Content management

Colin Clark colin.clark at
Fri Sep 14 20:58:53 UTC 2007

Hi Daphne and all,

Some comments below...

Daphne Ogle wrote:
> An additional thought on the video -- we should make this kind of 
> flexibility available to the more advanced and innovative users.  We 
> should also include some easy template-like functionality for users that 
> just want to get a nice looking site up and running and will not spend 
> the time customizing like the person in the video.  Many Sakai users 
> will need help knowing "what to do next" as they setup their site (and I 
> mean much more than choosing tools, like what are the implications of 
> choosing certain tools and what's the best way to use certain tools 
> together, etc.)  This problem of "I don't know what to do next" has 
> already been a reoccurring pain point that comes up in the UX 
> Walkthroughs.  In fact, I think we should be optimizing the user 
> experience for the latter.  The patterns in needs, behaviors and 
> capabilities we heard during the course management research in this 
> regard were pretty amazing.   So let's create simple site creation 
> templates and workflow based on various teaching and learning styles 
> which we optimize for and then we have this more  "free form" site 
> creation process like you see in the video.  And all of this includes 
> the best kinds of interaction and takes full advantage of new web 2.0 
> behaviors, expectations and technologies --- ah, to dream!  

This layered approach to bringing users through the power of an 
application gently, ultimately providing flexible and free-form 
environment makes sense to me. It's also extremely challenging to design.

Part of the key, I think, is to provide flexibility and efficiency 
without resorting to separate "modes" or vast arrays of preferences 
screens. The more the system can be designed in layers, with 
adaptability built in--without requiring the user to switch to "Advanced 
Mode"--the easier it will be to learn and the more supportive it will be 
to diverse needs. I think this is what you're saying.

> The real question in my mind is:  are we ready to stop being feature 
> driven and instead be experience driven?  We ask for innovation but then 
> when much time and design resource is spent to understand how we can 
> innovatively better support our users, there hasn't been the commitment 
> to spend the extra time to implement.  Rather, "we just need to get the 
> functionality in" has been my experience.   This is a great way to 
> stifle innovation IMHO.  With much work to do, why would I go the extra 
> effort if history has proven it is all for not.

As a project, Fluid has a lot of potential to help make these deep UI 
changes within Sakai and uPortal. We have a growing community of 
designers and developers who are committed to looking beyond the current 
constraints of the systems and helping the communities to implement new 
approaches. As a project, Fluid has made the commitment to invest the 
time and hard work into conceiving, designing, and implementing 
innovative new designs.

But we also have the responsibility to find better ways of working and 
good techniques for incrementally making significant user experience 
improvements. It's an exceptionally difficult challenge, but one I think 
we're well-equipped to fulfill. To be successful, we'll need the help of 
everyone involved in the projects, especially where core assumptions in 
the architectures need to be reconsidered.

So from my perspective as a developer, the answer to your question is 
yes, we're ready to be experience-driven. It's going to take time and 
quite a lot of experimentation, but I think now is a good time for it as 
any. :)


Colin Clark
Technical Lead, Fluid Project
Adaptive Technology Resource Centre, University of Toronto

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