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Making users happy


Eduard Nicodei
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8 members have voted

  1. 1. How often do you think of ways the software/tools you use could be improved?

    • Never: I never see ways in which the programs I use could be improved.
      0
    • Rarely: Mostly its bugs that annoy me and I wish they could be fixed.
      2
    • Often: I usually notice when software isn't how I like it and I think of ways to change it.
      5
    • Always: I love to configure every option for my tools. I notice quickly when I don't like something and I quickly go to the documentation to find out if I can fix it.
      1
  2. 2. How in control do you feel when updating your operating system (or parts or it)? NOTE: to avoid biases, please imagine you HAVE to update packages when a new version is available

    • I can do basic configuration, but mostly I'm at the mercy of what the developers choose to release next.
      2
    • I can configure most if not all aspects of my OS, but I'm still annoyed when the configuration doesn't allow for a specific option and I have to do workarounds.
      3
    • I can read/tweak the source code for some of the packages. If I don't like something, I can sometimes patch it by myself.
      3
    • I can read/modify the source for most if not all of the packages that I use. If an update breaks something, or I am unhappy with it, I will revert the commit that caused it, restoring previous functionality.
      0


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tl;dr: want my voice heard through more surveys.

 

Hi all,

 

I was reading about the new Kickstarter campain of Operating System U. Its basic premise is that it should provide a familiar and well known interface to users. Indeed, people don't like it when things change.

 

Leaving that aside, it got me thinking: "why do these changes, that make the people unhappy, happen in the first place"?

 

I think there could be a few examples of "new technologies that people don't like", think for example systemd, Gnome3, Windows 8, each time Youtube's interface gets upgraded or one's favourite API becomes deprecated. If one looks past the objective performance/usability changes, the reason some people don't like these programs might be simply because they change how things are done.

 

So why does that happen? The only reason I could come up with is how we do development: developers develop for some time and then release to the public. But if the public's response is one of anger and frustration, then the developers start arguing for why their release is better (faster, smaller, less bugs, more features etc). But notice how now we're arguing about two different things?

One camp has the problem that they don't understand the new API / interface.

The other camp has the problem that the first camp says the software is s**t.

But these are different.

 

So my first question is: do you think the above is something that happens? - for all I know I might be completely out of sync with reality so better take things one step at a time... :)

 

If it indeed is a problem, how can it be solved?

Again, one solution I could come up with is having surveys. Yes, surveys. Generally every respectable hotel you go to will have a feedback form. Every university course will have a feedback form at the end. Commercial websites will ask you to do surveys when visiting their website so they can "improve user experience". Could this be applied to opensource projects as well? Other commercial products invest in Human-Computer-Interaction (HCI) research, again to improve their product - why? Because developers aren't very good at making HCI-related decisions.

 

What would happen if opensource projects had an easy way for regular users to send feedback?

What if we used something like Ubuntu's brainstorming, where users could post improvements and vote on them? Could this be done right though? Could new or uninformed users make bad suggestions?

 

Note I'm not talking about bugs (broken things), but rather improvements if only extremely slightly. We of course have ways of users to suggest improvements. But why not ask them?

 

Why not ask users what they want, or what they think of feature X, or what they think of feature X given that feature X is awesome because such-and-such?

 

Why do this? Because it will make software better for the user. It is debatable whether it will make it better for its developer, however I think that people are first users and then developers. By making software more user-friendly we encourage users to use our software and chances are some of them will contribute back, thereby further improving it.

 

Now as I mentioned, this is something that popped randomly into my head so I might be horribly wrong.

If not, may I propose that we have polls with possible new features that could be added to Funtoo forums? One such poll might even be if such polls are a good idea :)

 

Also, thanks for reading!

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Edit: I wrote a rather lengthy opinion on System U, and later realized it derails from the topic, and I care more about the topic so I put in a spoiler.

 

 

 

 

The idea of System U is good but just the concept, the project is lacking many things, one of them is realism and to know what they are doing, I see it failing to be just another distro with a maintenance nightmare of forks, maybe it will be for people with ADHD, since quoting its 'founder'(I don't know the proper term for people that do a kickstart)

'I'm Andrew Bernstein, 17-year-old high-school student from Short Hills, NJ. I also have ADHD and I'm not a very flexible person. I really just don't like change.'

And you know it will be quoting: 'Fully Customizable'...' From changing the cursor theme to adding an entire dock, everything between, and beyond, we make it possible for everyone to have an ideal system with seamless functionality.'

<sarcasm> Woahh!!! do they mean I will be able to change how my desktop looks, awesome! In the 6+ distros I've ever tried I was never able to do that </sarcasm> (I even did it with windows google bblean)

 

We funtoo/gentoo users do know what is 'Fully Customizable', really, I think he just need a psychologist to assist him dealing with his ADHD, you know, this world as a whole will always change. I really don't know why he doesn't just use debian-stable and contributes there, sounds like his perfect distro. Please don't think I dismiss him because he's a kid, I'm not old either, I know other people is involved and there are geniuses in this world.

 

 

Lets contribute to the discussion, and share some ideas about that thing people names 'User experience' and I agree with you on the concept of surveys, or something like that, but ultimately, one can't generalize the concept of 'users', there are many different types of users, and a person uses a computer as means to do something, not because of using the computer(but I bet many of us *ntoo users do exactly that), so the 'tools' used that achieve the main goal of the user, are the essential part as I see it, so efforts to make well designed tool-chains for different use cases, I think would be a better approach(eg. office, graphics edition, CAD, Business management), and take someone who isn't a power-user, and I think these are the majority, and put a launcher in his desktop for his 'work' tools, a web-brower, and a file manager for him to copy files to USB pen-drives, I bet you will have a happy user most of the time. In this regard I see the fedora spins as a really good Idea, I also always see many people saying windows is easier to use for 'end users', but really how many people you know that actually 'know how to use it', and don't just click any OK button that gets in their way, and yes, they break things this ways sometimes.

 

So, it is my opinion use cases, a profile of a set of regular users of a specific tool-chain, surveys made to people that actually uses the software, would be better directions for developers. I think many times, FOSS developers just scratch their own itches, thus making not really well planned and studied changes, that might be a headache for a user who might have never needed the new change(feature), and I know many times for a developer, to make that 'well planned' change requires time, which many FOSS contributors don't have because they do these new features in their free time, I think fund-raising to hire paid developers to improve/make/integrate tool-chains *UPSTREAM*(I really want to emphasize that) wold make the FOSS world much better than more distro fragmentation.

 

I have written too much, for this post, so I leave sharing a video-conference on User Experience, that taught me some very useful things I will apply as a developer, http://youtu.be/ 7OSkB4BCx00 (remove the space).

PD: Excuse my English, I'm not a native speaker.

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This whole issue boils down to the insatiable rush to the mobile world. We can take the example of the advancement in the UI, the win7 (Mate) when win8 (Gnome 3.x). win8 (Gnome 3.x): Focus to mobile devices (touch screen), internet, leisure, music, photos, totally home user ... ^_^  

 

So the biggest problem and impact is for professionals who work seriously - Engineers, Programmers, Systems Analysts, Designers ... These depend on PCs, normal screens, mouse, keyboard. This subject reminds me of something very comical, if you're realizing how much has been problematic and controversial withdrawal from the start menu in win8 ... So to have announced the news to win9 with majestic launch: The "Return of the Start Menu" ...  :lol: 

 

PD: Excuse my English, I'm not a native speaker?

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  • 2 weeks later...

I have a talent for noticing cracks in foundations, so I quickly notice if a software doesn't have the features I need or features it should have. I do okay at configuring my system, and for what I can't seem to figure out right away, the internet is just a search away from a solution.

 

As for updates, I wouldn't mind updating reguarly. I'm a bit of a junkie when it comes to bleeding edge stuff.

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