About 8.3% of all the page views on the Edgeryders website are user profile. In a good week this means clocking 5-600 views of profile pages – but remember, things might get much busier as we get closer to lote3. There are three problems with this:
- profile pages are very ugly to look out. We stuck them together in the early days of the new Drupal 7 platform, got something that more or less worked and moved on.
- They are uninformative. Specifically, they don't tell the viewer where people are from, which is a useful piece of information in general.
- They are very complicated and costly for users to fill all the information in. Practically no one uses all of the fields.
So, the user profile pages need to be redesigned. Specifically:
- start by evaluating the information that people are willing to share and interested in.
- figure out a way to factor the "where" information. We probably want to ask where people are based: shall we ask for the country or the city? Is there a way to automatically aggregate the info, so that if the user inputs "Rome" or "Roma" in the field the website knows that both strings refer to an Italian city with coordinates 41.9000° N, 12.5000° E? This would allow us to generate maps at various levels of details – not terribly important now, but might come in handy in the future.
- assess the legacy: what is in the already existing 1,500 + user profiles? What of that information should be featured prominently, what can be put in a digital cellar and not looked at unless some specific need arises? (Examples: do we really need Facebook/Twitter accounts of people? Can't we just use search engines if we want to add people on FB? How many people are really using the "Projects" field? etc.)
- design an ergonomic and elegant front end
- design a simplified back end, i.e the page that the user sees when she inputs her data. Make an estimate of how much work it takes to fill a profile.
This task requires no coding or installation of modules, but it does require working on the Drupal admin interface and an administrator-level account. If you take it up, we will give you admin credentials.
hi Alberto, I would like to say that I can do it but, at the moment, still don’t know how much time I can dedicate to this. Maybe in a few days I’ll be able to say yes! let’s keep in touch
I’m happy to help in this, I was going to write a comment, but I just mentioned it informally, but I’m still up for it
Great, [Dorotea]! And thanks also to [Rita Orlando]. So, Dorotea, the way to do this is to edit the task and assign it to yourself. Then get down to the redesign itself, and mark the task as done when you are finished. You are already a site administrator, so have the authorizations you need to make changes. This wiki contains useful information for using the Edgderyders backend to modify the website.
Ok, I have the beginning of an answer to my question 2 (the only one that’s technically hard). It would be tempting to just add a text field asking people where they come from, but it turns out the clean way to do this is to run mapping modules that geocode correctly that information. I found a recent comparison of mapping modules on the Drupal website. Earlier this year I did a seminar on geodata. The teacher advocated Leaflet (visualizes against OpenStreetMap instead of Google Maps, which is probably better for Edgeryders commitment to openness); apparently, installing the Leaflet module you get an option in Views to output the view as a map. Sweet!
I am asking around for a recommendation as to which modules to use.
And input via maps.
Thanks for the hints, interested to see what people might recommend you finally.
Dorotea and me had also been looking for modules that could take and visualize a geolocation as a field value, and provide a vicinity search on that basis. Our preliminary result is that it would be possible with these, alternatively:
The best part of geofield is that people could optionally also input a polygon shape for a map location, such as to say “I am based in all of Western Europe” for example. For the nomadic folks …
Report on progress
We have been hacking the user profiles with Matthias
and we have added the following:
where are you based ( to indicate the area, city, several cities or places - it’s a text field )
where are you coming from to Lote3 ( to help with travel arrangemets ) (text field, people can write possible places or events they will be/attend before Lote3 )
As Matthias mentioned in the future we would like to add maps.
- the field at the registration to identify spam registrations ( which I mentioned in another task concerning spam )
we are thinking and planning further improvements (adding maps and grouping fields, for example lote3 fields would be in some: I attended part, after the lote3 event)
task still in progress but most important fields for now are there (not required, but poeople can start fill it in if they wish)
Thanks for the update, but… is it geofields?
Hi guys, and thanks for this! However, I am getting a bit confused, as [Matthias] always told me you need clean data in the back end in order to enable nice things on the front end. In this logic, the conceptually geographic information on “where are you” should not be stored as text data! Do you still agree with that? If you do, then the most logical path seems to me to be the following:
- remove the extra text fields you created.
- install the modules that add geodata handling capabilities to the platform (I spoke to my favorite Drupal guru in Italy and he recommended: Geofields for data storage, Views + Leaflet for visualization)
- re-add the extra fields, this time as geofields
BTW, later in September we will be moving to registration phase 2, where people who already registered for #LOTE3 tell us if they really will come or not. This would be the chance to get at least the participants to fill those fields. So the time for installation is in the next week.
What do you think?
No time for geofields at the moment, as that takes me a full afternoon to do right. There’s more important things for me to fix first, means when migrating to geofields we will simply have to put in half an hour more or so to migrate textual input to approximate locations in geofields (using polygon input).
I support [Matthias] in the "not enough time" policy :)
it does take a lot of time, focus, effort and testing, and more… before getting a final result right,
sometimes even an “easy thing” can take a whole day and a lot of involvement and patience …
some days ago we did a long “hackathon” together
and a lot of this work can be unnoticeable for the “usual user”
and we were working very hard
but I am willing to take on solving the challenge of
"not overloading people
(I don’t like to word “users” so much but sometimes i “use” it too
with too much fields"
( I agree that too much “fields” as it is now, can look not so nice )
I will try to find some creative and ergonomic way to solve it
I have some ideas how to do it
I’ll try to do it as soon as possible to give some more nice user interface design, to the user profiles.
its hard to believe but even comments can have bugs… I just had to fix one in the comment display, in the comment that i made … in the web development world there is always lots of strange fixing and de-bugging to do
how to go beyond
the thing is that these software development dynamics can take over almost completely the act of design.
a typical result is that there is no real design direction strategy - but rather the design is a result of what the programmers can (and choose to!) deliver.
I am not dismissing that strategy - it has some special qualities, but I do believe it can intrduce a limiting constraint on what such development efforts can produce … especially when it comes to user experience.
A masterful designer once taught me that software design is a kind of storytelling. Unless there is space for design (often missing in open source dynamics) then a story is never quite told … even though one seems to be there just around the corner. Instead there are many paragraphs. sentences, pages … even occasionally beautiful phrases … but never a good story.
There is a story to be told around the user-profile and it may ripple out into the entire EdgeRyders website. If it is told then the development efforts may be better focused in a coherent and clear direction.
yes, I already mentioned your help in the user experience
( but I think we started discussing user profile in another place, so let’s get back here
I totally agree with the “going into design” strategies
and that’s my favourite part actually
The aim of my comment was to appreciate the effort
that has to be done to maintain and debug the website,
and do all the “tech stuff”
which often is not so much appreciated
because often people (including me before I knew how hard work it is)
which often means lots of hard work
and many other resources …
and this work (of programmers for example) is rarely as appreciated as some visible work
(here we are using a web framework so we are not dealing so much with programming actually)
ahhh … appreciation
I did not comment to repeat myself
I commented because I was following the development of this task and felt an opportunity to point this out (since I believe it is a recurring issue and I hope to be able to contribute to more than the user profile page). It is a challenge when it comes open-source and collaborative development.
I get you completely on the appreciation … that is a “curse” that comes with technology. Much complaining little appreciation … however consider this:
when you drive/ride in a car - do you appreciate the pistons of the engine responding to high energy explosions? or do you appreciate the comfrotable seats, air conditioning, sound system or sexy dashboard?
most people appreciate things that from an engineering standpoint are superficial. most engineers appreciate things that most people don’t see (and can’t appreciate even if they did - engines look mechanical, complicated and dirty).
design can have an effect both ways. it can provide the “regular people” with the things that they can appreciate (which the engineers can overlook). it can also present the engineers with challenges they would not have anticipated on their own (sometimes making something that “regular people” can appreciate takes more effort then engineers expect).
I also believe that lack of appreciation from “regular people” is an obvious response to lack of appreciation (of “the regular people”) by the engineers. I have witnessed good design as reminding engineers that there are “regular people” that use their products and that they, the engineers, need to care about these people and what they need. you may be surprised how much appreciation “regular people” can demonstrate for little even cosmetic things that make their life better.
For a great and entertaining read on this I recommend: http://www.amazon.com/The-Inmates-Are-Running-Asylum/dp/0672326140/
You are on to something!
Very insightful, [iamronen]. You are on to something. And yet… ER has (barely) enough of a doer culture to express appreciation for behind-the-scenes work, as here:
I completely agree
and I myself am very much into design
and i know how much these (sometimes little) things can improve the experience
I think we all agree with that
(normally I would be advocating exactly what you are stating
I am actually advocating this a lot
however here I have to emphasise another side if the story
(to explain it to myself as well as I had a very similar approach to these things)
It was just a general statement that we are dealing with the facilities and limitations of the web framework,
(and with a lot of hard work involved with it)
If we could just draw a user profile it would be ready already
but we have to make it work … and look for solutions within some specific framework… so we need to get a bit more creative, and patient as well :-)
about appreciation in general I think its also upSkilling in collaboration,
we need to appreciate each other’s contributions, whatever this contribution is and noticing it’s value :-)
that’s also a general statement
Framework & Appreciation
this is why, when we spoke, I asked your permission to not get into the details of the framework. This lets me be free and true to user experience without being limited by the framework or my understanding of it. This means we may create friction between what we want to achieve (design) and what can be implemented (with reasonable effort) with the framework … we’ll cross that bridge when we get to it.
I wonder if this is more about unLearning then it is about upSkilling. I learned this lesson when I set out to become “self sustainable” and realized what a huge misconception that is. I depend on others to create the tools in my workshop (from a simple screwdriver to a power saw), to cut down trees and saw them into lumber with which I can build things … there is so much that I took for granted … and I had to stop and appreciate!!! how much is available to me to build upon.
There may be some people at the core of the ER website that will experience appreciation of its technicalities. But ultimately as the community expands and its work and outreach grow … the success of the system that drives the website will be when people don’t even notice its there … but are able to produce great work with it