Start of the User eXperience Week

Categories: Community Created by ben van 't ende
The user experience week 2014 is about usability of the backend, themes and distributions. Some 30 participants work for one week in a remote location in the heart of Germany on these topics.
On Saturday September 20 participants slowly start dropping into the <link http:>Forest and Sports hotel Festenburg. The location is in ´the dark heart´of the Harz in Germany. The nights are really dark at this isolated place, which takes a bit getting used to as a city person. Like the UXW 2009 an isolated location is explicitly chosen to keep the group in sync during the whole week. The very early start of the user experience week was about socialising and getting to know each other. The Saturday evening took the, already arrived, participants to the local <link http:>Brau Akademie for a quick history of two cities and their quest to brew beer. Of course the proof was in the beer after the detailed passionate history telling of the last of the original brewers. It became pretty clear the Harz water is great and there is a lot of it, which became even more evident when visiting the ore mines of the Rammelsberg the following day. The drainage of the currently disbanded mines were powered by giant water wheels deep underground. Again a good example of German engineering. As early morning activity field guide Paul Blondiaux guides people through the surrounding forest. This activity is alternated with yoga sessions provided by yours truly, Ben van ‘t Ende. All in all a nice variation to shift the focus away from the specific TYPO3 work. The UXW has a very appropriate cross section of the TYPO3 community. Many new people to the community, a lot of female attendants (33%) and more people than ever at an event that have a focus on editorial and integrator work. The shift we are seeing from developer happiness to user happiness definitely shows here.   On Sunday afternoon the planning kicked of with an introduction of the TYPO3 CMS technology map by Felix Kopp. Felix has kicked of a backend concept that clearly divided CMS into an Edit, Manage and Presentation layer. Currently these functions are diffuse to  say the least. At the same time the participants got a look into the 'flat' design proposal that was already embraced at the <link http: news article insights-from-the-typo3-cms-active-contributor-meetup-in-munich>Active Contributor Meeting in Munich in the beginning of September.   In the wake of the ACME it was evident that a lot of focus needed to be placed on the backend of TYPO3. The biggest changes were done at the past user experience week back in 2009. If there is one thing that became clear from the agency meetings, the TYPO3 Association together with the marketing team have organised, than it was exactly the need to improve things in the backend area. Staying up to date with current web technologies and improvement of ease of use are the most important factors that drive these changes. A first coarse team division was made in the late afternoon being: backend usability, themes and distributions. On Monday morning Andy Fiesser gave an introduction to pattern thinking. Pattern thinking is a simple technique for making sense of challenging situations. Some of the teams gratefully made use of the guidance Andy provided with the tools he showed in his presentation. Andy  personally guided some of the teams with was pretty helpgul in finding direction.. Distributions and themes are loosely related to each other and should both serve the purpose to make TYPO3 CMS easier accessible to a wider audience. The ability to create and install Distributions is a core functionality, while Themes is a project very much carried by the organisation of the UXW and made available in the form of extensions. The distributions team identified technical and performance issues which prevent proper usage of distributions. Two people will take care of a detailed documentation of API functionality, fixing bugs and more documentation to promote this awesome functionality. A number of people took the responsibility of documenting the current functionalities of the Introduction Package Distribution. This is currently the only official distribution. The current package should get updated content and documentation on the bootstrap package that lies at the heart of this package.  We are lucky to have Benjamin Kott, the creator of this package, present at UXW to bring us up to speed on the building blocks of the Introduction Package. Lastly the largest group split off in the Distributions team to work on the conception of a distribution that will be used to educate backend users on functionality. The team had a kind of guided tour in mind like we know from first time usage of for instance Google Plus. The Themes team started its mission with its usual crew members Kay, Jo and Thomas. Their mission statement is to fully complete their work during the user experience week. The themes package will mean a lot for acceptance of TYPO3 by a broader audience. A book on the topic will be published soonish as well. As the German user base i very large the book will first be published in German, but the team ensures me that an English translation will follow. The backend usability effort has the largest amount of participants and divided in a number hotspots divided into priority lanes. Editor user experience (Priority 1), BE Technologie (priority 2) and Developer happiness (priority 3). Four teams initial teams were created. What is really great to see at this week is how quickly topics are divided into small digestible pieces, which result in sub projects and teams. At this time of writing we have 10+ teams.