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 Post subject: Joomla! and usability
PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 5:47 am 
Joomla! Fledgling
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I know this is a sensitive topic, but I ran across this article today that talks about Joomla!, WordPress and usability (http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/03/ ... wordpress/). I know that it will probably make a few people upset here, but the truth is that I think he does bring up an important point. WordPress does provide a much better user experience, and I think the Joomla dev team should try to learn from it (and don't tell me about all the feature that Joomla has that WordPress lacks, if so you're missing the point).


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 6:06 am 
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You need to remember to compare apples with apples. WordPress just does blogging (more or less). Joomla is a platform for hosting Content Management extensions. It's a bit like comparing a Nintendo DS with a PC for playing games and saying that the user experience is much better on the DS because you don't have to wait for windows to boot up (yeah, but the PC does more that's why it takes a while to boot up).

So, yes, for a blogging site, WordPress does present a much better user experience. If that's all you want it to do then that's fine to. Joomla is probably over heavy for "just a blog". But as soon as you want to extend your WordPress site is where you realise it wasn't built for that kind of thing (it was built for blogging and to do blogging well).

There is no contest between Joomla and WordPress because they are different applications doing very different jobs. The user experience is different for both but needs to be held in the context of what each is trying to be.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:05 pm 
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Even in the case we are allowed to compare Joomla with WordPress, something that masterchief has already pointed out why it is not so, I think usability is something that depends on what the developers has put on top of its plateform, in term of content, content organization, layout, colors,etc.

Joomla has the power of components, custom modules placements, things that, in term of usability, can really have an impact when you use them intelligently to set up pages layouts that are tailord to the diffrenet and particular content for each page.

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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:20 pm 
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mvip wrote:
I know this is a sensitive topic, but I ran across this article today that talks about Joomla!, WordPress and usability (http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/03/ ... wordpress/). I know that it will probably make a few people upset here, but the truth is that I think he does bring up an important point. WordPress does provide a much better user experience, and I think the Joomla dev team should try to learn from it (and don't tell me about all the feature that Joomla has that WordPress lacks, if so you're missing the point).


I'm sure that clear usability suggestions with ideas for implementation would be welcomed!

Ian


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PostPosted: Mon Mar 02, 2009 9:23 pm 
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Yes, certainly open to usability suggestions. I certainly the ability to link an individual article to the menu should be less clicks. I have some ideas I might try and find time to try out in 1.6.

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 11:43 am 
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mvip wrote:
(http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/03/ ... wordpress/). I know that it will probably make a few people upset here.....
I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

link

http://developers.slashdot.org/article. ... 03/0152241


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 12:13 pm 
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I'm not :) (what movie is that quote from again?? I can see the actor) The article started well with the "do this in WP, do this in Joomla" comparison (finally, I thought). That was good. Yep, Joomla takes a few more (and potentially more confusing to the uninitiated) steps to add an article to a menu (but, to be fair, we have more "things" you can add to a menu and more menus to add to, including hidden menus which have some pretty cool side-effects). But he lost me when he started counting lines of code as a comparison metric.

Personally, I think a "quick add" tool in the articles list would be the go. Select one or more articles; select the menu you want it/them added to; bada-bing-bada-boom ... done. Same could be done for any "view" that can be added to a menu (that is, articles, sections, categories, and so on).

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:00 pm 
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Slashdot effect or the site is down? http://www.playingwithwire.com/2009/03/ ... wordpress/

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:32 pm 
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I have to agree that the original article should compare apples to apples.

But I must concede that the author of that article still has a valid point. Joomla has too steep of a learning curve to get content contributors up and productive. I can say this because I have installed Joomla in a production environment where several writers are creating new content daily.

These content producers are writers, not coders. They should not have to struggle with a series of steps to achieve the simplest of goals. We want our writers to write unique content and lots of it.

Wordpress does not have anything near the level of content management power that Joomla has. But, at the risk off getting flamed, I have to saw that that Wordpress blows Joomla away when it comes to ease of use.

Instead getting upset over the article at Playing With Wire, why not look at it for what it is - a constructive criticism. I know we all have a tendency to get defensive when our pet projects are shown in a critical light. But you could also look at it as an opportunity to make Joomla a hell of a lot better for people who actually write content.


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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 8:53 pm 
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Hi femmons, welcome to Joomla.

Who are you seeing that is upset?

What is it that your content writers find hard about Joomla? Are they in the front end or the back end?

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PostPosted: Tue Mar 03, 2009 9:18 pm 
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Hi femmons. Nobody is upset (if they are they shouldn't be). Disagreement with something does not equate to being upset. Just as Joomla should be open to scrutiny and challenge, so should those people also allow scrutiny of their own claims. However, I am critical of an author that by his own admission judges Joomla on the basis of what he doesn't understand (that is, he doesn't understand Sections and Categories therefore Joomla gets low marks). And, again, putting a tape measure up against the number of lines of code is completely irrelevant. It undid all the good work he started.

But that aside, I've actually agreed with some of his points and mused about some possible solutions. Unfortunately most people don't know how to articulate why they don't like Joomla and just leave us with "fix it - no, I don't know how but I'll tell you if you get it right". That's really, really hard to work with and I consider myself a good developer - but I'm not that good. Joomla *is* found easy to use by hundreds of thousands of people around the world (a few of which I've had the pleasure to meet in person). But we are not so arrogant to think that it can't be improved - either in changing the actual user interface, or in explaining "the Joomla Way" better, or both.

Each person contributing to Joomla carries their own expertise and experiences to help make this project better - but even so, we don't know everything. That's where people like you, femmons, come in and say, hey my clients continually get hung up at this point in Joomla. Is there a way to explain it better or can I suggest changing it to do this or that. There are many people, including myself, who talk to real people, who write cheat sheets, who write blogs to help explain how to do Joomla. But nothing is perfect. Help us help you by trying to analyse what's perceived to be wrong. It's a two way street and we'd love to walk up and down it with you :)

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 2:46 am 
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commodore_love wrote:
I'm as mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!

FYI the "mad as hell..." quote is from the film Network, starring Peter Finch. :pop He plays a TV reporter who gets fired, and he gets viewers to open their windows and scream "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" into the night.

I've used both joomla! and wordpress, and agree it's like comparing apples and oranges. One huge difference is joomla's MVC API. In light of this, it might be more like comparing motorcycles and cars....


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 9:40 am 
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My immediate thought - and I haven't been administrating any Joomla setups where non-technical people contributed content - was to focus on separating users from administrators, keeping the users on the frontpage. Joomla already does that to a great extent - maybe this is what could solve the usability problems that seem to exist.

I have to say though, that from a web developer's and administrator's perspective with enough basic technical background I have always managed to use Joomla, and I like the 1.5 admin interface a lot.

As I am in the process of setting up a Joomla 1.5 website where the customer probably won't pay me developer premium rates for doing the content as well as the administration, I will need to look into the front page usability anyway - I will make sure to make myself heard if I have comments.

But if you need to have non-technical users do things like menu rearranging, or setting up the page layout, or setting up a new content page where you have to choose from blog page, content page, category table... I have to admit that that seems impossible without a great deal of training.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:32 am 
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lerlacher wrote:
My immediate thought - and I haven't been administrating any Joomla setups where non-technical people contributed content - was to focus on separating users from administrators, keeping the users on the frontpage. Joomla already does that to a great extent - maybe this is what could solve the usability problems that seem to exist.
I think that's actually a reasonable compromise. You simplify the frontend and only expose certain features (if you don't like those features, well, tough, you are going to have to learn the backend way). It's a bit of work, but it's conceivable to produce a WordPress like frontend component that has that simplicity, yet blackboxes a lot of the hard stuff. In theory it would work. Of course we'd never please everyone, but that's no reason not to have a go.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 12:44 pm 
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Have you tried using any of our guides for authors or publishers or the quick start guide with your users? Lots of these are available here:
http://docs.joomla.org/Beginners

I will admit, though that I find that page pretty chaotic. Most of the material for real beginners is about halfway down the page.

I will say I don't think Joomla is designed for having tons and tons of users being able to change the template, create menus and so on. I think it kind of assumes that normal content contributors will mainly just be creating new articles (plus using whatever extensions you install for them in a similar way, such as uploading an image to a gallery) and that these will be accessed via the section or category layouts rather than through direct menu links. That's just my experience.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 7:09 pm 
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I *love* the redesigned WP 2.7 dashboard and editor area. It is super focused on pushing out blog posts and moderating comments. The cryptic stuff is tucked safely away from accidental tweaking by those who probably shouldn't.

Joomla! isn't just a blogger - although it certainly can be an excellent blogger. Joomla! is very versatile - so, focusing on one usage type in core would be counterproductive, I think.

With Joomla! 1.6, the backend refactoring work will bring all core components into the MVC application architecture. Once that happens, the interface is much more flexible and developers can start unifying the user experience for the specific applications.

I was noticing how complex it gets in the backend from an end user perspective when developing the Comments extensions for Tamka. Some of the configurations are part of the Tamka Library since those are best stored in a common location to be shared between extensions. Other parameters are scattered between Plugins, Modules and Components.

With the refactored MVC architecture, we can start addressing usability for specific use applications, like Tamka, which is geared primarily at bloggers. It will be nice to have comment monitoring very accessible - but have the configuration tucked away -- all in one place --to simplify the user experience. It would be a very good thing if the words "Component" - "Module" - "Plugin" were not used, but instead we lead the user to "Comment Moderation" and "Comment Configuration." And, we are heading there.

Slow train coming - but worth waiting for if you build Web sites for more than just bloggers. In the end, we should have user focused administrative areas for many different needs.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:52 pm 
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I first discovered Joomla looking for a CMS to create pages on a site that started as a phpBB install. At the time finding a reasonable user/login integration that worked was the lookfor feature I found one that work and started trying to make the sites pages. After 2 hours of fiddling mercilessly I gave up thinging thats one bloody steep learning curve but I could see that in theory Joomla had a lot of potential but I just wanted something to work quick and not need a semesters tutelage on it.

I did not find a great integration for WP, but I easily edited the phpBB to include its userbase and plugout the parts of WP I didn't want. Content was up in a day and asside from overwrite its codebase 3-4 times a year it was very low maintenance whereas the phpBB has to be recoded after every release. Wordpress won that round.

Since then my web design skills have been in more and more demand so I know more about CMSs and respect Joomla (and Drupal) but I rarely use them for small business websites because the owners haven't the time to learn and update the site.

To newbies
Joomla is hardier but more comprehensive and taxing.
Wordpress is lighter but more specific and intuitive.

"Great solutions are useless if nobody can use them"

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:19 pm 
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Quote:
"After 2 hours of fiddling mercilessly I gave up thinging thats one bloody steep learning curve but I could see that in theory Joomla had a lot of potential but I just wanted something to work quick and not need a semesters tutelage on it."


Ok, but, "2 hours" is not "a semesters tutelage" :P

There are many bridges on JED for various forums, including PHPBB http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions ... um-bridges

If you only have 2 hours, I recommend using a hosted solution like WordPress.com - or Blogger.com. I understand Acquia will begin offering a hosted free solution for Drupal. But, two hours investment is not enough for a Web installation of any software, including WordPress unless you are willing to put it on a host without knowing what the implications might be.

For those who want something that goes beyond a Blogger (meaning beyond posts, tags, blog calender, ping, single blog for usually one user, and a sidebar), then Joomla! is a good, easy to learn option.

If you double that 2 hours - and spend 4, I recommend the Joomla! Quick Start PDF and Video series. http://docs.joomla.org/Beginners It was developed by two high school students as part of the Google Highly Open Participation contest and it covers every core feature. Soup to nuts from install of an XAMPP environment to an RSS feed. Simple to follow.

Joomla! is not for everyone. It is a very powerful application architecture. Not everyone needs that and many would be better off starting with a hosted solution.

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:33 pm 
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There is no editor that properly interfaces with the media manger. So much for usability. Or are there editors besides JCE and TinyMCE?

EDIT: To expand - there is the "image" link beneath the texarea, which loads up the media manager. But you can only use that to insert images, not links for example.


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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:39 pm 
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I insert images all the time using various Editors.

Why would you want the Media Manager to insert a link?

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PostPosted: Wed Mar 04, 2009 11:51 pm 
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Why wouldn't you use the link button in the editor to insert a link?

I would indeed love to see an extended editor plugin for internal links since that is something that beginning users want and it would be nice not to have to install a new editor to get that.

@Amy I assume he means that the editor's buttons don't access the media manager.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:03 am 
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mcsmom wrote:
@Amy I assume he means that the editor's buttons don't access the media manager.


Exactly. I can't link, for example, to a PDF file I upload with the media manger.

JCE actually already has that a little bit. It lists content, menu items, and weblinks in its link manager.
Just not the media manager...

Quote:
Why would you want the Media Manager to insert a link?


A link to aforementioned PDF file... ;-)


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:20 am 
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I think you've found a bug. I have inserted pdf links many times before, but right now although it is uploading, it isn't allowing me to make the links or displaying the file even though I added pdf to the image type list.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 12:29 am 
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Eh.
Next time I have a problem with Joomla, I'll post something stupid about usability on a blog and send it to Slashdot.

:D

...but I don't think that ever worked before, not as far as I can remember ???


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:07 am 
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Ok, lets get back on topic. "Article Link buttons" can be found here:

http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions ... or-buttons

Don't blame the WYSIWYG editor designers for not including them - it's not their job to (I know you didn't know that, but now you do). The buttons under the editor are all plugins and independent of the editor you use (it's our job to include the hooks for people to do that, pretty neat really).

All editors (like CMS's) have strengths and weaknesses. We don't actually maintain any of them so if you have suggestions, lobby the actual authors of those software products as well. My fave is actually the FCK editor.

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:07 pm 
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masterchief wrote:
Ok, lets get back on topic. "Article Link buttons" can be found here:

http://extensions.joomla.org/extensions ... or-buttons

Don't blame the WYSIWYG editor designers for not including them - it's not their job to (I know you didn't know that, but now you do). The buttons under the editor are all plugins and independent of the editor you use (it's our job to include the hooks for people to do that, pretty neat really).


...So if I clone the "Image" button and make it show and include everything from the media manager, I'd pretty much be set I guess. Where do I go to tell people they should get started on that project? ;)

Quote:
All editors (like CMS's) have strengths and weaknesses. We don't actually maintain any of them so if you have suggestions, lobby the actual authors of those software products as well. My fave is actually the FCK editor.

Yus... I had thought so.


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:58 pm 
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I'd love to see some serious usability studies on Joomla. We can all talk about this feature or that feature that we think should be in or out, but do we actually know what happens to someone who does a one click install and tries to get started? Or who registers on a site and then wants to create content for the first time?

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:21 pm 
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When my company decided to start their website with lot of features like- blog, articles, user-profiles etc, they decided to use a CMS. they narrowed down to either Joomla! or Drupal. They then decided to use Joomla! because of large number of extensions to choose from and a strong community to support. These guys where not coders. They just installed the CMSs in their computer and tried them out.

What I am 'trying' to say is that not all the potential customers are not engineers. So we should try to follow the KISS principle as mentioned in the article.

Sorry if this hurts you but what I felt when working on Joomla! is that:
1. 'The hierarchy of the content is given importance instead of the article'.
2. The level of hierarchy is limited to two (section->category->article). This must be left to the user to decide how many levels he want.
3. The user must be able to add the same article under different categories. (I am facing this problem as one of the requirement for the company website needs this :( )

I heard that Joomla 1.6 solves my 3rd problem but I am not so sure whether it is true.

I really love open-source projects and I really like to develop extensions in Joomla!
I do realize the difficulties in concept and design in implementing these recommendations because I am itself a programmer but all the (potential) users are not so.

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:47 pm 
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No one is hurt, just read the white papers forum and you will see that all of these issues have been discussed in detail. Feel free to pick a white paper to implement although I would say that a lot have work has been done on the infinite depth issue.

For multicategory assignment you are better off using an extension like labels or a tagging extension. That gives you the functional equivalence of multicategory assignment.

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PostPosted: Sun Mar 08, 2009 1:58 pm 
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masterchief wrote:
All editors (like CMS's) have strengths and weaknesses. We don't actually maintain any of them so if you have suggestions, lobby the actual authors of those software products as well. My fave is actually the FCK editor.


I tried all the editors now and I have to say, wow, FCK is really good, and it solves my problem - in the "insert link" dialog, there is an "upload" tab, and you can upload files directly and a download link will be inserted into the article.
The default TinyMCE editor should maybe have this, too...


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