In yesterday’s entry, I announced the launch of a new mailing list dedicated to usability in Open Source software. However, I had not clearly stated goals. Here are some of my thoughts on what we could accomplish.
In this first step, we would highlight good and bad usability issues with major open source products. However, part of this requires an effort in terms of figuring out quick wins in terms of fixes vs. things that may take longer to fix. The idea here is to highlight some of the basic best practices that open source users might consider.
This is probably going to be tricky but what I’d like to see arise out of discussion is the possibility of creating a document (or set of documents) that could help open source developers get a better understanding of usability issues. This might help in educating the community as to what to think of when creating new tools.
This is another difficult point to address but there needs to be good communication as to what can be done to fix a problem. And, moving forward, communication regarding successful implementation of more usable features in an open source product. If, every time a new version of open source software comes out, it shows improvements in terms of making it easier for people to use, we should try to highlight that. The best and worst issues list will go some of the way but we need to define a clear communication strategy to tout the ease of use of open source products in front of the press and of potential users. This will allow to get over the mental barrier that open source products are generally difficult to use.
This is just a start and I hope it will kick off discussions on the list. In the meantime, why not subscribe to the list!