eZ Publish Admin to get some loving


The current eZ Publish admin interface first appeared almost 5 years ago in version 3.5 ( released Dec 2004 ). At the time it was a massive improvement from the previous version. Since it's release there have been many advances in web technologies, javascript libraries and browser support.

When the eZ publish roadmap was updated in July this year it indicated that version eZ Publish 4.3 (due 30 March 2010) will include a redesign of the admin interface. From the roadmap:

eZ Publish Admin interface

Redesign of the current User Interface including :
  • More Ajax based usability features
  • Revamped look and feel
  • Improved management of Object States
  • Dashboard
A good discussion of the admin interface occurred in the forums originating in Jan 2009 and was reinvigorated after the roadmap announcement. The thread is a rather long one and winds it's way around a number of topics (JavaScript libraries, projects/contributions site, admin interface) but is well worth reading. The issue of JavaScript libraries has largely been addressed in the ezjscore project (which will be bundled as part of eZ 4.3) but other issues of seems largely up in the air.

Last week Morten Zetlitz tweeted from the Nordic eZ Partner Meeting "Itchy fingers after eZ Systems promises a new admin UI by 2010. We need something like Drupal has, an eZ UX initiative." The project he is referring to is the Drupal 7 UX Project which is a concerted effort to improve usability. The project has the following principles:
  1. Make the most frequent tasks easy and less frequent tasks achievable
  2. Design for the 80%
  3. Privilege the Content Creator
  4. Make the default settings smart
I agree with Morten in that a eZ Publish UX Project would be a great idea. Unlike the Drupal project an eZ Publish one should focus on more than the Content Creator. The eZ publish admin interface is the place where the majority of content creation, user management and site configuration takes place. It's used by a number of people playing a number of roles to
perform many varied tasks. It's been around for quite some time so there is quite a bit of experience and interface knowledge out there. Fundamental changes need to be made with caution to avoid incurring retraining for existing users.

I see a eZ Publish UX Project fleshing out the roadmap list & requirements from the forums to provide an interface style guide as well as providing a user centered information architecture.

One of the UX people involved in the project, Leisa Reichelt has some insightful observations of the Drupal process, but I suspect that given that eZ Publish is a very different project that these may not apply, in fact it's likely to have a different set of issues all together.

If you like the idea of an eZ Publish UX Project drop me an email or comment on the blog.

Tony Wood from Vision with Technology has set up a survey to collect information which will be presented to eZ as feedback. I encourage you to fill out the survey, but also post to your ideas to the forum or your blogs and comment here.

This post has turned out to be more about background information and a call to action than I'd first intended. I've got a bunch of notes on ideas for the Admin interface that I'll turn into a blog post which I'll hopefully get up in the next couple of days.

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/captkodak/373622275/

Comments

  1. This is a very good idea! I've seen the drupal 7 admin interface and it's very well thought. Nowadays, the eZ admin interface is a burden when comparing it with other CMS, especially Drupal !

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  2. Very good idea. The first time i installed ezp i felt "Great software, but terrible 'made by developpers, used by developpers'".

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  3. Nice post Bruce.

    The admin interface is at the core of content management. If the admin (front or back) can inspire creativity and productiveness then it will add greatly to the overall eZ Publish package.

    The only way this can work is if the editors and content creators give their input to it.

    After all it is their day job and hence they are the ones that feel the pain if we (eZ and us) get it wrong.

    I am hoping eZ is listening to users and is thinking about the key editor user journeys they take and will build a user experience around that.

    Also it is probably worth every partner contacting eZ with a client who they can talk to about their admin needs and alos crucially to test and refine the admin interface once eZ has created it.

    I am really excited about the admin interface rework and have very high hopes for it. I also know that without our input it will not live upto those hopes.

    Tony
    ps Please fill out the survey and I promise you eZ will read each comment

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  4. I would love to see a new admin interface! I think that it's the single biggest issue with the whole system.
    It makes sense to me having worked with it for a few years, but not to clients. It makes training a challenge, especially to have all the actions at the bottom of the screen. And being that there a half a dozen different ways to add an image, it makes some content tasks unnecessarily complex. And the Content structure tree needs some AJAX love, too.

    ReplyDelete

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