This past weekend marked a turning point for the relatively young Design 4 Drupal (D4D) camp. Over the past several years, D4D has suffered from an identity crisis as it attempted to grow attendance from a (seemingly) developer-heavy pool of Drupal enthusiasts. Boston's lack of an existing camp gave developers little choice if they wanted to satisfy their desire to meet up with others in the Drupal community. As a result, D4D has traditionally offered sessions that span the design and development disciplines. As a result, this has watered down the camp's main goal of attracting more designers to the Drupal movement and help promote the improvement of the Drupal framework through better user interface (UI), user experience (UX) and anchoring it in more sound design principles.
This year, however, marked a turning point. A conscious decision was made after D4D 2012 to focus session content on design topics (SASS, CSS, Theming, Principles & Workflow, Prototyping, UX, UI). Take Amy Kosh's session on the Logic of Color and Design: A welcomed departure from traditional camp sessions focusing on the core principles of color spaces gently wrapped in the Drupal design workflow. Another session highlighted the importance of structured content while yet another referred back noting the fact that content is, in fact, part of the design and not a separate entity left for clients to enter after the site is complete.
At the end, organizers and those interested in volunteering next year gathered to discuss what worked and what could be improved. Out of this came the idea of attracting developers less likely to attend a design-oriented camp through a challenge: What if we facilitated a design sprint with the goal of having a Drupal core (or individual) design-related issue worked on by a developer? By the end of the camp, designers would have their issue improved or fixed with exposure to the patching/debugging process while developers could gain insight on how their work is valued by designers. I think this idea has merit and should be pursued.
I am a developer with an appreciation for design and D4D 2013 was a welcomed refreshment during the hot Boston summer weekend. I recommend more developers come next year in order to improve their relationships with clients, designers and their own code that would otherwise remain dormant without a design to bring it to life.