Analyzing DNN9 UX
05 January 2018

Analyzing DNN9 UX

So, I'm going to begin looking at DNN9. I currently use an older version and I've heard mixed reviews of V9. I'm going to be blunt, honest and forthright. Why? Because I want a tool that works for me.

Where I'm coming from

Several years ago, I was teaching a graphic design course at a community college. Oddly, these people who wanted to design amazing things seemed to be unfamiliar with the tools of the trade. The tools got in the way of their work.

Initially, I thought the class was about helping budding designers to grow in their design process. In fact, the class was about how to use the tools of the design world and possibly pack in some design thinking along the way. I'll admit, it was fun. Training people on software or design thougth has always been a blast.

My methodology was to first build proficiency in the tools such that the tools "got out of the way" of the design process. The more confidence the user has in their proficiency with the tool, the more you can deal with mistakes in craft vs execution.

That's what I want to do with DNN!

I want to look at the latest iteration of the DNN product and offer insights from someone who uses it more from a content management perspective THAN a developers' perspective.

Both are valid.

My primary question then becomes: Is DotNetNuke a Content Management System or a Web Development Platform? Maybe it's both. And I think that's okay. But if we're saying it's a CMS, then we need to facilitate the management of content.

I know. Crazy, right?

But the end goal is that we have people wondering why WordPress is "stacking sites up like hunnit dollah bills, y'all," and DNN's only claim to fame among CMS platforms is that it's the single largest opensource CMS on the .Net Plaform.

Maybe I'm working on dated information. But if I'm somewhat innundated in the ecosystem and I still have that perspective, how many more also may not know DNN's core competencies or use cases?

What seems to be going on with DNN?

Yes, DNN has some high profile sites on it's system. With the Dept. of Defense using DNN as their public facing site management, there's something to consider. However, Wordpress is no slouch. With public business speakers and figures like Michael Hyatt promoting the wordpress system, it's easy to see why tons of small business owners who follow them are opting for the system that literally powers more than 1/4th of the web.

Is DNN a pleasure to use? Maybe because many systems help to pace their users in the beginning stages of starting their site, those users don't become overwhelmed by the magnitude of possibilities. In many ways, even large, proprietary systems pace and gamify the process of setting up an environment. LinkedIn and Facebook give suggestions of potential updates on occasion. The second time you login to one of your social media accounts, many show a progress bar and encourage you to complete just a couple extra steps. Maybe this would be a good idea for folks who have a new installation of DNN? Sure, it could be turned off in settings.

Coupled with some visual guide overlays, new users may find the hidden features of DNN to be more discoverable.

I'm hoping to find out.

Since I'm still using DNN7.x and I've only rarely seen DNN9, I think I'm a good user to evaluate the latest version while not being such a novice with the system as to spoil the findings. Also, I hope to find other users (possibly who are accustomed to a competing system) and test how discoverable DNN is to those who may find it alien. Maybe I'm expecting too much.

It's my hope that I can find and offer some insights on how to make the DNN community stronger because the tool we all love is growing. I'm unsure if DNN has adopted an agile methodology and how often they release their iterations. I know we're all excited to hear that things will improve, change and grow under the new leadership. I just hope the change is actual change to build a product that more people will use.


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