Contributing usability expertise to ubuntu project

Jon Bolt jon at
Thu Jan 22 22:57:20 GMT 2009

Hi Matthew

On Wed, 2009-01-21 at 13:48 +0000, Matthew Paul Thomas wrote:
> Hash: SHA1
> Hi Jon
> Jon Bolt wrote on 19/01/09 21:11:
> >...
> > I want to start contributing my user experience expertise to the Ubuntu
> > community. Currently I work for a user experience consultancy as a
> > usability analyst, although my background is in software development. 
> Welcome, and thanks for getting involved!
> > Although I will have to okay it with my employer, I would like to start
> > working with different projects under the Ubuntu or Gnome umbrella. I
> > have experience in using a wide variety of usability techniques, both in
> > academic and commercial environments. 
> Excellent. One thing Ubuntu (and Free Software generally) has been
> chronically short of, so far, is methodical user testing. If you have
> the resources to do that, it would be very useful to test basic tasks
> such as acquiring a copy of Ubuntu in the first place, installing
> Ubuntu, connecting to the Internet, getting a photo off a digital camera
> and printing it, sending an e-mail message, printing a birthday card, or
> finding and playing a video on YouTube.

I think looking at key user journeys like you listed above is a really
good idea.

First of all I will have to get a decent lab set-up going, which
involves recording the desktop and capturing the web cam. This is
something we do in work with Windows pretty successfully and the clients
seem to enjoy the end product. I will have to look into how to set this
up in Gnome. 

Getting participants is the issue, however. If its the general public we
want, they would expect rewards. We typically give £50 an hour to
people. I am sure there are Ubuntu users who would be willing to give up
their time for free, however, that probably isn't the user segment we
are looking at. 

The cheapest option is probably head up to my local university and give
students £5 for taking part. Other than that, my friends and family I

It would be good to get something going at local Ubuntu events, kind of
a bring-a-noob day, where there could be a portable usability lab set-up
and people could try to get their windows or mac friends to come in
participate in usability testing. 

> For improving specific programs, it's generally most productive to work
> on changes with the individual projects themselves, many of which are
> part of Gnome. <>

Hopefully in between doing user testing I will look to do usability
reviews of different projects, reporting issues and recommendations
where appropriate. It's kind of hard to know where to start but I would
probably just look at some of the most active projects out there.

Kind Regards


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