By Private Profile 60f01f57 on 2016-04-16 00:00 in User Experience Team

JUX Report Summary

  • JUX Team Summary
  • JUX Team Updates
  • JUX Onboarding Program
  • Regional Team Program
  • Research and Testing Campaign
  • Joomla 3.x Release Updates
  • Joomla 4 Team Updates
  • JUX Leadership Summary

JUX Team Summary

It has been awhile since our last report, but not due to lack of effort. Much has happened over the past 6 weeks, including the launch of Joomla 3.5, which was the focus of most community efforts during this time. Our current team had little involvement with the 3.5 release, and while we are itching to move forward, we felt it was more appropriate to work internally and show our support for this massive community effort rather than push forward with our future agenda. The JUX team would like to thank all the contributors that made Joomla 3.5 possible.

Now that we are on the other side of this release, we have our first opportunity to be involved in the process through the Joomla 3.6 release. We know the clock is ticking. Our involvement with Joomla 3.x and Joomla 4 working groups requires timely results and they are coming. We have not had much to show the community as of yet, but that will change soon. We are working on several different projects within our team and within the community. Our progress is detailed below. 

Team Updates

For the past few weeks we have been working on a new onboarding program for our team contributors. We have 40+ new applicants from 20+ different countries. We have a new JUX working group room in Glip and a Joomla 3.x UI team in addition to the Joomla 4 UX Team. We have added many new team members and first time contributors to our group over the past few weeks, we will making those announcements shortly. We have also collected feedback and research from a number of users as part of a new 3.x release UX sprint cycle process. 

Most of our administrative efforts are centered on building our team resources and strategy. As our team grows and becomes more diverse, communication and schedule logistics become more challenging. These factors are critical to getting new contributors involved and keeping them engaged. There is still work to be done in this area, but we have a plan and a strategy in place. Our hope is the work we do in this area can be reused in other areas of the community or serve as a future model for growing our community in general.

JUX Onboarding Program

Our onboarding program is based on a Contributor On Ramp concept created by Jono Bacon at Github.

We feel this approach is the right approach. The goal is to help our contributors get started by welcoming them and providing them resources and supporting them while they are here. Introducing new contributors to our community properly and taking the time to help them get started will unquestionably lead to more active participation and help us build a stronger community.

The details of our program will be continuously developed and refined as we go, but the foundation is ready and we have recently started using this system over the past week. We have already seen some encouraging results in the welcoming phase, and we have also found that new contributors lose interest quickly if they do not have something to work on right away. We are addressing this factor through our team information survey, which is included in the onboarding materials. 

Many of our projects are still in the strategy phase and this is an administrative challenge that we are working to change as soon as possible. Our onboarding system is a step in the right direction to getting our projects of the ground getting our new contributors involved. We welcome all feedback and suggestions regarding our onboarding materials. They can be seen here: JUX Team Guidelines

Regional Team Program

The global perspectives and diversity our contributors bring to our team is welcome and necessary to meet our goals. As our team becomes more diverse, logistical challenges become bigger factors, particularly relating to communication and scheduling. In our community environment these factors are always present, but much more so when extreme time zones and language differences are involved. We feel these factors are a reason some contributors are not as active as they may wish to be. It’s difficult to participate when communication is a problem, or if meeting times are at extreme hours. We believe a new approach, our Regional Team Program, has potential to solve some of these challenges.

Niranjan Janardhana has been named Team Leader for our first regional JUX Team. We received a number of JUX applications from contributors in India and Asia, which is where Niranjan is located, and he will be coordinating their efforts in coordination with the JUX Leadership team. We want everyone to participate actively, and we believe we can do more as a team if we can remove some of the logistical challenges from the process. This is a new solution we are trying for the first time. We are looking forward to seeing how it works, and looking forward to seeing what our new contributors can add to the JUX process.

JUX Research Campaign

Several meetings JUX have taken place over the past month primarily regarding our research and testing efforts. We have been preparing for an ongoing research campaign that will be launching next week. We have an initial survey we will put out to the community with a goal of qualifying our personas and collecting user feedback regarding various features and preferences, as well as registering users as volunteers for more detailed research and testing.

The ongoing survey campaign will have a cycle of 2 to 3 new surveys per month with different topics targeted at different areas of the community, and outside the community. Within a few weeks of launch we expect a good amount of feedback to be collected. We will be launching new surveys in one or two week intervals with different objectives and questions. Ideally, there will be a constant stream of feedback coming in after the initial launch.

These surveys are an entry point to our research system, not the end point. The information they provide is general, but it gives us direction. It is also easy for our users to participate and be involved and they also serve as a simple registration system for future research participants. Another benefit is the results are can easily analysed and can be quickly shared with the community. From there, will we will conduct more detailed targeted research and testing with users who volunteer for more involvement.

  • Chris Raymond & Eric Fernance have been named JUX Research Team Leaders. They have gone above and beyond expectations and their efforts are much appreciated by the community. Tasks for coming weeks are to develop ongoing research strategies and user testing methods for the next phases of our user research program, along with analysis strategies for incoming research data.
  • Cliff Pfeifer will handle marketing and distribution of the surveys, as well as onboarding of team contributors and user research volunteers. He is also working on a 3.5 survey, in a format that can be used again in 3.6, 3.7 and beyond, as well as a survey related to administrator UI preferences.

Joomla 3.x Efforts

Near the beginning of April, the JUX was provided an opportunity to begin development on a new Administrator template for consideration in the 3.6 release. We believe this concept can not only improve UI in Joomla 3.x, but can also serve as a transition for users moving from 3.x to 4.

However, this is not an easy task and we have little time, the deadline is the Alpha release at the beginning of May. We did not have much time to prepare for this effort and quickly constructed a 4 week UX sprint cycle which we are halfway through and a new JUX 3.x UI Team to coordinate the efforts. This team will be announced shortly. Our initial research and recommendation phases have provided much direction and this format will serve our process well in the future. 

After considering the goals of the 3.6 release team, the timeline and the amount of work required, we have decided to push the project for 3.7 consideration. Our focus over the next two weeks will be on simple 3.6 UI improvements. We do wish to make substantial improvements sooner than later, but not at the expense of existing community efforts and certainly not at the expense of our users. The goal of a new administrator template is to substantially improve user experience through the UI. If our efforts do not meet this goal then it has no purpose or place in the core of our platform. 

Joomla 3.x Challenges

Our challenges in regards to any 3.x release are substantial. J3 is deep into it’s life cycle and this is one reality we are particularly mindful of. Moving or changing anything in the administrator area at this point could potentially confuse our users, affect third party developers or cause other problems. In addition to researching, developing, designing and implementing a new template, a substantial community effort is required. For example, any new or changed terminology will require the efforts of the translation teams. Any changes in functionality will require testing, security and code maintenance efforts - just to name a few.

When we consider the reality of this scenario we must proceed carefully and focus our efforts on improvements that are beneficial to our users in relation to what is actually obtainable within the 3.x platform and life cycle. 

The research and work we have done in this area carries over to our 3.7, future 3.x efforts and also reinforces our J4 efforts. Our cycle format is in place so that we may continually build on the work we do over time, in order to provide measurable result with as little wasted effort as possible. Our primary focus is Joomla 4, but anything we can add to 3.x to set the stage for J4 will help our users transition to the coming changes.

  • Our goal for next week is to begin working on our 3.6 improvements. More details regarding those improvements are coming very soon in the form of a JUX Team Recommendation report.

Joomla 4 Progress

  • We are working with J4 Architecture on the J4 pattern library. Niels and Niranjan have made progress in this area in preparation for a J4 demo at JAB near the end of May.
  • Niranjan has also prepared a report and outlining his proposal for a Joomla Webmaster Administration System
  • David Lingard has provided some initial mockups for visualization concepts.
  • Cliff Pfeifer has begun work on an official Joomla style guide. The general plan is to have this ready around the time of the J4 release, in conjunction and coordination with the architecture pattern library and the official Joomla brand manual.
  • The efforts of our research, Chris Raymond and Eric Fernance were detailed above. Once our research data begins to come in we will be able to focus our J4 research efforts in a more targeted way and gain more detailed user feedback to guide our process.
  • We are currently assembling a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) proposal for the Joomla 4 working group. This outline will include the minimum requirements we feel are necessary for Joomla 4 to be successful in the eyes of our users. The goals of this proposal are to work towards J4 effectively and efficiently within our community resources, while providing our users with the most beneficial improvements possible.

JUX Team Summary

Much progress has been made over the past 6 weeks, but it has taken considerable effort this year to get our process started. In many ways, our team is doing something that has never been done in our community before now. We are constructing and implementing a brand new UX process for a major CMS platform within a globally diverse volunteer based community. This is not an easy task, and we never believed it would be easy, but the scale of this challenge is extreme. All of our team and communities are important, they all relate to our users. 

The motivation for our approach is our users.

A lot of our work right now is building a long term strategy and we need to do this. Our users are real people with real challenges and these concerns need to be addressed sooner than later. The more we talk to users the more we hear these types of stories. Some examples:

  • Extension developers are a very important part of our community and they are often top contributors and event sponsors. Their businesses are struggling because our user base is dwindling.
  • Our end users want to do more, but our platform is complex and it’s a struggle for them to learn and there are not enough resources.
  • Users want to contribute to the community but they don’t know how, and too few of us take the time to guide them and get them involved. 

I hear stories like this every single day and it breaks my heart. Too often, the result is people losing interest, burning out, or walking away with a negative view of our community and our platform. This alone provides all the motivation I need to keep going but it’s an uphill battle. We are doing all we can, but we need more resources and more support for our efforts. We need a coordinated community effort with a focus on our users, and it needs to start now.  

We are certain the solutions do not lie within the latest coding techniques, or a fancy feature, or a slick new interface. The answer is providing real world solutions to the real world problems our users are facing. Not the problems we think they are facing - the actual problems they are facing. Making assumptions about what our users need has led us to this point and it’s time for that to change. How we interact and respond to our users and work together within our community will determine our future more than any other factor. 

We will be sharing our research results and recommendations very soon. Some of our research findings are not pretty and they may not be welcomed by everyone. User feedback is not always pleasant and it’s sometimes painful to hear. There will certainly be resistance to some of our recommendations and we welcome these discussions. We need to discover the issues our users are facing before we can deal with them and we know creating solutions that work for everyone is not always possible. We will have to make tough decisions and this is our challenge. Our only interest is solving problems for our users and making changes for the good of our community. 

I would like to personally say thank you to all of our contributors and team members for the unbelievable amount of effort and passion they have brought to this team over the past few months. We can’t change the past, but we can choose our direction from here, and I truly believe we can do something amazing if we work together and we are just getting started. 

If you share the passion my team and I have for Joomla we welcome your support and participation. You can take the initiative and make a positive difference in our community. Thank for you time and interest in our team progress.

Cliff Pfeifer 
- JUX Team Lead