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Now for something completely different...

This is my first week at Acquia, and I have to admit that I'm surprised to be here. Despite my commitments of time and code to Drupal over the last couple years, I was also working full time as a scientist at a start-up that is a spin-off from the lab where I did my post-doc.

Growing Drupal through local groups

##Acquia and growing Drupal
Part of my responsibilities at Acquia are to help grow the number of Drupal users. The Drupal community is growing quickly and the credit for that growth belongs to thousands of contributors and hundreds of Drupal evangelists. I've been personally working on growing Drupal for years, but recently I've begun working closely with my fellow Drupal association members Jacob Redding and Moshe Weitzman to explore how we can work with local groups to grow Drupal. In the rest of this blog post I cover information that I've gathered working with various members of the Drupal community and have shared with the Druapl infrastructure team, groups.drupal.org managers, and the Drupal marketing group. On Monday, June 9th, 5PM PDT Jacob and I will be hosting a web seminar to share our research and solicit feedback from local group organizers.

##Groups.drupal.org is growing
Currently, http://groups.drupal.org , GDO, acts as a rallying point for community events and helps reduce friction in Drupal event organizing. There are 8300 GDO users who are members of local groups, and events appear to be on track to grow from almost 400 in 2007 to 800 in 2008. GDO user growth is accelerating at a rate of 34 additional users per month, with almost 1,200 new users in March 2008 alone. This site now has over 1 million page views per month.

GDO has slow growth in the number of unique visitors climbing from 64,000 unique visitors to 84,000 unique visitors per month over 9 months ending March 2008. We believe that some improvements in user workflow and interaction design could dramatically increase the rate of participation on GDO.
Currently, 73% of visitors stay less than 30 seconds, with an average visit of 466 seconds. An upgrade of Drupal properties to Drupal 6 would enable the use of OpenID to further increase the total amount of users who could become members of local Drupal groups and ultimately attend local events. The authenticated user re-use rate for GDO is approximately 20% based on analysis over the last 24 months. This assures the Drupal community that GDO is a growing web property and worth putting further effort into.

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Administration

This is the seventh blog post in a series about user experience improvements in Drupal 6. In my research, several core developers suggested that improvements to Drupal's administration were significant enough to warrant its own category. Improvements to administration come from the application of UX heuristics and
from focused efforts on a particular administration work flow like installation.

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Interaction Design

According to Wikipedia, "Interaction design defines the behavior (the "interaction") of an artifact or system in response to its users." In previous versions, Drupal has mostly used static interfaces that update when the user submits a form, or navigates to a new page. Beginning with Drupal 5, Jquery was added to the core and Drupal core developers began using this javascript library to improve the user experience of Drupal through improved user interactions.

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Theme system

This is the fifth blog post in a series about user experience improvements in Drupal 6. Drupal is very popular with developers who want to leverage the contributed modules to meet their feature requirements. Previous versions of the theme system have favored powerful theming through programming rather than simplicity for designers. Three significant changes to the theme system have reduced the need for designers to learn how to program to use some of the theme engines most powerful features.

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Installation

This is the fourth blog post in a series looking at user experience improvements in Drupal 6. One of the principles of the Drupal project is that Drupal should have low resource demands, and "have minimal, widely-available server-side software requirements.

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Error prevention

This is the third blog post in a series which examines the user experience improvements in Drupal 6. There are no widely accepted measures of usability, but I like to measure four attributes when testing the usability of an application. These measurements include: time on task, number of errors in task completion, goal completion, and a users qualitative assessment of the experience. In this post, I review the user experience improvements that reduce the errors it is possible to make with Drupal.

UX improvements in Drupal 6: terminology, grammar, information presentation, walls of text

This is the second blog post in a series examining Drupal 6 core contributor user experience improvements. Improving the user experience in Drupal is one of the biggest challenges the Drupal community faces, mostly due to a competitive pressure best described as The Ockham's Razor Principle of Content Management Systems. From a contribution standpoint, the most user experience improvements come in the form of information based improvements. I further categorize information improvements as terminology, consistency, grammar, information presentation, and walls of text. Some of them are improvements in information presented during installation or updating. Others are in information that is statically presented in administration interfaces, or dynamically presented information.

Taking advantage of PR opportunities like Red Herring 100

We announced yesterday that Acquia has been selected as a Red Herring 100 North America winner for 2008. A cool honor - and another data point that speaks to the growing interest in Drupal and to the validation of Acquia's business model to provide commercial support for Drupal.

UX improvements in Drupal 6: Internationalization

This is the first blog post of a series of posts that will examine the Drupal core contributors user experience (UX) improvements in Drupal 6. My intent is to help shed some light on the kind of user experience improvements the core contributors are good at and the kind they need help with. I will identify the number of contributors and the number of patches, and I will also help the community understand how we can best make further user experience improvements in Drupal 7. There are currently thousands of designers and other user experience professionals who are capable of helping improve the core but who need to be connected with the core contributors who already make these UX improvements. This blog series is a first step towards connecting UX contributors with the existing core contributors.

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