I spent this week attending the GNOME Usability Hackfest. It was great to spend some time among fellow GNOME art/design/usability/HCI/whatever folk and to participate in some exciting discussions. Thanks to Google and especially to Canonical for sponsoring the event. Not only did the latter provide a venue, food and drink, but also stimulating company and even resources to do some user testing. Thanks also to the GNOME Foundation for supporting the event and to Brian Cameron for doing much of the organising.
The hackfest gave me a chance to spend some time on my own little projects. I also got to help out with the card sorting exercises for the new GNOME control center. Some of the best discussions I had during the week were on the topic of Nautilus. (This was a topic of concern for many of those at the hackfest.) The item at the top of my to do list after the hackfest is to take that discussion forward. My goal is to get designers and developers talking about Nautilus so that we can come up with a vision for the future.
There was some exciting stuff at the hackfest. Seeing Seth’s ideas emerge was really cool. I also like the look of the GNOME tweaks app and the new control center is shaping up nicely. Jimmac and Hylke seemed to be doing some good icon work. Some nice designs for preferences panes also seemed to be floating around.
One focus for the hackfest was working out how to enable designers and usability people to effectively work within GNOME. There were a few promising things here: we discussed the next major version of the HIG. There was also discussion about how to share the findings of usability studies, and there was talk of new tools that would help collaborative usability and design work. A lack of appropriate communications tools has been a big limitation in my GNOME usability work in the past, so I was particularly excited to see some new tools being planned which should make collaboration between designers and developers easier.