Why Free Software has poor usability, and how to improve it

A very interesting read found over at Matthew Paul Thomas’s blog.

In 15 points, he puts the finger on some potential issues with free software. Since I am in the process of trying to make some, I found many of the points to be familiar, and sometimes even too close for comfort. His essay contain some important reminders and well-developed ideas for improving the process of designing and developing software intended for public consumption.

Here is the list of points:

• Weak incentives for usability
• Few good designers
• Design suggestions often aren’t invited or welcomed
• Usability is hard to measure
• Coding before design
• Too many cooks
• Chasing tail-lights
• Scratching their own itch
• Leaving little things broken
• Placating people with options
• Fifteen pixels of fame
• Design is high-bandwidth, the Net is low-bandwidth
• Release early, release often, get stuck
• Mediocrity through modularity
• Gated development communities

Permalink to Matthew Paul Thomas’s article: http://mpt.net.nz/archive/2008/08/01/free-software-usability

Spotted at SlashDot.

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