Overheard at Quora: “Why after all these years is Moodle still so ugly?”

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b35852ab9e6d4fabc89bdeb818d31d7bQuora is a community generated question and answer site where you can get pretty much any question (no matter how loaded or rhetorical) answered. Recently someone posted “Why after all these years is Moodle still so ugly?” and a few ventured to answer. Recently, Martin Dougiamas stepped up and provided his own answer which I believe is 1. spot on and 2. helps to set the stage with a forward looking perspective. Read on and vote it up if you agree,

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Well I can assure you it’s not arrogance!  I don’t know a single Moodle developer who feels that the Moodle interface is the best it can be.  We use all the same other software you use and probably feel much like you do about Moodle.

But, Moodle is a complicated system with many layers and while it’s tempting to compare it to other things you need to remember it’s simply way more complex than nearly anything else –  more than Facebook, Twitter, Drupal, WordPress, or any app etc etc.

So changes to the system take hard work and time.   I would love it if we had loads of UX specialists at our disposal full-time but we just don’t.   Remember Moodle is open source and most people pay us nothing for it.   We need to focus on a lot of different areas such as stability, performance, backend functionality, education features, accessibility, standards etc as well, so the UX work is always a subset of our work.

That said the frontend is a major priority for us, and if you haven’t looked at Moodle recently you might be surprised by all the improvements in recent versions.   We’re also making a lot of changes to how themes work so that designers can produce ever-more awesome responsive themes so that we give admins more options.

Note: some implementations of Moodle look terrible not because of Moodle itself but because of the choices that the admins have made in their themes and in the features they chose to turn on or off.   Moodle is very customisable so some responsibility always lies on the person customising it and upgrading it.