Monday, June 22, 2009

Design Proposal Collection, Lessons Learned

The following text is an excerpt from Community Feedback...

Lessons Learned

So what can be concluded now that the Design Proposal Collection is over? After looking at the individual feedback we got during the proposal collection and thereafter, it seems to have worked well. The weakest points seem to be the schedule and some parts of the documentation.

The initial schedule – two weeks for the working phase – was simply too tight. To be honest, some of us were unsure about that even before we announced the call for proposals. On the other hand, the decision to run it for another week gave us the opportunity to publish more information and to – hopefully – gain more interest in joining our Design Proposal Collection effort.

Concerning the documentation, there were mainly irritations about how the two templates (Impress file, wiki page) relate to each other and what level of detail is required. One idea of a solution could be to use the wiki to announce and point to the proposals, then only fill in the actual idea in the Impress-based template (which we would subsequently extend to include more). Then, somebody could have transferred all the content to a harmonized wiki page.

In a broader view, what are the alternatives to avoid confusion?

  • Simply, reduce the formalism to – hopefully – gain room for further creativity. But this definitely requires more effort to collect, analyze and discuss the ideas.
  • Increase the formalism and the documentation. Although this might restrict creativity and “scare” contributors, it will ease the post-processing of the results.
At the moment, it is unclear which tact would be best, so we'll leave it to be decided anew for each coordinated effort – looking at the focus, the complexity, the resources, etc. each time.Even if we put more emphasis on an effort's focus – there will always be a wide variety of response types from individual community members. In general it can be observed that community members want to share all the ideas they have and they often do so even if they do not fit the question posed. Even for a new Design Proposal Collection it seems that we can only set the expectations. The UX project is happy to serve as a multiplier to stimulate the overall brainstorming process :-) But, having in mind the constantly incoming general UX ideas, the project still lacks a central point to easily collect big and small ideas (not requests for enhancement or feature requests), which can be assessed by the whole community.

Another item is the communication channels – mostly we used blogs and mailing lists. Although this information was somehow “automatically” spread in the open-source community, such natural dissemination takes time. If we plan another effort similar to this one, and especially if there is a rather challenging schedule, then we should directly address the most important online news sites. This might save time and attract more people to join the effort.

Finally, the UX team to express its deepest thanks to all the people involved!

Want to read the full text? Check Community Feedback...

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