Before Documentation: Involve Users Early, Maybe?
We come across many claims about how FOSS tools were created with ease of use in mind, and how documentation and user support are provided. But are documentation and post-launch user support enough for ensuring usability and promoting global adoption of FOSS products? Many studies in HCI and product management have shown the importance of involving potential users early in the process of developing new products. How, then, given the dynamics of the FOSS community can this be ensured? Part of our research work will be to develop guidelines on how to include more HCI methods (like early user participation) in the development cycles of FOSS projects.
On the question of cultural differences(especially with circumvention tools), researching the users’ background/culture helps developers build more culturally/contextually appropriate tools. We will seek to understand what challenges are faced in the attempt to involve users in the design process, and based on that recommend ways in which these challenges can be overcome to promote the process of engaging the user population in design.
If you are a developer/designer/project manager/or other form of contributor in open source, please help us in this work by taking this survey here.