The KDE Usability Project reports I posted last week received a lot of feedback. There were several motivations for posting the reports, and I think it was a success. They are a useful reference for developers and other usability specialists as well as provides a public appearance for what the project does. Some of the feedback included questions about the project and reports. So, as webmaster of usability.kde.org and a project representative, let me answer some of these questions for you.
Is this all the (or kind of) work the project has produced over the past year?
No, and this is a two part answer.
- This just happens to be a collection of reports which were sent to me to be linked on the website. I have not excluded any reports sent to me, however I do expect any reports sent to me to be professionally executed, written and complete. There is no formal submission process to who and what gets reviewed or tested, and the list of reports is not a complete archive of what we have produced.
- Reports of usability tests are not the only type of work the project does. A lot of our work involves talking and working with developers during the development lifecycle and not just testing/reviewing a project after it has been released. Often, this is where the majority of our participation lies; working with the developers and not reporting to them after the software is built. We also discuss solutions to current Qt implementation problems which could effect usability (and accessibility), are working on human interface guidelines (HIG) for KDE4, and a whole slew of other things.
How does an application get submitted to the project for review?
There isn't really a 'submission' process. In our neverending quest for better KDE usability, we often discuss projects, submit bugs, and contact developers when we find something which poses a problem to users. Sometimes a project or developer will request a feature or menu be reviewed with recommendations on how to fix it and an interested usability specialist will look in to it. Overall, some projects (and developers) are just more interested and involved in usability and those are the projects we typically work with the most.
OSS usability is very different than industry which is what makes it so special. The relationship between the project/developers and the usability specialists is very important, and often make or break key usability improvements in a software.
How can I get a report posted on the KDE Usability website?
Send it to me! You do not have to be involved in the KDE Usability Project to submit a report (although it helps to know the project). I ask that it is indeed a KDE application (and not other software which happens to be installed with a shortcut in the KMenu), is professionally executed and written, and completed within the past year (2005+).
Also, if you do have a report it is always a good idea to contact the project and provide them with the report than let them accidently find it on our website first.
What is the separation (or difference) between the KDE Usability Project and OpenUsability?
The KDE Usability Project is part of the KDE e.V. which is concerned with only KDE usability. OpenUsability.org e.V. is a completely separate entity which is involved in any project who is interested in usability. There just happens to be people who are very involved and active in both projects.