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Product UX update

There is a team behind the scenes that continues to push for greater user experiences across the SilverStripe sites. Read what they have been working on and learn about some of their favourite tools for creating high quality user experiences.

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At SilverStripe we have a small sub team of 3 people (Jared Lee, Sacha Judd and myself Paul Clarke) who on a daily basis work to improve the user experience of SilverStripe products, and are very privileged in that we get to work with some super talented people on a huge variety of things.

Paul Jared and Sacha from the UX Product teamWe work with a much larger team who play a huge part in the development and experience of SilverStripe products (CMS, SilverStripe Platform, Common Web Platform)—I also like to include the SilverStripe community as part of that team when the CMS is concerned.

We’ve been busy over the last year, working on all sorts of things and we thought it would be good to share a few highlights.

Tools we use

In the last few years we’ve made some major changes to the design tools we use, and we’re quite happy with our move to Sketch + InVision as our base tools. A vital part of our design workflow has also been improved with the use of Abstract for managing the collaboration and merging of designs from our team.

The power of Sketch really shines through when using plugins, we are always on the lookout for tools which will help improve our design workflow, a few of our favourites include the following:

SilverStripe CMS Design System

We’re in the process of creating a Design System which provides guidance, helps us quickly prototype and allows us to share ideas with our peers for features and improvements, including module designs and direction.

The most common styles for the CMS like text, colours, and icons used within our design files are synced with the CMS living style guide for easy reference (using Design System Manager). The original design files are available on GitHub along with the CMS software for you to experiment with and use for developing your own SilverStripe CMS concepts.

Our design libraries will feed into a CMS component based pattern library being built by SilverStripe’s open source team, although still in its infant stages it's already packaged into the CMS code base for you to check out.

Elemental content block module

We have been working on some major improvements to the base of Elemental so that the experience is more integrated into the interface of the CMS for the likes of editing, adding, historic views and some of the more popular blocks so that they can be extended and built upon by the community. This is a pretty exciting area for us as this work will transform the CMS and empower its users.

SilverStripe Platform interface

As part of our work we also get into the front-end code a bit so we’ve improved SilverStripe Platform and the CWP Dashboard accessibility and clarity to the user. Although this is part of the normal development process, there are times when it's good to reassess all of the individual features and realign the parts that have wondered in a different direction. We are part way through reducing the amount of variations between views, ensuring colours and typography have sufficient contrast, providing consistent table views and decluttering as we go.

Research on content collaboration

On behalf of the Common Web Platform (CWP), we are in the process of doing some research to understand how content teams go about creating, editing, and publishing and investigating areas for collaboration that we can improve. This research has been mostly interview based within the New Zealand public sector but we have also included the private sector as a sanity check to see if there are many differences. A report of our finding will be out soon and made available to CWP.

There will also be a survey on the same topic which will be distributed through the SilverStripe Research Panel for those that would like to help provide more insights to our research.

Share your thoughts by taking part in our survey 

CMS user help guides

Updating the CMS user help is the next challenge for the team, and we are looking forward to seeing how we can bring the level up to meet the mark of SilverStripe 4.

That’s all for now, if you have any questions about our work or this post leave a comment below.

About the author
Paul Clarke

Paul has a solid background in the design industry and brings a fusion of creative flair and technical knowledge to his projects.

He joined the SilverStripe design team after returning from Hong Kong, where he worked as a graphic designer and front-end developer. With a background in graphic design, web development and commercial print, 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/applications and his aim is just that–improve the web. He has enjoyed many overseas adventures–including an 8-year stint in Europe and looks forward to seeing more of the world with his family.

In his spare time, Paul enjoys water sports (both melted and frozen), riding his classic 1978 Motorbike and hanging with his family.

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