Back from UDS-N

Got back home from Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando on Sunday. Had some good times and it was great to meet people, who I have been communicating with online, in person. Thanks to everyone who made this UDS and my attendance possible!

Two sessions about user testing have been among the more interesting for me.

One about Charline‘s work in China, a first foray into researching the needs and possibilities of adapting Ubuntu for chinese users. The participants interpreted the window buttons on the left as a sign of Canonical/Ubuntu not understanding the chinese culture. Apparently a culture with a strong preference of the right hand and putting things to the right. But wouldn’t that include the menubar contents? Is there really a difference to western culture? Could it be a kind of idiom, said to quench any discussion?

The other about testing Unity. Charline walked us through several issues that had come up repeatedly with the test participants. A very good reminder of how much powerusers, including developers and designers, have behavioral patterns and background information they don’t think about anymore, and how less technical users don’t have this mental framework. Trying to recount the session here wouldn’t do it justice. I hope Charline will repeat the demonstration in front of a camera, as suggested by a member of the audience.

The best reason for me to be there was the Reinvigorate the Artwork Team session and related discussions. I suggested to turn the Artwork team into a Design team, because the terms Art or Artwork suggest a rather intuitive, not planned approach, are not very fitting for themes and mockups and rule out interaction design. I think the team should be enabled and encouraged to cover the whole continuum of design from wallpapers to information architecture and user experience.

There is a strong consensus that the wiki is not suitable for submitting and managing assets. We talked about the needs to track requests, for proper briefings and guidance through the design process and the educational aspect.

We will start a web presence project, not necessarily ubuntu-specific. First step will be a questionnaire, to be created by Ivanka. Well … stay tuned 🙂


About thorwil
I'm a designer from Germany. My main interests are visual and interaction design, free/open-source software and (electronic) music.

11 Responses to Back from UDS-N

  1. Dylan McCall says:

    I enjoyed meeting you there, Thorsten 🙂

    I sadly missed Charline’s sessions. Do you know if any of them were recorded on video?

    Good luck with the art team stuff! I can probably help with some web work there depending on when it happens (and if it’s needed). Will it appear on the mailing list?

  2. Brian Fleeger says:

    Hi Thorsten,

    I have never attended UDS, but follow development work and research as a hobbyist. I was intrigued by the suggestion that the button placement on the left showed a lack of understanding about Chinese culture. Chinese writing has been largely right to left for the past 60 years at least (it was up to down, right to left before that), and there is nothing intrinsic that I can think of which links right-hand button placement to Chinese culture. If anything, I think that it is just because the vast majority of Chinese have only ever used MS windows (legally or pirated), and so assumed that is the way all buttons should be. On the other hand, I have never heard of Chinese complaining that Apple is culturally insensitive with their OSX, so I am confused.

    Another possibility is that the question on the survey was worded such that it made people inclined to think it was a cultural thing. For instance, if asked in an A, B, C style survey what their preference was, I would not be surprised to see over 50% say window buttons to the right. But if a subsequent question asked “why do you have this preference?” and one of the answers was “Culture,” then I can see some people who do not know why they have the preference simply assume it is part of their culture.

    • Brian Fleeger says:

      Sorry, I meant to say Chinese writing has been left to right for the past 60 yrs — mea culpa

    • thorwil says:

      I don’t know if there even was a survey, or free reflection only. Anyway, I assume Charline knows her job, so there wouldn’t have been suggestive questions or predefined answers (in cases where there is no clear set of possible answers).

  3. Great idea to change “artwork” to “design.” That sounds more fitting to me too! Do you use Launchpad to manage assets? Or going to try something totally different? Not Ubuntu-specific, so more open-source or just design in general?

    • thorwil says:

      So far, as a team, we don’t. Personally, I have most artwork done for free software related projects in bzr branches. Ivanka will try managing a todo/request list on LP.

      I foresee that much of it might end up being generic enough for design processes in a rather broad sense. But we have to be vary of scope-creep. Desired properties of the design projects to handle on the site would be openness to the public, collaboration, meritocracy, sharing and permissive licensing.

      • Jessica says:

        I understand how there could be scope-creep but the principles are definitely cross product. I know I’ve gone through various websites and screencaptured their components (how they do menus, footers, etc) and looked for patterns and ideas for improvement. Curious about different apps in the Ubuntu world like where menus go, what colors work best, how to make things “slick” looking, etc. Looking forward to following this 🙂

  4. Pingback: Unity: What’s wrong with it & how we can fix them

  5. Frederico A. Mendes says:

    Canonical should follow a new strategy for the launch of Unity.
    Below is a link to view the model of the idea.
    Community participation and a greater period of development is important.

  6. Markus says:

    So if everything should sit on the right side, does that mean Chinese don’t like Windows due to the left-side start button? I will leave the answer for the reader to think about.