One of the things that I love about GNOME is that it prioritizes the needs of everyday users. That prioritization is, in my opinion, the reason for GNOME’s success. Creating great user experiences is never a finished task though, and there are major challenges to overcome if we want to make GNOME user experience truly competitive.
One thing that you need in order to deliver good UX is to be able to see things from the perspective of users. That’s not always easy though, and it helps to have someone whose job it is to give the UX view. This is where the idea of User Experience Advocates comes in.
A UX Advocate doesn’t need to be a developer. They don’t even need to be a usability expert (though they can be on their way to becoming one). What they do need is the time, energy, and inclination to champion user experience. A UX Advocate can triage and prioritize UX bugs, and they can research design problems. They can even do user testing.
There are plenty of people out there who are willing to work to help GNOME deliver better user experiences, but we need to encourage them. The UX Advocate project is a way to do this – it is basically a way of letting those who care about UX (and about GNOME) know that we want their help. It is also a way of saying that if someone does UX work, we will recognise them for it.
A key feature of the User Experience Advocate project is that it is an attempt to distribute UX effort throughout GNOME. We already have an amazing community of designers and usability gurus, but that community is too small to be involved in every part of GNOME. Each and every GNOME sub-project could have a UX Advocate though – a person whose job it is to ensure the best possible user experience possible. That sounds like a good idea to me.