Many of the top Moodle HQ engineers, including Moodle creator Martin Dougiamas, held a Hangout recently. The subject was theme and navigation for Moodle 3.2 and its recording is available to everyone.
A discussion on navigation, usability and design is, for many in the moodleverse, an urgent one. Martin himself admitted it: “We have a problem. When people look at Moodle out of the box, they say: wow, this looks old”.
Moodle is the result of millions of collaborations over the years. It is no surprise that many contributors have come up with hundreds of beautiful and practical themes. But the current design hinders usability, and thus widespread adoption. New users should not have to install plugins for their Moodle to become usable. A new set of design principles will not only make Moodle intuitive “out of the box”, it will also make it easier for designers to create their own new flavors of Moodle.
The discussion followed along the page for Theme and Navigation Project 3.2, which Daymon Wiese from Moodle HQ had written, previous to the meeting. The topics included:
- A theme-independent testing framework, so developers don’t take extra time adapting it.
- Navigation. Arguably the core of the conversation. Moodle needs to become intuitive, both in its layout and in the guiding rules for path and workflow design. This would take Moodle from an administrative tool to a learning experience enhancer for all levels of skill.
- Expanding the session system to allow the user to be logged in for more than one course simultaneously. A unified dashboard of events and assignments from all active courses is also a possibility.
- Focus on content. Take prominence out of supporting blocks, especially when the student is facing a task that benefits from focus.
- A distinct, modern visual standard that is appealing and reinforces the Moodle brand positively.
- Improve navigation standards for settings. The “gear” icon should be always in the same place (top right corner, for example). And no matter if it opens settings for activities, sections or plugins, it should behave the same way.
- A high level of customization options without the need of new themes.
- If possible, prevent existing themes and plugins from “breaking”. Standards will improve usability and development, perhaps at the cost of compatibility with many existing plugins. Maybe it is worth it in the long run to capture the hearts of learning professionals, developers and especially designers.
Update: You can even try out a concept based on Bootstrap 4 at http://prototype.moodle.net/theme/.
The conversation is only starting. The Moodle page for the discussion includes the links for each individual topic, except the last. You are welcome to join.
Share your impressions of the kick-off with us!