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Three panels of Post-It Notes, Pink, Blue, Green for Rose, thorn, bud

What’s Exceptional, What’s Demanding, What’s Developing with Drupal 8

At DrupalCon2019 earlier this month, Promet Source tapped the collective brainpower with a Human-Centered Design activity that asked this question:

“What are the key advantages, the main challenges, and the emerging opportunities of Drupal as an Information delivery platform?”

Within the context of a Human-Centered Design workshop, big questions such as this one are positioned within a “Rose-Thorn-Bud” framework. Participants are given brightly colored Post-It notes and asked to write everything that they view as an advantage or a plus on a pink (Rose) Post-It. Challenges or downsides are to be written on a blue Post-It (Thorn). Green Post-Its are for collecting input on potential or emerging for opportunities (Bud). 

 

15 Minutes of Focus

A setting such as DrupalCon, in which participants are needing to constantly shift their attention as they take in tons of information from all sides, is vastly different from a Human-Centered Design Workshop, in which the attention of all participants is laser-focused on a series of activities that build upon the insight and information gathered. DrupalCon, however, represented such a high degree of energy and enthusiasm, that we were able to count on considerable contributions throughout the event. 

The first phase of the Rose-Thorn-Bud activity is simply collecting input. The next phase, called “Affinity Clustering,” is for purposes of reordering and analyzing the input according to agreed-upon groupings. The use of different colored Post-Its is particularly useful in revealing that within a particular category there might be a mix of Roses, Thorns, and Buds, or primarily one or the other, or in some cases, participants may differ as to whether the same issue constitutes a Rose, a Thorn, or a Bud. 

This is an excellent exercise for revealing patterns, surfacing priorities, bringing order to disparate complexity, and sparking productive conversation.

 

DrupalCon Participants Rank Drupal

Let’s look at the input gathered during the first phase of this activity where we collected responses to the question concerning of key advantages (Rose), main challenges (Thorn), and emerging opportunities (Bud) of Drupal as an information delivery platform.

 

Rose Thorn Bud
Ease of development Documentation (2 Post-Its) Templates for quickly building mini-sites
Ease of extension (modules for everything) Too many options Migration to D8
Cutting edge Security is really hard for small projects Decoupled architecture opportunities
Connecting and referencing data and content with Taxonomy Admin UI is not intuitive to content editors Accessibility!
Adoption of Symphony Admin UI Improving documentation
Lots of interchangeable pieces/modules Composer vs. Tar install; mismatched workflow Media integration
Flexibility (3 Post-Its) Scattershot dev -- unified direction GraphQL in Core
Accessibility out of the box Address low-hanging fruit (media integration) Menu System APIs
Content modeling Media integration JSON API with Content Moderation
Trusted information can be pushed out programmatically and systematically Content Editor Experience Layout Manager
Simple to use Layout tough to perfect  
Drupal makes information pretty Flexibility  
Allows for all sorts of content types High Learning Curve                (3 Posts-Its)  
Quick publication of new information Drupal requires a lot of back-end work to make performance better. It’s heavy and slow.  

 

Next Step: Affinity Clustering

Without context and categorization, excellent input tends to never make it beyond words on a page -- or Post-Its. Affinity Clustering is a visually graphic exercise that allows for the assimilation of large amounts of information, and moves us beyond words -- transforming the data we gathered from the community into information we can use systematically and logically to improve Drupal as a platform. 

Affinity Clustering is a collaborative activity, that occurs within a facilitated Human-Centered Design Workshop, with all participants contributing their thoughts on how and where to categorize the Rose-Thorn-Bud input. Since it was not feasible to move to this phase from the confines of the Promet Source booth at DrupalCon, we sought the expertise of our in-house Drupal experts and came up with the following categories

 

Back End Front-End Design Content
Ease of development - Rose Accessibility out of the box - Rose Connecting and referencing data and content with Taxonomy - Rose
Ease of extension (modules for everything) - Rose Lots of interchangeable pieces/modules - Rose Content modeling - Rose
Adoption of Symfony - Rose Flexibility - Rose Quick publication of new information - Rose
Simple to use - Rose Drupal makes information pretty - Rose Content Editor Experience - Thorn
Trusted information can be pushed out programmatically and systematically - Rose Allows for all sorts of content types - Rose Flexibility - Thorn
Documentation - Thorn  Layout tough to perfect - Thorn High Learning Curve - Thorn
Too many options - Thorn High Learning Curve - Thorn Admin UI is not intuitive to content editors - Thorn
Security is really hard for small projects - Thorn Templates for quickly building mini-sites - Bud Admin UI - Thorn
Composer vs. Tar install; mismatched workflow - Thorn Layout Manager - Bud JSON API with Content Moderation - Bud
Scattershot dev -- unified direction - Thorn Accessibility! - Bud  
Address low-hanging fruit (media integration) - Thorn Menu System APIs - Bud  
Media integration - Thorn    
Improving documentation - Bud    
Migration to D8 - Bud    
High Learning Curve - Thorn    
Cutting edge - Rose    
Drupal requires a lot of back-end work to make performance better. It’s heavy and slow. - Thorn    
Decoupled architecture opportunities - Bud    
Media integration - Bud    
GraphQL in Core - Bud    

 

Three groups of pink, blue and green post-its to illustrate affinity clustering


 

To summarize, the front-end category had a lot of roses indicating that the overall sentiment is positive, despite a few challenges. This is the kind of revelation that would be readily apparent to participants in a Human-Centered Design workshop -- simply due to a preponderance of pink Post-Its. The content category, on the other hand, was dominated by thorns. In a workshop, the majority of blue Post-Its would quickly clarify the relative dissatisfaction concerning content. The back-end category resulted in a true mix of Roses, Thorns, and Buds, a fact that would certainly spark continued conversation among participants.
 

This is just a start! 

For those of you who were not able to attend DrupalCon 2019, or who did not make it over to the Promet Source booth or who have had new thoughts subsequent to your participation:

  • What would you add to the above Rose-Thorn-Bud list? 
  • Are there categories that you would like to add to the Affinity Clusters? 
  • How does the above align or not align with your experience?

Indicate your comments below or contact us today for a conversation about leveraging Human-Centered Design techniques to Ignite Digital Possibilities within your organization.