I’m still working on formal specification for my project but I can post about interesting things I’ve discovered along the way: Project Renaissance.
In brief, project Renaissance aims at improving the user experience with OpenOffice.org products, which is well summarized by the project’s motto:
“Create a User Interface so that OpenOffice.org becomes the users’ choice not only out of need, but also out of desire”
From my point of view it seems like a good start! Even though the project’s homepage show already some flows, such as the Project Charter being spread across different pages when one would have been much more effective… Let’s not be picky and see what is going on:
The first phases of the project consist of surveys to better understand the needs and desires of the users and involving the community with a call for mockups for the future Impress (which is an application that appears to be important for users and where there is obviously a lot of space for improvements). Those mockups can be reviewed in slides 21 to 34 of this presentation. I don’t really like any of them : / But remember that they are only ideas of interested contributors, they are just personal contributions to a greater goal: making Impress better for everyone.
There is also a Blog for this project that gives a better idea of the progress being made. It is just a shame that it gets so little visibility… or is it just an impression? Anyway, the first benefits of renaissance are expected to make their way into OpenOffice.org’s products for the version 3.2 which is expected… when it is ready probably. I’ll be happy to see what this great project come up with, I’m sure that my application will be very different but only the future will tell which approach is the best.
At the same time I discovered about another interesting and Open project: Interaction-Design.org and particularily its encyclopaedia available under a Creative Commons ShareAlike license. The quality of the content seems satisfying, I’m sure everybody could learn something. In the article about Mockups, I really liked the following idea:
“Mock-ups incite criticism from users because they are low-cost (can be made of cardboard) and low-fidelity. If a user is presented with an early version of a system that has required substantial work, he/she is likely to be more reluctant (as well as able) to criticize it.”
I’m personnaly always trying to create visually appealing mockups because I am afraid that the very first impression might have a bad influence on the user’s general opinion. My perfectionism is once again playing a trick on me…