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Drupal Gardens open for usability testing

As I'm writing this entry, my colleague Barry Jaspan is over my shoulder getting frustrated while attempting to adjust his desk at our new office space. He's using a cleverly designed screwdriver designed to bend at 90 degrees and manipulate screws in hard to reach areas. While the idea of an adjustable, bendable screwdriver sounds like a good idea, based on observing Barry and a few others, I'm certain the inventor failed to observe people trying to use it. Or, perhaps he – like many – other proud inventors, assumed he managed to find the only circle of screw-driver inept people on the planet.

As an inventor of interface designs, I've had many good ideas – or so I thought. User testing told a different story. But that's ok, because unlike the inventor of Barry's screwdriver, I observe and adapt. I do this over, and over, and over again. Why? Because testing multiple users reveals patterns. One user might succeed where others fail. If you were to test the one successful user, what have you learned? So when I test, I look for – and only make changes – when I find patterns.

Drupal Gardens is no exception. We think it will make building and theming Drupal sites easier. I'm positive it will, but I also have no doubts users outside of Acquia will find problems our enthusiasm and pride is hiding from us. That said, I'd like to invite you or someone you know to help by becoming a usability test participant. You can sign up at http://drupalgardens.com, or send me a direct tweet at twitter.com/jeffnoyes