Drupalcon London - A Themer's Perspective

Ah, the old days. Remember back when you'd go to a Drupalcon or camp and realize there was nothing for themers or anyone with a sense for design and typography? As we all know Drupal hasn't had the best track record for supporting design, but that trend seems to be changing for the best. To put it plainly, I wasn't expecting much from Drupalcon London. But when I checked the schedule, it had a whopping 13 sessions in the design category! That's one session for every time slot (plus one slot with two)! Well that's certainly a good start, but we've all been burned by some pretty awful design-focused sessions - but not this time! I'm pretty sure I went exclusively to sessions in the design category (except for the introspective session I presented) and after just about all of them I felt like I learned a new trick, saw something cool or at the very least left feeling inspired. How rare is that? Well at previous Drupalcons I've left with one, maybe two sessions that have made me feel that way. In particular, our very own Jen Lampton (as well as Bojhan Somers, Angie Byron and Brad Bowman) presented the results of a monumental Drupal 7 usability study they lead at the University of Minnesota. This study revealed some pretty amazing revelations out Drupal 7 from someone who has never built a site in Drupal before. Their session, Minnesota Usability Study: What Do Users Have to Say About Drupal 7?, is definitely worth watching. Another great presentation came in from Maarten Verbaarschot and Terrence Kevin O'Leary - Making your theme scale with your Brand. They brought up many great tips for situations that themers, designers and developers alike can learn from. In it, they gave major props to Chapter Three for our recent rebranding and website redesign. They even called out the work of our own Nica Lorber for her Fireworks template and points presented in Design for Drupal: A Template Approach. A trending topic which showed up in several sessions (including the previous one about brand) was the importance of creating personas. In a nutshell, personas help you illustrate your visitors unique desires and motivations on your website. Rather than go into detail here, I encourage you to check out Nica's recent post, Using Personas to prioritize your site's functionality. All-in-all, Drupalcon London rocked. True, Batman Live at the O2 may have stunk, but everything Drupal-related was the best I've seen in awhile. I had a great time talking to friends and strangers alike and there were some really rock'n sessions! With BADcamp just around the corner and our attendee count getting ever closer to 1000 (793 at time of writing), I'm thankful to have went to London and see the good example they left for us all in the design space. It gives me high hopes for future camps and cons alike!

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