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Hi all,

just a short additional note - a more detailed answer will follow in the next 

Please do not mix up user testing user research.

RESEARCH is about understanding (and creating artifacts accordingly) who the 
users are, what they (want to) use the product for, what goals they want to 
reach, what criteria apply to a successfull interaction, what prior experience 
they have, where they will use the tool,.... This can perfectly be done in 
distributed teams using web tools. We can reach users all over the world. Past 
experience in Libre Office has shown that it is easy to get feedback from more 
than 10000 actual users within days. And these were just first tries...

TESTING is about presenting users with possible solutions, and watching how 
they solve given tasks. This usually is extremely difficult to do with 
voluntary development teams, as you would need test rooms, local, but still 
representative - perhaps even paid - participants etc. There might be some 
room for this on fairs or similar events, but I would rather not be too 
enthusiastic about testing. In my experience the value of testing is over 
estimated. Most user tests actually do post-hoc research. And the other way 
around, I found that tests following projects that did decent research did not 
reveal any significant new insights.

Summing it up: Lets do extensive user research - both because in Free Software 
we simply will never be in the situation to do extensive testing and because 
it is the more sustainable anyhow.

As a sidenote: icons are something that can actually be user tested easily via 
the web, here research rather does not help that much in contrast. These 
different ways that are appropriate to reach our goals are part of the 
experience I would like to share with this group. This also is one of the 
reasons I do not think we need a standard workflow the way it is defined at 
the moment, but standard artefacts (see above), that need to be used in smart 
ways to reach the different goals we have.



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