User Observation Hackfest

uo-hackfest-1From September 21 to 23, I was in Florida with other GNOME contributors for the User Observation hackfest — held within this year’s openSUSE Summit. The main goal of the Hackfest was to visit the City of Largo, home of a large GNOME deployment within its public sector. Dave Richards showed us his SUSE-powered thin clients and also discussed some of the rationale behind his customizations to GNOME.

Most customizations were designed in response to recurring support requests and errors observed in system logs. More than that, these customizations are truly appreciated by users and acknowledged as solutions to their day-to-day problems. That’s why events like this User Observation hackfest are so important to GNOME’s mission: good design depends on both problem and solution, and the problems are all out there.

On day 2 of the hackfest, we went through our notes from the visit to Largo, identifying some patterns on how people interact with GNOME. From now on, our goal is to keep working on these patterns and eventually incorporate them to our Human Interface Guidelines in the shape of personas. That being said, the work we’ve done so far isn’t prescriptive and doesn’t aim to provide low-level guidelines for design. Instead, it can be used as a tool for reflection for not only for the Design team, but also for the entire project.


It was great to attend this hackfest. Thanks to the GNOME Foundation, SUSE and the City of Largo for making it happen.

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