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Goin’ ’bout things tha wrong way ’round?

I was trolling the internet tonight (I want a nice ajax-y image gallery for Drupal — thumbnails on one side, nice big picture on the other), and I came across this interesting article:

Project outline and UI Design for an AJAX-powered Image Gallery Module

Okay, let’s leave the fact that he’s using ‘scribd’ aside… This presents a rather novel approach to problem solving:

Step 1: Acknowledge the existence of a problem and quantify it.

Step 2: Define the UI to solve the problem.

Step 3: Hammer out the technical side of everything, keeping the problem (step 1) and the UI (step 2) in mind throughout.

Step 4: Profit!

Okay… I just threw Step 4 in for giggles.

This is a huge issue in Open Source (I love my Debian box, but I gotta admit my Mac does things more elegantly…) and for Drupal specifically. Anyone who has used Drupal for more than about a month knows that it can do pretty much anything. (Make some toast? You bet. Just install toaster.module) The problem with Drupal is finding which particular switch, in which arcane location, is going to fix whatever problem it is that you have.

And let’s face it: Being nerds usually means that we fixate on Step 3 a lot more than we fixate on Step 2.

And yes, I prefer the term ‘nerd’ to ‘geek’. Ask me why some day.

Which brings me to the second bit of light reading for the evening, courtesy of the kind folks over at Smashing Magazine:

7 Essential Guidelines For Functional Design

Yeah, a lot of it is stuff we all know already, but it still stands as a decent reminder of how to get things done, and how to evaluate if we’ve succeeded in our goals.

Oh… and I eventually had to punt on the ajax-y gallery, and went with this one. Jury’s still out. I welcome suggestions.

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