Portable GNOME Usability Lab – Interesting Linux Directions

10 June, 2005 at 18:59 Leave a comment

[from http://www.nat.org]

GUADEC Usability Hackfest #
30 May 2005 10:23 CEST

This wordy entry is largely cribbed from an email I sent last week, and is to introduce to you the first-ever GUADEC usability hackfest. If you are at GUADEC, please come and help us make GNOME more usable!

Over the last several months we at Novell have sent a team of people around the world with a portable usability testing lab: two video cameras – one on the face, one on the hands – and a frame grabber, recording everything the user does. We ask our subjects to perform five or six simple tasks with GNOME and burn the result to a DVD.

It is amazing to watch the ways that people fall on their face. We’ve all read about the benefits of usability testing, but until you actually try to sit still through two hours of these videos, it isn’t a visceral experience for you. It is exciting, and totally emotionally exhausting. You squirm. And it focuses you like a laser.

For example, we asked a lady to send mail to a friend. Against all odds, she started Evolution (nothing in the menus indicates that it’s a mail program; something we hadn’t realized before but which was immediately obvious after watching her stalk one-by-one through the menu items muttering to herself along the way).

The correct next step would have been for her to click on the “New” button that’s in the upper-left-hand corner of the window. This button didn’t even register for her, however. Instead, because she wanted to “send” a mail, she clicked repeatedly on the “Send” part of the “Send / Receive” button just to the right. For about a minute.

This is easy to fix; we just need to change the labels to be more sensible (and then test again on 5-6 people to make sure we changed them appropriately). It was interesting to watch this video and instantly realize that the “Send / Receive” button is all about how Evolution works and not about what the user wants to do. I’ve been staring at that button for five years, and never realized it was wrong until I saw that video.

Anna Dirks will be airing much of this video at toady’s hackfest at GUADEC, during her talk before lunch. We will also be publishing a lot of it online as soon as we get all the participants to finish signing release waivers. We’re also thinking about providing funding for more of these usability labs so that other people can do this testing themselves. The video talk will be followed by a hackfest, so people who want to work on improving the desktop we have, instead of engaging in an open-ended “GNOME 3” discussion, have a place to go.

You can read more about the hackfest on the wiki page.

New Linux desktop software #
28 May 2005 16:30 CEST

Jeff Waugh has just arrived in Stuttgart fresh from his eight-leg trip from Sydney, and just pointed me at the SymphonyOS desktop mockups. This is one of the most exciting sets of desktop mockups I’ve seen in a long time. I’ve been spending some time thinking about basic desktop layout recently and these ideas are pretty cool.

. . .

Jeff also told me about Thunar, a very nice simple file manager being written by some of the Xfce guys.

The shortcut bar on the side matches the shortcuts from the Gtk file selector. Does the word “duh” mean anything to you? I have no idea why Nautilus doesn’t do this yet.

Also, Thunar provides browser-style navigation, which I think is a lot more usable than the spatial mode that Nautilus uses.

Jeff seemed pretty excited about this; I got the feeling Ubuntu would be switching to Thunar pretty shortly! If Red Hat and Sun follow, our hand will be forced.


Entry filed under: Computers/ICT, Projects, WebXP.

Doodle – Desktop Search – Libextractor – References Linux isn’t ready for the desktop yet – Here’s Why

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Trackback this post  |  Subscribe to the comments via RSS Feed


June 2005
« May   Jul »


%d bloggers like this: