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On 05/09/2012 07:14 AM, Mirek M. wrote:
Hi Bjorn,

2012/5/9 Björn Balazs<>

Hi all,

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

Please do not mix up user testing user research.

:D funny, I was convinced this whole time that you were talking about user
oh well...

RESEARCH is about understanding (and creating artifacts accordingly) who
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
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.
experience in Libre Office has shown that it is easy to get feedback from
than 10000 actual users within days. And these were just first tries...

What tools do you suggest to use?
Should every project we work on be preceded by a survey on the topic?
It probably depends on the project. Some should be discussed on the list before asking user opinions. This partly to avoid survey fatigue and partly to allow us to think through the ideas before asking for user opinions.

Other ideas may be generated by asking the users what they think should be done.

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
reveal any significant new insights.

I'd still like to do user testing if we could. I'm not sure if we'd need
special test rooms with local participants. Actually, I think just seeing
how people use the software would help, and that could be done simply by
people videotaping their friends/relatives according to some directions we
give them and putting the videos up on YouTube. It wouldn't be the most
professional thing to do, but it would undoubtedly help us understand our
users more, more than surveys or usage tracking extensions. It might be
especially interesting to watch how users coming from Office or iWork work
with our UI. (I guess that still falls under the umbrella of user research,
IMHO, the basic problem with user testing is that most users do not use any software package at optimum efficiency. They have a method that works well for their needs that is not the fastest or "easiest" method available.

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

As a sidenote: icons are something that can actually be user tested easily
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
ways to reach the different goals we have.

I agree that we need some standard artefacts, but I disagree we should let
go of our workflow. While it isn't perfect by any measure, it seems to be a
step in the right direction. I've been subscribed to this list for about
two years now, maybe longer, and I've been sorely missing a standard way of
working. It seemed that developers weren't really interested in the design
team, whiteboards were a mess of unfinished ideas that could never be
carried out to completion, any sort of UI work was fruitless, and we
weren't really collaborating -- everyone (including me) was doing his/her
own thing.
I'm afraid that if we didn't have any sort of defined workflow, we'd revert
back to the chaos that came before, even with the various artefacts
defined. If you have a suggestion for a better workflow, please do voice
your opinion.

Jay Lozier

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