The report has been ready for a little while now, but we wanted a green light from APC to release the document to the wild. The document is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 License.
The report can be accessed via http://www.web.net/support/DrupalUsabilityReport.pdf
The Drupal content management system (CMS) has gained a reputation for being a developer centric platform that is difficult to use. While Drupal does have usability issues, the overall conclusion of this report is that the tools Drupal provides to accomplish the most common administrative tasks associated with managing a website are all usable.
This report is divided into two areas of study: a usability guideline review and the stakeholder
review of Drupal usability.
The usability guideline review evaluates how well Drupal’s administrative tools adhere to a
subset of the Research-Based Web Design & Usability Guidelines that are specific to web-based
forms. Each of the forms Drupal provides to accomplish common administrative tasks
was examined individually to determine if they:
• Distinguish clearly and consistently between required and optional data entry fields
• Detect errors automatically
• Minimize user data entry
• Label data entry fields clearly
• Place labels in close proximity to data entry fields
• Label form buttons clearly
• Allow users to see their entered data
• Use radio buttons and checkboxes correctly
• Group data entry by method type
• Maintain proper tab indexing in forms
Each Drupal form, almost without exception, adhered to all of the usability guidelines. The
grades Drupal received for each guideline ranged between a ‘B-‘ and ‘A+’, with an overall ‘A-’
The stakeholder review of Drupal usability grades the usability of common administrative tools
based on the experiences of Web Networks’ staff and the clients they serve, taking into
consideration alternate usability opinion pieces and usability surveys.
Several conclusions were made based on the stakeholder review. The first and perhaps most
important conclusion was that the tools Drupal provides to complete common administrative
tasks are sufficiently usable to maintain an installed website. The second conclusion was that
many usability issues that have been identified in the past are regularly addressed in
subsequent releases of Drupal. There is an expectation that this trend will continue.