Tapping Into the Power of User Narratives

A video recording of Michael's Drupalcon Denver presentation

This video of my presentation at Drupalcon Denver defines the concept of 'user narratives' and shows how they can be used to improve the comfort level for users of an exam registration system. Along the way I describe how this technique allows the UX designer to adapt to 'user roles' and speak to users in the various idiomatic terms that they are used to.

Technical note: The original recording was, hmm, awful - washed out visuals and lots of 60hz electrical hum running through the cables that day. I considered adding a musical sound track underneath it but, well, it is 49 minutes long and nothing I said rhymes. So instead I've done what I can to recover the visuals and make the video somewhat more listenable.


Update: Drupalcon Session Evaluation Results

And I want to share some of the comments I received...

Picture of Michael giving his presentation at Drupalcon DenverWell, the session evaluation results have been made available to the speakers and I have to say I am honoured to have received such positive feedback!

A total of 12 people were kind enough to fill out the evaluation form and gave me an overall average of 95%. Thanks so much!

I’m very pleased to share some of the comments here:

“This is excellent. I develop web applications with Drupal for a large University and I am always trying to improve the user experience. We have staff, faculty, students. In our applications, you can edit your own data or an administrator can edit it for you. The language has always been very generic so as to not confuse anyone too much. Using semantic keys to support role specific idioms is a great idea. I am thinking it might need a slightly different implementation that handles default cases a little better. Peppering the code with .$role also seems really clunky. The string objects render method could respond to the users role in some predefined way. It would be great if there was a Drupal group or an initiative or even just the contributed module you mentioned to get an agreed upon solution in place for Drupal 8. Hopefully you are willing to paint the bike shed as the saying seems to go in the Drupal community. Thanks again for opening my eyes to this and convincing me that this is a good idea.”


(MK: Thanks for those thoughts on the $role variable. I agree that if Drupal supported this concept we could indeed make it more discrete. Great thoughts!  BTW, here's one place where I got out the bike shed paint http://groups.drupal.org/node/154394)


“Please release your module. Had the best ah-ha moment of Drupalcon in this session. Thanks.”

“Best session overall at this DrupalCon (given my focus as an IA). I really would love to see the mentioned module contributed.”

(MK: the Drupal 6 version is available now at http://drupal.org/project/user_narratives. We'll get the D7 version out soon.)


“Great idea! It seemed like the presentation was a little short. I'd love to learn more about a history of who is using this and where to go for more information. What is happening in this field outside of Drupal? There's a bunch more content to talk about.”

(MK: I'd love to talk more about this. Unfortunately I don't have anyone's contact info from this evaluation but if you see this please get in touch and we can keep the conversation going! )


“Great speaker and great presentation. Thank you for doing this presentation. UX is SO important, and SO overlooked in the developer community. Nearly all of your users are NOT developers. Drupal seems to overlook this. Great to have this discussion.”

(MK: Yes, user advocacy is very important. Fortunately the Drupal development community seems to be increasingly aware of this and are always looking for ways to improve the UX. I think conversations like this help with the process. Thanks for your feedback.)


“I was expecting a high level conceptual discussion but I was happily surprised to hear a practical approach which we can implement for our clients. I very much like the described approach and think that developers do not cater to users enough; we often just want to do things the way we want to do things. Thank you for an interesting presentation.”

(MK: I love that phrase 'we often just want to do things the way we want to do things'. My plan is to follow up with some more tips on how to use the User Narratives module. Hopefully that can help you out.)