Design meeting notes for 20 March, 2019

You can read the full transcript of this meeting on our Slack channel. You can also read the agenda for this week.

Housekeeping

The first week in April this meeting moves like most .org meetings, ahead an hour.

Gutenberg

Gutenberg 5.3 was released! Congrats to all the amazing work designers have been doing!

You can read more about it on the release post. It will also coincide with the release of WordPress 5.2. Some things to point out:

  • Resizing the text and media columns in the Media & Text block is being discussed.
  • For any CSS gurus, @joen has been reorganizing stylesheets. You can see the Pull Requests.
  • The Section block is going to get (or already has) some updates for inner block alignments. This is super tricky but @getdave @kjellr and others have been trucking away on it.
  • There’s research sessions going on this week around the Navigation block. Please jump into the #research channel if you’re interested in helping out.

Feedback and reviews

The Improved Fatal Error Protection

The intention is to give users the ability to access their WordPress admin when a plugin or theme is causing a fatal error. We’ve been asked to give design feedback on:

  • Crafting the email message itself and making sure the user understands what is going on
  • Giving meaningful updates within the admin to help walk through problems

Feedback is welcome! Feel free to jump in and share your thoughts.

Site Health plugin design

The work has wound down. There has been an exploration of what the Gutenberg styling would look like in other areas of the admin. Further work is intended to explore what this could look like.

As an interesting note, the team chose 16px for the main font size with this plugin. Much of the WordPress admin uses 13px, but from an Accessibility perspective that seems to be pushing the limits of what’s reasonable.

—-

As a site note, the team did a Contributor day at Yoast last week, and it went well! The design table had 3 first-timers, and the team gave feedback on about 8 open issues, even one long-dead one about Gutenberg annotations.

#meeting-notes

Gutenberg Phase 2 Friday Design Update #10

The appearance of new faces in the Github repo is so encouraging. Conversations are productive, design direction is collaborative, and the excitement is promising. If you’d like to learn more about contributing to Gutenberg, @karmatosed wrote up a great handbook page this week.

Just a reminder, today is the last call for merging PRs that will make it into WP 5.2.

Navigation block

People are being signed up for usability testing. There are already a few interviews scheduled for next week. The testing will be moderated and conducted with a prototype of the Navigation block. If you’re interested in helping, join the #research channel in slack!

Tightening up

A really cool update to the block outlines has been merged. The blue hover state is replaced with a strong grey left border. The focused state retains that strong left border and outlines the entire block.

Research & User Testing

With all the research efforts gaining momentum, a recent call for researchers went out from @tinkerbelly. If you’d like to help out, notify the researchers in the #research slack channel to get involved.

Mark your calendars for the Site-building Research “Ask Me Anything” video Q/A with @tinkerbelly and @jarahsames this coming Monday at 19:00 UTC.

Block Management

The PR is merged!

Block Directory

Wow, the comments in the post are lively! It’s great to see so many perspectives communicating. The feedback is being synthesized and thought through thoroughly. <- Say that three times fast.


Thanks for reading, staying informed, and contributing anywhere you can!

#design, #gutenberg-weekly, #phase-2

Ask me anything about: The site building study!

As you may remember, back in December a small group of curious-minded people embarked on a research study with the aim to learn more about how end users think about site building.

Since the results have been out for a little while now, @jarahsames and I are going to be hosting a walkthrough of the results as well as a Q&A session, live on video! Join us at 19:00 UTC, Monday, 18 March to learn more and ask all your burning questions.

The session will cover:

  • The goals and aims of the study
  • How the research was planned and performed
  • Findings and insights
  • How you can get involved with future research efforts
  • Answers to all your burning questions!

The session will be recorded and shared here, so if you can’t make it live, you can always catch up later. It should take around an hour, depending on how many questions there are. If you can’t make the session or would like to pre-share your question(s), please drop them in the comments below, and Sarah and I will be sure to answer them during the Q&A portion.

The Zoom link for the session is here, and will also be shared to #research just prior to the session. See you Monday!

#gutenberg, #research

Open invitation: Become a WordPress researcher!

User research is key to ensuring that software meets users’ needs. With user research efforts ramping up across the project, now is a great time to get involved!

You don’t need to be a designer (or a developer, or a tester!) to become a researcher. All you need is a curious mind and a desire to help improve products for users.

Upcoming studies

With the site building study wrapped up, the next research efforts will be focussing on usability testing of new features. Coming up this month:

Get involved!

Anyone can become a researcher! You can start as a silent observer. This is the easiest way to get involved. You join the call as a silent, invisible participant to see how it works, and you can share your observations with us in Slack after the session.

If you’re ready for the next step, you can help by taking notes or even running a session. You can also help by contributing your observations after the fact, watching video recordings, or compiling results. There are guides and support available for all of these tasks, as well as lots of friendly faces in the #research channel in Slack to answer any questions you may have.

If you’d like to be involved in one of the research studies listed above, please comment here or ping myself, @sarahmonster in Slack, and I’ll get you set up and ready to go.

#gutenberg, #research

Testing simple responsive controls for blocks

One of the Gutenberg Phase 2 tasks is to design some lightweight responsive settings for individual blocks. The project is at a point where it could use some testing with users, and we could use your help.

Background

A few blocks currently behave responsively, but most do not allow for specific control over that behavior. For example, the Columns and Gallery blocks let you set a number of columns, but will always collapse down to one or two columns on small screens. Some third party plugins have built more extended functionality for custom blocks, and since these are generally considered advanced controls, a plugin does feel like the right place for them. However, there are still a couple good reasons for us to formally establish simple pattern for these controls: 

  1. Plugins are all currently implementing these controls in different ways. If Gutenberg can establish a reusable, scalable best practice for responsive controls, it’ll help promote consistent UI wherever users adjust these sorts of settings. 
  2. There’s currently no way to opt-out of the stacked columns behavior for the Columns and Gallery blocks. In effect, they’re less “smart defaults”, and more enforced behavior. There’s a limited responsive toggle for the Media & Text block already, but establishing a scalable pattern here will come in handy as Gutenberg expands to include more complicated site-building blocks.

There’s been a lively discussion in the GitHub thread for this issue, and the group has largely coalesced around a possible direction. 

Testing plan

The next step is to run this by users and get a temperature check on the direction. To kick things off, I’ve begun a short document to outline general goals and establish the beginnings of a script, and built a simple prototype for testing:

Since many advanced users have shared feedback on GitHub, we’re primarily hoping to interview those who have less experience building websites. @tinkerbelly is already recruiting users for a test of the Navigation block, so we’ve decided to combine recruiting efforts. Depending on timing, we’ll either combine both projects into one test session, or break the responsive controls into its own short session. We aim to test this later this month. 

How you can help

If you’re interested in user testing or responsive controls, I’d love more volunteers to get involved. As @tinkerbelly noted in her “How to participate in user research” post last year, there are many different opportunities to help. Volunteers do not have to be designers or have any experience with user research: moderating or observing sessions, taking notes, and assisting with with analysis of the interviews are all incredibly helpful. 

Today, I could primarily use help reviewing the goals and script. Please give it a read, and share any notes below, in the document itself, or in the #research channel on slack. Thank you!

Learning about site builders (Site building study #4)

These are the results of a user research study investigating mental models related to building and customising a website. Results are split across five posts:

Background | Segments: Bloggers · Small Businesses · Site Builders | Conclusions

The research group sorted participants into three segments, based on their current understanding of how people use WordPress. These segments are based on a handful of data points and warrant further study to confirm the categories. For now, these segments allow researchers to group WordPress’ extensive userbase into behavioural categories and learn characteristics specific to each group.

For this study, we focussed on three segments: bloggers, small businesses, and site builders (people who build sites for others). Today we’re going to learn more about site builders.

Site builders are people who make sites for others. Site builders often start as bloggers or small businesses. Having taught themselves to build websites, they are now progressively leveraging their skills to earn additional income. They tend to work for friends, acquaintances, or people in their professional networks and often barter or don’t charge much for the websites they build.

Let’s learn more about site builders!

#gutenberg, #research

Learning about small businesses (Site building study #3)

These are the results of a user research study investigating mental models related to building and customising a website. Results are split across five posts:

Background | Segments: Bloggers · Small Businesses · Site Builders | Conclusions

The research group sorted participants into three segments, based on their current understanding of how people use WordPress. These segments are based on a handful of data points and warrant further study to confirm the categories. For now, these segments allow researchers to group WordPress’ extensive userbase into behavioural categories and learn characteristics specific to each group.

For this study, we focussed on three segments: bloggers, small businesses, and site builders (people who build sites for others). Let’s learn about small businesses next.

Small businesses are the most varied group since businesses range widely depending on their nature. This is a difficult group to generalise about and researchers observed a diverse range of experiences.

Let’s learn more about small businesses!

#gutenberg, #research

Learning about bloggers (Site building study #2)

These are the results of a user research study investigating mental models related to building and customising a website. Results are split across five posts:

Background | Segments: Bloggers · Small Businesses · Site Builders | Conclusions

The research group grouped participants into three segments, based on their current understanding of how people use WordPress. These segments are based on a handful of data points and warrant further study to confirm the categories. For now, these segments allow researchers to group WordPress’ extensive userbase into behavioural categories and learn characteristics specific to each group.

For this study, we focussed on three segments: bloggers, small businesses, and site builders (people who build sites for others). Let’s learn about bloggers first. (Hat-tip to @jarahsames who studied this segment!)

Bloggers wear many different hats: they are the writers, admins, and IT for their websites.

Learn more about bloggers

#gutenberg, #research

Background (Site building study #1)

These are the results of a user research study investigating mental models related to building and customising a website. Results are split across five posts:

Background | Segments: Bloggers · Small Businesses · Site Builders | Conclusions

Results have been compiled from the sitebuilding research conducted at the end of December, and a report is ready. Make a cup of tea, it’s a long one! 🍵

Huge thanks to @jarahsames, @alexislloyd, @bengrace, @benrearick, @bph, @cathibosco, @chrisvanpatten, @designsimply, @evawong, @johngough, @joshuawold, @karmatosed, @lilibet, @lonelyvegan, @mapk, @melchoyce, @mkaz, @msdesign21, @nao, @paaljoachim, @pento, @thedezzie, @tmmbecker, @tobiasziegler, @xarisgn, and Melissa Vander Wilt for helping to make this happen. Research like this takes a village, and it was fantastic to have so many people jumping in to lead sessions, take notes, share insights, and sift through all the data. Thank you for all your hard work! 🌟

If you have any questions about these results or would like to conduct your own research, please drop into the #research channel in Slack and say hello.

With that said, let’s dive into the full report! There’s a lot of information to digest, so this will be split into five sections (see discussion), to be shared here over this week and next.

Background information

#gutenberg, #research

Discussion: where do we publish and store research results?

The research group has a report ready to share as part of the sitebuilding research. Since it’s quite long, the group would like to choose the best place to publish it.

This report should be stored with other research results in the future, since these are likely to build upon and enhance one another. It’s best if these resources are easy to find and access. They should be something that everyone contributing to WordPress can refer back to in coming months and years.

This was discussed in Slack, but let’s open the conversation to more people.

Where should this type of content live?

  1. In a series of posts on make/design
  2. On a static page on make/design, announced with a post on make/design
  3. In a static Google document linked to make/design post
  4. Somewhere else?

This research is ready to publish, so please share your preference by leaving a comment on this post no later than Thursday, 31 January 2019. Thank you!

#gutenberg, #research