Drupal South 5 – 6 March 2015

10 Mar

I attended Drupal South 2015 last week.  Here are my notes from the sessions that I attended.

Drupal South 2015

Drupal South 2015

1. Keynote: Drupal 8 Update

This highlighted the benefits that Drupal 8 is incorporating, for example:

  1. Improved authoring experience: inbuilt WYSIWYG, drag and drop images, RHS menu, format fields, and real preview.
  2. Mobile first: mobile friendly admin with icons, responsive images and tables.
  3. Site builder improvements: views in core, better blocks, custom blocks, new field types.
  4. Multilingual: CMS admin menu translations, no need for the D7 40 modules.
  5. Import from D7: everything except custom code.
  6. New functions and features will be added after release.

When will Drupal 8 be released?

  1. We are now in Beta.
  2. Before the conference there were 52 issues that needed to be resolved before release, and 12 upgrade path blocking issues.
  3. You can check how many issues are now remaining.
  4. If you’re a late adoptor, then you should wait for 6 months after release before commercial usage.
  5. Performance is still too slow.
  6. Drupal 6 support will stop in 2015.
  7. Will not be supported in IE 7 or IE 8.

2. Age of the customer / citizen

Users will be more connected (e.g. more devices, to the cloud, and to more people) and will be uploading / sharing more (e.g. videos).  The resulting issues are relating to privacy and trust.  The latest stuff will be at SXSW.

  1. Multiple front end engagement points.
  2. Convergence of integrated devices accessed via dumb screens.
  3. Monitoring of social media conversations, e.g. by CSIRO

National Museum of Australia collection explorer.

3. Drupal, Joomla and WordPress: community lessons

  1. Drupal has a variety of ways to get involved including working on issue queues, attend code sprints, Drupal Camp, DrupalCon, meetups, mentoring.
  2. Joomla has a Melbourne User Group, and has started up a free hosting service at
  3. WordPress has groups: WordChicks, Users, Developers, WordCamp Weekend,

Companies should devote 5% of their efforts towards contributing back to their open source software communities.

4. Project Stories

  1. Honest Updates – stuff that should have been said when things went wrong.
  2. Simian Army / Chaos Monkey randomly switches things off.
  3. Examples: FlightCentre, Pfizer, MSNBC.  (see links in the presentation for these case studies).

5. Design Speak

  1. Use Webflow instead of images or PDFs for design signoff.
  2. Use Invision for prototyping.
  3. Use Simplytest for evaluating Drupal sites.
  4. Use a style guide to define the elements used in Drupal.
  5. Use the singularity grid system.
  6. Allocate developer time to evaluate the design and identify solutions.
  7. Use vector icons via SVG.
  8. Use Backstretch (plugin) for full screen backgrounds.
  9. Try Aurora basetheme.
  10. Use less text to allow responsive teaser and image combinations to work.
  11. Use a manual crop module to allow specific cropping via CMS.
  12. Where menu display gets tricky, switch to mobile style menu with an earlier breakpoint to avoid these problems.
  13. Where variable text is displayed in boxes, fix the box heights to get a neat display.
  14. Use a mobile friendly map solution.

6. More Design Stuff

  1. Characters / line aim for 18 words or 50 – 80 characters.
  2. golden ratio typography calculator.
  3. Use more white space to give the impression of luxury.
  4. Use vertical rhythm to provide an even and consistent pattern.
  5. Use proximity to create relationship between elements such as items and their labels, e.g. dates with titles.
  6. Colour blindness affects green and red colours, e.g. purple.
  7. Choose a highly contrast colour for buttons.
  8. Test for colour accessibility, and see here too.
  9. On mobile make links and buttons proportionally bigger.
  10. Try Drupal themes: template monster,
  11. Polymer theme elements.

7. Day 2 Keynote: True / Real / Ideal  (Harriet Wakelam)

  1. The true is absolute facts.
  2. The real is the crazy real world which is complex and frequently looks bad.
  3. The ideal is our potential and is aligned with our goals.
  4. The Malkovich Bias: everyone else thinks and behaves just like you so design for yourself.
  5. Use Generative Feedback to find out what users do, not what they say they do.
  6. People say they will eat fruit, but they end up eating chocolate if given the choice.
  7. The Carrot task management app works because it makes humour out of rude responses, and gains engagement.
  8. In user tasks always state the problem, what actually does the user need.
  9. Design practice also requires you to meet the business objectives.
  10. Focus on the core pages (Are Halland).  do they meet the requirements?  e.g. winding path does not meet the needs of users who walk in a straight line.
  11. Allow time after the beginning of a project within the messy space for thinking and planning.  It might take time for the best ideas to appear.
  12. You can’t sell insurance.  Users don’t want to buy insurance, they already have to buy it, but they want to save money on their insurance.
  13. Idea Scouts generate ideas, Idea Connectors find ideas that work.
  14. Build the connections in page modelling to create a flow for users.
  15. Ask why a task is necessary.  Don’t do the task if you can’t answer.
  16. Ask the question for each persona, add persona testing.  Will the persona click on the button?
  17. Visuals do make a difference, because they make a greater impact, and can lead to wider audiences seeing your information.
  18. Experience design principles: what effect will the experience have on the user, what aspect of the user’s life will be improved by the design.
  19. Minimum Viable Product is a term for half-finished projects.  Instead make minimum viable actions – specific functions a user can access.
  20. Try ideas that seem to be against logic.  e.g. 1) the tax office sends a letter not to ask for payment, but to show them how many people in their area pay, 2) handwriting on a letter to get the customer’s attention, 3) sell washing machines as a service, not as a machine, 4) power company sells heating, not power.
  21. Weightless project exchanges fitbit steps for charity, and creates a motivator for exercise.
  22. User needs such as: saving time, being healthy, learning skills, task management.
  23. Users don’t have needs such as filling in a form.
  24. Designers need to take on a business problem, and design a change that will get the result aimed for.  It will involve changing behaviour, and engagement before a solution will be effective.
  25. Medibank leadership program sends a leader into a branch office.  The leader must draw a sketch of an office process and post it back to the head office on a postcard.  They must take a photo of the best and worst process/thing at the branch office.  They have to take a photo of the best and worst desks in the office.  They have to interview the staff.  Through this process they are able to connect with the REAL and able to identify things that are not working.  Its an opportunity to stop and re-frame the question/problem.  More thinking time is needed to resolve problems.
  26. Identify what behaviours occur once only, regularly/frequently, and occasionally/rarely.
  27. UX Australia conference
  28. Be curious, ask what why functions exist, how do they operate?


  1. National Film and Sound Archive: Drupal project proposed.
  2. State Library of South Australia: State Govt centralised payment gateway.  PreviousNext providers.
  3. Monthly magazine: CIVICRM
  4. Western Australian Museum: CIVICRM (ticketing/bookings, POS), pinterest style project, Drupal front end to collections (collection data migration project), federated search project with state records.  collections app, online collections (try the search), see Australian museums using Drupal, moving data, zoomify, and more on Morgan Strong’s blog.
  5. National Library of Australia: Drupal Trove project.  CIVICRM proposed.
  6. NZ archives: open source solutions such as Koha,

9. Continuous Delivery

  1. Development cycle refers to work a developer allocates time to, while lead time is the time till delivery to the user incorporating feedback.
  2. Organisational change is required such as change to architecture and process.
  3. The relationship between faster delivery and declining quality should be changed, since both need to increase for an organisation to be competitive.
  4. Quality needs to be defined, and achieved through improvement in process.
  5. Refer to Deming.
  6. Reduce the cost, time, risk, get faster feedback, resolve technical issues.

10. Agile Documentation

Agile documentation consists of

  1. an outline of the objectives describing the task, to give it definition
  2. a list of steps required to complete the task
  3. additional resources and information necessary to complete the task.
  4. many individual tasks in individual documents
  5. typically 1 page per task

This car was built by a team of 4 developers over 3 sprints/iterations using agile documentation.

DrupalSouth 2015 Lego Car

DrupalSouth 2015 Lego Car

11. User Experience Design

  1. A process to enhance the user interface to achieve better results.
  2. To to this, follow the methodology, use proven practices and understand the user.
  3. The interface/function should be useful, desirable, credible, findable.
  4. Follow a process of repeated research and design.
  5. Give users short cuts, don’t make them work.
  6. Have a kick off meeting with all the team.  Learn the basics of the project.
  7. Have a requirements workshop, gather all the information you need.
  8. Hold stakeholder interviews.
  9. Usability testing: 1) ask random people to try, 2) host a lab session, 3) hire a UX company.
  10. Use analytics, personas, user journeys.
  11. Define the IA based on what is the most valuable information to the user.
  12. Wireframes: 1) basic boxes, 2) greyscale with buttons/boxes/text, 3) high fidelity – close to the design.
  13. Tools: UXPin, Invision, Axure.
  14. Do a post live usability review.
  15. Testing and evaluating.

12. Prototyping

  1. A prototype is an interactive system that incorporates 1) look & feel, 2) the role (e.g. function), 3) implementation.
  2. We use a prototype to validate, test and refine ideas.  A prototype should also encourage collaboration within a team.
  3. A prototype can replicate that visual, interactive, data/content, and environmental aspects of a real site.
  4. Tools: Invision, Axure, Precursor iPad app, Pencil Project
  5. Test with user feedback, put user testing at the start of the project by using a prototype.
  6. 5 second – what do you think this function does?  If they don’t get it, it doesn’t work.
  7. Send users on quests to find, record the response time.
  8. Count the clicks.  How many clicks does it take to find something.
  9. Distraction test – count where users are clicking/looking.

Notes and Presentations

  1. Drupal 8 Theming
  2. Contributing to core without losing your mind
  3. What I learned at Drupal south
  4. Performance not an afterthought
  5. Services in Drupal 8
  6. PreviousNext speakers
  7. Style Guide Driven Development
  8. Drupal 8 and

Code Sprint Saturday 7 March

I didn’t attend this, but its a standout feature of the conference with opportunities for different skill levels to participate.

Code sprint 2014

I’ll add reports from the 2015 sprint here when I find them.

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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Uncategorized


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