent with the results from the results from the usability study in Minneapolis; see

I think we _must_ fix all of these issue. Patches that fix these problems get the highest priority from me, and I'd be happy to help drive them home.

varkenshand’s picture

Quite interesting to hear people think out loud. Of course they are right, especially about Primary links, Secondary links and Navigation. (What about Blocks and Menus, btw.)

The apparent need for a 'preview' seems to imply that they can't imagine that 'this is it' (from a designer's point of view).

One thing though: "I can't see the structure of the site." This is something one would expect in a traditional environment like CMS Made Simple or any other hierarchical system. But imho the whole thing about Drupal is that there is no structure, or rather: the structure is so flexible that you can't convey it in one screen. That's exactly the power we would not want to lose, isn't it. Perhaps we will need to make a Drupal Light for end users and a Drupal Full for developers/ heavy users.

mikeschinkel’s picture

You don't have to loose power to make entry easier for beginners. Having an obvious path beginners find and take that is created out of the powerful building blocks you don't want to loose is (to me) the obvious way to go.

gav240z’s picture

As someone who is new to Drupal and having used Wordpress / Joomla previously I think this video really highlights a lot of areas of confusion.

Drupal is very powerful and very flexible but a vanilla install lacks many features that most other systems tend to ship with out of the box. I understand that Drupal doesn't want to make anyone use particular modules and keep the core (clutter and bloat free), but one of the reasons Wordpress and Joomla are so popular (despite lacking the power and flexibility of Drupal) is that they are very user friendly. Particularly wordpress.

Not having a separate Admin interface on Drupal is extremely confusing for first time users. Many of the admin options are not where I would have expected them to be and Drupal terminology is confusing unless you have read the manual.

New Drupal installs should give the option of installing a (first time user profile), with an option to open it up later for more configuration. Once lots of modules are installed Drupal becomes quite cluttered and confusing.

If the install interface had an option like:

1.) Set up a simple blog
2.) Set up a multi user site
3.) Advanced User - I'll configure Drupal the way I like.

I think that would go a long way toward improving the newbie experience.

Paul Natsuo Kishimoto’s picture

In watching the video I thought several times, "WAIT! (S)he doesn't know that..." before realizing (as some other commenters have yet to do) that this was the entire point.

Upon reflection, every time I've architected Drupal sites for someone, I've sat them down and given an explanatory talk or walkthrough of the interface. Even when I've installed contributed modules for them and created initial content, I don't feel I can just walk away and leave them to figure out Drupal on their own. Some of the phrases and points I always make:

  • Everything is a node. A node has content, a type, and some other junk. Drupal uses the type and junk to treat the content in unique and clever ways.
  • You can use menus and taxonomy (I explain free vs. fixed taxonomies, single/multiple/no inheritance) to organize content.
  • The site has no structure itself; you have to decide what you want (in menu layout, taxonomy, URL aliases) and then use Drupal to lay out the site. It can do anything you want, and the flipside is it won't tell you what to do.
  • If you don't want something to be "live," don't publish it!

I also explain contributed modules by saying "Anytime anything happens—new node being created, user logging in, etc.—Drupal looks around for modules that want to be called, and calls them. This way, they can step in and change the normal behaviour" I give an example.

Pictures (drawn on a napkin, even) help a lot with the taxonomy and module explanations.

My "clients" thus far have mostly been university engineering students and professors in extracurricular and faculty groups and clubs. They're all very tech-savvy, spend much of their time in front of computers and online, but uniformly they find this sort of instruction helpful.

Going back to what gav240z (Nissan driver? :D) said, I think the idea of a walkthrough in core would be very valuable. The help content is excellent, but if a user could click a button that says "I have used another CMS (Joomla, etc.) before." and get some pointers to help them adjust their mental model of how Drupal works, that would be golden.

With jQuery I'm sure Drupal could even do fancy stuff like making bits of the page blink, with overlays saying "Click here to get started!" or similar. Think Microsoft Office Assistant, only actually useful :)

Anyway, this research is fantastic and useful. I do agree we need a wider sample and care in interpreting the results, but more data is never a bad thing.

pbowyer’s picture

The site has no structure itself; you have to decide what you want (in menu layout, taxonomy, URL aliases) and then use Drupal to lay out the site. It can do anything you want, and the flipside is it won't tell you what to do.

As someone coming from 2 years experience with MODx this was the thing I found most confusing. The concept of a site not having a built-in structure from Pages I created (and nested together to build structures) is highly confusing...

I can't expect content authors to add new pages to the site (the equivalent of static HTML pages on a traditional site) and specify which primary link they go under by using the unintuitive menu interface. Still confused how to simplify this for end users.

marcvangend’s picture

I agree, when I give training to customers, I always take the time to explain the separation between content (nodes) and navigation (menus). Sometimes when I really need to simplify this for the end user, I use the book module.

catch’s picture

There's now a default tags vocabulary in the default install profile, attached to articles. I'd like to add more bits like that to the default profile to help people get started and provide examples of certain concepts, of course specific profiles for certain tasks are the next step (although IMO hard to do in core since, for example, a single user blogger would probably expect pathauto, which is a contrib module).

Either way, there's a discussion about this here:

giorgio79’s picture

I really liked the idea of linking to some modules from the welcome page that would help the beginning user.

One such module for me was Administration Menu. It would definitely be a first pick... :)

mikeschinkel’s picture

Yes! A first step would easily be to have the default first post on the home page provide a checklist for the newbie along with links to the appropriate admin sections. How hard would that be, really?

Maybe I'll do it. Wonder if it could get included in the core?

webchick’s picture

Maybe I'll do it. Wonder if it could get included in the core?


Looking forward to reviewing your patches! :D

dman’s picture

Interesting stuff to watch.
The menu confusion - which is indeed the closest thing to traditional structure that folk are looking for - can CERTAINLY do with having the admin items removed. How many times to you add new pages as children of the 'admin' tree?
I know it's because super-user can do anything, but I really think that if that clutter was filtered out and the visible 'parent item' was 'Primary links' they would have been much better to go forward.
Throughout, people are confused about the admin/published distinction. The menu tree blurs that still more by presenting the admin structure as more important than their site structure!

I've found it OK tutoring fresh users to get through the "both you and the public see the same page - but you get more buttons" phase pretty quick, and yes, it requires unlearning for many others.
I also always throw in a covering explanation of page vs story, and why we have content types. The text on that page does have to be read three times before you get it...
Perhaps "page templates" would be a more approachable phrase that "content types". ... I know it's not accurate enough, but it is how some users think - and can be a pretty accurate model of what many content types do!

The default home page and lack of 'visualization' could probably be smoothed. I'm not yet a fan of admin control panel ... but in this case it would have paid off immediately, I can see! Maybe there is a need for a little more wizarding in core. As first steps training wheels that come with the distro but can be removed easy.

I'll have to go for the PDF now...

How to troubleshoot Drupal |

drupalisme’s picture

Drupal may learn from Joomla and read this (some info not related to D6 because D6 has some improvements). You may surprise if you compare this both CMS when talking about USABILITY.
But this is well known problem "a better design (powerful) s/w usually has bad usability while better usability usually leak in design" because ... the powerful s/w made by high quality programmer not from an artist :)

FabriceV’s picture

Dear users,

A valid sample size depends on the variability of the observed phenomenons and on the experimental question. It is not necessary to be an expert to understand. Example: The weight of all basketball players from all teams are approximatively the same: OK you can use a small sample size (8 players) and extrapolate your results to state the mean weight of basketball players is xx. However it is more difficult to state: "20% of the players has a weight less than xx". You need more players because you would like that 8 players are into the 20% subsample to calculate their mean weight.

Inversely, when the variability is high, it is intuitive to think that you can not extrapolate from a low sample size. Example: Observe the first 8 children you meet today and define the proportions of boys and girls who live on earth. !?! Observed the first 8 teenagers and conclude on the presence of acne :-) ?

Taking into account the observed variables are behavioral and highly variable, such kind of measure is like the previous children example but with a high technology camera with someone stating: that is the fact because I have use technology to observe the 8 children. Unfortunately such kind of approach can just create ambiguous statements: "An evaluator created", "Evaluators said", "Several evaluators never"...

So, I do no tell you this kind of study is useless. But it just serves to identify a potential new problem but gives very insecure information about its occurrence and importance. Finally presenting the different problems or alternative interfaces and using the poll or form modules to interrogate Drupal users are probably a far better alternative to guide Drupal interface evolution.


dman’s picture

Are you downplaying the results using the staistician/black sheep counter-example :-)

I believe that a sample size of one is still useful when looking for things that can be improved. Especially if that one is a client!
Whatever the sample size, it demonstrates that some people have trouble with factes of the UI, and if that can be addressed without compromise, it's worth consideration.

Polling Drupal Users will simply not get anything like this first-contact feedback from folk who have not interacted with the system before. These initial steps captured in the study are interesting in themselves, more about the learning process than the everyday use best solutions.
In practice, I can certainly back seeing users stall when they find "create content" then are presented with a choice between content types.

How to troubleshoot Drupal |

FabriceV’s picture

"I believe that a sample size of one is still useful when looking for things that can be improved. Especially if that one is a client!"

I AGREE, but you can not let suppose that everybody is similar to your client. Thus it is probably better to use less technology and more subjects if you absolutely want to orientate interface using this kind of study. Building experimental design is a matter of balance between cost, feasibility and experimental question. Taking your own example, all of them who teach Drupal or sell it to clients can give further information. They can also relay a form to their clients or learners. It is certainly a good way to gain information and show to the Drupal's clients that this opensource CMS take care of them.

"Whatever the sample size, it demonstrates that some people..."
And what's happen if you change something that is not so much relevant because your sample was so small that you are insure of its representativeness or that their response are unrepresentative of a larger population? I reiterate my comments: use this kind of study to identified potential source of problems, but don't generalize the results. I do not affirm that these result are useless, but their validity is weak.

More generally, I'd like that people think about their learning philosophy. What is it important to learn, what is real/false, general/specific competence when using CMS. What can be considered foundation and what can be considered are just contextual (relate only to Drupal interface). I strongly disagree to learning representation that let suppose that all knowledge can be immediately intuitive. Intuition is built too.

An (funny) experimental design to test Drupal's vocabulary (related to the initial results)

Let see these three series of words.
1) Taxonomy - vocabulary - term - node
2) Nomenclature - dictionary - category - item
3) Classification - list - keyword - content

Exercise 1
Find peoples unaware of Drupal and let them comment and define one of these three series of words. Compare the answers.

Exercise 2
Find Drupal's users and let them define the relationships between the words in each of these three series without using synonyms. Compare the clarity of the sentences, or let people unaware of Drupal judging the clarity of the sentences.

Terminology is representation. Drupal builds its own terminology independently of other cms. Drupal community has the tendency to answer: "It is just that you don't know what I mean" and subsequently "you know, it is easy to do when you have learned to do".


dman’s picture

I haven't yet progressed to suggesting changes, and certainly not ones that could be seen to damage the existing system.
I mention identifying improvements. I believe there is still scope for improvements that are a net win, and do not automatically mean a step back from what we've got.

if that can be addressed without compromise, it's worth consideration.

Thus, I think that the feedback is useful, and I don't immediately dismiss it just because of the low number.

I believe in the learning curve you mention, and would always encourage people to become better informed about the complexity of the underlying system rather than dumb the system down or whatever you think I'm suggesting (I'm not). If that learning can be made easier or more approachable however, it's a net win.

Yes, Drupal terminology is a bit odd. I think we know that. The fresh-user study demonstrates that.
I agree that there is a big case of "easy when you have learned" going on. Using feedback from these who haven't learned that yet may help us figure how to make the learning process easier. Get over the bump. Even if this group isn't technically statistically significant. I'm not extrapolating to 100% from a sample of 8/8. But I don't think that those 8 are invalid either.

So polling (or adding technology) to gather responses from folk that already use Drupal isn't doing the same job. It may be useful in its own way, but I find the fresh-user approach shown here sheds light on a different side of things. The people who may have tried out Drupal and been turned off so quick they didn't even register on to complain. We never hear from that silent number.

I've quietly tried out many tools and software, but not even stuck with it long enough to tell the makers why. It could be that I missed some key concepts, so never 'clicked' with the system. Maybe the system was genuinely deficient, but maybe it was excellent and just wasn't presented right - for my purposes or level of education at the time.

I think we agree that Drupal is not "deficient" - but this study shows that aspects could be presented better. So there's something to be learned. Quibbling about the statistical significance of a sample of 8, or the generalizations to be made, or the affect on the larger population only become significant if we start discussing "improvements" that also have a perceived negative effect to some. Other improvements may be agreed upon as universally good (or at least neutral) so maybe we can find a few of them.

How to troubleshoot Drupal |


Drupal is one of the most fast growing CMS and this study will help alot to improve the new release

FabriceV’s picture

Dear Dman,
I think we are not so differently judging these results.
Hope this discussion help other readers understand implications of experimental design, to look at potential limits and benefits, and how to define applications that do not overreach the initial scope of the study.

Amazon’s picture

The best practitioners in the field who actually produce valid usability results will tell you that you can get valid usability feedback with a small sample size. We've done large sample size survey results and they are useful, but are self selecting in nature. The summary responses you are questioning are based on a review of detailed observations. The fact that these problems were confirmed across two separate studies further validates the results.

Drupal is complex, and has a large number of tasks we could test for. Our goal was not provide conclusive evidence of ALL Drupal usability problems, but to identify common and most obvious usability problems. Your arguments that the results are "very insecure information about it's occurrance and importance" don't consider that we carefully selected and controlled the tasks which the users were asked to perform. It is the focus of the usability of tasks which we measured that leads to the results being valid. For the core tasks we focus on 6 basic tasks across 8 users for each of two studies.

If you've got a particular formula for how many users should be tested for 6 basic tasks, I'd like to see it. If you simply want to say experimental results are not absolute truth, fine. Measuring humans behavior is inherently hard. But our goal is not to measure humans but to make the software easier to use, and I've got confidence that if we address the problems identified, we will have made improvements. Most importantly, we will be able to use these techniques to measure these improvements in the future.

Board member of the Drupal association
Coordinator of the test driven development team

Kieran Lal

FabriceV’s picture

Dear Kieran,

Your graph shows us that you consider design validity according to the capacity to discover a problem. It is what I have commented, and repeatedly wrote that this design was OK in this context. Thus I agree. My comment was rather that generalized to "all people" is difficult. (my non native English is somewhat rude because I do not write well).

I have carefully read the two linked pages. In author stated: "So if you had ten core tasks, times your twelve users, you'd have a sample of 120 observations to analyze. 10 x 12 = 120 sample opportunities for a defect". Everyone can agree.

in author stated: "There is always a risk of being misled by the spurious behavior of a single person who may perform certain actions by accident or in an unrepresentative manner. Even three users are enough to get an idea of the diversity in user behavior and insight into what's unique and what can be generalized." OUCH! Does any teacher can affirm that only tree beginners can resume the behaviors (and the difficulties) of all others? Probably not... And depends on the complexity of the learning task and the possible behaviors and outcomes. Problem is generalization not occurrence... 100% of the occurrences you have found have been found (famous parodist French publicity).

That exactly why I can not answer to you when you wrote "If you've got a particular formula for how many users should be tested for 6 basic tasks, I'd like to see it." The question is not the graph itself (very common evolution) but eventually verify that the 31% of problems discovered by only one user effectively applies to the situations you analyze. The curve can be flatter or stepper depending on what you observe but implies that all observed subjects have the same "capacity" to experience problems.

I have greatly enjoyed to receive further informations on your experimental method (it is normal that I have not take into account all, because It was not originally specified). Hope that this discussion helps others to understand scientific approach (and debate!).


chase_elliott’s picture

I felt like most of the complaints were just part of the Drupal learning curve. You can't expect to nail something right out of the box.

joep.hendrix’s picture

A great deal of the presentation is about the confusion whether the user was in in the admin section or in the website itself.
This is caused by the single theme Drupal is currently shipped. But, this of course not a real world example (unless the Garland theme is used as the website's theme).

Having said that, it still would make good sense to ship Drupal with two themes: an admin theme (Garland for example) and a standard front website theme (Zen classic for example). With these two themes in place, new users will not be confused by the same look and feel the current overall Garland theme produces.

CompuBase, Drupal websites and design

CompuBase, Dutch Drupal full service agency

giorgio79’s picture

I use Firefox to admin drupal, and IE to check the results (or vice versa). This way, I can easily see my changes fast and dont have to logout or login... :)

This way, I dont need a separate theme for admin :)

joep.hendrix’s picture

but we are talking about end users. More than 90% does not even know what firefox is!

CompuBase, Drupal websites and design

CompuBase, Dutch Drupal full service agency

IceCreamYou’s picture

Um... about 35% of internet users use Firefox. Probably double that in the tech-savvy world, and you're not going to be admin-ing a website if you're not relatively tech-savvy.

marcvangend’s picture

And your source is... ?
In the overview Wikipedia provides (, all general statistics show a usage share around 17%.
A tech-savvy site like W3Schools reports a share of almost 40% on their site (, which is still less than the IE versions combined.

joep.hendrix’s picture

That assumption has been made too long. The usability tests here show the opposite!

CompuBase, Drupal websites and design

CompuBase, Dutch Drupal full service agency

varkenshand’s picture

Agree with the double theme option (available already).

What would be wrong with a button that shows the site the way the public sees it? This would imply separating your own View from an anonymous View. Hard to find the right words for this but it could be something like Guest view - User View - Edit.

This would have to be more or less consistent with the number of roles defined, coming to think of it.

giorgio79’s picture

Also, if the user has administration menu installed, it is pretty hard not to see you are in admin :P

This one should be core :P

docwilmot’s picture

in fact why not have the menu for site admin be something like admin menu module and leave the sidebar menu for user defined navigation links? ie, a fresh install of drupal could be with the admin's menu links up top and an empty menu (primary links, by another name) in the left sidebar. would help reducing new-user confusion by making the fresh install more conventional in design.

Always be nice to people on the way up; because you'll meet the same people on the way down.
Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)

Always be nice to people on the way up; because you'll meet the same people on the way down.
Wilson Mizner (1876 - 1933)

gforce301’s picture

Very interesting study. Just my 2 cents. All systems require learning something new or a different way of doing something. Do you use a Mac or a PC? How about X windows? I was once on the phone with a client who was on a Mac. I did not realize that he could not right click on an image in his browser, get a context menu and then get properties on the image. I don't own a Mac. Should Apple change their system so that PC users understand it without reading any directions?

Preconceived notions are exactly that, preconceived. That does not make them true/correct in the context they are being applied. Did you learn to drive in Europe or the USA? If you had never been to the other place (and no one told you), what are the chances you might find yourself driving on the wrong side of the road there? Should one or the other dictate which side is correct?

I am not advocating no change. I would suggest caution and a solid evaluation of the goals for what Drupal is and will become. Is Drupal to be the only CMS to exist? Is it a goal to eliminate all other CMS systems? If not, then it would seem from my lay perspective (I am no scientist) that improving the documentation and stressing the importance of learning the new system would be paramount to changing the way the system works. Just improving the default front page with better directions would seem wiser.

On a side note (and please correct me if I am wrong), there is no appreciable difference between a "page" and a "story" other than the preset options for each content type and the names. Back in the day when it took a module to define a content type there was a difference. Today they are identical in all aspects "out of the box" except the way an administrator configures them and that is confusing for just about anyone, CMS experience or not.

dman’s picture

:) FTR, Europe & America drive on the same side of the road. It's Asia & The Commonwealth countries that drive on the Left. (The UK doesn't like to think of itself as part of Europe)

... but everything else you said was totally correct! ;-) .
Most powerful tools need some investment in learning.

... well I used to think that until I got a (shh) Mac! Now I have doubts that things really do need to be that hard when it is possible to make interfaces that "just work". Possible, but not by me :-/

How to troubleshoot Drupal |

gforce301’s picture

My apologies on the UK vs Europe presentation. As you can tell I have never been there :).

alexanderpas’s picture

The first thing i always do on a new drupal site is:
- create a new menu
- move the administer menu item (including children) to that menu
- set that menu to always expanded
- move the block for that menu into the left-side bar
- set the display for that block to only /admin and /admin/*
- finally, create a new link to /admin/ in the navigation menu

this'll create a backside impression while you're still on your website,
also it'll give it a more consistent look...

the edit tab... it's a FEATURE, not a bug ;)

and i'm really glad that it exists...

searching the back end for content you have found on the front-end is actually a usability problem, but this is already wired into peoples mind....

I personally think that the edit tab should be:
- a menu item right above administer
- called "edit this page"

this way, users will find that link, when they're going to the "back-end"

less == more

artis’s picture

I love the Edit Tab....only thing that would be better is if you could just click the text (when logged in) and edit directly.

I LOVE that the admin interface is on the live site! I came from Joomla and it is so frustrating going back and forth. The confusion of those in the video is because of past experience. Most of my clients are complete newbies (first website ever, computer illiterate). They "get it!" Maybe Drupal should just explain this FEATURE on the Welcome page. This would have eliminated most of their confusion. (Also, Joomla has MANY modules that were designed specifically to move Administrative items to the Frontend. This is a good indication that Drupal is doing it right even though Drupal is the ONLY ONE doing it this way.)

I agree that a WYSIWYG would be nice, but it's not that hard to install once you've done it once or twice.

The Story vs. Page issue is true! First thing I do on a new install is delete Story. I use Page for static pages and create new content types with CCK fields for anything else. There isn't enough of a difference between Story and Page to have a separate "default" type IMO.


mikeschinkel’s picture

The Edit Tab doesn't have to be "Either-Or." It's more an issue that people want to go find a console where they can also go add/edit. I agree, I wouldn't want the edit tab to go away (or I would just program it back!) But lLeaving the Edit tab shouldn't create any problem; it's more about what people find missing not about what getting rid of what is already there. At least that's IMHO.

As for WYSIWYG, it *IS* too hard for ~90% of users. I'm very technical and I struggled to get it to work; godforbid a non-technical person would try it. WYSIWYG should just be there, out of the box (and it should recognize tags like from image assist.)

giorgio79’s picture

I started a couple of months ago, and reading the tutorials as a first time CMS user I had some issues with understanding the purpose and the meaning of all the new terms like:

Primary links, secondary links, navigation, taxonomy, categories, terms, nodes, menus, parent items

For example I was somewhat frustrated having primary links, secondary links and navigation achieve sg similar...I am used to having one navigation section at the top and that is it.

Once I got down actually doing it and clicking around in the admin menu, I could see how it all fits together, but there seem to be so many ways/modules for more or less the same purpose but with a different name, and many naming issues for the same thing . This might come from the nature of Drupal, as I can usually do the same thing with 4-5 different modules, just in a slightly different way :)

mrbert’s picture

If there could be a way to merge some drupal modules or categorize them so you won't have to use so many modules to do similar things.

Ghana Real Estate | Voacanga Africana Seeds |">Shea Butter

geve’s picture

I think we are expecting too much from the interface. Drupal is not a trivial piece of software, that we can make a interface and expect the users to get everything about it. So lets face the problem.

What about having first time tours of site. You will understand what i mean from if you go to (without being signed in to yahoo), and click Yes, please! button at the top. This can be a generic feature (an extension of help module). This can be also used by other modules(like when a new module is installed, the tour will guide the user through its features). This guide can be make with transparent javascript popups, animations etc.

Anonymous’s picture

Drupal is a very capable CMS, that is easy to use. It just has some own ways to manage things that you just need to know. Once you know these basic easy facts, like the edit tab or overlayed admin, you are fine.
So either adding a 'Guided Tour' or a link to a short intro video would be a good way to enhance user experience.
besides that there are some easy ways to make drupal more usable, that can be implemented.

How about a 'beginner' and 'advanced' setting that exposes more or less menu items?

mikeschinkel’s picture

>> It just has some own ways to manage things that you just need to know. Once you know these basic easy facts, like the edit tab or overlayed admin, you are fine.

You could say the same for almost any software that has not gone through extensive usability testing and subsequent corrections. To accept that "you just need to know" things is, sorry to say, rationalization.

Lots of people evaluate Drupal and, because they don't know those things "they just need to know" they consider it too hard to use and select something like Joomla instead (I should know, I run this group and hear it from my members all the time.) Frankly I recommend WordPress over Drupal to people if is it obvious that they don't need the power of Drupal because they will find WordPress so much easier. Of course, since I currently get paid for developing Drupal websites I wish I didn't in good faith have to recommend WordPress which is why I really hope the community listens when they are told Drupal can really benefit from improving its usability...

giorgio79’s picture

When I was selecting a CMS, I installed Joomla and Drupal and tried to achieve a set goal and see how well it goes. I really gave myself time and in the end Drupal clearly became the winner. The initial steps were somewhat easier in Joomla, but in the end achieving my target (which is quite a heavy customization with lots of mods) seemed to be much faster in Drupal so I sticked to it. I now see that it was the best decision, as Drupal's modules give it an unsurpassable advantage. Like Panels 2 etc etc

Basically, there is quite a learning curve though with a couple of weeks just reading around as I had no CMS experience before...

It would be interesting to see a comparative usability study as well, for example with Joomla :P

gforce301’s picture

I would ask you to define "usability". Doesn't usability take into account a target audience? Does it not take into account the type of tasks that are to be accomplished? Is Drupal supposed to be usable "out of the box" by everyone no matter what their education/experience level? If that is the case then it would seem that core took the wrong direction a long long time ago.

Pre-installing or pre-configuring a bunch of things so that the "uninformed" can find Drupal more usable just makes it less usable and bulky for experienced users who do not need/want the overhead or behavior that is now turned on by default. Now experienced developers/users will have to spend more time "stripping" a core down then they spend building a site up.

It seems to me that when you sacrifice usability for flexibility/power/efficiency then you have the latest flavor of MS Windows. Should any flavor of *nix ship with a GUI so tightly coupled that it is more work to use the OS without the GUI then with it? The target audience of that particular software is not the casual user and maybe Drupal is not for the casual user.

Just a thought.

dman’s picture

Most of this question can surely be addressed by the under-utilized install profiles?
A first-time-user out-of-the-box default, and a stripped down developer install. Like, um, 90% of software install wizards do now. Click 'OK' to continue with default options, 'advanced' to make some more choices.

I'm sure the working groups have been sorting this out in the background for half a year. The stumbling block was about core 'profiles' that require contrib packages. I guess. Stripping a site of 'bulk' should not need to be a chore. I use a personal install profile myself that just disables community features and adds the bits I use for new sites.

Anyway, rhetoric about MS aside :-/ I do agree with your thrust, and actually believe in the bit of a barrier to entry for folk that just don't know what they are doing. But I'm arrogant that way. Others apparently believe that it should be actually possible for every kid and their grandmother to build a kick-ass website without ever reading any instructions...

The folk in the study here certainly do NOT fall into that category, so I do think that feedback from them is worth considering.

Plus, with the power of form_alter etc, it's pretty easy to hide confusing options or display extra help, in a configurable way without even messing with core.
I use an 'advanced form' module (similar in theme to form_alter.module) that removes buttons that my designer and client don't want to look at. And we can add context help as well - in a way that can be turned off once the developer gets sick of it.
This way we can add any usability help we want, even skinning a Drupal site to behave 50% like a WP or whatever for an interim period that can be turned off or removed without ever getting in the way of core purists.
A migration assist profile/wizard/module. Some big software packages supply this for 'switchers' or even major upgrades.

These are usability enhancements that can be a net win without causing any other aspect to be 'dumbed down'.

How to troubleshoot Drupal |

MadMurdoch’s picture

You should have a look at Wordpress to adopt some of its features, particularly admin features.
I really would like to use Drupal for one of my community portals, but the lack of control and features in administration area keeps me from using it. It's just to unhandy. Especially I'm missing rich text edit functionality and nice, usable picture upload and embedding features, like Wordpress has. Drupal is a content management system, right? So why is there no built-in functionality for formating content and embedding and positioning media?
I hoped that features to be in Drupal 6, but disappointing it's not.
These editor and upload modules, in my opinion, are crap. Such functionality should be built into the core.

I also think that you should differentiate more between admin area and public content area. The admin area in some points is too confusing and too nested.

Just my 2 cents ...

alexrayu’s picture

Some of these improvements would be handy. Have already tested some of them in SiteHound Drupal, only positive feedback.

Drupal Related Services | SiteHound Drupal Free Distro

gav240z’s picture

For me the Administrative interface seriously needs a rework. The default theme is just not very user friendly. Wordpress on the other hand has a very user friendly interface and you don't even need to question it, you just know that when you click something you will find what you are looking for.

Administering modules by task is silly, it just adds confusion. There are just too many options in front of you when looking the Drupal interface.

I like having a choice of WYSIWYG editor but I agree that its not very user intuitive to have to install it.

I think that having a default structure to a new Drupal install (by choice) is essential. Defining roles / permissions / some basic content examples and menu examples etc..

While I'm happy to read user manuals, I realise alot of people will probably drop Drupal before reading a manual simply because its easier to find a system ie: Joomla / Wordpress that does all this out of the box.

Which also brings me to the next issue. Where do I go to help out with Drupal usability? Apart from this thread I'm not sure where to begin trying to contribute etc..

IceCreamYou’s picture

I found the Drupal administration interface to be the most intuitive of anything I've ever used. I don't want simple, I'm using Drupal because I want to build a complicated site so I want everything laid out in front of me at once.

And I used Administer By Task all the time until I discovered the Administration Menu module.

That's not to say there's nothing that could be improved: it's just to note that people coming from other CMS's often have the idea that the next CMS they use should work exactly like the previous one.

mwease’s picture

encarta tells me:

- known automatically: known directly and instinctively, without being discovered or consciously perceived
- knowing by instinct: knowing things instinctively

your knowledge of web design, the jargon, the concepts and probably of CMSs in particular made it much easier to figure out drupal. this is DEFINITELY NOT intuition.

ozioma’s picture

For the life of me I can't understand the rationale behind building HTML from
PHP code.How do you format a node's content for display?
I just want to pass the whole node object to a Smarty template and fine-tune the display to my hearts satisfaction.
Are you telling me to write code to generate 4 divs in a table containing 3 nested tables and a top ul with styled menu links?
All in PHP?With the array loops and all?That sucks IMO.
The books and manual say you can theme it all.But its looking to be harder than I thought.
Granted I'm new to Drupal and probably need to RTM harder,but I always thought Smarty was invented to take away the drudgery of that!It's cleaner, more straight forward and easier to extend and maintain.

While Drupal has features that puts other popular CMSes out in the shade,theming for Drupal can be a dauting task.I'm still yet to decipher all the obscure terminologies and "theming functions" I have to master to get a functional site up.I'm presently migrating 2 Joomla sites to Drupal, and after 5 weeks, the re-occurring thought in my head is-Joomla was not this difficult!
IMO,Drupal needs 3 things to make it more productive and usable:

1.Refactor terminologies.Taxonomy,vocabulary,terms,synonyms while being valid English words are poor descriptors for content categorization.These are the kind of stuff reserved for unrepentant geeks who have not outgrown their Unix terminals, some might say bilingual nerds who speak 2 languages fluently-half-English and assembly language. I bet a large percentage of users(yes including native English speakers) have had to look up the meaning of these words b4 deciphering how to use it in Drupal.
A simpler terminology IMO would be -Category,Sub-category or something not so arcane.

2.Use Smarty.Make Smarty the default templating engine.Make the Smarty pattern ubiquitous in the distro.I predict this will be the fall of Drupal if not implemented.

3.Officially integrate CCK and Views into the core and do some usability test b4 releasing a new build.It will be a crime not to include refactoring the Admin interface and sacking the guy behind the long menu links(thank God for the Admin Menu module).
Also there should be sensible defaults to get one hitting the road running.

There, I feel better already...had me a bad weekend hacking away at content types,vocabularies,taxonomies,terms and theming functions.


PS:Original rant text from my comment on Tah Toi's blog.

Simplicity+Excellence by Design

WorldFallz’s picture

I'm not sure this is the right thread for this discussion, but I personally find smarty adds an unnecessary level of complexity. I think the choice of phptemplate as the default theme engine makes perfect sense. Drupal is built with php, and if one is already familiar with php (theming requires the most basic php especially in d6), why should you have to learn yet another syntax to theme? Also, I would think that interacting with the theming system in the same language used to build the product, as opposed to an abstracted syntax, probably has some inherent benefits, though that's just a guess.

In any case, though, the true beauty and power of Drupal is that if you want to use smarty you can:

"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." - Lao Tzu
"God helps those who help themselves." - Ben Franklin
"Search is your best friend." - Worldfallz

ddlb’s picture

I am very new to Drupal and all you super geeks are way over my head.
I have used a few different cms things, b2evolution, open reality, phpGED view, g2 gallery. And I have tried phpnuke, mambo, joomla, oxxps, drake, wordpress, phpbb.
I found the easiest community site was made with xoops with yogurt.

But I know I want the best overall system and I really like what Dries and others have to say.
....So I am bound to figure out Drupal.

I did go through some of what the testers experienced. I think the testers did not "click" round enough to see what was up. But that was mostly figured out after the first week of use for me. Not that big a deal..and I like it the way it is.
I have gone through some issues getting a text editor to work the way I thought it would, still have some of those to work out, but think I can get one to fly.
Most of my issues are figuring out about views and cck, still need to go hide and watch all the tutorials i can find.

ask me in another month how it's going on trying to build 1 site with Drupal. just glad i have plenty of time to figure it out.

alexrayu’s picture

And a friendly forum community who love newbies and are always happy to help them.

- Alexei Rayu.

Drupal Related Services | SiteHound Drupal Free Distro

ddlb’s picture

Thank you for the "we got your back", it is very reassuring that the job will get done. I was impressed with the Drupal community right from the start. It does make a diff.
I am looking forward to the day when I will be able to provide useful help. I learn stuff by totally screwing it up 5 or 6 times and really getting into the details by the time i get it right. lol..
BTW...i have grown leaps in Drupal during the last 2 weeks. gimme another few...and might be the real deal.

ramones79’s picture

Just from the very start of this video I can read the following statement from one of the participants:
"I'm not sure what nodes are at this point because I didn't read the manual, obviusly, as I never do..."

Well, I certainly believe that messing up with a CMS system /no matter what, even the so "easy" Joomla/ will require that you have some knowledge or readiness to learn /this includes reading and especially the manual/.

The even more confusing part in the video is the initial screen where they say, that these guys are familiar with a bunch of CMS systems /half of the names are absolutely unfamiliar to me, although I'm a web developer for years/.

So what are they, after all - very very skilled professionals or people who don't even care to read a line, before messing up with a web developing tool ?

This is very strange.

It sounds to me more that they are just children who like to press all the buttons of a gadget - just to see what happens :) Well, it is fun to do that /with your new cell phone for ex./, but what has that to do with a CMS system ?

I don't think this is the way for a CMS to be tested - nevermind which one.

My experience with Drupal went on very differently from what I've seen on the video.

I first read the introduction pages from the Documentation. There the basic concepts and philosophy behind Drupal is very well explained, and it is essential to read it and understand it. When you do so - the next steps will be much more smoother for you. It doesn't give you practical knowledge from the start, but it gives you the fundamentals to build your further experience on. So on the long run - it is always a time well invested.

There are some difficult moments in the learning curve /in my case it was the theming/, but patience is needed. After some time and efforts spent on Drupal - you'll be flying with it :) I love Drupal very much, it's kind of addiction and I'm sure I'm not the only one to feel that way.

And it's easy to say why - it gives you so much power and so much freedom, that it's hard to believe if you never touched Drupal before.

Drupal is a tool. It needs some knowledge to use that tool. Even if you're a hobbyist carpenter you still need to know how to use the tools, right? Same with CMS systems.

Some consider Joomla /just for example/ to be more user-friendly , etc. Well I'm on the opposite opinion. I've spent much more time trying to learn Joomla and it was more difficult to me to master it, than with Drupal. Joomla have its fancy icons, etc, but try to create a menu item /just to illustrate my point/ :)

What I mean is - Drupal is not that hard, but it takes efforts and time to get with it.

/and don't get me wrong about Joomla, it was just an example that every CMS needs some time to invest to get on with it. I still use Joomla in some cases and I like it alot too./

mwease’s picture

i absolutely disagree with most of what you say here.

"fraud" is ridiculous! who do you think they are trying to defraud? potential drupal users? did joomla people arrange this to keep their users who get it for free from trying YOUR product that they can also get for free? or, possibly, joomla zealots that just want theirs to be the best because they know it better than anything else?

i'm sure you have heard "when all else fails, read the instructions"? try to imagine why that phrase exists and why you and i have heard it. it is because, in general, people DO NOT read the instructions. people want something to be intuitive and they get a feeling of accomplishment by figuring out something for themselves, no matter how easy it was made for them. not wanting to read everything in sight before trying something out is human nature. it is NOT a lack of "readiness to learn".

now, it's very impressive that you could read the introductory pages and understand them. kudos. i'm not saying they are done badly or anything like that. it's just that understanding abstract concepts doesn't happen quickly for most people, especially me. i read it all. i was a software engineer for 20 years in telecommunications. i can write software and get down into the ones and zeroes that connects your phone to give you a dial tone or not, to call someone or disallow it, to give you recorded messages, to hook you up to a million other people at the same time, but at this point, i can't get drupal, either. i don't think i'm one of those ignoramuses someone else mentioned above, either. i've been told that i'm really smart (and stupid, too, incidentally) and my grades weren't too bad. i did get a degree, y'know.

everything i saw on the video was EXACTLY what i'm going through and IT IS NOT FUN and i find it impossible to believe that YOU didn't go through the same thing! if i had had to PAY for drupal, i would not have given it 5 minutes before trying something else. the help is abundant, but never seems to actually answer any of my immediate questions. i think LOTS AND LOTS of people are like me and they learn by example, not by abstract concepts, definitions, jargon, etc. just about everything i have accomplished in drupal came from having no clue and going to the forum and finding out, after going through 5 searches and 50 postings, that someone else had the same problem. this not how software should make you work or solve problems. it should NOT be that difficult. it is ABSOLUTELY RIDICULOUS to have spent the amount of time that i have spent on drupal and to have accomplished so little, but i understand that it's free, so i can't really complain too much, although i do.

i know that tons of software people just LOVE to find neat and cool things about computers and learn everything about them, thereby giving themselves that feeling of "power and freedom" (take note of the proliferation of viruses and the like - i'm certain THOSE disgusting people feel powerful). the rest of us would just like to get something done with a minimum of reading and hair-pulling. power and freedom is something we get elsewhere, if we need it, not from using a "tool". one should get satisfaction and/or appreciate what or how a tool does what they want it to do, but if it takes more than a certain amount of time and/or effort to figure out how to use the tool, then why bother. he/she can get the job done quicker with a different, less powerful tool. shucks, i'll certainly use a hatchet or hand saw rather than buy or rent a chain saw, unless of course, i'm a lumberjack.

however, if your life or livelihood depends on the mastering of this tool (or your self esteem), then by all means, take the time and figure it out.

i have no prior CMS experience or web-site building at all to speak of, so i expect to be at a distinct disadvantage, but i'm not stupid, no matter what some people say, and using drupal has just plain pissed me off, although i am still determined to figure it out, mostly because all you gurus think it god's gift to web sites. *I* am in the group that the contributors who design drupal should be trying to make say, "wow! that was easy!" then, it's guaranteed that everyone else will find it easy.

one comment on the "edit" button for content. it's wonderful! the problem is, how in hell does one get that content where one wants it and spaced right in the FIRST PLACE so that he/she can USE that wonderful button!!?? and why is it that, administering a website for example, not ALL the "content" in that website is displayed when you click on CONTENT and look at the list? shouldn't that one place show you EVERYTHING (i.e, ALL CONTENT) in the website? that alone would probably solve 70% of my problems. i've spent hours just trying to find out how someone put something in a website.

mike wease