So I decided to try out SilveStripe (Version 2.3.3) to check out if it's of any value for me as a freelance web developer. I'm kind of an expert in Drupal, I also work with Plone, and lately I'm very interested in usability and I do track initiatives in the Drupal and Plone community to give users a better experience. I know that feedback of a first-time user is valuable so I thought I'd write down my impressions of SilverStripe right away.
On the SilverStripe homepage I found the big download button (actually I searched for "Downloads" or something in the main navigation first and it took me a second to find the blue thing on the right) and then got my stable version. I extracted it in the web root of my machine, renamed the folder to "SilverStripe" and then searched for installation instructions. In the silverstripe.org main navigation I clicked on "Help" and after skimming all of the options I clicked in "Documentation". There I found the Installing link under "Installation". There I got confused for a few seconds by the platform-dependent instructions but then I realized that this is about setting up the basic web stack, which I,of course, already have so down to "Existing Webservers" > Apache. Ok, the Installation Steps tell me that there's nothing to do but open a browser and enter the URL. Well, I know, you always have to set up a database first so
CREATE DATABASE silverstripe; and then open the browser.
I had one usability issue with the layout of the installation screen. I was not sure about the "steps", where I was and what would be next. Major confusion was the placement of the button to proceed which is somewhere at the top but not at the very top of the form/page. I scrolled down to read and check everything and I expected a kind of "next" button at the bottom.
All in all, the install process was very easy, went smoothly and I could find all the information I needed. I seems as if the download button at the top right of the site is supposed to be very prominent but to me it was not. Of course this is not a big issue at all. As of the installation instructions there could be a shortcut, like: If you already have your server set up, just extract SilverStripe to your web root, create a database and point your browser to the new SilverStripe URL. The automatic installer will guide you through the setup. The layout of the installer is a major (but not critical) issue to me. There should be some overview of the steps and the button should be somewhere else with better wording.
- Don't pre-populate the admin password - it's insecure and users won't "remember" the password as they didn't enter it in the first place