Release Highlight: New Design
The main highlight of version 0.28 is the complete redesign of Decidim, both for participant and administrator interfaces.
This mission began with a set of principles guiding the entire process. Let's delve into how we've applied several of these principles:
This design principle suggests that designs should be as simple as possible without sacrificing functionality or ease of use. While Decidim is a complex platform due to the intricacies of democracy, this complexity should not be reflected in the interface. Significant changes have been implemented in the User Interface (UI) to simplify and enhance accessibility.
The redesign focuses on eliminating redundancies, streamlining interaction flows, and optimizing the arrangement of elements to reduce participant cognitive load. All these changes maintain the necessary balance to preserve Decidim's functional richness in deploying democratic processes.
Through discussions with the community about Decidim's main pain points, the need for multiple clicks before reaching participation actions became evident. Improving navigability was crucial. The new "mega" menu facilitates more direct navigation, offering advantages such as:
- Immediate access to spaces and components, reducing the number of clicks needed to navigate between them.
- Highlighting relevant content, improving the visibility of key information at all times.
- Besides enabling direct navigation, the menu acts as a visual breadcrumb, displaying the platform's hierarchical structure. This provides participants with a quick reference to their current location and the path taken, enhancing orientation and contextual understanding during navigation.
Content block layout already existed in some platform sections, such as the main homepage, giving administrators autonomy to display and highlight different content as needed.
We've extended this system to the Processes and Assemblies space and anticipate implementing it throughout the platform, given its potential to offer a highly personalized experience.
Consistency, not Uniformity
Consistency is key for a good user experience, aiming for an intuitive and predictable interface without falling into the trap of uniformity.
A change has been introduced in Decidim's card system to enhance differentiation between components, as the previous design overly homogenized their appearance.
The new cards present a visual structure that highlights the specific features of each component, allowing quick identification of relevant information.
Decidim Design Guide
The Decidim Design Guide (DDG) is a resource for designers and developers needing to customize, develop new modules, or integrate new features.
By sharing the principles, philosophy, and rationale behind design decisions, we aim to empower the community to contribute coherently and achieve the best experience for participants.
Here, we document different interface components and patterns in use, intended for reuse or expansion.
Improvements to Existing Features
The login and account creation form is arguably the most frequently requested area for improvement. As part of our redesign process, we've optimized the required fields for new account registration, thereby reducing the barrier to entry for participation.
Improved Admin Experience
In addition to overhauling the design of the admin panel, we've introduced these enhancements with a focus on Decidim administrators:
- Breadcrumb in the Admin Panel: Navigating through various spaces and components can become challenging without a guide. We've implemented a breadcrumb at the top of the panel so you always know where you are.
- Direct Access to Component General Settings: We know that, as an administrator, adjusting general settings can be painful while working on a specific resource. Now, with a single click on the "Configure" button in the top right corner, you can directly access the general settings.
- Fixed Action Buttons at the Bottom: When working with admin forms, especially lengthy ones, scrolling to the save button at the end of the page can be cumbersome. We've addressed this by keeping the action buttons fixed at the bottom, ensuring they are always visible no matter how far down the page you scroll.
Improved Editing Experience
It's surprising how much a text editor can impact our web experience. Whether proposing, creating a debate, or managing any instance of Decidim, the text editor becomes the primary interaction interface.
So, the new text editor is also an improvement in usability and participation experience. After extensive discussions on the best alternative to the current editor, we've integrated the TipTap text editor.
The new editor includes some extra features compared to the previous one:
- Automatic formatting of pasted content: try pasting a YouTube URL, for example, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f6JMgJAQ2tc.
- Markdown shortcuts: Try writing a header in the editor by starting the text with ## + SPACE and then continuing to write your header. You can also try writing bold text using two asterisks, followed by some text and then two asterisks again, for example, this text is bold.
- Character counter: You can test it from the participant's side when submitting a new proposal.
- Hashtag support: Try it, for example, with a new proposal.
- Editing existing embedded content: Double-click on existing embedded content, be it images or videos, to edit it.
Better Spam Control
Version 0.28 brings improvements to spam control, a persistent issue on all digital platforms. Spam not only represents a nuisance for participants but can also compromise the platform's integrity and security.
The widespread presence of such content worsens interaction quality, dilutes the relevance of genuine contributions, and can ultimately undermine participants' trust in the platform. In this version, we've implemented measures to filter and curb spam propagation, including:
- Reporting and blocking unwanted content in a single action: Allows any admin or moderator to report and hide any spam content in a single click from the user interface, without accessing the admin panel.
- Reporting and blocking spam profiles along with all their content in a single action: Enables any admin or moderator to report and block profiles along with their content from the user interface
The Consultations space was initially developed to address a specific need in the city of Barcelona. The ultimate goal was to provide Decidim with a voting system backed by cryptographic guarantees. In 2023, we collaborated with Vocdoni to integrate their blockchain-based protocol into voting processes. The result is a module available in both version 0.28 and earlier versions.
So, it's time to bid farewell to the Consultations space. However, for organizations preferring to hold their assemblies without additional voting security, we've included in the 2024 roadmap the development of a feature to easily enable this.
About this Version and What's to Come
Certainly, version 0.28 has been the most time and energy-intensive release in Decidim's history. Redesigning a complex platform was no simple task. Nevertheless, as our social contract dictates, the aim is to continuously improve the technical layer to make it the best political tool.
In addition to the teams involved in this process (product, design, and development), the community has played a key role in thinking, debating, and validating the new Decidim. The result is the culmination of the work, care, and dedication of many people.
To all of you, thank you! ❤️