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“Design for Drupal!”

Submitted by John on Sat, 2007/03/10 - 4:43am

Steven Wittens was a co-creator of Drupal’s beautiful default theme, Garland. And he has a thought-provoking post about the current state of design in the Drupal community and his frustrations in trying to improve it.

Many of the arguments in the comments to Steven’s blog were that designers tend not to collaborate. And that they can be difficult for programmers to work with. And that the Drupal community lacks many good designers. Some even said designers are prima-donnas and they don’t know CSS.

But there is a long tradition of collaboration in designing with CSS (note the emphasis.) To think that CSS is the purvey of coders is incorrect. The current state of CSS design techniques is entirely built on collaboration. Designers may go off into a corner to work for a little while, but they come back and share!

Steven laments about how “for years now, the Drupal community has been hoping for a group of prodigy designers to magically appear.” I believe we don’t need more designers; the Drupal community already has the right people to make Drupal designing better.

And there’s a lot that could be done to make themeing easier and better understood in Drupal.

  • Simplifying, standardizing and documenting CSS IDs and classes is an obvious place that needs work.
  • As well as explaining all the core modules that a theme should support.
  • And then there’s the Zen Task Force that’s trying to create a good theme from which to base other themes.
  • And the Themer Pack project that is trying to remove all PHP from a theme (<?php ?> can be scary.)
  • And the beginnings of an idea for a Drupal Themeing Contest.

What we need is a single entity to be THE clearinghouse for brainstorming and implementing improvements to Drupal’s themes. And there’s every reason why the Theme development group should be that entity.

Maarten rightly suggested that the Designers group should be working on new Drupal themes. But, as tim brilliantly pointed out Designers have been previously prevented from designing UI because of the murky technology and…

…now we are seeing the doorways to a healthy communications sphere with designers and coders on either side, each one holding an important enabler of the other.

So there is no reason why groups.drupal.org’s Theme development group and Designers group can’t be collaborating. The natural “place” where coders and designers are meeting is CSS. And, the CSS community at large is already a mixture of both; Drupal should be leveraging that. The themers and designers groups need to be working to make Drupal’s themes spectacular!

Steven’s article should be the catalyst for a new rallying cry in the community:
“Design for Drupal!”

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Comments

A true graphic designer? Agreed. The best designs are by people who are experts in graphic design.

But to pull off a Drupal theme however, three different domains of knowledge are required: graphic design, css/html design, and PHP coding. Since its unlikely that all knowledge will be provided by one person, I was describing css/html design as the “meeting place” for all three domains.

Jessica Jameson's picture

Druuupaaal, mmmm :)

I have worked with Drupal for years, I have spent time on Design like hundreds of hours or smt like this, but I like Drupal so much, so many opportunities and its definitely better than Joomla :)