George DeMet (gdemet) is a member of the Drupal Association Advisory Board and Chair of the Drupal.org Content Working Group.
Seven years ago this month, Dries presented the State of Drupal in front of a few dozen developers at the Open Source Content Management System Summit on the Yahoo! campus in Sunnyvale, California. Drupal 5 had just come out, PHPTemplate was all the rage, and everyone was abuzz about the news that the Nigerian Prime Minister was using Drupal for his blog.
Today, Drupal is used by the President of the United States and nearly every other government on the planet, DrupalCons are attended by thousands of people, and PHPTemplate will soon be replaced by Twig in Drupal 8. The Drupal project and community have grown rapidly in a very short amount of time.
With this growth has come a lot of change, and while our community as a whole has done a great job of embracing that change, our website has struggled to keep up. Drupal.org is full of outdated content, it is difficult to navigate, and it does not accurately or adequately reflect the Drupal project or community to the rest of the world.
In order to address this, the Drupal.org Content Working Group (DCWG) has drafted a roadmap to overhaul the content and design of Drupal.org and to launch a redesigned and improved version of the site in 2015.
DCWG is one of three working groups chartered by the Drupal Association that serve as the collective product owner for Drupal.org. DCWG is responsible for managing the content strategy for Drupal.org, including the overall look-and-feel and voice of the website. The group does not have jurisdiction over the issue queues or project documentation.
For the past 10 months, DCWG has been working quietly behind the scenes to help make Drupal.org a better home for the community, and a better resource for people who want to learn more about the project.
Drupal.org has grown organically since its launch in 2001, relying primarily on content provided by volunteers, with minimal editorial resources or oversight. Even browsing or searching Drupal.org today regularly surfaces posts written back when Justin Timberlake was still a member of N’Sync.
The site’s growing pains were already apparent by 2007, and in his Sunnyvale keynote, Dries challenged the community to improve the experience of using Drupal.org. The result was a redesign that began in 2008, launched in 2010, and is still in place today. This redesign project was a huge step forward for the project and the community, but was limited in scope due to budget and resourcing constraints.
Drupal.org has always been a de facto “hub” for our community, and it should be a truly shining example of everything the project and community has to offer, empowering, connecting, and engage people who work with Drupal or want to learn more about it. Drupal as both a software project and as a community has come a long way in the past few years, and we are better situated than ever before to take Drupal.org to the next level.
The plan is to first conduct user research to identify and understand our existing and target audiences, so that we can serve them better. Then we will audit the content on Drupal.org and develop a comprehensive content strategy for the site. After that foundational work is done, we will then have what we need to begin the redesign process in earnest.
This will be a lot of work, and even with the full participation of volunteers from the community and Drupal Association staff, we will need assistance from professional consultants who will help provide us with the perspective and focus we need to make Drupal.org a resource that will continue to grow with our community.
In the coming days, the Drupal Association will be releasing a Request for Quote (RFQ) for the user research and persona development component of this project. Our hope is that we will have the opportunity to conduct in-person interviews with a broad range of Drupal users, developers, and evaluators at DrupalCon Austin, in addition to remote interviews with other Drupal users around the world. We also plan to share the results of this research with the community, both online and in person at DrupalCon Amsterdam.
As always, we welcome any questions, concerns, or feedback you might have. The Drupal community is the ultimate product owner for Drupal.org, and it’s important that the work done on the site reflect the values that we share as developers and users of open source software.