[Freedombox-discuss] Natural market for Freedom Box, responsive interfaces

Chris Hall bitmonki at gmail.com
Mon Mar 25 08:00:02 UTC 2013

On 03/24/2013 05:11 PM, Nick M. Daly wrote:
> Chris Hall writes:
>> Your right in noticing that these types of projects rarely mention
>> UI/UX in real detail -- it is hard, boring sometimes counterintuitive,
>> nitpicking work.
> Have you seen the UI ideas?
>     http://wiki.debian.org/FreedomBox/UserInterface#Ideas
> Full disclosure: I made the "Top Tabs, Vertical Control Panel" section.

Ah, thanks, Nick.

I *thought* I'd looked at every page in the wiki before corresponding
with list, but somehow I'd missed that one.  Oops.

That, and the other example pages, certainly are a good start. Obviously
a lot of work has gone into them, as well.

>> More importantly, I'm not sure people who create the functionality
>> even *should* design the UI -- they are way to close to it, understand
>> it all in their minds, and thus can't really objectively evaluate key
>> UI metrics like 'discoverability', flow, etc.
> Yes and no.  The technical design suggests (and often requires) specific
> UI decisions to create a holistic and usable experience: when the
> design is ill-communicated between the two groups, terrible decisions
> are made.  Take the "standard" communication UI: there are 5 different

My (intended) point was that the developers already understand what
everything is, what needs to be done, why and where all those data items
are presented, the relationship between various data items and the
rationale for the groupings, what happens when a specific item is
checked/unchecked, valid values and ranges for certain fields, etc.

Knowledgeable, experienced users, on the other hand, while still not
fully understanding them may have a decent grasp of the purpose,
meanings and interactions of the various data items. Or at least a good
enough grasp to get what they need done, done.

A lot of new users will be completely baffled and frustrated by the same
interface a knowledgeable user finds fairly acceptable, now that they
know how to use it, and that a developer considers completely intuitive.

The path from new and frustrated to knowledgeable and accepting is via

This is very important for the uptake of a system. If the bar for
discovering and learning what needs to be done and why and how to
accomplish it isn't low enough, then people simply don't use the
software, *especially* if they didn't even pay for it.  They feel they
simply can't, or that the effort required is not worth the payoff.

Or, based on long experience, it might make them feel stupid, which
(probably!) is an effect that the developer did not intend and may be
completely mystified by.

> applications for communicating with the same groups of people (IRC,
> Jabber, Google Talk, Phone Calls, VOIP, Text Messaging, and each of
> the dozen or so arbitrary network-specific IM clients). Now, I need to
> check at least 5 separate applications to communicate properly. That's
> why the concept of User Identity is fundamental to the system: so each
> application can manage its data and let the FBX system manage the
> display and interaction. It's inverting the standard application
> model, and it's a lot of work. Nick

I understand completely, and yes I bet it is a lot of work.

Now, let me be very clear: I am a developer, not a UI/UX guru.

My experience is that while there is no single interface that makes
everybody happy, no perfect solution, I think we all realize some are
better than others, and we will most certainly tend to favor, and use,
the ones we are comfortable with.

And trying to squeeze all this into a phone size interface?  Sheesh. But
that is what people will *expect* .

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