Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Vacation the UX way

After Easter, I spent three days with my second family … namely the Sun UX team in Hamburg :-) As always, I enjoyed to share my time with them very much since everyone was so unbelievably kind. An example? Frank, the UX lead, interrupted his vacation for one day to join me at their office to work – and joke – with us.

Since there are no group photos like last year let's start the blog posting with “Hamburg at night”... :-)

As you may have figured out, our primary goal was to work on the “Design Proposals for Accessing Functionality” which was announced by Liz one week ago. Together, we worked out the motivation, the goals, the design principles and the procedure in general. Funnily, the procedure we had in mind originally was much more cumbersome.

In the beginning, we came up with a rather complex but powerful status indication for each of the design proposals. Several state transitions, some roles (e.g. author, reviewer), etc. But when we looked at it midways, the whole concept seemed it would hinder the contributors instead of being fun. So our whole concept got a diet and the slimmed down result is online at Design Proposals for "Accessing Functionality".

So please, this is your opportunity to improve OpenOffice.org - like Liz mentioned some days before. Because ...

Another topic we discussed was the User Experience project in general. We tried to sum up our current status: How successful are our contributions? Is there room for improvement? How do other projects integrate UX in the development process? Are there any lessons learned we can benefit from? Are our contributors satisfied? How to integrate established UX methods within our team? Many questions...

Until now, there is no conclusion to this discussion. But it might be interesting for you to look how the other open-source projects work, e.g.: The Drupal 7 User Experience Project, The Ubuntu Desktop Team, The KDE Usability Project, … Feel free to make comments or share your insights on what you think is good or bad, either by using our mailing list ux-discuss or by dropping us (Frank or me) a mail.

One thing that still drives me, is to get much more people to participate in our community. People who simply want to share their thoughts and give us some feedback, but being unfamiliar with e.g. the Issue Tracker (which is a great tool for experts) or mailing lists (which do not only provide qualitative data but the required quantifications). So in Hamburg we also talked about the pros and cons of IdeaTorrent, which is also covered in the Wiki at OpenOffice.org Idea Handling. (For the lazy ones like me, here is the shortcut to a mockup once made by Ivan.) We came to the conclusion that we might just try it... But beforehand, I will do a heuristic evaluation to judge the usability/usefulness of the tool. Stay tuned!

Next topic, we discussed how we could further promote Project Renaissance to inform our user base, to attract more people to provide their ideas, and to ask developers to support our tooling. Here are some ideas for topics we came up with:

  • How was Project Renaissance organized withing the whole community and communicated via the press

  • How did we address User Centered Design (UCD) in Project Renaissance

  • What are the results of the UCD in Project Renaissance (e.g. Surveys, User Feedback Program, …)

  • What does prototyping mean and how is it used in Project Renaissance?

  • How to collect further ideas in the community via IdeaTorrent (if we give IdeaTorrent a try)

During those days, we worked out a proposal to present some of our work at the LinuxTag in Berlin – one of the most successful open-source conferences in Europe. From my point-of-view, this would be a great chance to present OpenOffice.org and some of our current activities to a broader audience. Keep your fingers crossed! *g*

Phew, what else? I had the chance for some great (and sometimes intensive) discussions with e.g. Stella Schule, Mathias Bauer, Martin Hollmichel, Oliver-Rainer Wittmann, Malte Timmermann, Christian Jansen, …Thank you all! Of course, the main topic was (guess!) Renaissance and the way we currently collect and analyze the data. But there were also other more general discussions, like how to drive the whole community – and why I think we are lacking general goals. If you don't know what I'm talking about, then please answer a little question: What are the main goals of the community and the software OpenOffice.org? I'm sure you understand ;-)

Looking back, it was the right decision to take some days off to work closely with the Sun UX team – sitting next to each other instead of being virtually connected. Not to forget the great pleasure of getting to know Liz and her great sense of humor. So knowing each other even better, I'm confident that this stay will help us to better work within the community.

Community? Next time, my personal wish is to get more community participation. Maybe there is a chance to organize one or two days dedicated to UX before or after the OOoCon this year. Opinions, anyone?

That's it! Have a nice day,


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