Re: [Evolution-hackers] PIM application suite

> I have, and we have done numerous usability tests on
> Evolution. I've
> also been working on this project for 4 years. Have
> you taken courses in
> it? Have you conducted usability tests on Evolution?
> What are your
> creds? So far, your only cred seems to be "I've run
> Mac OS X". Big deal.
> As far as I can tell, you're simply another
> self-proclaimed usability
> expert - which, if you look at Slashdot, you'd see
> that self-proclaimed
> usability experts grow on trees.

I have taken courses in usability.  I haven't done
usability tests on evolution, but I have no need to
because my basis for comparison has done far more
usability testing than you: Apple and Microsoft.  I
don't claim to be an expert.  It is however a hobby,
and one that I spend a lot of time developing and
studying up on.  If I were saying that I made my
usability assumptions up out of thin air, of course
that would leave me with little to argue about. 
However my proposal to break up the interface is based
on these reasons:

1) Gnome software trends

For one moment, I'd like you to consider what other
gnome apps that are close to the gnome-tradition of
simple design follow the design of evolution.  Taking
a brief look at my Gnome 2.6 menus shows this:
Browser - epiphany
Chat - gaim
Movies - totem
Music - rhythmbox
Files - nautilus
Documents - abiword
Spreadsheets - gnumeric

just to name a few.  I could go in more detail, but I
think you get the point.  each one of these apps is
responsible for one task.  that is not typically a
gnome thing, every system should strive for this.  is
it a HIG requirement that each app have a set goal? i
do not know this for sure, but you cannot deny that
it's a software trend. 

2) Previous usability testing done by large
corporations (Apple and Microsoft)

You cannot deny the testing of such large companies as
these.  They obviously put in millions of dollars of
usability testing. However the difference is seen once
you look closer.  Microsoft's design (of which
evolution mimics) is Outlook.  Apple's design, is
iCal, Addressbook, and Mail (of which kcalendar,
kontact, kmail mimic component wise).  We can debate
all day which OS is more usable, but most credited
interface designers and usability experts will agree
it's Mac OS.  Apple is known for being better at
user-oriented design.

3) Basic principals of human factors and interface

One of the things they make you do in usability 101 is
design a clock, radio, phone, alarm, and cd player all
in one physical device.  It's meant as an example more
than anything, but what it shows is obvious -- it
cannot be done well.  Related functions are not the
same as differing functions.  When I go to burn a CD
in iTunes, I don't have to convert all my iTunes mp3s
to wave files, then import the wave files into Roxio
Toast, then burn them as an audio CD. iTunes should
just manage my music, and manage it well.  However it
should also include related functionality that does
not all-encompass another application if such related
functionality enhances the usability of the
application but at the same time does not serve to
completely replace the functionality of another
application.  Can iTunes act as a complete replacement
for Roxio? no. That is a clear distinction from the
design of Evolution.  Evolution treats any of the
components as subfunctions -- they are all totally
separate modes.  Calendar mode is completely different
from Contacts mode.  Contacts is in no way a subset or
useful subfunction of calendars.  Calendars may
reference contacts, but a calendars program does not
need a full-fledged contacts system within it.  The
way Mac OS makes this distinction is apparent whenever
you add a buddy in iChat.  It asks you to provide the
buddy's real name by showing a standardized contacts
widget (

4) User expectations and their environment

You claim that users want all their PIM features in
one collective space, and don't want to fool with
system menus.  What you're assuming is that the user
is using only Linux, with only Gnome, and that said
user does not have direct quick launch icons on a
taskbar.  If I had quick launch icons for my address
book, calendar, and mail all separate that would be a
lot faster than going through the system menu.  Many
users do this, and OS X even defaults to having a
shortcut for all 3 of these applications (since as
another rule of interface design: most users never
change the defaults).  Lets change the situation
around a bit and say the user is running evolution in
Mac OS X. This is not far fetched, as it can be done. 
With 10.3's new expose feature, having individual
windows per-application is actually a benefit.  By
using fittz law the user can hit the edge of the
screen and zoom all windows out, and then click the
respective window they want to acquire.  This is going
to be faster than acquiring the individual evolution
window, then acquiring the sub-component (Say the
contacts button) to finally get to a list of contacts.
 You're making too many assumptions about what the
user wants, and their respective environment.

5) Defaults

In conclusion, I think the most important argument is
this: users don't change defaults.  Some do, but for
many just making a mail account is a feat.  It's nice
that i now know how to split it up into individual
applications, but until this is the default it is
quite useless to all but a select few. the select few
who actually care enough about usability to find and
make such a change are the very ones who benefit the
least from it. Few people will ever touch the console,
let alone "man evolution" or "evolution --help".  It
may be in the help file, and at least I hope it is. 
If you want to have a option, rather, it should be to
include them all in one application (as it is
currently).  This way you get the added usability from
splitting up the functions, and the outlook-like users
can have an option to enable mode-switching in all
applications in the preferences, or someplace easily
found (a console switch is unacceptable).

--- Jeffrey Stedfast <fejj ximian com> wrote:
> Your argument about splitting Evolution into
> multiple separate
> applications has no substance. Have you done
> usability tests to prove
> that this way is better? If so, where are these
> usability studies?
> Pointing at Mozilla is hardly a usability study.
> Have you even *looked* at Evolution 1.5 as compared
> to 1.4? Have you
> noticed at all that your argument that "users won't
> be able to figure
> out where to do XYZ" is completely bogus? Lets
> pretend for an instant
> that users really are confused about where to
> schedule an appointment or
> whatever. Will splitting Evolution into multiple
> applications really
> solve this? No, it would not. Because now, instead
> of choosing the
> "Calendar" button in Evolution, they'd have to
> launch the "Calendar"
> menu item in some system menu, which, I guess if
> your point is "users
> will look in the system menu first", then sure, you
> might be right, but
> that doesn't mean you have to split Evolution into
> multiple
> applications. However, you said *nothing* of this
> menu thing which leads
> me to conclude that that is not what you meant at
> all - my only
> conclusion is that you haven't the faintest idea of
> what you're talking
> about, especially once you went into how the
> architecture arguments.
> Usability ideas are welcome, but don't go off like a
> know-it-all.
> Jeff

Do you Yahoo!?
Yahoo! Photos: High-quality 4x6 digital prints for 25¢

[Date Prev][Date Next]   [Thread Prev][Thread Next]   [Thread Index] [Date Index] [Author Index]