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Trends in Design and Architecture of Big Drupal Sites

5:30 PM - 6:30 PM
304 Phase2 Technology

Presented by

Nick Lewis (Nick Lewis)
Design, Theme, and UsabilityDesign, Theme, and Usability
Style & substance: Learn about trends, techniques, and tools.

There's an annoying number of open ended questions in the drupal community which everyone has an opinion on:
1. What's best practice? Do you use views fields or node teasers? Panels, or blocks? One page layout, or ten?
2. We all know you can theme everything in drupal, but what are the big sites bothering to re theme (or more importantly, what are they leaving alone?)
3. What framework should I use? Zen? 960? or none?

This session aims to bring a new perspective to these discussion that's based on a comprehensive survey of the big drupal 6 sites that are actually up and running. It also aims to collect a large some of common design elements that will actually allow us to see trends in drupal site design - as opposed to making them up.

The data, and gallery of design elements will be made public around the time of this session. The session will focus on strongest trends, interesting outliers that were found, results that surprised me, as well as speculation on how the trends may shift in the near future.

Some details on the survey sample:
1. We'll be looking at a sample of no less than 25 drupal sites, but the more the better.
2. We're going to be elitist in which sites we include into the sample. We're looking for well designed drupal sites, with non-trivial requirements, and some amount of notability outside of the drupal world. This requires some amount of editorial discretion, which is why we'll start with Dries list of drupal 6 sites. I'm confident there's more than enough non-controversial choices to fill a sample.

Details on the data I'm looking to collect:
3. I'm going to use a combination of eyes and brains, as well as markup reading robots to determine high level architectural characteristics of the site. All of these are quantifiable: using panels? how much variation in layouts is there? what type of primary navigation system are they using? etc.
4. I'm also interested in design choices, particularly as they relate to common tpl.php files, and drupalisms such as posted dates on node.tpl.php. Since these are not easily quantifiable i'll be collecting them, and uploading them into a set of imagecrop fields so I can see a big picture.

TBD if its a panel discussion, or simply me summerizing the results, offering my thoughts on the bigger picture trends, followed by a Q/A discussion.

Experience: Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced, Expert
Industry: education, entertainment, library, marketing, media, non-profit
Tags: best practices, trends

There was little substance in this presentation, unfortunately. I liked the pictures of kittens and dogs though.

My big mistake was thinking that there would be both strong & interesting trends evident from studying major drupal 6 sites. If I ever do a presentation again, its not going to be based on data I've yet to collect.