Higher Ed Summit
Collaboration on functionality
It was great to get to talk to university and college-based Drupallers from all over the nation. There is so much interest in how to create reusable components through features and themes that can be shared not just across departments, but from university to university. One of the clear wins along those lines was our own Open Framework theme, which is now being used by schools across California and garnering interest elsewhere. Go team!
Automated tours through Drupal
There were also a whole slew of people working on improving Drupal UX, including a new integration for using the Joyride Jquery Plugin with Selenium to make centrally hosted Drupal site tours. You can see more about the project here: http://walkthrough.it. We were pretty excited about that tool and plan to follow up to see if it's a good fit for helping people use the Stanford Sites platform.
Some interesting Saturday sessions
Cognative biases and irrational users
Terrance O'leary, the UX Lead at Acquia gave a very interesting talk about irrational psychology that comes into play when dealing with human users (yep, that's us). He pointed out that all designers should know about how cognative biases influence the actions that we all take and build heuristics like "All Prius drivers are slow," or one that my team faces a lot, "Using Drupal is hard." There is a full and quite impresive list of cognative biases here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cognitive_biases.
O'leary recommended the works of Khaneman and Tversy, as well as Arielly. And pointed out a website where people list sites that manipulate users based on cognative biases in ways that are unethical: http://darkpatterns.org/
Drupal 8 is going to be epic, but still needs work
Angie Byron, the core developer who goes by the Drupal username webchick presented a tour through all of the magnificence of Drupal 8. My biggest takeaway is that moving changes to the functionality of your site from a development to production will be so much easier than in Drupal 7. It's going to revolutionalize the way we Drupal builders work for the better. After a hallway encounter, we here at Stanford are working with Angie to coordinate some user testing to help along the release of Drupal 8 during Stanford Drupal Camp.
But don't worry, those of you who are on Drupal 7. It isn't going anywhere any time soon.
Backdrop CMS is slow to gain traction
Jen Lampton and Nate Haug presented their goals for Backdrop CMS, the fork of Drupal that they're working on. As a process maven, I'm excited by their plans for regular timed releases and more thorough project management approach, but they are currently just a team of two, despite their announcement quite a while ago. Time will tell if they'll gain the traction they need to move forward in a major way.
Hallway hubbub about agile methodologies
There was quite a bit of buzz around agile and scrum project management methodologies and how they can be integrated into the design and development processes of a Drupal project. I had the opportunity to compare notes with Adrian Jones, the Senior Business & UX Analyst Lead at ImageX who gave a talk on Agile and Drupal and talk a bit with Aaron Stanush, the Creative Director from Four Kitchens. I got the impression that we all had the same opnion: that LeanUX and design thinking principles should be applied to the design phase, whereas Scrum works great for the development phase. Since this is a particluar interest of mine, I'll follow up in more detail about process and Drupal in the future.
All in all, it was a great time and inspiring to see the many ways in which Stanford groups are working towards similar goals as some of the most influential Drupal development teams. Keep up the good work, everyone!