Toward developer-focussed Fluid awareness videos
prowley at yorku.ca
Fri Sep 19 04:25:09 UTC 2008
The subject approximately describes a mini project I've been
discussing with a few Fluid folks, including Colin and Jess, and some
people at York. Put in simplest terms, the long-term goal is to
create material that will encourage large numbers of open-source
developers to spend more time creating usable and accessible
interfaces for their software.
Short-term, the goal is to create:
- A short video (30-60 seconds is the target) that will be a quick
way of getting a developer to think "I want to know more". I call it
- Two somewhat longer (2-3 minutes each) videos, one on UX issues and
one on accessibility issues, both stressing the value of attending to
them and a little on how quite a lot can be done with a basic
- These would then lead the developer into sets of resources
(content, tools, communities) that will help the developer spend at
least a little of their time improving the usability of their products
There are multimedia staff at York that I can work with to create
these materials, but of course getting the script right is key and
that's where I'm looking to the Fluid community's expertise.
My initial approach to creating the "grabber" video is based on:
- one of the principles of good UI design: make the invisible
visible. For software, that means creating representations of an
important part of system state.
- the belief that one of the principal reasons that, for example, I
would create some software that you would find unusable is that you
and I think about the relevant application domain in different ways
(e.g. with different vocabularies, different sets of tasks, different
ways of combining tasks, different levels of skill in understanding
the objects in the domain and how they interact)
So, I'm thinking that it would make sense to start with a UX segment
-- that attempts to depict how one person's mental representation of
an application domain can be very different from someone else's
representation of that domain. As an example, maybe I think of
objects in a room as a list of quadruples of coordinates and someone
else thinks of them as shapes on a surface.
Cinematically, you could show two people arranging furniture and zoom
into one head to show lists of coordinate quadruples (OK, this
example is a little artificial) and into the other to show shapes on
a surface. You then show the first (coordinate-centered) person
walking over to a laptop and generating software for that application
domain, which of course would work in terms of coordinates. You then
show the second person getting that software and being confused by
how it works (and ultimately walking away from the software). Then
you zoom out and see more people on screen -- but just a few of them
think in terms of coordinates and a lot of people think in terms of
shapes and then the crowd walks away from the software. I'm thinking
this would be best done with an animated style of presentation, but
there might be ways to do it with images of real people.
Then, you have an accessibility segment that is structured similarly,
but this time it's the developer's model of *operating* a computer
that is different in some important ways from the models of others,
e.g. people who have a hard time seeing the difference between red
and green or (like me) a small font. Again, the developer writes
software to operate according to his/her model and the user has
trouble with it because it doesn't support their model. And, again,
the result is a crowd of users walking away from the software.
Then the grabber video could end with something like "There are good
ways of understanding enough about users so they don't walk away from
your software. For more, visit www.fluidproject.org/resources "
So, four big questions:
- What do you think of the basic idea? Are there ways it could be
- Which application domain would make sense to use? Something
specific like learning management systems (or even Sakai) or
something more general like furniture placement?
- Do you think a cinematic style that has "real people" -- perhaps
with cartoon bubbles to show the mental representations -- would be
more compelling than the approach given above? Are there ways to
give the segments more emotional impact?
- Would http://wiki.fluidproject.org/display/fluid/User+Experience be
the right place on the wiki to anchor material for this effort, e.g.
Thanks for your time!
prowley at yorku.ca
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