Drupal out of the box

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Keith Jay

First impressions, they matter.

If you are new to Drupal and taking your first look, then installing Drupal just might leave you wondering whether you missed something. Drupal 8, the new generation of Drupal, is described as a digital experience platform that is for creating ambitious digital experiences. But a fresh install of Drupal standard does not deliver a first impression that tallies with this message. It still requires effort on the part of new users to discover that Drupal 8 is every bit as good as it claims to be.

Roy Scholten, Drupal core's lead UX designer, has spoken about this topic and encouraged working together on a sample content experience that will better communicate Drupal's capabilities. And if you take a look at what the competitor CMS platforms are doing, just as Angie Byron and Lauri Eskola have, you'll see that most provide a 'getting started' experience to onboard their new users.

For Drupal, this has been an issue for some time and with so many features immediately available in Drupal 8 core, we decided this was something that we could look at getting involved with - a core contribution that can help to onboard users by creating a meaningful and compelling experience.

Getting involved

During DrupalCon Europe 2016, Lauri Eskola laid out a roadmap towards a new theme for Drupal core that would improve first impressions and experience. I was at this session and despite being keen to get involved, I would not have imagined that one year on I'd be here at DrupalCon Europe and in the privileged position of co-presending an update on our work for the 'Out of the box initiative' with Lauri and Christina Chumillas.

The out of the box initiative

The out of the box initiative is a demo for Drupal core that is based on the scenario of a website for a fictional food magazine called Umami. The idea behind the demo is simple - provide users with the option to install a demo that showcases Drupal 'in action' and illustrates the rich features available in Drupal core. Given a scenario that is implemented with a good looking design and compelling sample content, demo users get to easily interact with Drupal from the get-go, helping them to form an understanding of what Drupal is and how it works.

We want to take the effort out of getting users started and help those users to understand why Drupal 8 is a system that they should be taking a good look at.

So what's been done so far?

The planning and designs are done (see the roadmap issue) and our core conversation this week coincides with the start of site building, theming and scenario content creation. We took our time over the past year to plan carefully the why, what and how of this demo. We also took the time to produce designs that would be suited to demoing a wide range of Drupal features.

Umami frontpage thumbnail

The planning and design process has been:

  • Initial discussion on goals and identifying scenario, audience and user types
  • Creation of user stories for what we want to demo
  • Creation of a content model
  • Wireframing
  • Designs visuals
  • Theme and styleguide planning

What has been especially exciting is to see is how other initiatives and projects have been able work with us and make use of the ideas and sample content/designs. For example, the contentaCMS team worked with us in parallel on the content model and have adopted the Umami food magazine scenario for their demo of a headless Drupal distribution. Similarly, the layout initiative has been able to create demos for their drag and drop layout and content placement features.

What's next?

We are using our time together at DrupalCon to create the demo as an installation profile and as a theme. I'll be continuing the work on sample content and outstanding design tasks and we are at the Friday sprint, so do join us if you would like to get involved in helping to create what we hope will be a great starting point for those taking a look at Drupal.