Thursday, 19 May 2011

SCIENCE, NOT FICTION

Hi KDE Community,
 
           It’s my first post on the planet, so please don’t shoot me if something goes wrong :) Just week ago I come back form the Promo sprint in Southampton. It was a great experience and my first time I got in real touch with people behind KDE. Tons of work has been done, but you probably have read Justin’s post on the dot.
 
           But this time I’m not going to talk about promo. Please, let me dig up a little bit about one of the most “flammable” topics - the GUI. Most user interface related discussions are, lets say, at least difficult and emotional, as there are many great ideas and possible solutions while each of them have strong arguments behind. Instead of trying to came with some sort of compromise (compromises usually requires to give up on some something, and that is bad). On the other hand if we could somehow have all/any designs put under the test and then just pick up the one that works best in a real world... Interested?
       
A few days ago I found out an interesting article Android vs iOS; A Usability Battle. While battles are always fascinating, lets focus on its technique. What Jacob did, was simple but rather ingenious thing (at least I haven’t seen anyone else doing this). Instead of doing large scale analysis, with fancy eye tracking hardware, bunch of professors in the top secret research lab, he took a screenshot and asked the user to do a task. And measured the hit and miss rate, as well as the time it took to do the task.
Same application, different UI's | spyrestudios.com
A/B testing in nothing new, but adopting it for desktop applications is something new and interesting. 


I hope there won't be question how such testing could  help KDE (or/and any F/OSS application). Especially then its just images + JavaScript, so its easy to incorporate it into any website as a basic banner. I bet KDE forums users would love to do some tests, as well as your blog readers.
 
First of all, we have to improve method by adding hot spots - areas where user has to click to do the job + use them as links to the next task. Thus if you would like to test entire process of e.g. adding new WiFi connection or email account, just take screenshots of each step, link them and you are ready to go.
 
Sadly, I haven’t found any workable F/OSS solution, but it shouldn’t be hard to reinvent the wheel and I’m willing to do this. While I have all required knowledge (JavaScript + MySql + PHP + GD probably would be my choice), working on the team always brings better results, also its unlikely I’ll have have enough time to develop it from A to Z in reasonable amount of time.
 
If YOU have a some crazy ideas how to make it super cool + spare time + know-how, please let me know (1lukas1 [at] gmail.com or here in comments), and I hope we will bring this idea to life.


Cheers,
Lukas.