[openstack-dev] How to best make User Experience a priority in every project

Rochelle.Grober Rochelle.Grober at huawei.com
Thu Nov 21 00:37:45 UTC 2013

Anne Gentle wrote:

On Wed, Nov 20, 2013 at 9:09 AM, Thierry Carrez <thierry at openstack.org<mailto:thierry at openstack.org>> wrote:
Hi everyone,

How should we proceed to make sure UX (user experience) is properly
taken into account into OpenStack development ? Historically it was hard
for UX sessions (especially the ones that affect multiple projects, like
CLI / API experience) to get session time at our design summits. This
visibility issue prompted the recent request by UX-minded folks to make
UX an official OpenStack program.

However, as was apparent in the Technical Committee meeting discussion
about it yesterday, most of us are not convinced that establishing and
blessing a separate team is the most efficient way to give UX the
attention it deserves. Ideally, UX-minded folks would get active
*within* existing project teams rather than form some sort of
counter-power as a separate team. In the same way we want scalability
and security mindset to be present in every project, we want UX to be
present in every project. It's more of an advocacy group than a
"program" imho.

I'm not sure "most of us" is accurate. Mostly you and Robert Collins were unconvinced. Here's my take.

It's nigh-impossible with the UX resources there now (four core) for them to attend all the project meetings with an eye to UX. Docs are in a similar situation. We also want docs to be present in every project. Docs as a program makes sense, and to me, UX as a program makes sense as well. The UX program can then prioritize what to focus on with the resources they have.

+1  UX is, in SW parlance, the next layer above the mechanics of the projects.  It is separate from all the projects yet informs them all.  To be able to inform all projects consistently, there needs to be a place where all the project based UXs come together to create a consistent, overarching environment.  This is what UX does, and this is why it works better than having each project do their own thing.  You don't get an environment when you don't have someone architecting an environment.  You just get a bunch of projects glued together with more code.

Since the current team is so small, as Anne points out, the team, working with the TC should decide which and how many individual projects need their attention first, and they also can prioritize what parts of the  UX environment get defined/specified first.

However, as pointed out in the meeting, the UX resources now are mostly focused on Horizon. It'd be nice to have a group aiming to take the big picture of the entire OpenStack experience. Maybe this group is the one, maybe they're not. The big picture would be:
Dashboard experience
CLI experience
logging consistency
troubleshooting consistency
consistency across APIs like pagination behavior

Just like QA ends up focusing on tempest, UX might end up focusing on Dashboard, CLI and API experience. That'd be fine with me and would give measurable trackable points.

What's more interesting is how does the user committee fit into this? There's an interesting discussion already about how to get user concerns worked on by developers, is it actually through product managers? What would an Experience program look like if it were about productization?

The most efficient and effective way to get enduser concerns and issues addressed systematically is through one point of contact, not one for every project.  By having one place to collect up all inputs other than bugs and missing features in one place, problem areas are spotted much sooner, but also areas of excellence.

So my recommendation would be to encourage UX folks to get involved
within projects and during project-specific weekly meetings to
efficiently drive better UX there, as a direct project contributor. If
all the UX-minded folks need a forum to coordinate, I think [UX] ML
threads and, maybe, a UX weekly meeting would be an interesting first step.

I think a weekly UX meeting and a mailing list (which is probably already their Google Plus group) would be a good way to gather more people as contributors. Then we get an idea of what contributions look like.

To summarize my take -- UX is a lot like docs in that it's tough to get devs to care, and also the work should be done with an eye towards the big picture and with resources from member companies.

+1000  Devs tend to think they know how endusers are going to want to use and interact with their code.   Most don't care that some endusers find the interface(s) confusing, opaque, inflexible or unforgiving.  The best way to get a unified user experience is to have a *Program* (like Docs and QA) that gives UX legitimacy and some authority beyond just the responsibility they feel to the usability and usefulness of the projects they are unifying.  Program status would also bring in more UX participants because it acknowledges that OpenStack is serious about UX and understands its importance (especially in reducing pilot error and time spent by developers on technical support).  Give UX legitimacy and the power to effect change and the UX team will prosper and multiply.



There would still be an issue with UX session space at the Design
Summit... but that's a well known issue that affects more than just UX:
the way our design summits were historically organized (around programs
only) made it difficult to discuss cross-project and cross-program
issues. To address that, the plan is to carve cross-project space into
the next design summit, even if that means a little less topical
sessions for everyone else.
Thoughts ?

Thierry Carrez (ttx)

Anne Gentle
annegentle at justwriteclick.com<mailto:annegentle at justwriteclick.com>
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