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Imaginary users can save your Drupal site

None of these people exist, but that doesn't actually matter
Theming, Design & Usability


Additional Presenters:  Rich Middleditch


Theming, Design & Usability




Curious | Decision Maker | Project Manager

Imaginary users can save your Drupal site

Day:  Thursday, 26. august 2010
Time:  14:45-15:45
45 minutes (+15 minutes Q&A)



project management | agile | usability | ux | project | client

Drupal lends itself well to modular, separately deployable code. This means you can often reduce quite large Drupal-based projects to sets of minimum deployable features (MDFs) - informally speaking, chunks of functionality which get a particular job done, and don't look weird on their own - which quickly start to take shape as Drupal development plans.

But big (or mission-critical) projects need more certainty than that. They need to handle and where possible minimize risk: the possibility that the unspoken contents of the feature requester's brain don't eventually realise themselves as a usable, functional MDF in time and on budget. This includes doing the following:

  • Work out what the full range of features for your site need to be
  • Sense-check them outside the assumptions of the project team
  • Turn a feature specification into a development plan
  • Ensure the usability of the functionality you're about to develop
  • Agree on what "done" looks like: the minimum deployable use case
  • Check that it makes sense to your end users
  • Make old features robust, even as new and maybe conflicting features are deployed

How can you cover all these bases, and get a large and sometimes geographically (and institutionally) distributed team to agree at every stage?

This session will explain using examples from real, large-scale projects how user personas (a concept adopted by agile project management) can be built into your Drupal site, your specification and even the decision-making process for the project team.

  • What are user personas?
  • Why do we create user personas?
  • How does the persona influence the spec?
  • Where do we implement the personas in Drupal?
  • Who has the final decision on "what done looks like"?
  • When do the personas stop being useful?

Personas are fabricated users, intended to represent core segments of the user base for a website. In the office and in meetings they can be used to argue for or against new features; on your Drupal site these personas can have a life of their own. With the help of easily configurable automation and testing software they can provide an acid test for functionality and usability, and make sure that old functionality keeps on running just fine.


Slides now available on

7. September 2010 - 11:54

Slides now available on Slideshare at (modified slightly for Slideshare)