New users are challenged by the meaning of "Block", which was evident from the UWM 2011 usability study.

One possibly solution is to include tutorial or help information when a user first starts using Drupal

(IE "Common Language" or "Things you should know before starting with Drupal")

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tronathan’s picture

Version: 7.x-dev » 8.x-dev
tronathan’s picture

dcmistry’s picture

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naught101’s picture

This is a difficult one, far more difficult than "modules", because it's more prominent, and way, way harder to describe, especially because even though blocks usually contain content, they often contain other stuff - RSS feed links, menus, etc.

From http://drupal.org/node/1175694, it appears that users think of blocks as content, so perhaps it makes sense to move "blocks" from admin/structure to admin/content? (it's a slippery one - it could equally well go under "appearance". I just did a minor usability test - I asked my girlfriend (who has used drupal before for 2-3 sites, including administering a site I set up) how she would add "stuff" to the sidebar. She first thought of using the "edit block" drop-down on the navigation block, then went to the "content" section of the toolbar, and said "I'd add some content". She realised this was wrong, so went to structure, saw "blocks", and thought that might be it, but wasn't sure. I asked her if she knew what blocks were, and if she'd used them, and she said "I've used them, but I couldn't really describe what they're for".

Here's what wiktionary says about Block:
17 definitions (just counting nouns - 10 more for verbs), the most relevant of which is probably:
A substantial, often approximately cuboid, piece of any substance.

I've looked though a thesaurus, and the only vaguely compatible terms are "parcel" and "chunk", both of which are crap. "widget" is what wordpress uses, and I think this is potentially better, because it's a more widely-used term (other software uses it too). Ultimately though, I think this one's just going to come down to good help text.

David_Rothstein’s picture

From the Issues Analysis Matrix, here are some possible alternatives to "blocks" we brainstormed after the usability testing (just a brainstorm, not claiming that all of these are good :)

  • Basic content
  • Boxes
  • Components
  • Sidebar Content
  • Widgets

Another smaller (and therefore not as comprehensive) thing we can do here is look at the descriptive text we provide around the word "block" and try to make that better. For example, the description underneath the Blocks menu item when you're at Administration > Structure currently reads:

"Configure what block content appears in your site's sidebars and other regions."

We could probably do better.

David_Rothstein’s picture

From http://drupal.org/node/1175694, it appears that users think of blocks as content, so perhaps it makes sense to move "blocks" from admin/structure to admin/content?

Interesting idea; this might make more sense to discuss at #1164718: Improving the usability between "custom block" and "content" rather than here, though.

greta_drupal’s picture

I'd definitely consider blocks as content, for UI. In fact, when I build a site, I use the Nodeblock module to make it so, for users. The most basic user will know how to create node content. Then, they only need the Block admin page for changing placement. But, considering that they will likely start using a finished site, they might never need to change the placement. So, their basic skill set translates for managing the content (text, images) of a block.

As for how I refer to blocks to users, when training: BOX

Reasons:

1. Most stock themes place a border around block content, so straight away, that content tends to look like a box.

2. A block is a way to organize content (at least when using a NodeBlock or NodesInBlock approach); so too is a BOX in the real world. I would go a step further -- in core, style placed blocks with a faint (opacity) dotted border -- at least an :hover and :active states. The way it is often shown on the block overlay.

Ideally, it would be better that on a node form, the user can select where they want that node content to appear. Much like NodesInBlock functionality.

dcrocks’s picture

There isn't any other word you can choose here that that intrinsically and completely indicates what the concept of a block is in Drupal(or the many other cms's that use that term) to someone new or has very shallow training in Drupal.. Or a module for that matter. It's not the word itself .
It is a question of education: documentation, examples, tutorials, description, and logical work flow. Yes, you can describe a block as 'a box of content' but that doesn't make box a better choice than block, and I'm sure it isn't enough to describe what a block or box of content is in Drupal.
There seems to be a lot of time spent on the last part of 'users don't understand what a block/module is' and little on the first part. ie., 'users don't understand'.
I'm convinced that simply changing the word used will have no affect on user's understanding. Whether you choose block, box, or biddlesticks, you still will have to explain what the word means in the Drupal context. There is no magic here.

ps. A biddlestick is a device used to stabilize cameras. Or its a band. Or a person. And everyone knows that an apple is(and only is) a computer.

dcrocks’s picture

I just did a google search on the phrase 'drupal blocks' and got 10 pages of hits. Surely others do the same. And it might be useful to see how other cms's prevent the term block from being a mystery.

David_Rothstein’s picture

Category: feature » bug

Marked #1760558: Rename 'Blocks' (Twig already uses the term 'block') as duplicate.

This is also a usability bug, not a feature request.

meeli’s picture

Issue summary: View changes

I'm not sure it's necessary to change this word, in the same way I'm not sure it's necessary to change "node" to anything either. These are Drupal terms, and Drupal is allowed to have its terms. In fact, I think by Drupal building its terms it also builds its brand.

I think one thing we can do to mitigate issues like this one - which I think have legitimacy - is to create a simple glossary page that ships with Drupal Core. And maybe even include something like Glossify so that users can check the meaning of a term if the term needs some sort of clarification (eg. nodes, blocks, modules, themes, taxonomy, etc.)

We can create as many issues for various terms as we want, but the fact remains that Drupal has defined many of its own terms and they are always going to be a challenge for new users. Perhaps our task is to make it super easy for new users to immediately understand Drupal terms and become fluent with them as soon as possible when using the Drupal framework.

greta_drupal’s picture

Although....the verb "block" does mean to thwart progress, so perhaps BLOCK is the most appropriate term (for newbies). *grin*

ITWest-jg’s picture

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mitchell’s picture

Version: 8.0.x-dev » 9.x-dev

> Re #4, ~"`chunk` is crap":
It depends how you look at it (either in terms of input or output). If you term the output of what a theme produces with respect to part of a webpage, then `block` makes some sense. If you term the input of what a piece of code within a template that produces that page element uses, then `chunk` makes a lot of sense.

> Re #12, "the verb "block" does mean to thwart progress":
Good point.

* Change to 9.x.x since terminology changes need bridges between APIs.

---
Currently reading: The Systems Bible.

yoroy’s picture

Issue tags: +ux-interfacetext
catch’s picture

Version: 9.x-dev » 8.2.x-dev

We can experiment with terminology changes in 8.x, and then update APIs to match in 9.x.

Version: 8.2.x-dev » 8.3.x-dev

Drupal 8.2.0-beta1 was released on August 3, 2016, which means new developments and disruptive changes should now be targeted against the 8.3.x-dev branch. For more information see the Drupal 8 minor version schedule and the Allowed changes during the Drupal 8 release cycle.

greta_drupal’s picture

Maybe it is as simple as calling it a "Layout Block" ???? As long as the block functionality includes a contextual link to edit the content within the block, will be easier for users. True though that the WordPress alternative of "widget" isn't a word that most people know conversationally; had to be learned therein.

tkoleary’s picture

I'm not sure it's necessary to change this word, in the same way I'm not sure it's necessary to change "node" to anything either. These are Drupal terms, and Drupal is allowed to have its terms

This is a valid point. Drupal can have it's own terms in certain instances where there is no generic that will sufficiently cover all uses. There is also a very serious concern about the impact on existing users of changing nomenclature of something so fundamental and broadly used.

However, if we retain 'block' (as I think we probably should) we need to take several steps to mitigate any possible confusion including.

  1. An onboard tour on the home page that explains what a block is
  2. Tours to accompany some of the default blocks such as site branding and user menu
  3. Better descriptive text overall
  4. Better, and more discoverable help text

Version: 8.3.x-dev » 8.4.x-dev

Drupal 8.3.0-alpha1 will be released the week of January 30, 2017, which means new developments and disruptive changes should now be targeted against the 8.4.x-dev branch. For more information see the Drupal 8 minor version schedule and the Allowed changes during the Drupal 8 release cycle.