Have you ever used an application and found that you loved the user interface? That you actually found the application a pleasure to use? It seems like every year there is a new application or device with a fresh new UI that captures everyone’s attention. A great user experience can elevate an application above its competition.
In 2013 we began work on a project to rethink the DNN administrative experience. The goal of the project was to create an admin UI which was faster and more intuitive for users. The UI needed to be fully isolated from the rest of the site so that the admin design did not interfere with website themes or modules.
The DNN 9 Persona Bar is the third iteration of this admin experience. The Persona Bar in Evoq Social and subsequently in Evoq Content were limited in scope and sought to work out the kinks in the experience before we rolled it out throughout the entire framework.
What is it?
First and foremost, the Persona Bar is a direct replacement for the existing control panel concept. The control panel has historically been used to provide tools for managing your site. The control panel allowed users to perform simple tasks without leaving the current page. Many of the tasks in the control panel could be accomplished from dedicated admin pages, however, navigating to those admin pages often required many different page repaints and completely pulled the user out of the page and content centric experience that is the hallmark of DNN.
The Persona Bar turns the concept of the control panel on its head. The Persona Bar seeks to provide a blazingly fast experience that slides out over the current page and doesn’t cause the user to lose their current context. By creating a super-fast UI, the Persona Bar minimizes the need for shortcuts.
The DNN 9 Persona Bar is a complete framework and container for building administrative tools. Prior to DNN 9, all of the primary admin UIs were built as a series of modules and pages. With DNN 9, admin tools are now hosted completely within the Persona Bar. This simplifies page management and provides for a more consistent and pleasant user experience.
One of the benefits of the page based admin approach used in prior DNN versions, was that it was easy for developers to build new admin tools and add them to the Admin or Host menus. The DNN 9 Persona Bar will also make it easy for developers to include new admin tools using the new Persona Bar extension type. Like all DNN extensions, the host administrator can install, uninstall and configure any Persona Bar extension.
Unlike the control panel, the new Persona Bar includes the ability to give any role access to features installed in the Persona Bar. In DNN 9, these roles will be defined in the database. A future release will include a UI for managing Persona Bar permissions. This role based access provides significant flexibility to Admin tool developers. Now you can enable fine grained access to admin features by allowing roles access to select portions of an admin tool.
What do you Think?
The DNN 9 Persona Bar represents a major change for the DNN admin experience. The new Persona Bar builds on many of the great features of the current control panel while also addressing many of its shortcomings. What do you think? Have you tried the DNN 9 nightly builds yet? If urge you to check them out and let me know what you think of the new Persona Bar.
Bonus: Checkout this recent video by Aderson Oliveira for a quick rundown of the new Persona Bar.