[ubuntu-art] Who is our target audience?

Ken Vermette vermette at gmail.com
Thu Dec 27 21:59:53 GMT 2007

On Dec 27, 2007 5:45 AM, Thorsten Wilms <t_w_ at freenet.de> wrote:

> On Thu, 2007-12-27 at 14:01 +0100, julian wrote:
> > as i've said earlier, i'm into the idea of a public vote on mockups (and
> > including the current theme) made by list members within the first two
> > 6-8 weeks of each release cycle. i think most of the time ubuntu-art is
> > shooting in the dark, so to speak, where envisaging a best-fit default
> > theme is concerned; choosing externally asserted design agendas over
> > plentiful public/user opinion.
> With 'public' votes, you can only reach an internet-affine,
> high-interest part of users. Hardly anyone who's just a potential, not
> current user. Hardly anyone who just has better things to do.
> Plus forum (list and chat) dwellers can't be expected to care about
> marketing/branding and about the needs and wishes of other people that
> aren't represented directly.
> I don't care much about how people on the forum would vote. Such a vote
> doesn't even transport full opinions. I care about informed opinions and
> decisions.
> Input on the forum can be nice for tweaking details, but that's pretty
> much it.
I'm against votes as well; There fundamentally flawed. If there are 3
choices that are all bad, why force users to make a bad choice. We'll know
the best of the worst choices, but it will still be bad.

Now you could say people need a place where they can openly comment and
debate the designs, but then you get the forums - where people bicker, get
ostracized, and leave. Every topic I read has some prick  saying "that
design is horrible".

The most dependable source, I believe, is blogs, journals, news and review
websites. They actively disassemble every single detail. They tell us what's
wrong because it's in their interest to tell their users what to expect. If
a blog is critical of our look & feel, and it winds up on Google, it means
because people are linking and reading it. Google works on links, which is
essentially an internet-wide vote. How perfect is that?

> > at which point are we allowing - and encouraging - Ubuntu users to feed
> > back into the design process? i don't see a channel for that.
> People who want to get involved can come here and find information on
> the wiki. Now that everyone doing so is left in the situation we are -
> that is a problem. As things are, we have to wait for further direction
> while a lot of water went down the river already.
The wiki is for contributions, and the Mailing list is hardcore. Forums are
the most public space we have for comments. Overall if you're feeding back
into the design process at even one of these avenues, it's likely that
you're being watched and noted.

> > the question "who is our target audience" makes little sense to these
> > ends, i think. Ubuntu is a freely distributable operating system made
> > with the ends of being as 'generally useful' (whatever that means) to as
> > many people as possible. the 'target audience' is whoever is using
> > Ubuntu and, as such, their thoughts on the artwork ought to be
> > considered with sincerity accordingly. if Ubuntu-art has a target
> > audience, then Ubuntu itself must have a target audience - something
> > i've never seen Canonical define (and thankfully so).
> I do see the problem with a diverse audience. But current users and
> target audience are not the same thing.
> Ever considered to target users who don't use Ubuntu yet?
> Especially those who will not change the appearance defaults for the
> sake of changing them anyway?
The problem with trying to remain diverse is the same if you try to butter
too much bread. You'll become thin and bland.

My personal opinion is to satisfy who you've got first, and try to expand
with the leeway you've got. It would be better to get glowing reviews from a
smaller crowd and slowly grow, than try to make it focused for some else who
won't hear about it. Even still, both of those options are better than
having a mud-project that even makes loyalists nervous.

> > > There also have been many saying that Ubuntu should stay away from
> > > blue.  Cool, let's rule out brown and blue!
> > >
> >
> > fine by me. we'd be evidencing a disappointing lack of imagination if
> > green, blue and brown based palettes described our world of possible
> > choices.
> This is just silly.
If we go with what's "cool" at the time, then we blend into the crowd. If we
go with what's unique, were ostracized.

... This is why all new suburban homes have white walls.

> > as the comments in those pages make clear, they just like the colours
> > and the overall design continuity. admittedly they also like the
> > impossible 'dock' like menu. why expect users to be profound on the
> > topic, let alone thinking in terms of what is and isn't feasible? all
> > they know is that they like it - and that's as good a start as any IMO.
> Sure. They like the colour (i wouldn't make that a plural). Must be the
> same majority that doesn't like brown.
> Ah, so we don't expect users to be profound on the topic and to be
> thinking in terms of what is and isn't feasible, yet would want their
> votes? Great.

This is why things are made feasable. Why we design libraries. Years ago
per-pixel alpha channels was thought impossible, but we have it now. This is
why we make radical concepts, because if we don't think outside the box for
one second we wind up where the theme is now: dated.

Now, this is an LTS, so really, I agree that we should avoid experimental
features somewhat, designing entirely new libraries for a few extra round
corners is out-of-the-question, at least in this release.

Users aren't tainted by us programmers and designers. They know what they
like. Never discard an opinion because someone somewhere doesn't know
something - It's high-minded thinking like that which makes progress

> > aiming high, in my opinion, is developing a design that
> > more-than-satisfies a supposed majority of Ubuntu using public. until we
> > know what it is most Ubuntu users actually want, we cannot have a clear
> design charter.
> Aiming high in my opinion means going through a very thorough design
> process. It starts with a proper briefing.
A good design is a working design. You can get to the same result several

> --
> Thorsten Wilms
> thorwil's design for free software:
> http://thorwil.wordpress.com/
> --
> ubuntu-art mailing list
> ubuntu-art at lists.ubuntu.com
> https://lists.ubuntu.com/mailman/listinfo/ubuntu-art

-Ken Vermette
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