Tag Archives: usability

Usability FAIL: Drupal vs. WordPress Themes

I’m working with the CU Community Fab Lab this summer (oooh, I should post on that!) and we’re working on redoing their website to make it a more rich portrayal of the Fab Lab experience and spirit. In other words their current website is overly complex and lacking in pictures. So I’ve been tinkering with Drupal installs lately… and my conclusion is that the wonderboy CMS somehow manages to offer an overwhelming number of options and yet simultaneously lack the most needed information interfaces.

Say you want to setup Drupal, and like most people, want to check out what it could potentially look like before you do. You Google Drupal Themes and find their theme page:

Note the amazing amount of themes available, with a huge amount of documentation available about each… and NO PICTURES. WHAT? I know many people think that having a wealth of text content and metadata is efficient, but I would argue that in this case the most efficient (functional, effective, enjoyable, usable) way to search for website appearance options is with visual displays of data in the form of pictures.

So I thought, “Well, while that makes it very hard to browse through maybe I can see what they look like individually.” TURNS OUT NO:

Most of the themes have thumbnails that don’t actually show they they look like live. Those that do have pictures typically have very small ones.

I am completely baffled at how such a widely-known and well-supported open source project like Drupal could lack such a basic functionality. I ought not complain too much though, I could personally go through and take screen shots of all of the thousand or so themes on a XAMPP install and send them to their web team. Or, they could do the smart thing, which would be to require all theme authors to post a picture of their theme in action. Distributed work FTW. I don’t brandish enough geek-clout to convince them to do this, sadly.

Luckily, WordPress comes to our rescue:

And on the zoom:

Note the ratings, integrated user support, metadata and the at-this-point beautiful preview button.

Next time I’ll have to compare the two for speed, a contest where Drupal wins hands-down.

Windows 8 Customer Preview Review

I’m in the midst of testing the Windows 8 Customer Preview. Some notes on my experience, in no particular order. Clearly they don’t have power users in mind!


  1. UI needs work but is a good start
  2. Not enough non-MS app support yet
  3. Buggy
  4. Need more ability to customize things
  5. A good OS for tablets, phones, and media centers, not powerful computers

Look and Feel + Interaction

  • Great for everything MS
  • Poor for apps that are not MS
  • Give me more power to customize the Metro UI start screen
  • Show active Metro UI apps in a flyout on the taskbar
  • Right-side gesture options don’t work well if you have a dual-display to the right
  • Why repeat my task bar on both screens?
  • App-switching on the left of the Metro UI is good
  • Make folders on the search menu in Metro UI collapsed by default – I don’t need a screen full of dutch language manuals for Nero
  • Provide more windows-button hotkey bindings and shortcuts (customizable??)
  • Can we integrate the whole control panel into Metro?
  • Overall performance dropped ~10% according to benchmarks, can’t feel it though

MS Apps that are useful

  • Explorer file transfer management is MUCH IMPROVED
  • Internet Explorer’s interface is good…
  • Bing Weather
  • Built-in PDF and ISO readers
  • System Rating – look I’m no longer the fastest possible!

MS Apps that need improvement

  • App store – very little selection, give me the big names
  • Maps – way worse than Google’s, let me manually input my location
  • Photos – let me add/remove sources to my liking, and pick what goes in the live tile
  • Videos/Music – let me control directory sources from Metro UI

Some stuff doesn’t launch

  • Daemon Tools (SPTD 1.8 can’t be layered with 4.10 anymore)
  • PowerDVD 11 (updated to a mid-level patch, probably works with a new one)
  • Can’t recognize my Hercules webcam
  • I’d bet most antivirus won’t work, I’m using AVG

Some stuff crashes

  • Creative volume control (crashes at shutdown, works otherwise)
  • LOL skin changer (.NET framework issues, can’t import skins)

Weird behaviors that have happened randomly, without repeat

  • Drag and drop stopped working
  • Couldn’t see files through Windows Explorer
  • Icon images on Control Panel
  • Bluray burner disconnected randomly while burning with Nero 10, disc toasted

Things they need to put back in

  • Recently used documents as sub-menus on start items
  • Make it easier for me to get to sleep/shutdown/restart

Things I haven’t played much with

  • Anything that makes me sign into a MS Live account
  • MS Email
  • Skydrive
  • Internet Explorer compatibility