User Experience/Project Strategy/External Communication
The current feedback towards the User Experience team states that the project's popularity is limited, the goals of the project are not well communicated and that work results are not yet fully accepted in the OpenOffice.org community. Why do we think this is a problem?
In the today's markets it's not sufficient to focus on usability and functionality only, even if the user gets the work done. To be successful in the market and in the world of open source software, it is a necessity to provide a good overall experience. This is where the domain user experience comes to live, not only for OpenOffice.org.
It is known that many people tend to mis-interpret user experience, because they substitute usability with “do the buttons in the UI” and the experience with “great icons and animations”. In fact user experience is active the whole development cycle, it does normally start with the analysis of the user's problems ... and ends with the evaluation of the user's responds. Okay, so how to change that?
This document collects ideas how to improve the external communication. It starts with proposals for new and consistent naming, suggests core values and breaks them down to get a vision for our ongoing effort. Based on that, some slogans will be added to better promote our activities.
The general goal is to to improve the perception of the User Experience project in the long term. So it is planned to extend this effort in terms of consistent internet presence, wiki, blogs, presentation documents, ...
If you want to join the discussion on how to improve the „external communication“, then please join the mailing list discussion on ux-discuss.
The following name changes are proposed:
- The term “User Experience Team” refers to all group members who joined this effort. All members comprises both professionals and volunteers. The new name will replace the term “User Experience Project” where appropriate.
- The term “activity” refers to all efforts of the User Experience Team and replaces the term “project” where appropriate. An User Experience activity may be part of another project in the OpenOffice.org community.
The reasons for the proposed name changes are:
- For historical reasons, the name “project” is used to refer to organizational units, even source code structure, in the OpenOffice.org community. This term does not fit well to the User Experience activities when taking the project management's definition of project into account.
- The activities of the User Experience Team are cross-sectional and rely on the cooperation with other community efforts. Therefore it is necessary to reflect the partnership (“team”) and to reflect the long term involvement (“activity”) – from idea generation phase till the final implementation.
The Core Values
The core values proposed to be are “Usability • Productivity • Enjoyment”. They summarize in a very short manner what the User Experience Team's overall goals are.
Rationale and Meaning
In general, people tend to avoid effort and therefore do not read official project statements unless there are really interested in. So why do we have something like a charter on the project home, if it seems to be both “hidden” and too long for most of the people? The answer is: there are people interested to know more about the project. The core values shall attract more people to read further and care about User Experience activities.
So, the core values can be used as an “eye-catcher” for the goals. They may be used for different purposes like an User Experience logo. If the we re-use goals in other statements, then the consistency across those messages is very important.
The following list explains the meaning (or our understanding) concerning each of the core values:
- Usability: This term explains the ease with which people can work with OpenOffice.org to archive their goal in a particular context in an effective and efficient manner. Sadly, this term is usually meant to describe the “user friendliness” in the field of computer-human interaction.
- Productivity: This term accompanies “usability” because of the general misunderstanding of meaning “user friendliness” only. Again, it emphasizes that working with OpenOffice.org should raise the “productivity” significantly.
- Enjoyment: Working with OpenOffice.org should be pleasant. This is important, if OpenOffice.org wants to attract new users and keep the experienced ones. Currently, OpenOffice.org loses many potential users who dislike the overall behavior/look of OpenOffice.org. But there is also a serious fact: people which are happy with a product tend to be more creative in their solution findings. At all, the factor “enjoyment” is less crucial than the other core values and therefore is the latter one.
The core values are intended to be used in the external communication, therefore several constraints apply. The core statement should be...
- easy to remember: three words maximum
- easy to spell: appropriate choice of words and intonation
- easy to understand: comprehensibility is more important than accuracy
Alternatives Terms (Deprecated)
This core values have been discussed between some of the UX team members for some time now. We think that it is quite mature now and that you can agree to the statement and it's message. Therefore we want to give you an idea of the alternative formulations already discussed:
- Usable: We decided to go for nouns instead of adjectives.
- Ease of Use: Good to understand but just a bit too long.
- Useful: Some team members stated that “useful” may have a negative touch. Something like “at least it's usable”.
- Functional / Functionality: Giving the people the right functionality is crucial. Nevertheless, this does not mean that every task could be solved by providing as much functionality as possible, because this will user friendliness.
- Efficient / Efficiency: Working with OpenOffice.org should be efficient. Here, in a world with developers, “efficient” does also refer to the time behavior of software algorithms. And that is not that important to the User Experience team.
- Experience: In the scientific literature, one aspect of the “user experience” is “experience”. This may be correct, but does it help to understand our role in the OpenOffice.org community?
- Pleasant / Pleasure: Enjoyment has been rated better :-)
Based on the core values, the charter has been updated:
"We are the User Experience Team and our main goal is to make OpenOffice.org the best office suite in terms of usability, productivity and enjoyment.
Our techniques for user-centered design provide insight into the needs and behavior of our end-users. We provide consultation for the development of both new and existing functionality, starting from the idea generation phase to the evaluation of the final implementation.
Close cooperation with other efforts and projects in the OpenOffice.org community is the basis for the success of this cross-sectional activity."
Please note that the paragraph breaks do structure the charter and are therefore part of it.
The Visual Identity
The following graphic shall serve as the visual identity of the User Experience team. It is meant to substitute the current “tic-tac-toe”-style logo.
The logo should create a visual identity for the User Experience team and provide orientation. This is important because of the different communication tools used in the OpenOffice.org development process.
The logo uses mostly text, because it has been impossible to provide a meaningful and unambiguous symbol for User Experience. So, the abbreviation “UX” refers to the project's name and is accompanied by the core values. The familiarity with the main project is given by the seagulls and the appropriate use of color (black, blue).
The logo is intended to be used in the external communication, therefore several constraints apply. The logo should be...
- ... relate to OpenOffice.org: The visual design should state the relationship with OpenOffice.org.
- ... represent User Experience: It should represent what User Experience stands for. Arbitrary (meaningless) symbols should be avoided.
- ... size independent: It should be usable at small and large scales.
- ... black/white and gray scale compatible: If possible, the design of the logo should avoid the necessity of color output.
- ... basis for other graphics: The design should it make possible to use the design as basis for other graphics, e.g. presentation slides, t-shirts or wallpapers.
- ... match the main internet design: The logo should be compatible with the current (and hopefully future) OpenOffice.org internet presence.
If the core values are not appropriate, then an additional slogan could bring the interest towards our activities. The current proposals are:
- “Designed for people. Better usability, productivity and enjoyment for OpenOffice.org."
- “Make users smile! Better usability, productivity and enjoyment for OpenOffice.org.”
The slogans should consider the following constraints; they should be...
- short: One or two sentences should be enough.
- compatible with the core values: It makes sense that the slogans are in line with the core value statements.
- meaningful: If possible, the slogans should afford to think about the importance of User Experience activities. In rare cases, the core values and the slogan are elements to be communicated to others.
The Email Signature
Some User Experience related topics are sometimes discussed on mailing lists of other projects. If the User Experience team members join those discussion, the email signature should state the relationship with the User Experience project. Those signatures are based on the slogans introduced above.
--- Designed for people. Better usability, productivity and enjoyment for OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org User Experience Team http://ux.openoffice.org
--- Make users smile! Better usability, productivity and enjoyment for OpenOffice.org. OpenOffice.org User Experience Team http://ux.openoffice.org
|Core Values|| |
--- Usability * Productivity * Enjoyment OpenOffice.org User Experience Team http://ux.openoffice.org
--- OpenOffice.org User Experience Team http://ux.openoffice.org
Most of the email communication is done via the mailing lists of the User Experience team. As stated before, topics that are related to User Experience are sometimes discussed on other mailing lists or external communication channels (forums, ...). The use of signatures should promote the User Experience activities.
The use of the email signature does imply similar constraints like the charter and should be...
- ... short short short: We don't want to annoy anybody.
- ... state what User Experience is: The signature should state the goals or a slogan of the User Experience team.
- ... provide further information: The signature should contain a link to the User Experience internet home.
- ... state the full name: In contrast to other text elements, the full name “User Experience” should be used. The abbreviation “UX” does not tell anybody anything at the first glance.
- ... text only: If possible, the signature should be compatible with all the mail systems and mail archives out there.
So now, anybody of our members should just pick one of those signatures. Please note that those signatures are a bit redundant on the User Experience mailing lists :-)
Final Words and Next steps
Thanks for reading the text. If you find any mistakes which cause wrong meaning (e.g. in the slogans), then please discuss these issues on the mailing list ux-discuss.