This is the work blog for the KDE Visual Design Group a group of dedicated designers striving to improve community participation in design for KDE as well as design work in general for KDE applications and Plasma.

måndag 14 april 2014

Recap post To Dantix@reddit (+all): Wth is Community Design anyway?

In which I write my first "recap" post about what's been set and what's been talked about and how things work. Just a little how-to for everyone who just joined us! This time it's about Community Design and why it matters so much.

Photo Jencu "Sharing Toys" CC-SA

I've been meaning to write this post for some time - a sort of recap for people who just joined us in what's going on.
Dantix, a reddit poster was a tad miffed that the editable combobox was the wrong size for it's scroll-down arrow. I'm not trying to call the dude out, I'm sure he (or she) is a brilliant person and didn't mean anything mean, it was just a comment and an apt one so no harm no foul!

But it told me that I need to talk more about this Community Design thing.


There are three points I really want to take up:

1) Everything shown will be shown from scratch. Nothing hidden.
Now from a marketing perspective that sucks. Lets be honest - we all like "the big reveal" where some designer in a turtleneck pulls back to curtains and go "tadaaa!". We wont do it like that. You will see it when it's just a mass of scribbles all the way to the finished product.
Why is it like that? Because that way everyone can see the process. It gets demystified and something more accessible and open to all. It shows everyone the trick behind it. Design have become a catch-all for "don't bother me, you wouldn't understand" and I don't think thats a healthy attitude for Open Source to adopt.

2) You are expected to join in if you want to. As long as you play nice the toys are for everyone.
This is the big one. Yeah yeah you've heard it before. But its true. No matter how little of an "eye for design" you have, you have it. Comment, post mockups and try to see the cool things people do and spin off that.
I can't promise that you're work will end up being the official theme for Plasma Next - but I can promise that you will influence it. We actually DO listen to comments. To cool ideas especially.
And that's the bit to remember - its always better to contribute than to comment especially if you're comment is "I don't like that". We have some rules and they are essentially: If you post criticism, what it is you don't like, why you don't like, how it could be fixed and propose a fix it's a gold star comment. If you criticize, specify what it is you don't like and how it could be fixed. Thats a silver star comment. If you criticize and specify what it is you don't like ... thats bronze. As long as you do it in a nice and cooperative way it's ok to post. If you can't say exactly what it is you don't like about something AND can't be nice about it - don't post.
If you have a cool idea on the other hand. Post. Thats the only rule for contributions.
Why is it like this? Because we want to foster a friendly attitude. Design IS communication and communication is hingent on a community. By letting everyone feel like they can contribute with mockups and cool ideas - we get more cool ideas. By playing with the art or design school rules of criticism we make certain that the other nasty and sadly common thing in design is minimized - the nonsense put-downs to make yourself seem "better" or the simple "you suck" comments that does nothing at all for design work.

3) This is a massive social experiment.
Yeah. It is. It's the tricky bit in what I do. On the one hand the goal is to create a stunning visual design for Plasma Next, on the other the plan is to create a community of designers and make design a "thing" within Plasma and KDE and Open Source in general.
I want to change the way we look at people and stop dividing them into experts and "everyone else". I want to tear down those barriers and makes us all feel included, like we're a part (like I felt on the first sprint I was at). I want to change the way we handle design and this work is a test for that.
Why is it like that? Because I am old enough to know that failing is only really good when you fail miserably (that's when you learn things) and that sometimes you got to aim for the moon and skip the tree tops.
When I got into this I talked to some of the other designers who had worked on KDE projects and many of them where more or less burned out. They had worked themselves to the bone and then crashed due to it. I didn't feel like being another one AND I wanted to fix the issue permanently. So I went for the higher goal of it aware that it would mean more work for me personally and a higher risk of failing.


Not only so that we all started talking about design more constructively. Not just so everyone felt they could comment and be a part. Not only that there where hundreds of designers where yesterday there where one or two. Not only that.

But so that in the future there would be a model a system in which design would be created without the need for a petty expert-dictator who's presence was ever needed for the work to go forward. Where the load was shared by all. Where the work was more play than backbraking labour.

Maybe it will succeed, maybe it will fail - but if it does fail I think we can all agree that it will be a majestic catastrophe of a failure ;)

Next time I'll talk about the Design Vision (it won't be boring promise) what it is, how we intend to stick to it and where we are now in terms of design guidelines.

2 kommentarer:

  1. Yeap. I'm contributing to the thread now, and the thought train went like this: "Man, this looks eerily like Metro! Eww!" → "Write to this thread? All right then." → "Note what is good and also give advice? Sure, that's not hard to do, after all." → "Ah shoot, I am writing these things, but words just don't make it justice." → "Well, there is an image given, so maybe I can quickly hack something up in KolourPaint." → "Man, this anti-aliasing really could look better, I ought to fix that".

    This is actually very much like writing bug reports for software. "Bah, this feature is broken!" → "Write a bug report? Sure, that's not hard, after all." → "What do you mean you don't have time to fix it? It's a one-liner fix!" → "All right, fine, I'll prove it to you by making a patch!" → "Man, this function call really could look better, I ought to fix that".

    The end result in both cases being that suddenly the things I make use of are improved (according to my wishes, no less), other people are happy as well, and I even get mentioned from time to time. Awesome!

  2. Would it be possible to include a link to the reddit thread in question? I can't seem to find it.