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This is the preliminary page for sketching out the user pages requirements. More content soon!

Web site competitive analysis

Any work to improve the OOo site should start with a Competitor Web Site Analysis.


However, before doing such an analysis, one shall study methods employed in such an analysis. There are several excellent references on the net:

How to perform the analysis

Before analyzing which are the best type of (competitive) sites, wouldn't it be worth taking a look at what might be wrong with the existing OOo site? Competitive sites might be making the same mistakes!

Analyze the content of support requests for the last year on the mail list, forum, and irc. Include any other source of questions and queries for support. E.g. google for external sites and blogs to see what kind of advice/support that they feel is necessary to give to OO users.

I would think the mail list, forum and irc analysis would have to be done by someone (moderator, web master etc.) who has access to the backends of these lists.

I would bet that 75% of the questions are largely repetitive and that 50% of all questions could be solved in the initial web site pages.

We should have a list of those questions. Having them in histogram form could be useful.

Regards Bill Case

User:Kschenk Maybe even utilizing a simple tool like Google Analytics might help?

Who's the competition?

Microsoft Office
IBM Symphony
Star Office
BillCase 19:13, 15 November 2007 (CET) Couldn't find any other "Office Suite" competitors. Maybe there is something more under different search criteria.

What to analyze

Mission Statement

I do not usually believe in mission statements. My experience is that they are usually fluff philosophy, sanitized to meaninglessness by committees and corporate bureaucrats. Having said that perhaps the User Pages Requirements section needs such a statement. For reference I have added some mission statements I have found on the OOo site:

Mission Statement
User Support Project addresses the obvious need for a project dedicated to facilitating discussions and capturing the knowledge generated there. For now, the project is just starting but more will be added to this space as we have more people join.

Mission Statement: March 15, 2004
To create, as a community, the leading international office suite that will run on all major platforms and provide access to all functionality and data through open-component based APIs and an XML-based file format.

Mission Statement
Marketing Project Last updated 2002 January 04
The marketing project is dedicated to furthering the growth and use of throughout the world. We believe that provides the best development and support environment and software for businesses and individuals, and our efforts are focused on broadcasting that belief.

BillCase 19:35, 17 November 2007 (CET)

The Fluster Factor
Not only do site/page designers have to deal with the misunderstandings and confusion of normal rational users, they must also overcome the deficiencies of the flustered and the simply stupid.

I have made reference to the "Fluster(-ed) Factor" elsewhere. To quote myself:

"Being flustered the first time one downloads, installs or uses a new application and/or operating system is something that can happen to us all -- no matter how intelligent or techno-savvy one is. It is an emotional state brought on by FUD (fear, uncertainty and doubt).

Microsoft and others may spread and enhance FUD in order to keep their clients from trying another OS or Office Suite, but they do not create it. It is a normal human emotional reaction to gambling on something that *may* have a steep learning curve; *may* be (to them) completely non-intuitive; *may* cost them all their time and money invested in learning something like Word; *may* have formats not shareable with others; and *may* put years worth of documents and other work at risk. Often there are also time pressures involved."

Fluster Flus"ter, v. t. [imp. & p. p. Flustered; p. pr. &

vb. n. Flustering.] [Cf. Icel. flaustra to be flustered,
flaustr a fluster.]
To make hot and rosy, as with drinking; to heat; hence, to
throw into agitation and confusion; to confuse; to muddle.
[1913 Webster]

I thought I might make a list of the things I have caught myself doing when I get flustered.

  • 1) I begin to think of things as being more complex, rather than simpler. I.e. I start using Macco's club rather than Occam's razor, trying to beat a website or application or a shell command into submission.
  • 2) I begin to double-think plain English instructions. Being a fairly intelligent guy, I have the diabolic ability to take any slightly ambiguous words and cleverly re-interpret them into exactly the opposite meaning from what was originally intended.
  • 3) I get overly literal. If I am flustered and someone instructs me to click on the Big Green Button and the green rectangle at the top of the page looks like a rectangle and not a button, I don't see it.

Perhaps others can join the confessional. It would act as guidance for page designers, suggesting the normal human stupidities that sites have to watch out for.

BillCase 19:35, 17 November 2007 (CET)

Measuring the results

Wish list

In general

  • User friendly links:; etc. should bring the user where he should get.
  • Localisation should be build in from start
  • Review the information architecture ~"the table of contents of the website"
  • All clicks from the main page should land on a page still friendly to end-users, maintaining the same style etc.
  • "I would like to propose that the first page is mirroring or echoing the content that is available on the different subproject's websites, putting focus on resources that are often used." - Per Eriksson
  • -> users generally want:
    • download application
    • new: download extension
    • help/support/community (only partially implemented)
    • report bug
    • the last 3 are pretty absent from the main Menu-tab
    • for a good example, see Winamp's website -- Discoleo 20:42, 27 October 2007 (CEST)

Getting OOo

  • Auto detection / auto selection of language & os
    • Requires server side scripting
  • Offer CD's
    • Anecdote: One of the complaints was initially with a one click download that CD offerings are neglected. Which introduced at least one extra click in order to relieve the crowdedness on the main page. P2P is also given as an alternative way to get OOo, but I would consider that still as user unfriendly.
  • Only offer bittorent and alike when it can be integrated smoothly


  • Good explanation in as few lines/pages as possible why people should get OOo
  • Comparison with other office suites

Get more out of OOo

  • Downloads to cliparts, good tutorials, templates, extensions etc.
    • User:Murb: "I believe this should be either a centralized effort or an effort involving some kind of voting mechanism... there is a lot of material that looks unprofessional and makes working with less fun."
  • Create a package with good looking cliparts


  • Short, and optimized for e.g. journalists who want to get background info
Why not a FAQ entry?
  • discuss the about issues in the FAQ-section
-- Discoleo 21:06, 27 October 2007 (CEST)

Get people to contribute

  • Smart placement of links; e.g. when describing the draw component, create a link to de development pages of this component.
    • Requires cooperation with the component managers to create reasonable landing pages (provide them with a template?)
  • Idea once proposed at website-dev: " community"; brand all community efforts "part of the community".



Persona's help to get an idea of what type of user we are focussing on. You can 'test' design proposals using the persona's, by simply trying to think how this person would solve the problem he or she is faced with. If you think a typical user is not yet mentioned in this list add 'm. If you think a persona is within the scope of the end user focus plan, please add your opinion.

  • 46 year old father with two kids wants to download OOo by himself. His native language is Dutch (nl).
  • 15 year old girl is making an assignment for one of her courses. She is looking for nice clip art to use in OOo
  • 25 year old male student is looking how to create well structured documents, in order to make his thesis writing process efficient
  • 33 year old has switched to the Mac platform and wants to get OOo running as well...
  • A user behind a slow connections wants to know where to buy a CD with OOo
  • Fanatic user wants to find out more about the community. He would like to contribute to the new chart component.
    • User:Murb: "I believe we can learn from this one that we need bridges to the developer pages, users start of as an end-user, but some want to get involved. Offering bridging links would help."
  • Journalist from a local newspaper wants to compare OOo to other competing office suites
  • A 'geek' is waiting for the inclusion of the lightning project with OOo, where to find more information?
    • User:Murb: "We should think about how deep we should go in providing information on these pages... [not sure whether this persona is applicable]"

A different View of Personnas

I see the Persona's defined a bit differently. I think that the above is too fine edged for people who might use OOo.

I offer the following:
Definition of intended/expected users:


Explorers to me are people who are having a look at OOo for the first time. I think of them as Explorers because they have come to the Home Page on a recommendation from a text, another site, from a friend or as the result of a google (or other search engine) based on a key word like "Office Suites". Therefore, setting up wide ranging (but common sense) keys is essential to getting a viewing from Explorers.

By the way, a google for "Office Suites" currently puts Open Office at the top of the found list.

Explorers expect to be at the Home Page. I, therefore, expect the Home Page to be a Sales Page. A sales page does not have to be crude commercialism, but it should elicit excitment, a feeling that a nugget of gold has been found, and create a desire to look and read further. It should begin the removal of any outstanding fear, uncertainty and doubt. The page should be simple, with only one or two clear messages and lead directly to the next step (link).

Can language be detected? If so, do the page in the native language with a language choice option.

First Time Downloaders

Although we might use the title "Download" on tabs and buttons, I qualified downloaders with "First Time" in order to emphasize the importance of keeping the download page simple for the second category of visitors to the OOo site.

I expect that downloading is the next logical progression. I am not excluding info pages that Explorers might want to go to first, but I am attempting to take a first swipe at defining potential users. In this case, "First Time Downloaders" are intimately connected to Explorers.

If the "sale" is made to an Explorer, we want to make it as easy as possible for that Explorer to get an usable copy of OO. More advanced users will be dealt with under the title of "Upgraders".

The First Time Downloaders page should contain (restricted to the minimum) choices. It should use lots of reassurances about the process of downloading and installing. It should convince the First Time Downloader that NONE of his present applications or existing work are at risk. It should use lots of positive marketing words. It can have a link (Advanced Downloads) to the Upgraders Page.

Can the Downloader's operating system be detected? If so, offer that Os download as first choice.


I know OOo doesn't upgrade -- it downloads and replaces. From a user perspective, this is not an important fact. Upgraders can be thought of as advanced downloaders from our perspective, but are best defined as Upgraders because that is their objective and it separates naming, with no confusion with the First Time Downloaders.

If I had my way, this is where I would like the web pages to diverge. Though this page would be accessible from the home page and downloaders page, it really should have a simple URL of its own, so that more advanced users can access it directly from their browser bookmarks or favourite's file. It should not show up on a google found list after a simple search.

This page can include all the download variables; extensions, newest, CSV, unstable, stable and old.

It should have a look and feel of well organized clarity and stability and be devoted just to upgrading OO.


The Participants page should link to all the previous pages. But it needs to be clear. No one wants to volunteer to help an organization that hasn't thought out its objectives and where it needs help the most.

In my view it should be hierarchical. With the most general tasks first. Perhaps starting with the discussion list, in my lexicon, "the policy committee". For people volunteering, each task should be described in detail, and linked to real but varied tasks on the Developers pages and Wikis.

There are many 'key' words and factors that get people to join volunteer organizations. I see many of those 'keys' missing on the participation pages. Research should be done and a list of 'keys' should be provided to the page designers.


I confess, I haven't thought out yet how these last two categories (Participants and Developers) can best be serviced by the web site. It seems to me that although in the end they may be (probably will be) the same individuals, the two roles are distinct roles that should be handled distinctly.

A revue of the skills, tools, collaborative sites, objectives, time lines, etc. should be undertaken. Developer's pages have to be "meat and potatoes" pages.


If readers initially agree with the basic analysis above, then add extra categories that seem appropriate.

None of the above should be written in stone. Whatever one suggests as a way to categorize visitors to the OOo site should be subject to discussion and research.

Regards Bill Case

Examples of websites

proposed by the Marketing Project, March 2007
BillCase 02:27, 16 November 2007 (CET) Love the copy. I think it is exactly the type of introductory wording we need.
more technical; interesting read: Deconstructing the Redesign
User:Cj: "clear separation between user and development, easy download, easy access to additional information"
User:Murb: "Typical example of a big opensource project with a easy download (most users just have to click download; language & os is all preselected, very much end user focussed. Developper's site is on another domain. Focus only on download however doesn't work for OOo, since OOo is a much heavier download..."
User:LouisSuarez: "I am not sure I agree. Let's see if we can focus for now on making the download process easier. We can have also ancillary information relating to other enduser sites and items, accessed via tabs."

Closed Source

MS Office
User:Murb: "I want cool cliparts / templates etc... it is just a few clicks away, and looking more attractive. Much to improve also on this site, but I like the focus not only on the potential user just about to get it, but also on the user experience of users who are actually trying to use it for their projects"
Apple iWorks
User:Murb: "Looking at it I would say, DA!, DA!, DA!... Pages, Keynote, Numbers. Very attractive screenshots right in your face. It sells itself...; on the other hand it kind of gives a feel of, is it only about being beautiful? Would it work for my 100+ page Thesis? (and of course it is Mac only ;) )"
  • it allows one to download fast the application
  • further: direct access to skins/plugins aka extensions
  • and both to the community and the help pages and development pages
-- Discoleo 21:03, 27 October 2007 (CEST)
  • documentation, FAQ, getting-help and reporting bugs
    • (though I do not like the small font-size, but probably this is due to the long text)
-- Discoleo 21:03, 27 October 2007 (CEST)

Rough design proposals

Please write some of your preliminary ideas down here:

[from kschenk]

Home Page

  1. Home page needs a "friendly" facelift. Maybe put the gull mascot in the middle with downloads button to the LEFT and text explanation of what OO.o is to the LEFT.
  2. What to do about the "Native Language" button?????
    • maarten: We could do language detection, and have an box appear when the default language is other than English. Furthermore I think we should maybe stop presenting it as a Native Language confederation, but just in your own language. is a community, you can be part of in your own language as well.
  3. Add a HELP to the upper toolbar right next to HOME that would basically link to a New User/FAQ page *as well as* whatever we want to include from the current SUPPORT tab. Eliminate SO MUCH text. If we can't make the site more or less icon-intuiative, we're in big trouble. People are impatient! I would augment whatever is done to the new HELP area in some way so that folks running on specific OSes know exactly where to go for help.
    • maarten: We should either have a help or support option in the menubar, not both. But yes, further cleaning is definitely required. It is too much oriented about types of help, whereas most users are probably focussed on getting help to a specific problem (without being worried about from which source it comes).
  4. Get rid of the right side News list. IF we think some of these are important as permanent links, add them to the upper toolbar.
    • maarten: I assume you are referring here to the "Always" links. Completely agree. Furthermore it is not a good idea to link directly off-site. It is better to only refer to 'press announcements' published by OOo (press announcements may be a bit too formal, we could also think of posts from a blog controlled by some of the major project/community leads (e.g. Louis) and or some dedicated writers willing to keep end-users up to date about recent developments. If we have some kind of serverside technique it is easy to have an RSS feed to be included automatically... (otherwise, it can be done using javascript and in case of no JS, link to the blog itself.
    • (Kays original moved) Yes, we still need to *always* include some catchy news items toward the bottom. These should give visitors a warm and fuzzy feeling like they've discovered an important project that they're not part of.
  5. Mostly we need to make visitors feel welcome and not confused. Actually the "Contributing" page is very nice in terms of friendliness.
    • maarten: but not in case of branding...

General Site Changes

  • A new HELP page should encourage visitors to use a "knowledgebase" of some kind...then if all else fails, send an e-mail.
    1. maarten: I think we could try working from the support page. Maybe it is a better idea though to remove the 'Need help' link from every page, since it only deals with problems with the Collab net framework (this should be integrated with a more comprehensive help system.

New User Area

  1. Needs to be much,much briefer. Maybe a quit over of what OO.o is with links to a newly revised HELP area. Currently too wordy in my estimation.
    1. maarten: Maybe if help/support is improved, there is not even a need for this special page.

New HELP/Support Area

  • WOW! The Support tab, which is very complete, again, seems a bit overpowering to me. Might we just ditch the "user" mailing list and get general users into the new Forum area instead. This would help everyone I would think. Is there some way to easily port users subscription info from the mailing list INTO the Forum area and then jsut notify everyone.
  • If FAQ is really dead, why don't we just eliminate or archive the latest in some fashion.
  • I would reorganize some of the Support page's links into somethink like "Other Resources" if they aren't specifically coming from the OO.o site.
  • Definitely emphasize more "live" type support (i.e the Forum mechanism first)

The "Help Area" should point to

  • User:fpe: the (soon to go live) forum
  • User:fpe: the Documentation project wiki page
  • User:fpe: the support page, which needs a clean-up. Get rid of 1.1x resources and put then in the archive

The FAQ isn't dead, the User-FAQ project is. Remove ot and point people here

Collection of Design Proposals

Reviewed some sites. See what you think

Thursday, November 08 2007 Bill Case sample sites with comments (css based web sites) Sample sites with comments and ratings Lots of good samples, but no comment or rating, 540 designs listed More good samples, 203 designs listed

N. B. Irony -- Great sample/winning sites, well worth looking at -- but the webby site itself is confusing. Scroll down for categories.

Check out:

   * Best Home/Welcome Page
   * Best Navigation/Structure
   * Best Copy/Writing
   * Best Practices
   * Charitable Organizations Nonprofit 

Some of these sites may be too resource intensive (flash, sound etc) but they contain great ideas that my be incorporated at a simpler level.

Of them all, I personally liked the 2007 IKEA BEST NAVIGATION/STRUCTURE .

What seems to work the best, particularly on a home page, seems to be "smiling people". No surprise there.

User:Kschenk uummmm...well IMHO...I thought most of the webby award sites would make me run out of the room screaming if these kinds of techniques were somehow transposed to a site like I'll address our two "competitors" below

Addendum: I have read criticism of the Webby Awards. Some people would have chosen different winners or claim not all the best were nominated. Be that as it may, for our, OOo, purposes there isn't a better place to start reviewing what can be done.

Of course, start by checking:

Be honest, Microsoft's site is the better of the two.

User:Kschenk Again, I'll need to diverge with your opinion here. MS's site seems well much too much in my opinion, while the Symphony site could be TOO tamed for the average audience...but I liked it! Maybe what we need to get a better handle on is what exactly IS our user base. Are they visiting us for fun or business? Are they developers or folks wanting upgrades? Or they casual, and, and how casual folks who have heard about OO.o, and just want to download it and try it? I would think, in ANY of these cases, the less nonsense the home page displays, the better. This does NOT mean it can't be friendly, just lacking silliness. Frankly, I think does and admirable job of what I'm talking about.
BillCase 21:01, 12 November 2007 (CET) Kschenk: I would like to point out that won the webby for best community site. I would like to point out also that there is a difference between copying a site and looking at it for ideas, target audiences, purposes and/or moods.
I agree we have to determine who our user base IS. But we also have to get a handle on who we would like to ADD to our user base.
BillCase 19:24, 15 November 2007 (CET) Just went to Apple iWorks site. It is stunning. Better than Symphony or Microsoft.

Googles site is too simple in my view, although they have the advantage of letting the user immediately start creating a document.

Regards Bill Case

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