Design 4 Drupal

Hudson at Design 4 Drupal

My 5-month old, at D4D

Grid Talk

This past weekend, I had the privilege of speaking in Boston at Design 4 Drupal, an un-conference meet-up graciously hosted by MIT. I co-presented Accelerated Grid Theming alongside Todd Nienkerk, on how to use the NineSixty theme, a port of for use in Drupal. I dare say it was quite well received.

I mostly covered the generalities of grid design, and what inspired me to make a prototyping / design / CSS framework in the first place. Todd took it from there, and described all the nuances that go into the actual theme, built expertly by Joon Park, who those in the Drupal community know as dvessel. In all likelihood, I will incorporate back into the framework the extensions he made.

I was surprised / humbled / honored that the event organizers moved our presentation from one of the classrooms to the largest lecture hall at the MIT Stata Center. They also bumped all other sessions to different time slots, essentially giving us the monopoly on attendees. As far as I know, the majority of those present attended our talk. One might argue the cause and effect of that scenario, but I think it was due to the level of interest in our material…

More than one attendee said they thought the sessions here were better than at DrupalCon. With keynotes by Jeff Robbins and Jay Batson and huge sessions like the one on the 960 grid by Nathan Smith, the creator of 960, and Todd Nienkerk it's hard not to feel this way.

Matt Farina

I really had a great time, and the session from nathansmith and toddross for was great, and I think that was obvious by the fact it got moved to the larger lecture hall! It seems like is truly set to take over the grid system, and become very well adopted by the Drupal community.

Jake Strawn

For me, the highlight was hearing the creator of the 960 Grid System, Nathan Smith speak with Todd Nienkerk… There was such a large interest in the presentation that the organizers had to move it to a larger room. I feel as though it is a tribute to the Drupal community to have such a person as Nathan getting excited about Drupal and sharing his thoughts on how to integrate his incredible grid system into Drupal. His authentic interest in understanding what it means to be Drupal, as a developer or designer, is inspiring to say the least.

Jason Savino


Overall, I learned a lot at the conference - how to wrangle Drupal to output just about any markup imaginable, several theme tips and tricks, and I also saw a demo of a cool new module called Skinr. The one thing that surprised me the most was though people are obviously passionate about their respective roles: designer / developer - ego was not really a big factor. The spirit of amicability and mutual knowledge sharing abounded. Steve Merrill said it best…

On the Bolt Bus back from the Drupal Design Camp in Boston. Drupal's great software, but the community is the real secret sauce.

Acquia - Jay Batson

I saw this not only from the attendees, but also from several of the big-name presenters. For instance, I was able to have a great conversation with Acquia co-founder Jay Batson who went out of his way to sit down and pick my brain about my thoughts on Drupal from an outsider perspective. That is, someone who is new to the system but has dealt with designing for other CMS platforms. He asked me to let him know of any pain-points, and to feel free to make suggestions on how to improve things for designers in the future.

Geeks & God

I would be remiss if I did not also mention the guys from Geeks & God. After all, if not for G&G co-host Matt Farina inviting / prodding me to speak at MIT, I probably wouldn't have experienced this awesome gathering of designers. He and Rob Feature were kind enough to do a 30 minute segment with me, where we talked about Drupal, grid design, and the advancements we're making at Fellowship Tech stemming from our developer site and RESTful API.


A lot of discussion was had around how to make Drupal increasingly designer friendly, especially with the upcoming release of version 7 and its focus on UX. Jay Batson challenged the attendees to split up into groups and envision what could be done to help the greater Drupal community embrace good design. He even went so far as to volunteer time, money, and bandwidth via - which appears to already be up and running.

Discussions from the weekend have continued to be fleshed out, around a possible design centered aspect to the main Drupal site itself. Regardless of how that pans out, the cool thing is that design is being given due consideration.