The Drupal Association is pleased to announce the selection of a design partner in its redesign efforts. Through a competitive process, UK-based Mark Boulton Design Ltd. was selected. Their proposal stood out because of their work on Coolspotters and the upcoming (launching Q4 2008), their agile design approach and their highly-experienced project team including Mark Boulton as Creative Director and project lead, Leisa Reichelt as Information Architect & UX Research and Carolyn Wood as Content Strategist.

Mark writes a design-focused journal at and has been featured in publications such as Print, The Guardian and A List Apart (Saving the Spark: Developing Creative Ideas and Whitespace). He is an active member of the Society of Typographic Designers and a regular speaker at international conferences about typography, grid systems and applied graphic design theory. Check out his 2007 SXSW talks: Web Typography Sucks (audio) with Richard Rutter and Grids are Good and How to Design with Them (audio) with Khoi Vinh.

Leisa blogs at and is a regular speaker at conferences in the UK, Europe and US where she speaks about the importance of good user experience, integrating user experience in agile processes and ambient intimacy (an effect of online social tools).

Carolyn is probably best known to this community as the acquisitions editor at A List Apart. As such she is required to be well-acquainted with trends in design, communities, and a wide range of internet issues and technologies. Her specialty is jargon-free, down-to-earth, lively content that draws users in, helps them get the job done, and encourages them to explore.

Mark will be giving a keynote presentation at Drupalcon Szeged, Thursday, August 28 at 1:30 in the Acquia room.

The redesign team's progress can be tracked via the Redesign group, where we'll continue to post updates, progress reports and milestones.

Don’t just stand on the sidelines, we need you! In order to make this happen, we will need folks to get involved in the implementation of D6 and the new wishlist items for the site. Let me know if you’re interested.


rickvug’s picture

I've been a fan of Mark's work for a long while now. I'm sure that many others are excited about this "A list" team re-designing

Rick Vugteveen | ImageX Media (work) | Blog (personal)

Rick Vugteveen | @rickvug on Twitter

kulfi’s picture

I'm surprised the tender process wasn't highlighted more. Only 6 submissions from over 200,000 registered users?

rcross’s picture

Very much agree with your surprise. I would've also like to see the proposals as well. Is it possible to get those proposals release? even though the decision is made, i think seeing the other competitive proposals would be really interesting. Especially the various takes on the approach to the drupal community.

Ryan Cross
James Cross Construction Services
Project Management Software

gloscon’s picture

Would be awesome if there is a transparent process and competitive proposals shared.

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farriss’s picture

Unfortunately, the proposals are not available for public release. They are the confidential property of those firms that chose to submit them as they include proprietary information such as rates, team bios, contract terms, etc. That is standard and to be expected.

The process, however, has been very public. After the session at DrupalCon Boston, which talked about the redesign plan and invited interested folks to participate in the redesign group, the request for proposal (RFP) was drafted publicly on and then a call for interested parties was made.

That is only the process that I am aware of since getting involved personally. Amazon, webchick and others were working on this at least since November.

The firms who bid on the project found out about the RFP in three ways:
- contacted me because of the g.d.o post
- downloaded the RFP directly from g.d.o
- were sent the RFP by me or someone else who downloaded it from g.d.o

To be clear, there were more firms interested than actually chose to submit a bid. After release of the RFP, I personally had contact with approximately a dozen firms. That contact ranged from responding to an inquiry for the RFP to answering e-mails and phone calls about questions regarding scope, process and the Drupal project itself. Because the RFP was publicly posted, I don't know how many firms downloaded the RFP and upon review chose not to bid.

For the firms that did contact me and ultimately chose not to bid, the reasons included:
- budget too low
- too many firms invited to bid
- scope of the project too large
- timing

For more information about the actual review process, see my blog post, which can also be found on the Association's Blog aggregator and Planet.

kulfi’s picture

These channels were obviously insufficient. Even if the number of respondents is upped to 12, that is a response rate of 0.006% from the community of 200,000.

I agree with BioALIEN (below) too little information was released to the broader community, far too late.

ac’s picture

I have to agree, this should have been on the front page. A lot of people don't use the groups website and would have missed this.

Alex Cochrane
Spoon Media

webchick’s picture

i.e. "Dude. Let's blitz this EVERYWHERE!! Front page. Drupal Planet. That cork board at the grocery store. Everywhere!" This is because I've never been part of an RFP process before, only part of an open source community, and that's how we do things. :)

RFPs need to be handled more delicately, we've discovered. It takes A LOT of time to put a good response to an RFP together for design firms. Because of this, the further you blast an RFP call, the fewer "serious" design firms take part in the process. As Tiffany mentioned, a competition between even 8-9 firms (which sounds like a *super* small pool) is too many for some firms to even consider submitting an RFP response.

The Drupal Association was very interested in having some of the top-tier design firms bidding on this project, and as a result, we kept the process as open as we could -- anyone following the redesign group would've seen and could've participated in the RFP process for the past couple of months -- without resorting to spamming it worldwide and thus diluting our pool of quality candidates.

I'm thrilled to see this important project gaining momentum and can't wait to see what MBD comes up with. :)

rickvug’s picture

I work at a Drupal development and design firm that is known but not necessarily high profile. We have many inquiries each week and normally do not put in bids for widely distributed RFPs. Competing against more than 3-4 companies just does not make business sense if you sustain high levels of client interest.

Rick Vugteveen | @rickvug on Twitter

Boris Mann’s picture

Sorry, but judging by the agencies that DID respond to the RFP -- we got an excellent selection of respondents. I don't think more would have been better. Think of 10 top tier design firms *worldwide* --- and yes, they probably submitted an RFP response. This was not hidden in any way, and anyone interested in the redesign saw it.

Remember, also, that this is design only, and will go through an open process. MBD is going to be at Drupalcon Szeged doing live interviews, and there will be plenty of digital outreach, too.

And get ready to sharpen up your dev and theme skills ... because Kieran and I are going to come knocking on everyone's door, asking to help out with the actual code for the revamp and D6 upgrade.

The future is Bryght at Raincity Studios

ac’s picture

I don't think anybody is disputing the 'openness' of the procedure, but rather the visibility. I also don't think anybody is disputing that MBD will do a great job.


There are people who feel a little bit slighted because they didn't know this was happening. The standard defense has been that anyone 'interested in the redesign saw it', which is clearly not the case.

Alex Cochrane
Spoon Media

BioALIEN’s picture

We found out about this only 2 weeks ago when signing up to the association. By then it was too late to submit a proposal. Only 6 proposals were received in total out of the 9 who showed interest. For such a large and popular community, this is proof that the tender process was not highlighted enough.

I believe the process should have been highlighted with a front page announcement on d.o site. The reason I say this is because there are now too many sub sites on * and it's extremely difficult (coming from a very active user) for people to know about what's taking part in each sub domain. Adding them to the footer would go a long way to help while these issues undoubtedly get addressed in the site redesign. However, I trust the judgement by the association and I am sure the right candidate was selected. Congratulations to Mark Boulton Design!

I look forward to the new layout, no doubt it will be brilliant. I will miss the current look & feel -- are there any plans to enable theme switching or spin-offs based on this theme? That would be cool!

Dee :: UK Drupal Consultancy

Crell’s picture

The reason I say this is because there are now too many sub sites on * and it's extremely difficult (coming from a very active user) for people to know about what's taking part in each sub domain.

Even as a non-new user, I agree that's a problem. That's one of the key reasons for having a redesign in the first place. :-) It's not just a reskin of the existing site and content; it's a redesign of how we organize and present the Drupal community and its vast array of knowledge and activity, which is an order of magnitude or more larger than it was when the current design and architecture was implemented.

I'm looking forward to what Boulton is able to do for us.

Larry Garfield

JohnForsythe’s picture

Will be very interesting to see how this all works out. Does the redesign bid include things like upgrading Project module and the rest of the infrastructure to Drupal 6? Or is it purely concerned with themeing? I'm not sure how the two processes could be separated successfully.

John Forsythe
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farriss’s picture

Yes, the redesign does include upgrade to D6 and many other badly needed upgrades. See Dries's status update post on the redesign effort.

This RFP represents only one piece of the redesign puzzle, namely the piece the Association is contracting and paying for directly. The most important part, as always with Drupal, will come from the community, which will be responsible for implementation and drive the infrastructure and feature upgrade.

This is not intended as just a cosmetic exercise, but in order for it to be successful, we need folks to volunteer their time and be a part of it.

As webchick has proposed, we would like to organize teams who are responsible for discrete portions of site as we move forward with this redesign. Obvious components include docs, groups, association, etc. See Catch's post in the redesign group for more about the current proposal for restructuring into subsites.

Boris Mann’s picture

This is a design / IA contract. Please see the RFP for what was requested:

The actual process of theming and upgrades has been done by the community in the past. As you can see from recent a.d.o. posts and some posts from Dries, we're looking at ways to ensure solid project module upgrades.

The future is Bryght at Raincity Studios

dgorton’s picture

These are new names to me, but I like the connections (e.g. with places like the BBC, Nature and A List Apart). I also like the tone of what I'm reading. I look forward to hearing their thoughts and seeing what they bring to the community.

Welcome to Drupal!

Drew Gorton
Gorton Studios

brenda003’s picture


FiReaNGeL’s picture

Do we get to know how much the contract cost? Cause Mark is a designer I'd LOVE to hire, but I fear I can't afford them :)
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mcjim’s picture

I'm excited by this news. Always had a lot of respect for Mark Boulton's work and the thoughts he has on design.

hoangits’s picture

It's work very good

Fred125’s picture

yes nice

timmillwood’s picture

Well done Mark. Nice to see a local Cardiff, Wales, UK person up high in the drupal community.

Maybe my group will take off after all

markboultondesign’s picture

Hello all,

I just wanted to pop a quick comment here to say the whole team here is thrilled to be a part of this unique and exciting project.

Lots of logistics to sort out in the coming weeks, but *your* involvement in this process is crucial. For some initial research, we'll be suggesting some ways in which you can input directly with us. Leisa and I are currently getting our heads together as the best way of achieving this to give us actionable research data to inform the redesign of the information architecture. We'll make sure this is conveyed to you all in the most visible way possible.

For those attending Drupalcon in a couple of weeks time, we'll see you there!


OsterD’s picture

It's good to see you Mark and the rest of your team working on the redesign process.
I've being knowing you and your team since I was living in UK and I know the type of work you do.
Definitely it will be an interesting project to do.
But bare in mind this redesign process (I've being watching it silently for a few months now) is a difficult one and must be treated with extreme care because of the way Drupal itself is designed.

I agree a redesign process is needed but please do not sacrifice the easiness or the flexibility of the current system against aesthetics.
I found myself many times on such a tight corner just because I haven't considered all of the underlying processes.

Please take this as a bit of advice from someone that lectures multimedia design on university level.

Thanks again.
David Oster aka George Pasparakis

markboultondesign’s picture

Thanks for your comment, David (or is it George?!)

I agree a redesign process is needed but please do not sacrifice the easiness or the flexibility of the current system against aesthetics. I found myself many times on such a tight corner just because I haven't considered all of the underlying processes.

There are a number of business requirements for the redesign, but one them is absolutely paramount for the success of this project. We will be putting the user first. With that will come ease of use (we hope!). An important point is that we won't just be redesigning for launch. We're designing a system (a kit of parts: IA, Brand, Typographic Hierarchy, Grid, Copy and Content) that will sit hand in hand, technically, as grows and changes over the coming years. We're got one eye firmly on the future here.

OsterD’s picture

Thanks for the reply.
It's good to know this.

As for my name, let's say that David Oster is my kind of pen name or artistic name, where the real one is George Pasparakis.

David Oster aka George Pasparakis

joep.hendrix’s picture

Congrats for winning the contest.

CompuBase, Drupal, websites and webdesign

CompuBase, Dutch Drupal full service agency

Wim Leers’s picture


I've been reading your blog for quite some time and couldn't imagine a better designer. I'll definitely try to find the time to give some feedback. And I'm looking forward to your keynote presentation!

heather’s picture

This is going to be the best thing since the previous redesign (which was a big step forward). I look forward to the changes and improvements.

I have pored over Mr. Boulton's writing online, he's in alot of my bookmarks. What an excellent talent, and the Drupal community will benefit greatly from the kind of expertise he will bring.


prbass’s picture

Congratulations on winning the tender.

This is a brave project to take on - thousands and thousands of users, all of us web developers to some degree or other will be scrutinising and moaning about every aspect of the redesign. I see they've started already with the tender process!

markboultondesign’s picture

This is a brave project to take on - thousands and thousands of users, all of us web developers to some degree or other will be scrutinising and moaning about every aspect of the redesign. I see they've started already with the tender process!

You're absolutely right. Although I'd like to think challenging rather than brave. It's true, people don't like change. No matter what you do, you're bound to alienate someone. The Drupal community is so vocal, but I hope we can use that to our advantage by being as open and forthright as we can, right from the get-go.

Also, don't forget that we're approaching this in a User-Centered fashion with the hope that our design decisions won't be that subjective. There will be reasons why certain decisions will be made (and these will be debated long and hard by the Drupal community for sure). Those reasons will be based on valid, and informed, research.

prbass’s picture

Just spent a bit of time on your blog and Leisa Reichelt's and I'm encouraged by your approach, and this reply. I'm sure you will make a success of this project. I'll try to participate where I can - good luck!

Anonymous’s picture

I am sure the redesign of DO will be the "Drupal case of the year".

If the ALA/MBD guys are involved, you can be sure the results will be amazing!

Good job for us!

Drupal rocks!
Read the case: 4Linux, a FLOSS company, goes Drupal:

hayesr’s picture

I've used Drupal in my web projects for the past few years now, but I must admit I was considering alternatives because of usability issues. This is very refreshing news.’s picture

Seems to be good choice.
Can't wait to see results :-)
Drupal Theme Garden

Anonymous’s picture

I wanted to congratulate Mark on his Weblog, but it refuses to take my comment :(

So I post it here:

That's great news! Congratulations Mark!

There is no doubt needs a redesign (so does German Drupal community and has been needing a redesign for quite some time. I'm just so happy that the Drupal Association (partly funded by Drupal lovers just like me) chose you.

This shows me that the Drupal staff is committed to address their needs in order to keep up with professionals. So many great looking and feeling Drupal sites have come up over the last couple of years, crafted by great designers and clever coders. Now time has come to make just as shiny and comfortable as it can be.

I'm gonna sleep much better now knowing that you are in charge, because I KNOW it's gonna be a great experience for you as a designer and us as users.

"And they shall not be ashamed of anymore..."

Webseiter - Drupal design services

rainer_f’s picture

Great News!
With a new look it gets easier to compete with plone in CMS proposals.
Maybe there can also arise a new core theme by the way?

Professional Drupal services for Germany

tjholowaychuk’s picture

Their work looks pretty good, IMO a project as large as Drupal could get better though, but we will see what they come up with!

barthaedens’s picture

Guess we'll have to wait and see, I hope they blow us away.

Drupal Dune

tjholowaychuk’s picture

Hope so! I hope they are not taking the candy coated web 2.0 approach. I think ideally the main site should be pretty corporate in order to generally 'sell' the project, and then of course primarily focus on usability for the remaining subdomains
Tj Holowaychuk

Vision Media - Victoria BC Web Design
Victoria British Columbia Web Design School

CompShack’s picture

Just curious if the current theme will be released to the public as GPL?

Any thoughts?
Finally, I CMS that I Like!

momper’s picture



duvien’s picture

Congratulations to MBD and everyone else involved. No doubt everyone's going to benefit from this redesign... Certainly exciting times ahead.

Will the redesign project documentation be released to the community? it would be great to learn from this process.

I build engaging websites and intuitive designs that will benefit your business

psynaptic’s picture

I have been following Mark's work over the last year, especially the grids work, and am very pleased to see this agency doing the redesign. I'm impressed by the accessibility side of their work and it's just what needs.

Congrats Mark and Co.

Good job Drupal Association!

Phillip Mc’s picture

I second that emotion.

What I'm concerned with re: the redesign is not necessarily the look n feel or the's how information is processed.

In other words, Marks keynote at the drupalcon was all about how information is presented. How the redesign process is going to work was also outlined, but, for me, I think how the information is presented or the look n feel is only half the the work.

I think more attention should be given to how information goes into

For example, I would like to see a new forum category called SOLUTIONS and a new CONVERT TO HANDBOOK PAGE button ....which is where forum support threads that arrive at a solution are tagged as such and for particularly useful solutions, an option is there for the person who raised the support question, to convert the thread/solution post to a handbook page.

I would also go a stage further/When someone clicks on the CONVERT TO HANDBOOK PAGE the visitor is presented with a handbook page template or a smart form, that guides the submitter through composing the handbook page based on Drupal standards. Which means there's a consistency across handbook pages and keywords, tags can be included to make that intelligence easier to find.

Consider for example the difference in results you would get if you were searching for "multistep forms" on today and on a new where resolved posts were tagged as SOLUTION.

Your search would be far more intuitive and efficient.

M point is, it doesn't matter where the search box is or what it looks like, it's how the information is entered into that has been redesigned.

hopefully that's part of the design process Mark and Lisa so eloquently presented at the Drupalcon recently.

Pfabb’s picture

Where I can see the result?

Wolfflow’s picture

Hi @Pfabb , you will see ongoing development HERE

Kind Regards

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