Are Usability Studies Hurting the Free Desktop?
May 11, 2011, 23:07 (5 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Bruce Byfield)
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"Not too many years ago, the question would have been absurd.
Built on the free and open source software (FOSS) principle that
developers worked on whatever interested them, the free desktop
used to be a hodgepodge in which just getting a dialog to have the
same name when it was opened from different places was a major
achievement. Back then, the idea that too much attention could be
paid to usability would have been unthinkable.
"But, beginning with Sun Microsystem's detailed user study of
the GNOME desktop in 2001, free desktop developers have been
becoming increasingly aware of usability issues. Almost always, the
result has been interfaces that are easier to use, more efficient,
and more aesthetic.
"Nor am I completely convinced that KDE 4.x, GNOME 3, and Unity
are exceptions to this steady improvement. However, at the same
time, as someone who has grappled with usability issues many times
in his career, I have watched the newfound interest in interface
design with a growing concern. "