Open Source Human Interface Design

Peter Trudelle, Shall We Dance? Ten Lessons Learned from Netscape’s Flirtation with Open Source UI Development (CHI 2002 – Getting to Know You) We wound up spending longer getting requirements in the form of bug reports, and doing design by accretion, backout and rework. Don’t let rushed coders drive things, design the product. [via Joel on Software]

I don’t agree with Joel that it’s impossible to do good design with a geographically distributed team. I think it’s entirely possible for distributed collaboration to work. The big problem with Mozilla was too many cooks spoiling the broth; everyone thought they were a human interface expert, and everyone had different goals, and everyone pushed as hard as they possibly could to achieve their goals. A small, tightly focused team would have done just fine, even if they were distributed.

I really, honestly believe in the effectiveness of distributed collaboration, when it’s done properly. But trying to do human interface design with in an open and ever-changing and questionably-qualified group doesn’t sound like a recipe for success.

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