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These are exciting days with the initial upgrades to the SilverStripe community website,, now underway. Here's a little information to keep you up to speed with what's going on. has been due for an upgrade for some time, and now it's time to roll up the sleeves and get in there. Not only is the site code becoming out-of-date, the design could also use a refresh to reflect the vibrant community that drives it. That's you. However, the ultimate vision hasn't changed and we are going to continue building a place that the community can learn from each other, share ideas, and connect.

At the end of 2012, we did some user testing to get specific feedback about how could be improved. Some of the results were not that surprising but confirmed some of our initial thoughts and gave us a clear direction for improvement.

The main problem areas included:

  • Content is out-of-date, and is sometimes too lengthy or too brief
  • The information architecture is complex and misleading
  • The site needs to be more engaging
  • The visual design is outdated and not optimised for devices
  • Some user groups lack support and information.

The key issue was navigation between the suite of sites that underpin the community. User groups couldn't clearly distinguish where they should be going when using sites under the umbrella. We found the information architecture didn't flow and therefore navigation wasn't clear, especially for new SilverStripe users. This was true regardless of whether users were technically minded or not.

What's happening

Using Agile Scrum (splashes of Lean UX), and with a dedicated team, we recently started improvements on the overall user experience of the community site and we think you'll like the direction in which we're taking it.

Based on user feedback, we've created a new information architecture and improved the content of the site. Further, we're using an adaptive design pattern to allow modular management of content. We've built the site in a way which will allow the suite of sites to be integrated as required, to provide better user flow between the sites.

We've set a go-live date for the beginning of August for the main content section of With this initial release we want to be as flexible as possible to allow for community feedback that might further improve the user experience.

Looking ahead

There will be more to come after the initial launch in August, so watch this space. We aim to do user testing at several stages and refine the user experience accordingly, so make sure you have your say upfront, or send us your feedback once it's live.

Future releases may include:

  • Improved add-ons/modules area
  • Learning material (tutorials/screencasts) for content authors, frontend developers, and developers
  • Integrate documentation, API documentation and CMS user help into front-end.
  • Improvements to the forum, user showcase, and developer directory

As a UX designer and front-end developer this site build was initially challenging, but from all the feedback we've had so far it's also proving very rewarding. We hope the site will be just as pleasing for the community, if not more so. This is only the first step in many to come, so stay informed.

About the author
Paul Clarke

Paul joined the SilverStripe design team after returning from Hong Kong, where he worked as a graphic designer and front-end developer. He studied both graphic design and web development and, combined with his previous commercial print experience, he brings a great deal of versatility to his role.

Paul believes there's plenty of room for improvement to both the functionality and aesthetics of most websites and his aim is just that–improve the web. His many overseas adventures–including an 8 year stint in Europe–have created a desire to be at home in New Zealand, getting back to his roots.

In his spare time Paul enjoys water sports (both melted and frozen) including snowboarding, snow-kiting, kite-surfing, and standup paddle boarding with his partner and surfing dog. His ideal day is full of sport and ends with good food accompanied by a good glass of wine with friends.