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Hi Narayan, David, all,

Sorry for not jumping in earlier; I have been busy with travel, work,
etc these past few days. It seems we have another long discussion on
our hands :). I'd just like to respond to Narayan's comments with my

On Thu, Feb 3, 2011 at 7:15 PM, Narayan Aras <> wrote:

Hi David,

Date: Thu, 3 Feb 2011 10:32:56 +0800

@Narayan: I understand very well your thoughts and attitudes about
involving that talented graphic designer contact of yours. I also see
the need to someone to work closely with us on graphics and page
presentation. But, this is an OS project, and I don't think it can be
achieved in quite the manner you envision.

We have to remember that developing the site is very
much a cooperative effort between design contributors and content
contributors, and that we need to keep Design in the loop about

First, let us differentiate between (a) the designer and (b) his designs for our project.

The designer would produce IA+wireframe+icon proposals.

The proposals are to be reviewed publicly and subject to change.

It is not a "take it or leave it" offer.

What is wrong with that picture?
Why do we have to get the designer approved?

There is no such approval process. The quality of a person's
contributions are the key to their progress and standing in the
project - that's reasonably meritocratic IMO.

After all, we are NOT screening a thousand contenders to select the lucky winner.
So why do you feel this compulsion to get the designer approved by the Design team?

I think there might be a misunderstanding here. The focus of the
Design team is much broader than the website. For one, it has a focus
on branding, which will necessarily set constraints on the website
design (e.g. which colors to use, what kinds of styles to develop,
etc). It also has a focus on user experience, which includes (among
many other things) wireframing. From what I gather, you are interested
in these topics. They can certainly be discussed here on the website
list, but to get the big picture, I would suggest you also subscribe
to the Design list to keep up with related developments. I think
you'll be surprised by the talent we have and it would be great to
have you on board.

And about this "approval" per se- How appropriate is it?
How exactly will the Design team approve the designer?

You know the professional profile of my friend.

Do we have bigger web professionals on board who can judge him?

Not necessarily, but I don't like the implication of what you are
saying because you are implicitly making a judgement yourself. No one
can come in expecting a mandate to be handed over to them just because
they are a professional - they will need to show that they can make
tangible contributions to meet the needs of the project *now*. This
will allow them to establish merit and have their suggestions taken
seriously in the future.

And what has this to do with the OS model??
I refuse to believe that an OS project has to be run unprofessionally as a policy.
Website design is a specialized field, and even an OS project would have to follow its norms.

Yes, there are some norms we need to follow, but there are also norms
set by the project that website designers will need to follow. We are
a collaborative volunteer community, not a web design firm. The
dynamics are rather different - it can be a lot more complicated, much
slower, but also very rewarding when it's done.

I have often heard about this "design" group, but-
I have not seen its leadership for the website (providing vision, setting scope of work, 
It failed to allocate resources to this project (e.g. graphic designer, copywriters).
It has not given periodic creative feedback on the work done so far.

Please don't send me digging through mailing list archives to address
some of these points. A good number of the most active people from the
design group are also subscribed to this list and contribute
regularly. Much of the process you describe has been lacking due to
one reason: time. I have worked with David to get the website design
based on Nik's proposal online on a deadline. Given the time
constraints, I think what we have is now reasonable (albeit not
ideal). Work progresses slower now because contributions have become
more open the community and there are more discussions (like this one)
to be had.

Given that, they should not at least be a hindrance when we are struggling to manage on our own.
To be fair, I have not seen any evidence that they would block us from doing any positive work.

One of the most difficult things in a project like this is
communications. Even with the best will in the world, and even with
the aid of tools like email, wikis, IM and voice chats, ideas often
fail to pass effectively and we don't end up at a general consensus.
Compromise and flexibility is needed from all of us. A great deal of
contributing to an OS project like this lies in understanding and
coming to terms with the project's sociology.

And a little psychology :)

No I think the root cause is that some members lack knowledge of this field (website design).
Then they try to make it up with common sense. This results in conflicts.

I'm going to rewrite your statement in a way that I hope will make an
important point. Please don't interpret it as if it refers to you
specifically but rather try to see the point behind it (i.e., we need
'institutional knowledge' within the project as much as we need
'expertise' in a specific discipline):
Some members lack the knowledge of this project (LibreOffice). Then
they try to make it up with the way things are done elsewhere (be it
design school, web design firms, commercial/'real life' experience,
even other open source projects, etc). This results in conflicts.

When two disparate Communities of Practice come together, it is best to give space to the core 

Ideally, we will have a mix of big picture people and specialists. I
don't mean 'big picture' in terms of a redesign; I mean 'big picture'
as in "where does the website fit in LibreOffice, which projects or
people should I ask for help on this or that task, how does the
website design reflect, represent, or develop the visual 'language'
established in the branding guidelines", etc. Design and website are
not disparate communities; like Venn Diagrams, they have overlapping
areas of interest.

Everyone wants the project to go forward - but often in different directions!

There comes a time when we have to choose one path and then all
contribute to it.

That was my point: The current design is way off course - Both in process and contents.
See this checklist and decide for yourself:

Reality check: How much is the contribution from the design team on those topics?

It's probably more than you think. However, at the same time, the
design team is busy with other things (e.g. application/document
icons) and as I've said before, these discussions take time to read
and respond to.
So, what's the way forward? Start by contributing where resources are
needed. Our productivity is lowered by these long discussions. It
might seem like making initial contributions to the site as it stands
would be like putting varnish on rust (by working on something you
don't necessarily agree with) but this is what is needed now.
Contributing to meet current needs is a pretty good way to establish
merit here.

My humble proposal is this: I've played a leading role in *dragging*
the website in one particular direction. It was something that *had*
to be done at that time, IMHO. I'm not saying it's necessarily the
best, but it's already 80% on the road to its destination. I suggest
that we complete that work, so that the site is really in a final v1.0

I think all of us agree. The second phase actually builds on the first.

Then, I suggest that we thoroughly explore all other possible options
via confcalls, wiki writing and modeling on the pumbaa server until we
arrive at a v2.0 SilverStripe website to offer to the SC for approval
- something tangible, backed-up by written presentations and

Good idea. SC should give us a lab space.
Like Google labs, we should have an official idea-generation and prototyping area.

I know very well that the subject of Drupal is not gone from the minds
of several of you. Therefore, I suggest that, when
v1.0 is at a finalized state, we should request the SC to request
Christian to set-up a Drupal sandbox on the pumbaa server, in parallel
to the SilverStripe sandbox. That way, you could thoroughly explore
your ideas, and could experiment and model, and build properly-working
demos that can be shown to the SC, for consideration, for whatever
applications you imagine.

In fact, why not NOW?
The two phases can run concurrently.
And we will also work on phase-1 unreservedly.

Can we please work on the *current* website in the short-term - we
need people to work on the *current* website *now* (e.g. contribute to
the CSS styles effort). Later on we can talk about other phases.

This is all my (hopefully humble) opinion of course.


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